Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Has the West Read "The Green Book"?

Sources: A Socialist? Obama Calls Back to Insist No, International Herald Tribune; Qaddafi's Old Theories Facing New Realities, Arab Reform Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Muammar Qaddafi, the leader of Libya since 1969, has recently suggested that the West has stolen and utilized many of his ideas in dealing with the current global financial crisis.

Specifically, in a speech in Ukraine in November, Qadaffi suggested that Western attempts to deal with the current global financial crisis were nothing more than an underhanded attempt to steal ideas he had first expressed three decades earlier in The Solution of the Economic Problem “Socialism,” part two of his infamous Green Book.

The Green Book, first published in 1976, outlines Qaddafi’s views on democracy and politics. In the book, Qaddafi completely rejects modern liberal democracy and encourages the institution of a form of direct democracy. Specifically, he proposes an abolition of the wage-system, discourages the rental of housing or transportation, and refutes the concept of private property.

Although the “s” word has been used by some conservatives in the U.S. to characterize President Obama’s fiscal policies surrounding the credit crisis, President Obama persistently refutes those charges. Recently, after an interview with a reporter from the New York Times, President Obama called the reporter to clarify his answer to a question about his political philosophy, reaffirming that he is not a socialist. President Obama noted that, in fact, his administration has been operating in “a way that has been entirely consistent with free market principles.”

Thus, although he has not commented on Qaddafi’s remarks, President Obama surely disagrees—as does the rest of the Western world. Although some fiscal conservatives, especially in the United States, have expressed strong disagreement about the government’s ever-broadening role in responding to the global financial crisis, no one except Qaddafi himself would equate the West’s actions with Qaddafi’s philosophy.

1. Should the current financial crisis motivate Western nations to more seriously consider other economic philosophies?
2. Does Qaddafi really believe that the West is moving toward socialism? If not, why would he accuse the West of stealing his socialist ideals?

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