Occupation in focus

Around the web: Worker-communist Party of Iraq

There has been a good deal of debate online about the Iraqi resistance to US-UK occupation. Mostly the discussions have centred on whether Marxists can support the resistance, noting that disgruntled Ba’athists and islamic fundamentalists are playing a leading role. Secondarily, the actions of Iraqi leftists themselves have come under the spotlight, specifically the Worker-communist Party of Iraq.

First impressions of the WCPI home page are not favourable. The colour scheme borders on the garish and the whole thing looks quite dated, but I expect the comrades have more important things to worry about. It is the main field that will be of interest to most, as this is where latest WCPI news and press releases are displayed. Thankfully these have been regularly updated over the last month or so. The stories open to view cover all aspects of WCPI activities and opinion, from organising Baghdad cotton workers, to solidarity fundraisers in New York, to condemnation of suicide bomb attacks.

There is a lot more to the website than just being a news service, as can be seen from the navigational panel, which offers 17 links. The first of these is probably the most important. ‘A better world’ links to the worker-communist programmatic document by the late Mansoor Hekmat. Like most, it moves from general Marxist principles in the first part, to more concrete demands in the second. In addition, the character of the piece is coloured by features not normally found in other revolutionary programmes. For example, there is a heavy emphasis on organised gynophobia. This is elaborated on to a depth not often seen in western revolutionary politics - the overt misogyny progressives have to face in the Middle East has forced some serious thinking on women’s oppression.

Another interesting section is ‘Bourgeois communism and worker communism’, which forms the theoretical basis of both the WCPI and their comrades in the Worker-communist Party of Iran. Starting from the degeneration of the Russian Revolution, the comrades argue that a capitalist social formation emerged along statist lines, and with it a class of “red” capitalists and ‘bourgeois communism’. It goes on to argue that other forms of non-worker communism developed. Into this category go such ‘western’ anti-Stalinist critiques as Eurocommunism, Trotskyism, and the new left, while the developing world saw ‘third worldist’ forms of communism. What unite these diverse trends are the social bases they draw on - students, the petty bourgeoisie, academics and peasants. In contrast, the worker-communist tradition holds that bourgeois communism passed its sell-by date with the USSR’s collapse, leaving a political space for independent working class politics to re-emerge.

Moving down the navigation panel, ‘Forward’ links to the latest issue of the WCPI paper. Articles are available in plain text, but unfortunately the archives are a pdf-only affair. ‘PCAWSI’ brings up the website of the Progressive Coalition, what I assume is an umbrella organisation for progressives and democrats in Iraq (the ‘About us’ link on its home page leads to a blank page). ‘DIWR’ is the Defence of Iraqi Women’s Rights, with its own publications, articles, links, etc. ‘Iraq Weekly’ carries the latest e-bulletin, while ‘Referendum’ is the first of two Kurdish resources. This one links to the appeal for a referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, but unfortunately the site seems to have been abandoned since the last update in July 2001. ‘MECWS’ is the Middle Eastern Centre for Women’s Studies, and again is another that has remained untouched for a few years. ‘Children First’ links to the international campaign of the same name, but fails to load properly.

The next batch of links put the worker-communists back in focus. The first two connect with the Arabic and Kurdish language party pages. ‘WPI’ and ‘WPI Briefing’ are the websites of their Iranian comrades. The links section is weird: clicking on it summons another version of the same bar! ‘Archive’ is a very long list of documents dating back to February 2001, offering more accounts of the struggle in Iraq, international affairs and WCPI actions.

Design aside, I feel the comrades can do more with this site. It is a fair introduction to the party, its traditions and activities, but its profile could easily be increased with the addition of more frequent - if not daily - updates of Iraqi struggles. For example, over the last year or so ‘Salam Pax’ (Aka the Baghdad Blogger) has been posting reports of his everyday existence. Something like this from a communist perspective could introduce the WCPI’s ideas to a wider audience, and inspire anti-war activists the world over.