The following is the text of the address by Colonel Muammar Al Qadhafi, Leader of the Revolution of the First of September, delivered on the 1978 International Workers Day celebrations in Tripoli, Libya.
We celebrate today the first of May, the international workers day; but the real workers’ day is the one on which all workers of the world are liberated from slavery and when they become partners instead of wage workers.
This should be the Workers International Day of Liberation throughout the world which deserves the true celebration.
What meaning does this celebration of world workers have so long as in every part of the world they are succumbed under servitude of the pay which controls their living and their freedom? Is there any freedom for the person who lives enslaved by another? Is there any meaning for the life of a person when all his material and necessary needs, his daily or monthly income and his children’s living are all possessed by another person?
One’s freedom is not complete until he is totally emancipated from all forms of pressure and oppression from whatever source they are practised. That is to say when one is in complete control of all his needs, because he can never be free if any of his needs is possessed by others.
The genuine revolution eliminates all forms of exploitation on which the exploiting society is based including the Libyan society up to this moment. The bases of exploitation which deny the Libyan his freedom should be all destroyed.
Brothers, the revolution is not a military coup, nor the taking of seats from one group to hand them to another; but the revolution exposes the bases of oppression in society and destroys them. It attacks the fortresses of exploitation and is capable of destroying them. This is the revolution.
The revolution exposes the suppressing relations in the field of production as well as the unjust relations between people, and destroys these relations. This is what the revolution is about.
Any movement for change that does not go beyond depriving some of the seats [of power] or exchanging slogans and leaves the roots of exploitation in a society unchanged, then it is a fascist coup, a movement with a limited purpose and no historical impact on man’s life.
In every place, man seeks liberty and is ready to die to achieve it. He has been struggling all through history in order to live happily, because for man to be happy he has to be free. He must be emancipated from those who enslave him in order to be free in his life, in what he eats, in what he dresses and in his house. This is the free man who ought to live with happiness.
In all over the world, there are reformative and superficial attempts to satisfy the workers by allowing them to participate in the management or to have some of the shares of profit or by raising the minimum wage rate Such attempts are illusive and merely aim at deceiving the workers.
Workers as Participants in Management
The conscious person does not accept such falsifications since these reformative attempts cannot be but a failure. The labourer should not participate in the management, he must be the manager. So the labourers, from their positions of production ought to take over the management.
If the best position for the labourers in the world now is to participate in the management…then let us first define who is the manager. He is the one who exploits the labourers and he exploits them by allowing them to participate in the management. So they should be the real managers, for the labourers ought to be free. They are the majority in the world. Therefore, they should enjoy freedom and happiness. Who said that the labourers should live under exploitation all the time? They should be the managers with no other partners. The fake regimes which pretend progressiveness try to give labourers a share of the profit, but from where do these profits come? The labourers should have the full right in the profit share because it is the result of their hard work in the production process.
The aim of the centres of production in giving way any form of social benefits to the workers, directly or indirectly, is to make them forget about their full right in the profit to which they are fully entitled.
The worker is the producer and the right principle is that the one who produces is the one who consumes his production…but the workers produce and the other exploiting people consume their production, while they try to give the workers some of the profit share and the leftovers.
If the labourers do not manage all the centre of production, and consume their own production, they will remain exploited.
This call for the liberation of the labourers comes from Libya, the first Jamahiriya in the world. This would be a true liberation day, brothers, when the thousands in Libya become partners instead of wage workers. This would be the real day for celebration of the historical labour day.
No Delegation in Defending Freedom
The resolutions of the people’s conference to the effect of raising the minimum wage rate are to be implemented. Although the people’s conferences have resolved in compliance with reality and in spite of the executive measures taken by the general people’s committee and other committees, I hereby tell you not to rejoice for the rise in the minimum wage rate nor be satisfied with it or with sharing the profits or participating in the management; but the revolution should be carried on and your march should continue until the workers take over the management completely in all the institutes in which they work.
Any benefits that you acquire through a resolution or a legislation are considered as a favour by others given to you. A free man cannot live on a favour of another, because he will be the inferior. However, the benefits you achieve by completely possessing the management where you are working or by obtaining your full share in the production, these can only be achieved by the popular revolution and not by a resolution or legislation, because both are subject to change or cancellation by the same body that has laid them or by a new body that replaces the old one. In the Arab countries that used to be progressive one day or any other countries in the world, the workers lost all the benefits they gained in management and profit by a legislation or revolutionary resolution, when the revolutionary administration was over or replaced. No one can achieve freedom on behalf of someone else. One should struggle for his own freedom for which he may also die.
Therefore, all the benefits that I have just mentioned have to be in a workers movement and by popular revolution. However, this revolution movement should be fully aware and well organised because otherwise it would be anarchic. In anarchism one loses his freedom or allows others to deprive him of his freedom.
The movement of society is the movement of the Libyan people towards achieving the historical objectives of laying down the foundation of a new civilisation.
The revolution should be launched from practical and political frameworks in order to achieve its objectives. The movement of the popular forces, like the workers, should also be well organised to get their own rights which they have been longing to achieve. It is high time for the oppressed and exploited to be liberated and to take their rights by means of a popular revolution.
Destroying the Oppressing Bases, For Man to be Liberated
Who condemned you to backwardness and poverty? Who condemned you to be an inferior class and others to be a superior class? Who decided to possess your needs? Of course, not God…God is just. He can never condemn you to any of these miseries. It is the society of oppression and exploitation, the bases of which would be revealed by the revolution so that man can be free. It is time now for you to get consciously ready and well organised to have your full share of the production which you, yourself produce.
These new slogans are laid down before you to think about now. This call for freedom, freedom of the labourers should cone out very loudly from the Jamahiriya so that the workers of the world can hear it. When the historical mission of the revolution is successfully accomplished, when you take the lead in getting your full rights, then the oppressed workers around us will do the same and take their positions in managing the production. Then all the poor and oppressed labourers of the Arab Nation will be free. When the Arab human being, the Arab workers are liberated, they will be the master of the country….They will also constitute a force that is capable of confronting the enemy and defeating him, once they become free and have achievements to defend.
Therefore, as of today the labour day will have a different meaning. When the workers get their full share, consume what they produce, and manage all the stages in the production process, then they can celebrate their day.
The workers of the Libyan Jamahiriya have to accomplish this objective so that Libya can achieve its self-sufficiency and bridle the tongues which spread rumours and anti-propaganda against the Libyan workers to hinder the process of self achievements. You should not leave a gap in your revolution or give an excuse for the enemies of the workers. I am sure you will never give them the chance if you start organising yourself, as of today, in presenting a magnificent example for the oppressed workers of the Arab world. Then the exploiting, reactionary and imperialist forces and the enemies of the workers in the Arab world will realise the unique experience of Libya.
I have presented what I have said before you so that you shoulder the responsibility. I assure you that my duty and the duty of my colleagues who have led the revolution are only to participate with the people in order to liberate themselves and live a happy life.
– Muammar Al Qadhafi.
On September 1, 1978, responding to calls by the Revolutionary Leadership, workers throughout Libya seized factories and production sites removing government bureaucracy and private exploitationist administration, and set up popular administrations. The Libyan workers thus ended ages of slavery and became partners in production instead of wage earners. On September 1, 1978, the struggle of the world’s workers was crowned by a world accomplishment that has been the product of the struggle of the oppressed. This accomplishment is the true challenge to the forces of exploitation, and spells the end of all those who practised cruelty and persecution since the middle ages by sapping the efforts of workers throughout the world.
On May 1st, 1982, Col. Qadhafi made a historic call to the worlds workers. The Libyan leader called on workers internationally to escalate their struggle. He declared:
“On this day we call on the workers of the world who are suffering from deceit, exploitation, oppression and slavery, to rebel against cruel social relations by seizing factories and production units to control their rights over production and form their people’s congresses and committees. (‘No democracy without popular congresses…Committees everywhere!’) The outbreak of the workers revolution shall sweep the world, destroying forces of exploitation and oppression and raising the banner of the dictum “Partners in production not wage-earners”, guided by the second chapter of the Green Book.”