Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A REVIEW OF THE GREEN BOOK





The Green Book: An Opinion Peace


Muammar Gadaffi appears to most to now be dead, albeit under questionable circumstances. The mass media still rules the world: if they say he is dead, and show pictures that he is dead, then he is dead. No matter that we see dead people come to life on Hollywood every day on our film screens. The western mind, has become a consumption-without-question sponge to lap up whatever is thrown at it.

That same media has made much of his 'atrocities', without any evidence, but hardly made passing remarks about the Jamahiriya movement or The Green Book. Clearly, we are being told that everything Gadaffi ever did should be forgotten and replaced with a western-style democracy. Maybe it's a good idea to look at what we aren’t being told.

The Green Book may or may not have been written by Gadaffi. In fact, sources close to the original Revolutionary Committee have stated that it was written almost entirely by committee, with Gadaffi taking credit. But that is largely irrelevant. Ideas are valid or invalid because of their implications, regardless of whose ideas they are.

The first significant idea in The Green Book is that representative democracy is misleading. Most modern democracies function by delegation. Citizens of a democratic constituency delegate their collective power upwards to a representative, trusting him or her to act in good faith. This is not democratic, as that representative is practically free to act as he or she wants. Instead of a representative being a conduit of the peoples' authority, he or she usurps that authority, usually with zero consequences until the next election.

What The Green Book proposes as a solution is numerous peoples' conferences (sometimes called congresses, or assemblies), making collective decisions in accordance with a set of general guidelines and implementing them via elected people's committees. This is actually more democratic than representative systems, because the decisions are actually made by the people who will be affected and who are genuinely concerned with the outcome.

The Green Book holds that political parties are inherently undemocratic. This is because members of a political party are coerced to share similar views, even when those views differ from their own better judgment and from the demands of those whom they represent. This too is true. Political parties give politicians a sense of belonging and a broader ideology, but the choice offered by voting for a party is a false choice. A member of any party is equally likely to work in the best interests of their constituents. All parties work more or less equally for their own interests. Thus, all other things being equal, a system where each politician is independent is more democratic than one based on parties. Unfortunately, many people confuse a one-party system with a no-party system.

On the topic of social class and plebiscites (referendums), I understand The Green Book as positing that no direct action aimed at eliminating class distinctions has ever worked. It can be assumed that the only way to eliminate class distinctions is through empowerment of members of the lower classes to the point where all people are more or less equal in social and economic power. Referendums are criticized in lieu of group discussions mainly because the complexities of social and political issues cannot be adequately covered in a written survey. This is especially true of a survey with only “yes” and “no” as accepted answers.

The Green Book goes on to discuss popular congresses as the one and only democratic solution to the problem of power. It describes a system of congresses, starting with the local basic ones, then district, area, or municipal, state and nation congresses. All decisions are made by consensus, by the people who are actually affected. Only those decisions which must be implemented uniformly on a broader scale are handled at a higher level.

The next three topics covered are also relevant to this. These include law, norms and corrections. The Green Book states that laws should be drafted and enforced by consensus, not by a dedicated branch of government. Furthermore, corrections should focus on the reasons for harmful deviation and be aimed at constructive reform of either society or the offending individual, not on disciplinary or vengeful punishment.

The next chapter covers the press. It states that all forms of press should be controlled either by an individual or a group with common interests. It is wrong for the state to control the press, and it is also wrong for corporations to control the press. This is because both corporate and state media cannot honestly represent the views of all of the people in that society.

The second volume of the Green Book covers economic matters. The first chapter gives a brief overview of economics. It states that workers should be partners in their workplace, not employees. In the next chapter, it is stated that people should work to fulfill their needs, not to make profit or exploit others.

The third chapter covers the use and ownership of land. It states that land is actually owned equally by everyone and is used temporarily by people according to their needs, such as farming, shelter, leisure and so on. A person's house is their own for as long as they live there but a large farm, for example, must be shared by the community to ensure that everyone has enough to eat without being cheated.

The next short chapter covers domestic servants. It states that members of a household should take responsibility for their own chores and should not employ an outsider to do the work they consider to be beneath them.

The third volume of The Green Book mainly covers cultural and social issues. Education is described not as a formal process but more as a human process. It is the process of learning and development, regardless of exactly where and how it happens. It is stated that knowledge should be freely available to everyone in whatever form is most appropriate to each individual. The chapter states that formal, classroom-based education imposes certain norms and limitations on young people which they may not even be aware of and thus are not given the choice to reject.

It should now be no surprise that the mainstream media has refused to mention The Green Book except to mention their mass burning. Yes, the above ideas are massively destructive to America and much of the western world's current political and economic systems. They are not harmful to the majority of individual people, but to the economic and political leaders. For multi-millionaire politicians and banking moguls, the above ideas are more destructive than a hundred hijacked airliners or bombed office buildings. This is because for many countries now, 'national security' has nothing to do with protecting the general public, but is almost exclusively about protecting the nation's military, political and economic norms.

The current representative 'democracies' and scarcity-based economic theories serve to keep wealth and power in the hands of a ruling elite and to isolate the common people from the decision making processes. This has worked for some time, but with the Internet bringing near-instant communication and vast amounts of information to the masses, things are starting to change.

The 'occupy' movement is a first sign of real change. Millions of people around the world are voting with their voices and their wealth, and rejecting the dishonest and corrupt games played by the 'elites'. And the trend is spreading. But the trend includes more than just mass protests and closing of bank accounts. It includes the drafting of petitions and proposals, and widespread planning for how to do things better. Of course, the mainstream media only gives the movement passing mention and portrays them as outcast mobs, but in reality they have little choice. The power brokers who control most of the world's news media wont allow a competing 'business model' any free publicity.

Where does it go from here? Its hard to predict a specific sequence of events but the general direction seems to be a return to a more distributed, agrarian economy. The advent of new technology means that centralized manufacturing for many items is no longer necessary. As little as five years ago, making an object out of plastic required a million-dollar injection-molding machine and an equally expensive spark-gap etching machine to make the mold. Now, open-source, community-designed 3D printers are set to fall below the thousand-dollar range. Iceland used an online wiki to draft its new constitution, with very high public participation.

But at the same time as these great developments, governments are making constant attempts to eliminate some of our most fundamental rights. Freedom of speech, privacy and personal protection are under constant attack from those who were elected to protect those rights. This is because our 'representatives' don’t represent us. The Green Book is right. Parliamentary and congressional systems are four-year blank checks with little real accountability. We can only hope that the necessary change comes peacefully, but history has shown that is seldom the case.

One thing we must remember is that people and ideas are separable. A person is just a person. Ideas are good or bad on their own merit, regardless of whose name is attached. A similar rule applies to titles and credentials. A person deserves respect on their own merit, regardless of salary, family name or academic paperwork. We need to fight the harmful and destructive ideas of exploitation, corruption and greed but we should not attack the individuals who are a part of the old system. They are doing their jobs and we can assume that they just don't know any better. They will learn, in time, when corruption and war just don't pay any more.

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