The Jamahiriya Experiment in Libya: Qadhafi and Rousseau

At present the sovereign state of Libya has no government. This has been the case since 2 March 1977, when the institution of government in its traditional legal-bureaucratic sense was dismantled, and the so-called era of jamahiriya – the era of the masses and the practice of direct democracy – was initiated. The driving force behind the jamahiriya experiment is the political theory of Libya’s strongman, Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi, as pronounced in his ‘Green Book’, which deals with the issue of democracy. The author suggests that Qadhafi’s political theory is part of a tradition of radical democratic thought initiated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and that the source of Qadhafi’s ideas is the ‘Social Contract’. When Qadhafi came to power in 1969, it was not on the basis of his jamahiriya ideas. These were formulated during the first seven years of his rule. Sections: The making of a theory: historical phases of the Libyan revolution – Rousseau and Qadhafi compared (the basic premise, the need for freedom; the problem, the state of nature and the instruments of governing; the solution, the general will and the Third Universal Theory) – Observations and conclusions. Notes.

Title: The Jamahiriya Experiment in Libya: Qadhafi and Rousseau
Author: Hajjar, Sami G.
Year: 1980
Periodical: Journal of Modern African Studies
Volume: 18
Issue: 2
Period: June
Pages: 181-200
Language: English
Geographic term: Libya
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/160277
Abstract: At present the sovereign state of Libya has no government. This has been the case since 2 March 1977, when the institution of government in its traditional legal-bureaucratic sense was dismantled, and the so-called era of jamahiriya – the era of the masses and the practice of direct democracy – was initiated. The driving force behind the jamahiriya experiment is the political theory of Libya’s strongman, Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi, as pronounced in his ‘Green Book’, which deals with the issue of democracy. The author suggests that Qadhafi’s political theory is part of a tradition of radical democratic thought initiated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and that the source of Qadhafi’s ideas is the ‘Social Contract’. When Qadhafi came to power in 1969, it was not on the basis of his jamahiriya ideas. These were formulated during the first seven years of his rule. Sections: The making of a theory: historical phases of the Libyan revolution – Rousseau and Qadhafi compared (the basic premise, the need for freedom; the problem, the state of nature and the instruments of governing; the solution, the general will and the Third Universal Theory) – Observations and conclusions. Notes.