The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Iraq: Evolution and Transformation

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Reading history backwards, many Western observers took the sectarian strife that briefly afflicted Iraq following the invasion as evidence of some sort of innate Iraqi political nature in which 'Sunnis' were seen as eternally fighting 'Shi'is' for domination of the 'Arab' parts of Iraq, and the 'Sunnis', who were the 'bad guys' due to the fact that most members of the ruling Ba'th Party were of this extraction, were seen as oppressing the Kurds in the north.

This, in turn, was seen as a direct result of the 'artificial' creation of the Iraqi state by the British in the wake of World War I.

Thus, a clear historical correlation was 'discovered' which neatly fitted the Western narrative of a failed state at the time. But this simplistic view of Iraqi politics has very little to do with reality. Even at the height of sectarian strife it was never the case of Sunni fighting Shi'i or Kurds fighting Arabs or Muslims fighting Christians.

There were political groups and parties mainly made up of Shi'is who sometimes fought other groups consisting of Shi'is, just as there were political parties made up mostly of Sunnis who fought each other, and in the Kurdish areas the longstanding political feud between the two dominant Kurdish political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, continued in the same manner as it had before the invasion. The main reason why Iraqis resorted, to some extent, to sectarian and ethnic identities after the invasion was because all other forms of open political activity had been suppressed by Saddam Hussein during his and the Ba'th Party's 35 years in power.

All political parties were banned and any oppositional activity was clamped down upon with ferocity, leaving only traditional religious and familial networks in place to be utilised for political mobilisation and resistance. Yet, it is important to understand that this was the outcome of a political process and a deliberate manipulation of a political system by an authoritarian regime - not the result of innate contradictions existing through time between static sectarian, tribal or ethnic identities.

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The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Iraq by Tareq Y. Ismael

To fully understand Iraqi politics, and indeed other Middle Eastern countries with similar post-colonial experiences e. Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen, and others , we need to look at the period that came before the usurpation of power by authoritarian cliques and study the way in which political mobilisation was carried out back then.

Only by understanding how men like Saddam Hussein came to power and the political processes that preceded such concentration of power into the hands of a few people can we begin to understand politics in places like Iraq and elsewhere in the region - states in which the natural conduct of politics was resistance to unrepresentative rulers, be they the British, the French, the Italians or local Arab autocrats.

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The case of Iraq is especially interesting in this regard. Subscribers receive exclusive discounts and early access to new books from Hurst. I consent for my email address to be transferred to Mailchimp.


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Bibliographic Details. Inspection Copy Request. Review Copy Request. The backlash to globalisation has helped fuel the extraordinary political shifts of the past 18 months. During the close race to become the Democratic party candidate, senator Bernie Sanders relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton on her support for free trade.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump openly proposed tilting the terms of trade in favour of American industry. The vote for Brexit was strongest in the regions of the UK devastated by the flight of manufacturing. It was only a few decades ago that globalisation was held by many, even by some critics, to be an inevitable, unstoppable force.

In practice, this often meant that industry would move from rich countries, where labour was expensive, to poor countries, where labour was cheaper. People in the rich countries would either have to accept lower wages to compete, or lose their jobs. But no matter what, the goods they formerly produced would now be imported, and be even cheaper. And the unemployed could get new, higher-skilled jobs if they got the requisite training. Mainstream economists and politicians upheld the consensus about the merits of globalisation, with little concern that there might be political consequences.

These days, as sizable constituencies have voted in country after country for anti-free-trade policies, or candidates that promise to limit them, the old self-assurance is gone.

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Millions have rejected, with uncertain results, the punishing logic that globalisation could not be stopped. The backlash has swelled a wave of soul-searching among economists, one that had already begun to roll ashore with the financial crisis. How did they fail to foresee the repercussions? I n the heyday of the globalisation consensus, few economists questioned its merits in public. But in , the Harvard economist Dani Rodrik published a slim book that created a stir. Rodrik pointed to a series of dramatic recent events that challenged the idea that growing free trade would be peacefully accepted.

In , France had adopted a programme of fiscal austerity in order to prepare for entry into the eurozone; trade unions responded with the largest wave of strikes since What was the pathology of which all of these disturbing events were symptoms? Since the s, and especially following the collapse of the Soviet Union, lowering barriers to international trade had become the axiom of countries everywhere. Tariffs had to be slashed and regulations spiked. Trade unions, which kept wages high and made it harder to fire people, had to be crushed.

These moves were generally applauded by economists. After all, their profession had long embraced the principle of comparative advantage — simply put, the idea countries will trade with each other in order to gain what each lacks, thereby benefiting both. In theory, then, the globalisation of trade in goods and services would benefit consumers in rich countries by giving them access to inexpensive goods produced by cheaper labour in poorer countries, and this demand, in turn, would help grow the economies of those poorer countries. Workers were suffering more spells of unemployment, more volatility in the hours they were expected to work.

While many economists attributed much of the insecurity to technological change — sophisticated new machines displacing low-skilled workers — Rodrik suggested that the process of globalisation should shoulder more of the blame.

Communists, Nationalists, and China's Revolutions: Crash Course World History #37

It was, in particular, the competition between workers in developing and developed countries that helped drive down wages and job security for workers in developed countries. Over and over, they would be held hostage to the possibility that their business would up and leave, in order to find cheap labour in other parts of the world; they had to accept restraints on their salaries — or else.

Opinion polls registered their strong levels of anxiety and insecurity, and the political effects were becoming more visible. The inevitable result would be a huge political backlash. As Rodrik would later recall, other economists tended to dismiss his arguments — or fear them. Over the course of the s, an unwieldy international coalition had begun to contest the notion that globalisation was good. Activists were intent on showing a much darker picture, revealing how the record of globalisation consisted mostly of farmers pushed off their land and the rampant proliferation of sweatshops.

In , the movement reached a high point when a unique coalition of trade unions and environmentalists managed to shut down the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. In a state of panic, economists responded with a flood of columns and books that defended the necessity of a more open global market economy, in tones ranging from grandiose to sarcastic. Language like this lent the fight for globalisation the air of an epochal struggle.

Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world

Arguments against the global justice movement rested on the idea that the ultimate benefits of a more open and integrated economy would outweigh the downsides. The fact that proponents of globalisation now felt compelled to spend much of their time defending it indicates how much visibility the global justice movement had achieved by the early s. Still, over time, the movement lost ground, as a policy consensus settled in favour of globalisation.

The proponents of globalisation were determined never to let another gathering be interrupted. They stopped meeting in major cities, and security everywhere was tightened.

The Iraqi Communist Party

Above all, there was a widespread perception that globalisation was working as it was supposed to. The local adverse effects that activists pointed to — sweatshop labour, starving farmers — were increasingly obscured by the staggering GDP numbers and fantastical images of gleaming skylines coming out of China.

With some lonely exceptions — such as Rodrik and the former World Bank chief and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz — the pursuit of freer trade became a consensus position for economists, commentators and the vast majority of mainstream politicians, to the point where the benefits of free trade seemed to command blind adherence. In a TV interview, Thomas Friedman was asked whether there was any free trade deal he would not support.