Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973
Basic changes in the social, cultural, informational and educational fields as well as in legislation must be considered as important as the other national, democratic, socialist changes already mentioned and they must go hand in hand. The Revolution thus moves comprehensively towards building the national, democratic, socialist state.
The Revolution had inherited a worn-out bureaucratic machine in the state which had accumulated all the wrongs of Ottoman and British rule. The laws reflected vested interests. They were reactionary and at best reformative. But they were all out of touch with the spirit of modern times.
The culture and information machinary was no better, certainly no less backward, ideologically and technically. Education was chaotic and dominated by the ideologies of the rightists, reactionaries and apportunists.
Some changes were introduced into the structure and laws of the state and also into educational and cultural activities between July 14th 1958 and July 17th 1968. Some of the innovations were progressive. But the changes were sparse unrelated to an integrated whole and often emptied of meaning.
The Party had to face difficult missions in these fields. The objective conditions of the country and the area, in addition to the state of the Party itself made it necessary that the Party should take over power in a matter of hours without adequate preparation of a complete machinary as in the case of the other revolutions in the world, such as the Chinese Revolution. At the same time, the Revolution was unable to liquidate the old machinary arid replace it with a new one, as did the Russian Revolution.
The balance of social forces which necessitated the aforementioned method in taking over power and the conditions peculiar to Iraq in addition to the nature of modern times and requirements make it impossible to paralyse the state machinary for even one day. Therefore, liquidation or instantaneous replacement would have led to chaos and great harm.
The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party and the Revolution were thus compelled to keep the government machinary going in spite of all the distortions and obstructions created by it, and to work gradually towards achieving the changes required.
It was a daily task requiring continuous effort in all ideological, political, administrative, organizational and technical fields. We must confess though that the success achieved during the past phase was not as great as it should have been in view of all the efforts of the leadership and the resources at the service of change.
The reason for not achieving the required results may have been corrected with the attitudes and practices of many who were placed in positions of responsibility and who were supposed to lead the process of transformation. Some of these tried unwisely to jump the requirements of time and effort thereby causing abortions. Others were too bureaucratic under the guise of objectivity and wisdom. They colonized the institutions just like the old guard without any enthusiasm and without making any new impression on the system. The chaotic, infantile and rash actions of 1963 may have this tendency to intentionally slow movement. This does not take into consideration, however, the change of circumstances and the new phase.
1 - Culture and Information
The field of information, and consequently culture, was the first to receive the attention of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party immediately following the 30th of July 1968. This field had to be guided in accordance with the requirements of the Revolution.
The information apparatus, in view of its sensitivity and close connection with the state and the masses, was under close daily supervision. It was important first that the apparatus should be well informed of the Party's plans in general and in detail so that it could act t in a harmonious and purposeful manner. The leadership has made special efforts during the last few years on these lines by exerting direct supervision over the main information media and by putting at their disposal good material and manpower resources in order to make the media a creative and progressive sector and an active tool of the Party and the Revolution.
There is no doubt that many significant developments have taken place but mainly on the technical side. The human revolutionary side has not been developed to meet the many complex requirements of the Revolution. There is still need for a good, responsible cadre of qualified personnel on all levels. Many rightist and unqualified elements with no creative instincts are still wellentrenched in the machinary. This is why creative and effective informational work which is supposed to express the ideas of the Party is still below standard.
2 - Education
It is perhaps in education that the battle of transformation will be decisive. The Party has consistently therefore urged for better educational programmes on all levels from kindergarten through to university: programmes that would go hand in hand with the development programme both horizontally and in depth.
Large scale efforts have been made during the past few years in providing more schools, books and equipment. Some progress has been made in building and developing technical schools. The number of universities has been increased and the old ones have been expanded. Changes, however, have been principally in numbers and equipment, while the intellectual and educational aspect has received scant attention compared to the ambitions of the Revolution and the resources that have been put at the disposal of the facility. School programmes on all levels still fall short of expressing the principles of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party and the socialist and national revolution. They are still propagating bourgeois and liberal values. Also the universities are still full of liberal and rightist backward currents and are very far from being the universities of the Revolution which are supposed to take their new role in building the new society.
The necessity of changing the old educational programmes and paying great attention to technical education is still pressing urgently and delaying the development programme. Schools and universities are producing annually tens of' thousands of students who are of no use to the industrial, agricultural and services programmes and development. The government finds it necessary to find jobs for these graduates in institutions which are already overstaffed. The institutions are suffering from disguised unemployment.
It can be said that the Revolution has not as yet got its own system of education capable of rearing the generation which is well educated in the principles of socialism and nationalism and which can fulfill the aims of the Party.
3 - Legislation
Laws are but a reflection of the concepts and economic interests prevailing in society. The Laws inherited by the Revolution had been promulgated during the dictatorial and reactionary regimes expressing the interests of the ruling exploiting classes and their backward ideology. It was natural therefore that the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party which had waged comprehensive revolutionary struggle against past regimes should review the laws and make amendments.
The Revolutionary Command Council had to acquire the highest legislative power in the country in order to be able to manage such an achievement. This was an important and decisive step. But it was not enough so long as the bulk of the laws in force were still inherited from previous regimes. A state of conflict still exists, with some laws reflecting the values and interests of the Revolution while the rest express previous interests and values against which the Party has been fighting.
The Leadership of the Party and the Revolution took direct initiatives to change many laws in order to institute reform such as the laws of agricultural reform and the labour laws. Many committees were formed for such purposes. But the bulk and essential structure of the laws remained unchanged. So did many of the instruments of justice.
The legal paradox cannot remain any longer. It is unthinkable that the laws and concepts against which the Party and the Revolution worked should remain unchanged. The present phase requires a complete revision of all existing Iraqi laws to make them in line with the principles of the Revolution and the laws and orders issued by the Revolutionary Command Council.
It is important to remember that our criticism of the existing laws does not urge their violation in daily life but rather their change through the proper revolutionary channels.
4 - Women:
The liberation of the Arab Woman and her release from her antiquated economic, social and legal bonds is one of the main aims of the Arab ) Ba'th Socialist Party. For without such a liberation . the Arab woman would not be able to participate fully in society as an economic and legal equal to the man.
The Party must therefore work tirelessly towards legal equality and the provision of equal opportunities of work. It is the duty of the Party and its organizations to fight against all the backward concepts which relegate the role of women to a marginal and secondary place. Such concepts conflict with our Arab and Islamic heritage and are in fact alien and harmful. They also conflict with the values and concepts of the Party, the Revolution and he needs of modern times. The liberation of women cannot be done through women's societies alone. It can be done through the complete political and economic liberation of society. The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party has a leading role to play in the liberation of women since it leads the process of social and cultural change.
5 - Literacy:
A high percentage of our people, especially in the countryside, are illiterate. It goes without saying that such a state of affairs does not help in the least in making all the progress that is needed in the country while the vast majority are illiterate. Persistent efforts have been made under the Revolution in the field of adult education by the State and popular organizations. Many centers of adult education have been opened by the Ministry of education, unions and other organizations in cities and villages. The armed forces have played an important role in this respect. The government has created many incentives requiring all employees to read and write. Adult education has not yet become the national campaign which it should. without acquiring the proportion of a national campaign, adult education cannot achieve the total result required.
We must realize that without the full application of compulsory elementary education, great numbers of illiterates will keep flowing on every year. We must measure accurately the ratio of adult education to the number of illiterates produced each year. If the ratio is small, it means that we have not done very much to wipe out illiteracy. We have been merely lessening its bad effects. If so, then we must work on a completely different level. Experience, however, has shown that classical methods of adult education cannot produce much. No less than a national campaign under the leadership of the Party and the government is required.
6 - Youth:
The question of youth does not involve, their mere organization into sports and clubs. For young people can play a vital role in the process of socialist transformation. The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party should harness youth and lead it to fulfill its role in the democratic participation of the people. Negligence in this respect will only weaken the capacity of the nation to rise to the challenge posed by the imperialist and Zionist enemy.
Today, we must confess that this question has been neglected for far too long. The Youth Organization has been set up only recently and the vast majority of young people are still outside its bounds, vulnerable to harmful and wasteful currents of thought and activity. While it is true that the number of youth clubs has increased and the facilities put at their disposal have been enhanced and developed, the achievement is still short of the ambition. The matter of organizing young people in the service of the socialist and national revolution is still in its infancy.
7 - New Values and Practices in the Revolutionary Society.
In the days of imperialist rule, reaction and dictatorship, many harmful values and practices were left to grow and spread in society. There was a negative feeling of citizenship and responsibility. Team and social work was not a common value. The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party was aware of these harmful values which could only be ascribed to the corrupt regime. Even since its inception, the Party has fought against such values and tried to replace them with good citizenship, selfless service and national loyalty. This has been both the spiritual resource of the Party in its continuous struggle and its ability to lead the masses.
The Party is therefore required to spread these values, and fight the harmful pre-revolutionary values. The mission, of course, is not easy and simple. It requires a generation of time and ceaseless work to achieve full results. The work will also depend on the Party and its leadership in setting the example and leading all the institutions and organizations we have mentioned in the right direction.
The Party must, however, work ceaselessly and conscientiously from the beginning. The Party must encourage a love of collective work, voluntary service and enthusiasm. Such values have been encouraged by the Party in popular work. Wide campaigns of work in agriculture and services had been underway to produce quick results.
There has been a great deal of criticism of such campaigns by the reactionaries and disgruntled elements. But the experiment has proved positive especially after the participation of the Party's higher echelons together with the popular organizations. Good experience in this field has been gained and many faults have been eradicated. The experiment in 1973 was a summer work camp in Abu Munaisir and it was most successful. In addition to its educational and spiritual benefit it has had its economic uses.
Another important aspect of youth and mass activities has been military training which has helped organize a reserve army which can be used to defend the country and the Revolution. Even though the experiment was not on a large scale, as it should have been, it proved its worth in propagating the new values. Such an experiment should be further developed and expanded.
What the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party has been able to achieve in the field of education, information, culture, popular work camps and military training can serve to show the new values of the Party rule. The size and scope has yet to be increased, but it has shown what missions are awaiting us and in what fields. The close relationship between progress in such fields and other political spheres cannot be too greatly emphasized. Each step in this field will help other steps in other fields. The battle of oil nationalization is an example. The enthusiasm generated by the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party among the people during the battle of nationalization was a further encouraging factor in its decision to nationalize and in the success of the battle. When triumph finally came in March 1973, the income cuts were returned to the people as promised by the Revolution. The result was a great trust in the revolutionary leadership which furnishes the ground to win national battles in the future.