Monday, April 17, 2006

The losers (part I)

Nahid Hattar has written a book titled "The losers: can the rules of the game be changed?", which seems to be a bold attempt at articulating a new leftist nationalistic view. This in contrast to the globalized capitalist paradigm which is currently the model being adopted in Jordan. It is a very interesting read that has been drawing a lot of attention. Ibrahim Gharaibeh has a short synopsis of the book here (in Arabic). The book was a subject for a seminar, in which deputy Mamdouh Abbadi and journalist Fahed Khitan, who discussed many of its contents. It is clear that this work has invigorated the leftist movement in Jordan. What does Hattar have to say?

The first part of the book is the subject of this post. The basic premise of the book is that the economic and social agenda of the country has been taken since 1996 over by business intermediaries (compradors), who have formulated policy in order to achieve multiple purposes. These revolve around the creating economic incentives for large scale foreign companies. In doing this, the compradors, who Hattar estimates to include 2% of the country, have worked at dismantling the political, social and economic bases of the state for their own benefit. This was done to the detriment of the remaining 98% of people (the losers).

In order to achieve their agenda, the compradors worked systematically at the privatization of the country's assets, the weakening of the traditional base of the Jordanian government, the withdrawing from government's traditional role in creating infrastructure and delivering health and educational services. Hattar calls this "the non-state strategy", in which he sees the strategy being the surrendering the role of the state to the private sector, which has neither inclination nor incentive to fill the void created by this withdrawal. The result is the marginalization of the traditional components of the Jordanian society to the benefit of the new business class. He further claims that this agenda is enabled by the Muslim Brotherhood, who passively supported Adnan Badran's government as it was being attacked for including Bassem Awadallah and his economic team. The implication is that the MB can more easily impose its social agenda on an impoverished society than on an economically healthy one. The entire process was done through a series of undemocratic means, as there was no way that such an agenda would have met with the approval of the Jordanian people.

Hattar offers a vigorous defense of the public sector of Jordan, calling for empowering and revitalizing it, as a precursor to reversing the agenda of the compradors. He claims that "it is not bloated- as is claimed-, and if is it weighted by more employees than are needed, then this is for social and political reasons" (page 62). He papers over the fact that the 1989 collapse of the Jordanian economy, which opened the door for this change in economic approach, occurred under the stewardship of the traditional bureaucracy which he is calling to re-empower.

Yet, despite these weaknesses, there is a lot of important information and insight in this book. Anybody interested in the recent history of Jordan and its political and economic future should read it.

I will have more later.



At 12:35 AM, Blogger Ziad said...

What was the government's budget in 1996, and what is it in 2006?

Those trying to reduce the size of the government all those years are true failures it seems :)

At 12:50 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Ziad: Jordan's FY 1996 budget was $1.614 billion; in FY 2006 it is about $5 billion.

The question is whether we are getting more for our money?

At 2:20 AM, Blogger Batir Wardam said...

I am planning to read the book very soon in a state of concentration. However I have to admit that I have certian mixed feelings regarding the intellectual content of the book and the personal perspective of Nahid Hatter illustrated by his writing. Nahid is an old communist who turned to be a ultra nationalist aiming to marginalize the rights of citizenships of Jordanians from Palestinian origins and he is using a leftist dogma to promote this. His approach makes me feel pain in the stomach. I belive in "social democracy" as a new-leftist movement focusing on equal social justice and I do not like the privatization system. However, I cannot defend public sector bureucracy since it is based on corruption and nepotism. Jordan needs to reform its administrative proceedures but Hater wants to link "reform" with imposing "Palestinian-based compradors". In a few articles he considered Rawabdeh and Abdel hadi Majali as potential "national leaders" of Jordan which I find completely nonesense. His arguments is always based on strengthening traditional nepotism and tribal preferences as a stronghold against 'Palestinian economic influence" in Jordan. Moreover, he is an avid supporter of Saddam and the Iraqi "resistance" killing innocents and that says a lot about him. Simply I can identify with some of his ideas on privatization but surely not his character.

At 6:29 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Batir: Well, I had to leave something for later. Bear with me and I will give more analysis on some of his ideas.

At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Batir, Nahid was a communist at a time almost every person was either a communist or a Baathist.

Just for the sake of clarification for those who may not be familiar with the history of political parties in Jordan, Nahid Hattar's view do not reflect a system of though that was, or became, common among leftists. On the contrary, Dr. Yaqoub Zayadeen, from Al Karak ran for parliament in 1950 in Jerusalem and won.

Some times I wonder if Ahmad Oweidi Al Abbadi cast a spell on Nahid ;-)

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am trying to find this book, i googled it with no luck... so i;m guessing its in arabic... can you please inform me whether its available in any amman bookstores?


At 4:06 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Samar: It is published by Ward Books and Publications. Their telephone is 5606263.


At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone post me a link to a biography of mr. Hattar ?


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