- Arab socialism
Arab Socialism ( _ar. الاشتراكية العربية, "al-ishtirākīya al-‘arabīya") is a political ideology based on an amalgamation of
Pan-Arabismand Socialism. Arab Socialism is distinct from the much broader tradition of socialist thought in the Arab World, which predates Arab Socialism by as much as 50 years.
Background and influence
Arab Socialism represents a historically important political trend in the Arab world, although its influence has since diminished. The intellectual and political influence of Arab Socialism peaked during the 1950s and 60s, when it constituted the ideological basis of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and, to a lesser extent, of the Nasserite movement. The term "Arab Socialism" itself was coined by
Michel ‘Aflaq, one of the founders of the Ba'ath Party, in order to distinguish his version of socialist ideology from Marxist socialism and the other types of socialism that developed in either European or other non-Western countries (the People's Republic of China, USSR, etc.), and to highlight its authenticity and originality.
To ‘Aflaq, Arab Socialism was a necessary consequence of the quest for Arab unity and freedom, as only a socialist system of property and development would overcome the social and economic legacy of
colonialism. At the same time, he vigorously rejected orthodox Marxism, considering its materialist, internationalist and atheist foundations ill-adapted to the Arab situation. While Arab Socialism endorsed much of the economic and social programme of European-style socialism, its divergent intellectual and spiritual foundations imposed some limits on its revolutionary potential: The ownership of the means of productionwas to be nationalized, but only within the constraints of traditional values such as private propertyand inheritance. "Primitive" social structures such as feudalism, nomadism, tribalism, religious factionalism and the oppression of women were to be overcome, but not at the cost of severing the social ties that constituted the Arab identity. Arab Socialism was frequently pictured as a "middle way" between the Capitalist West and the Communist East, and as a modern expression of traditional Arab values.
Arab Socialism is difficult to disentangle from the anti-colonial nationalist paradigm of the day, and this also manifested itself in the political and economic doctrines of the ideology. For example, the economic programme of Arab Socialists was often heavily focused on severing ties with the former colonial power, redistributing land that had been confiscated by settlers or foreign rulers, and creating self-reliance in the economic sphere as a means of securing political independence.
Arguably, the most notable economic manifestations of Arab Socialism were the
land reforms in Egypt (1952), Syria(1963) and Iraq(1970) and the nationalization of major industries and the banking systems in those countries. In Egypt and Syria, many of these policies were later reversed. They were more successful in Iraq, possibly due to the country's oil wealth, until the beginning of the Iran–Iraq Warin 1980.
Arab Socialism, woven into
Arab Nationalismand Pan Arabthought, lost much of its appeal after the defeat of the Arab nations in the Six-Day Warof 1967, in which Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt was widely discredited. While the ideology continued to hold sway for years to come, the war set in motion a fundamental rethinking of Arab politics, which many saw as the beginning of the end of the Arab Socialist era. As the Ba'ath Parties in both Iraq and Syria gradually transformed in the late 1960s from ideology-driven movements into instruments of ethnically defined, totalitarian rule, Arab Socialism lost its political importance. Today, it is no longer a major political force, although a lasting heritage of Arab Socialism is the secular character of many Arab regimes. However, Arab Socialist ideas are still widely held by intellectuals of the Arab world, and its ideas of social egalitarianismand of a 'third way' between 'egoist' capitalism and 'anti-spiritual' socialism remain important in modern Arab political thought.
List of Arab Socialists
The following is a list of people who have been seen as adherents of Arab Socialism, or have been influential within the Arab Socialist school of thought, although some of them may not have used the term, or may even have opposed it.
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Salah al-Din al-Bitar
Ahmed Ben Bella
Mehdi Ben Barka
* [http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-4054.html Nasser and Arab Socialism]
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