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Ba'athism: A Left Or Right Wing Ideology?

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Is Ba'athism of the left or of the right?

Total votes : 33
Post 21 Jul 2012, 04:48
It is very interesting to see that many communists side with Ba'athist leaderships. Many supported Saddam Hussein against the United States and even afterwards continued to idealise his government as progressive and socialist. Today many show support for Bashar Al-Assad's Ba'athism in Syria.

Is Ba'athism a left wing or a right wing ideology?

To me it seems that Ba'athism is right wing. The ideological basis does not emerge from leftist ideals but is instead very nationalistic. The purpose of Ba'athism is to revive the Arab nation. Even though it has a socialist economic base this means nothing. Hitler also claimed to be socialist, however National Socialism is right wing, nationalist rather than internationalist and not based on Marxism. To me socialism can be either left wing (Soviet socialism) or right wing (National Socialism, Ba'athism, Nasserism). Maybe some will think it is leftist because it seeks independence from imperialism but rightists can also be anti-imperialists if their country is under occupation or threatened from the outside. It seems like a right wing ideology with the socialist progressive rhetoric and terminology.
Post 21 Jul 2012, 08:05
This seems to me a definition problem. It is possible to be "left" without being Marxist. In fact, most of the left is not Marxist today. Even large parts of the radical left. It seems to me that it's one of many forms of left-wing nationalism.

The way you talk about "left" and "right" socialism is a different thing altogether. Within the "spectrum" of socialism, all nationalist ideologies like Ba'athism, are obviously on the right. After all, they support nationalism, the primacy of the state, don't make a class analysis, etc.

Despite the name, I don't think Nazism can be grouped in this spectrum at all, on the right or otherwise. Maybe at some point in its theory, but certainly not in its praxis. Historically, Nazism was not just "nationalism plus socialism", but rather the German variety of fascism, "the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital" as the Comintern said.
Post 21 Jul 2012, 09:41
Right wing in my opinion. They struggled for the independance of the national bourgeoisie, and even if they made some concessions to the working class, the aim was to pacify the country and class struggle in order to protect the interests of this bourgeoisie.
Post 21 Jul 2012, 16:18
I need to read more on the topic, but it seems to me that movements based primarily on nationalism and ethnicity would be reactionary.
Post 22 Jul 2012, 01:05
I voted Left. Note that it's important here to distinguish between the Iraqi and Syrian variants of Ba'athism, both theoretically and in practice. For instance, the Iraqi version seems to have been corrupted by nepotism and extreme largess after Saddam Hussein came to power, whereas Syria apparently has not suffered that fate.
Post 22 Jul 2012, 12:55
Also voted left, even though it's based on arab nationalism, the movement itself was founded around the time the Arab world was still colonised, or run by western puppet kingdoms, so the nationalism in the baathist sense is more about being independent than reactionary ethnicity.
Post 22 Jul 2012, 16:52
Other: it has been both a left wing and right wing ideology.

Saleh Jadid was part of the left wing until the right wing shift with Hafiz al-Assad.
Gamal Abdel Nasser was part of the left wing until the right wing shift with Anwar Sadat.

I'd assume that the Iraqi Ba'athism had similar left wing history with an eventual right wing turn.
Post 25 Jul 2012, 13:27
Well, I have to make several comments on this subject.

First: What is "left-wing", what is "right-wing"? Does "right-wing" mean fascist? Does it mean bourgeois-conservative, like Merkel/Sarkozy/Cameron? Social Democracy is more or less left-wing, regarding the whole political spectrum. Within this left-wing, however, it is so much right-wing that in many cases it can't even be considered left-wing. So, I think it is a question of definition. In general, I would say "left-wing" means something like humanistic, democratic, supporting the weak and the poor and acting in tradition of Enlightenment, whereas "right-wing" means anti-social, reactionary, supporting the rich and the exploitation of the masses.

Second: Having more or less clearified that, I voted other, because - as Red Rebel already mentioned - there is not a general Baathism, but a rather left-wing (the Syrian Baath Party) and a rather right-wing (the Iraqi Baath Party during Saddam) Baathism. As far as I know, the Baathist ideology is some mixture of Panarabism and socialism. So, using the above-mentioned definition, I would say Baathism is generally rather left-wing, but very open to interpretation.

Third: I personally support Bashar Assad, because I think he is a good president, at least the best possible for Syria. He heads the secular state in the whole region, and Syria is a major part of the so-called "axis of resistance". The rebels, on the other hand, seem to be just a bunch of CIA agents and Salafist fanatics, who want to see Syria in an alliance with the USA and the reactionary Sunnite Gulf monarchies. However, I never supported Saddam, but of course I supported Iraq against the US invasion. Not because of Saddam, but because of principles, because of the fact that the USA (and, in fact, no country at all) may invade another country and interfere in its internal affairs just because it has oil or because it might have weapons of mass destruction, what was only a pretence to get the oil anyway, as anyone could see. So, I didn't support Saddam (and I don't know anybody who did), but I opposed US imperialism.
Post 27 Jul 2012, 14:02
Oh, one thing I forgot in my quite long post: I couldn't say that Hafiz or Bashar Assad were "right-wing". Saleh Jadid was kind of extreme left-wing, whereas Hafiz Assad could be called something like "centre-left". He certainly was not a socialist, and he was more right-wing than Jadid, but nevertheless Syria has built something similar to socialism and was a close ally of the socialist camp. Compared to the Iraqi Baath Party, Syria has always been the left wing of Baathism.
Post 27 Jul 2012, 14:34
I wonder if it makes any difference to people's position on the topic, that Ba'ath parties have suppressed and murdered communists in plenty of cases, especially Iraq.
Post 27 Jul 2012, 15:44
runequester wrote:
I wonder if it makes any difference to people's position on the topic, that Ba'ath parties have suppressed and murdered communists in plenty of cases, especially Iraq.

The Iraqi Baathists, yes. The Syrian led faction are allied with communists even today, it's important to make that distinction. The Soviet Union was the main foreign supplier of the Syrian Army in the Cold War.

And when discussing if 'Baathism' is left-wing or right-wing, it's clearer to say that the Iraqi faction, which indeed murdered a number of communists, corrupted with a cult of personality, and had a regional imperialist agenda fueled by the USA, is more of a split from the 'original' baathist ideology.
Post 20 Apr 2016, 22:26
ba'athism can be left or right. in Syria it is right wing but in iraq it was left wing, the people owned the means of production, women where made equal to men and everyone was considerer equal. weather you where Christian or Muslim. the 2 religions didn't fight, they got along, thats why many Iraqis loved Saddam, he made it that way. and its only now he is dead civil war has started, civil war in Syria started anyway because Assad is a right wing tyrant. saddam was in no way a tyrant. and though yes he was a nationalist, so was ho chi minh! and though i would not say that ba'athism is a far left ideology, it is more left than right. and though yes Saddam did kill some communists, it wasn't because they where communist, it was because they where committing crimes, he did the same to capitalists and even to some other ba'athists! and before he got in power (and after but not as much) he did work with communists. and he wasn't an imperialist, Ba'athists want a united arab nation, invading Kuwait is one way to start doing that! and also if he didn't the government would have collapsed and we would end up with somalia the 2nd. and Syria is self explanatory, he just wanted to unite the 2 nations. the thought of exploiting its people was out of the question. Iran on the other hand it was fuelled by other reasons, not really imperialist ones, but not the best ones either. Syrian ba'athism is more right wing (Assad is killing people for being left as we speak)
Post 25 Apr 2016, 18:18
Right Wing of course.

They are to the right of Social Democracy and the left of most capitalist factions. You can compare them to the Chinese Nationalist Party during Sun Yat-sen era. But that didn't prevent Chiang Kai-shek to massacre Chinese Communists.
Post 15 May 2016, 17:02
Ba'athism was a concept of Arab Nationalism/Socialism which was very popular in first stage of cold war among arab nations. But has nothing to do with communist/leftist ideals. On the contrary in these countries (iraq, egypt, syria) arab nationalist regimes killed a lot o communists and had communist parties banned.
Post 28 May 2016, 12:16
Let me add my 2 cents. Nationalism can be progressive or a reactionary depending on the circumstances. Nationalism in Europe was for the most part reactionary but in Asia and Africa it could be progressive. For example Arab nationalism mobilizing the masses against colonial oppressors was certainly revolutionary and progressive.

Concerning the hostility between Ba'ath (Baas) and communism it was to a certain extend a conflict between two forces proclaiming progress and social advances for the masses. So despite all obvious differences they were sort of a competition to each other hence at least in part an explanation for the mutual hostility.
Post 28 May 2016, 14:53
when a country is under colonial rule, all tendencies are nationalist from left wing to right wing
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