Monday, April 24, 2006

The losers (part IV)

Nahid Hattar's book critiques the current state of Jordan's political and economic realities. This is the fourth and final part of my review of his work. Here are parts I, II and III.

Hattar divides the Jordanian political spectrum into four main trends. These are the conservatives, liberals, leftists and Islamists. He offers some interesting insight into all of these trends.

The conservatives: According to Hattar, the conservatives represent the traditional support group for the Jordanian state. This political grouping almost by definition represents Eastern Jordanian nationalists. These consists of the tribal and bureaucratic forces, who refused to form a formal political party when they were in power up to the late nineties. The prevailing attitude was that since they were in power, there was no need to formalize this political line into a political party. Hattar believes that this political line will never return to power by appointment, and will need to reorganize itself into a strong political party to achieve this objective.

The liberals: This political group assumed greater power since Abdelkarim Kabariti Assumed the role of prime minister in 1996. The basic support for this group is from the business elites who are concerned with their own interests. Hattar believes that this grouping shows a fatal internal inconsistency because it using undemocratic (therefore illiberal) tactics to achieve its goals. This is evident from the way Ali Abu Ragheb's government passed over 200 temporary laws while freezing the parliamentary life in the country. Hattar challenges this grouping to develop a formal political party and to put forward a coherent plan for economic development of the country which will conform to the social needs of the people.

The leftists: Hattar believes that the leftists, despite their current irrelevance, have a chance to develop a strong political force in the country. This is due to the need for a counterbalance to the liberal economic influence and illiberal political atmosphere imposed by the liberals and the Islamists.

The Islamists: Hattar views the Islamist movement as having an important role in the country. This derives from the need to unite and moderate the Islamist movements in society. Another need is to provide a political umbrella for Jordanians with Palestinian heritage, although the movement contains members from all backgrounds. He derides the conformity of the movement with the wishes of the liberals, and their organizational links with Hamas. He also feels that the movement doesn't do enough to combat extremism, and the isolation of extremists.

I suppose that my problem with this analysis stems from the following:
1- The burden of finding a workable social and economic paradigm seems to only be placed on the liberals. Ostensibly, this is because they are in charge of the current economic state, and thus they should fix it.
2- I really don't find myself fitting into any of these categories. I have said that I am a centrist. I certainly don't think that the conservatives represent me, as their program would revolve around a system of patronage and social corruption. They failed in the past, and have no program for the future. Moreover, my centrist tendencies are inclusive. The leftist movement is still a potential without real form. The liberals are greedy capitalists who don't care about the rest of us, although a progressive social agenda might give them some redemption. As for the Islamists, well, don't get me started.

Anyway, as I said before, it is an interesting read, and I think that its publishing at this point is timely. If you are interested in the political situation in Jordan, no matter what your political tendencies, I encourage you to read it.


At 5:25 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I did not read the book but enjoyed reading your posts. I found Hattar clasisifcation to be extremely interesting, especially his terms.
In the West, the term liberal is typically assoicated with being pro: social justice, labor unions, minorities rights and so on. However Hattar had a differnt term in mind that is associated with being pro capitalism the way we know it.

Interestingly as well, the word conservative(political) in the west is associated with a one who is pro:tax cut, small government and business. Anyway, I thought his terminlolgy does not fit with the global definition of these terms. I bit, that it will be very confusing for a westerner to read his book.

However, and saying all that. I am excited that Hattar wrote his book. I hope and wish that this will become a trend and soon we will hear from other people in the different political groups writing about their views.

At 7:54 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Issam: I agree. The American term for "liberal" would more closely reflect "leftist" in Hattar's terminology. Hattar's liberal is pro free economy, and more closely alligned with an American "conservative".

Thanks for commenting. I was begining to feel that my efforts were unappreciated.


At 9:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Ususally good posts are those that do not get many responces:-)


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