Baathism May Be Dead But Its Essence Lives On in Islamic State

Fall of Saddam, cc Flickr, Amir Farshad Ebrahimi

Baathism was one of the great totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. It drew its inspiration from the sweeping European movements of fascism and communism of the 1930s, adapting their techniques and pathologies to the political conditions of the Middle East. The original impulses that gave the movement shape in the 1940s were anti-colonial, pan-Arabist and statist. As with their European predecessors in Russia and Italy, the Baathists in Syria and Iraq were small minority parties who used violence to come to power. More ruthless than their many political enemies, in the long run they prevailed, only to fall into infighting and stagnation. By the 1990s both Syria and Iraq were classic Arab police states, where post-revolutionary one-party regimes continued to rule long after the ideological impulses which had driven them were dead.

Back to Top


Lost your password?