Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interesting analysis of Iraqi election

BAGHDAD, IRAQ, JANUARY 28:  An Iraqi Communist...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Martin Thomas of the UK-based left-wing group Alliance for Workers Liberty has an interesting analysis of the just concluded Iraqi election.  The last paragraph is especially important, in my opinion.

The left had no real presence. The Worker-communist Party of Iraq originally decided to stand - a welcome move, since we in the AWL had argued with them back in 2005 that they should contest the elections then - but then pulled out. The Iraqi Communist Party did stand more-or-less independently this time, rather than joining a coalition with bigger bourgeois forces as previously - but only "more or less" independently, since they presented themselves as the "People's Union", with no distinct working-class or socialist claim. I don't know their vote, but it is unlikely to have been big. [see Harry Barnes' posts on the history of the ICP here--nar]

However, there was some political movement in the run-up to the elections, and some beginning of political differentiation as distinct from the jostling of communal blocs. All the main coalitions, apparently, were at pains to present themselves as non-sectarian, nationalist, and at least semi-secular.

But the "politics" in the election were a bit more like "politics", a bit less like straight communal-bloc haggling.
This does not mean that Iraq has achieved a stable (although limited and bourgeois) democracy, or that the 2003 invasion is vindicated. Between 2003 and now have come at least 100,000 civilian deaths. Each month dozens more are killed by Al-Qaeda-type bombings. Vast numbers have been maimed or forced to flee their homes. Iraqi society has been atomised and brutalised. Even the formalities of democracy are very shaky in Iraq.

Despite the Maliki government's repeated promises of a democratic labour law, the government still has to hand laws from the Saddam era which give it a legal basis for snuffing out Iraq's much-harassed new labour movement as soon as it feels strong enough to do that. Paradoxically, a "strengthening of democracy" in Iraq in the shape of a more solid political system, and a government with more credibility and authority, could well bring a rapid risk of the stifling in Iraq of the element of democracy most important for socialists, the ability of workers to organise and agitate independently.

The shifts in Iraq do, however, show that it is (and has been since 2003) important for socialists to agitate and organise on democratic issues within Iraq, rather than limiting themselves to denunciation of the USA. They reinforce the urgency of building international support for the Iraqi union movement's demand for a democratic labour law, codifying the right to organise and to strike

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