Friday, November 04, 2005

Discussions with the left

Surprisingly, the most critical comments that I have received thus far are now coming from the left of the political spectrum, as anybody who has followed the comments on my latest post have seen. I have been quite critical of the IAF, but I haven’t given the left much attention, until Khadder began commenting on my posts. I would like to expand on some of what I have been arguing in my various posts, in order to clear myself of the accusation that I am some apologist for the government, which is what many of my readers already know.

I believe that government should work to achieve the best achievable standards of living for the most number of people without significantly damaging the social and physical environment of the country. Starting here, it is important to:
1- Safeguard the rights of the poor.
2- Keep the economy strong.
3- Reflect the will of the people in a way that does not jeopardize the rights and freedoms of the minority religious, ethnic, social or political groups as well as women.
4- Protect the environment.
5- Not get involved in the spiritual life of people, which is tempting, because it doesn't cost anything.

I have criticized the government for ignoring the need for a decent mass transport system, and substituting this with a silly decision to allow the importation of scooters. I have also criticized them for not doing more to get money from the rich Gulf countries. While I don't necessarily think that there is a problem in the way the economy is being run, I have called for a more rigorous debate on economic policies, which I think is the most important aspect of political dialog. From this aspect, I hope that more serious discussion of economic policy is initiated. I think that tax reform is an important aspect of more equitable wealth distribution, and I hope that reform is on its way, as part of the NA. I have welcomed the government's decision to pay down the debts of the public universities, and increase their budgets. This is in the direct interest of poor and middle class people. In fact, a fair reading of my blog would lead to the conclusion that I am interested in pushing the government towards more socially and environmentally equitable policies. I am also a centrist.

The problem with the left in Jordan is that they equate centrists with being pro-government (or pro-regime). By and large, we are pro-regime, but this does not mean that we are always pro-government. At the same time, the left tries to align itself with the Islamic movement, since they feel that they share the same label (the opposition). In fact, it was the centrists in the parliament who went after Bassem Awadallah and the economic team of the government, while the IAF stood by passively and watched, trying to figure out how to maximize their gains.

The natural allies of the left are the centrists, and not the Islamic right. As long as the left doesn't understand who its allies are, it will continue to be used by the Islamists and will never develop its unique and viable identity.


At 4:40 PM, Blogger Lina said...

As a reader of your blog since you started I just want to tell you that you never came off as an apologist for the government... but I guess I understood your political stand because I agree with most of what you write. Personally, I feel that my political opinions are not quite mature yet, though I think I'm somewhere between the left and center...

I wanted to tell you though that I disagree with what you said in a comment earlier about the IAF's influence being exaggerated, and that they represent a mere 16%, because if you look at the Faculty of Engineering at UJ as an example (pretty much the IAF's university headquarter) you will see that they have a very strong popular base, and many who tend to be sympathetic with them. A lot of students are easily impressionable. I can remember many many young men who started university without any affiliation, but then, come second year, you see them growing beards, steering away from girls, and distributing "7alawan" when there's a suicide bombing in Israel!! This is not to say that they do not have opposition, because thankfully there are people who see through the IAF's exploitation of the struggles in Palestine and Iraq to tap on sensitive chords and gain popularity... but this opposing stream, be it center or left, is not sufficiently organized, as you have pointed out in your post "the missing center".

If the university is a micro example of Jordanian society, then I'd say the IAF is very strongly popular, and would pose a real threat had there been full democracy!!

At 6:19 PM, Blogger jameed, RPh, MS said...

خضر وخلف،

أنا من المتابعين لكتاباتكم والتي أعتبرها إضافة ممتازة للمدونات الأردنية. وأرى نفسي متفقاً مع طروحاتكم في معظم الأحيان وإن رأيت الاختلاف في وجهات نظركم، فأني أرى مجال التعاون بين الوسط واليسار متاحاً، ويكفي أن الكثيرين من "الوسط" قد بلورت أفكارها من جذور يسارية. لذا أرى أن تؤخذ الأمور بعلقانية بعيداً عن اندفاعات تبرير المواقف.

أما من ناحية المقال الأخير، فأني اتفق من خضر في ما قصده في المعنى وإن أخذت عليه اسلوبه الهجومي في البداية، ولكن واقع الحال في الأردن لا يعطي المجال للانتخاب المباشر لرئيس الحكومة و بالتالي يجب العمل من خلال حكومات معينة لتغير الواقع وهذا بحد ذاته يعتبر تحدٍ على القوى الوطنية اجتيازه. لكنني في نفس الوقت اتفق مع خلف بأن وقوف القوى اليسارية مح حلف الأخوان المسلمين أفقدهم بعضاً من مصداقياتهم وأنني أرى أن هذا الأمر قد برز بشكل ملفت في السنوات القليلة الماضية وخصوصاً بعد النتكاسات التي تعض لها البعثيون والتي فقدوا على إثرها الكثير من ثقلهم السياسي مما اضطرهم للبحث عن حلفاء جدد في هذه المرحلة. ولعل انتقاد بعض القوى اليسارية للنظام العراقي السابق وبعض ممارسات النظام السوري (وإن كانت الانتقادات أقل بكثير) قد جعل البعثين يبحثون عمن رضوا لنفسهم تبرير فظائع صدام بحجة الوقوف ضضد الهيمنة الأمريكية، وعلى قولة المثل "أنا وأبوي على ابن عمي، وأنا وابن عمي عالغريب"

أرجو أن يكون هذا مجرد سوء تفاهم والا يصل لمرحلة تدفع اليسار للتحاف مع الإسلاميين في وجه الوسط ويدفع الوسط للتحالف المطلق مع الحكومة في وجه اليساريين، فمجال التعاون من وجهة نظري مع الوسط أكبر منه مع الإسلاميين

وهيك هسة بدكو إياني انقل التعليق لصفحة خلف! قرروا وين الهوشة عشان ما نضل ضايعيين

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commenting on Lina'a note... the university (at least JU) is not a micro example of the Jordanian society. Most students joining the university are passing thru a "phase", where there's a dramatic social change in their lives and religion is something they attach to to pass this phase, in addition to the great help they receive from the Islamic movement once they join the university.

Regarding the presumed coallitions between Leftists and Islamists, to me it sounds so hypocritical, just like most politicans are.... Yesterday's enemy is today's freind, and today's friend is tomorrow's enemy! Principles are lost among that.

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pay you 50jd amonth to be pro gov

At 9:53 PM, Blogger jameed, RPh, MS said...


i think 50 JDs is not enough for one to overlook all the arguments against the subsequent governments. plus the minimum wage as set by the government itself is 85 dinars.

so I think it is safe to say that if one is willing to be paid to be a trumpet for the government, he is paid at least 85 dinars.

and i don't believe khalaf is paid to be that...

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hi All,

Lina, I agree with Hareega. I believe that the size of the IAF constituency in Jordan is between 15-20%. All the polls and election results show this.

Jameed and Anon, I actually feel quite stupid admitting that I do this for free. Could you tell me how I can make some money off of this :)

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the IAF's popularity being exaggerated,

True they only do represent 15-20% in parliament but that is only because of the Jordanian election code. The electoral districts are divided such that any popular party would never have a chance of getting a majority in parliament.

But Mark my words if we had free and fair elections the IAF would easily earn an overwhelming majority in parliament,

Also, I don't believe that economic policy should be up for debate. Especially monetary policy. Even in highly democratic nations economic policy is simply not a matter of public debate (the example being The Federal reserve)

Furthermore, tab reform. I'm assuming you mean creating a progressive income taxation system instaed of the reliance on a high sales tax that ultimately hurts the poor. The problemw with that is as follows. The cost of building the infrastructure needed for an IRS type system would be incredbily expensive and simply ineffecient. Unless we find an oil somewhere in Ma'an then it aint gonna happen

The Islamic Action Front is the greatest threat to the stability and well being of Jordanian society. The left must end its unholy alliance with the dman islamists (note that the IAF is strongest in the trade unions).


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