Libya since Independence: Oil and State-Building by Dirk VandewalleLibya since Independence: Oil and State-Building by Dirk Vandewalle

Libya since Independence: Oil and State-Building

byDirk Vandewalle

Paperback | July 16, 1998

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Although Libya and its current leader have been the subject of numerous accounts, few have considered how the country's tumultuous history, its institutional development, and its emergence as an oil economy combined to create a state whose rulers ignored the notion of modern statehood. International isolation and a legacy of internal turmoil have destroyed or left undocumented much of what researchers might seek to examine. Dirk Vandewalle supplies a detailed analysis of Libya's political and economic development since the country's independence in 1951, basing his account on fieldwork in Libya, archival research in Tripoli, and personal interviews with some of the country's top policymakers.

Vandewalle argues that Libya represents an extreme example of what he calls a "distributive state," an oil-exporting country where an attempt at state-building coincided with large inflows of capital while political and economic institutions were in their infancy. Libya's rulers eventually pursued policies that were politically expedient but proved economically ruinous, and disenfranchised local citizens. Distributive states, according to Vandewalle, may appear capable of resisting economic and political challenges, but they are ill prepared to implement policies that make the state and its institutions relevant to their citizens. Similar developments can be expected whenever local rulers do not have to extract resources from their citizens to fund the building of a modern state.

Title:Libya since Independence: Oil and State-BuildingFormat:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.25 inPublished:July 16, 1998Publisher:Cornell University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801485355

ISBN - 13:9780801485350

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Table of Contents

List of Acronyms
Note on Transliteration
Chronology, 1951–1996


Chapter 1. Introduction: Issues and Framework
Situating the Debate
The Libyan Monarchy and

Chapter 2. The Distributive State
State Formation: Revenues and Institutions
State-Building in Distributive States
Politics and Development in Distributive States
Distributive States: Oil and History
State Strength, Autonomy, and Social Setting


Chapter 3. Shadow of the Past: The Sanusi Kingdom
The Sanusi Kingdom and the Colonial Legacy
Libya's First Oil Boom: State-Building and Institutions

Chapter 4. From Kingdom to Republic: The Qadhafi Coup
Political Consolidation and Mobilization
The Popular Revolution and the Pursuit of Legitimacy
From Concession to Participation: Oil and Development


Chapter 5. Thawra and Tharwa: Libya's Boom-and-Bust Decade
Technocrats versus Revolutionaries: Transition toward a Jamahiriyya
The Green Book: Popular Rule
Popular and Revolutionary Means of Governing
The Green Book: Popular Management
Postponing Reform: The Last Great Spender of Petrodollars
Postponing Reform; Confrontation Abroad, Mobilization at Home
The Politics of Evocation: Myths, Symbols, and Charisma
Emerging Problems of Control
Oil and State-Building during Libya's Revolutionary Decade

Chapter 6, Shadow of the Future: Libya's Failed Infitah
"Revolution within the Revolution"
Markets, Institutions, and Economic Reform
Growth and Development


Chapter 7. Oil and State-Building in Distributive States: The Libyan Contribution
State-Building, Institutions, and Rent-Seeking in Distributive States
The Power of the Distributive State
Power or Wealth: Politics in Distributive States
State-Building in the Jamahiriyya: Observations on the Future
Oil, State-Building, and Politics

Bibliographical Note
Selected Bibliography

From Our Editors

Although Libya and its current leader have been the subject of numerous accounts, few have considered how the country's emergence as an oil economy created a state whose rulers ignored the concept of modern statehood. This book supplies a detailed analysis of Libya's political and economic development since the country's independence in 1951.

Editorial Reviews

"This book about a rentier state adds a new dimension to the usual analysis. Rentier states, it is said, buy the compliance of their people with externally derived revenues instead of granting them representation in exchange for taxes. Dirk Vandewalle, in this excellent exploration of Libyan practice, goes further: such states may imagine they can do without public institutions altogether. Qadhafi abolished or obscured state instrumentalities with a wave of populist revolutionary committees and direct democracy. When the steep fall in oil revenues pricked the rentier bubble, Qadhafi had no institutions left to mount economic reforms and address the negative effect on wages and welfare. This work combines theoretical sophistication with thick description. Vandewalle's rich economic and political critique of a failed revolution gives face and features to a state and leader previously reduced to an incomprehensible stereotype."—Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, University of Chicago