Third International Theory

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The Third International Theory, also known as the Third Universal Theory (Arabic: نظرية عالمية ثالثة‎), was the style of government proposed by Muammar Gaddafi in the early 1970s, on which his government, the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, was officially based. It was inspired by Islamic socialism, Arab nationalism, African nationalism and the principles of direct democracy.[1][2]

The Third International Theory was meant to be an alternative to capitalism and communism, which Gaddafi felt were not appropriate for the countries of the Third World (not allies with either the US or the Soviet Union).

In 2011, the Libyan government based on this political theory was overthrown and Gaddafi was killed.

Background[change | change source]

Historical context[change | change source]

In the 1960s and 70s, an ideology called Islamic socialism became popular in the Arab world. People believed that socialism should be combined with the principles of Islam so that there would be a more fair and just world. Many people believed that capitalism and communism were both disrespectful of Islam and allowed other countries to control them.

On September 1, 1969, a group of Libyan army officers overthrew the king and established a republic. This republic was ruled by a Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) that was led by a young colonel whose name was Muammar Gadaffi.

The revolution was against imperialism. On October 7, they told the UN that foreign bases would not be allowed on Libyan soil.

In 1973, the country was renamed Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. "Jamahiriya" is an Arabic word that means "People's Republic."

Beliefs[change | change source]

The beliefs of the Third International Theory are described in Gadaffi's Green Book. The book is divided into three parts:

  1. Solving the problem of Democracy (People Power);
  2. Solving the problem of the economy (Socialism);
  3. The social aspect of the "Third International Theory," which explains how society should be organized.

"People Power"[change | change source]

The first part of The Green Book is called "Solving the problem of democracy: The Authority of the People." The theory says that a country should not be holding a referendum, have a political party, or have a parliament. Gaddafi believed that these are not things a true democracy should have.

People's Congress[change | change source]

The only means of people's democracy are the people's congresses. Any other system of government is undemocratic. All existing world systems of government are undemocratic, if they do not adhere to this method of governance. People's congresses are the ultimate goal of the movement of peoples on the path to democracy. People's congresses and people's committees represent the end result of the peoples' struggle for democracy.

— "Popular Conferences And People’s Committees," Chapter 6, The Green Book

In the Jamahiriya, everyone is part of the People's Congresses, which then elect the People's Committees. The Committees then elect the next Congresses, which then elect the State Committees, which run the government. Once a year, the People's Congresses meet up at the General People's Congress, which makes decisions and where issues are discussed.

Freedom of Speech[change | change source]

Society is composed of many individuals and entities. Therefore, if an individual is insane, that does not mean that the rest of society are mad, too. Press is a method of expression of society, not a single person or entity. A newspaper, if owned by an individual, expresses only the views of its owner. The assertion that it represents public opinion is untenable and has no basis, because in reality it expresses the views of an individual, and from the point of view of genuine democracy it is unacceptable that an individual should own the print media and other types of media that provide the public with information.

— "The Press," Chapter 10, The Green Book

Gadaffi believed that everyone should have the right to speak their minds, no matter how irrational their beliefs are. He believed that having freedom of speech was important for democracy.

Socialism[change | change source]

The second part of the book, "The solution of the economic problem (Socialism)," explains the economic parts of the Third International Theory.

Society[change | change source]

Women[change | change source]

The Green Book talks about women, specifically:

  • "A woman is a human, just like a man is";
  • a woman "has a regular disease in the form of monthly bleeding, but if this does not happen, then she has become pregnant."
  • denying a woman her natural role of mother and replacing her with nurseries is the end of a humane society and the beginning of its transformation into a biological society and her living an artificial life (as a result of this, there are no kindergartens in Libya, and a woman never goes to work again after giving birth).
  • males in the world of plants and animals are by nature strong and rough, whereas women in the world of plants and animals are by nature beautiful and tender.

Gaddafi said that "human rights are for everyone—men and women, but the responsibilities are not equal."

Black people[change | change source]

Gadaffi believed that Black people would rule the world and that there is nothing anyone can do to prevent them from doing so. He says they will take over because they accept polygamy and reject birth control.

As time went on, Libya started to associate itself more with the rest of Africa than with the Arab world.

Sports[change | change source]

  • "Sport can only be individual, like a prayer";
  • "Mass sport is a social need of the human beings, so it is unacceptable from either a sporting or a democratic point of view to 'subcontract' sport to others [professionals]";
  • "Collective sport is the business of the masses";
  • "Stadiums exist in order to restrict the masses from using sports fields";
  • "Boxing and various kinds of wrestling suggest that humanity has not completely rid itself of the vestiges [or remains] of barbarism."

For this reason, stadiums were only open for military parades and wrestling was banned in Libya.

Islam[change | change source]

The Green Book does not talk about Islam. However, Gaddafi said that the validity of Islam was to be shown by how much it matches the Third International Theory. He said, "if we were to restrict ourselves to the support of Muslims only, that would be an example of bigotry and selfishness: True Islam is the one that defends the weak, even if they are not Muslims"

Application in Libya[change | change source]

Gaddafi tried to put the Third International Theory into practice in Libya. He called the government based on the theory "Jamahiriya" (Arabic: جماهيرية‎), which means "people's republic" or "state of the masses." It is different from "Jumhuriyah" (Arabic: جمهورية‎), which is the Arabic word for "republic." He wanted to show that the government system based on the Third International Theory was different from all previous forms of government (specifically monarchies and republics).

References[change | change source]

  1. [1][permanent dead link]
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2020-07-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)