However, if you find yourself interested in primatology and evolutionary biology, I don't suggest you read Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee. Instead, I recommend Frans de Waal's Our Inner Ape, unlike Diamond, de Wall doesn't ignore Bonobos.
I do have one significant disagreement with Diamond, the degree which he is a material determinist. While I agree with him that most (all?) government resembles a kleptocracy, I disagree with him that it is an inevitable consequence of agriculture. Let me quote something I wrote a while ago:
"Jared Diamond hypothesizes that when stateless egalitarian hunter-gather societies develop agriculture and experience population growth, blood feuds and new resource management problems challenge their ability to maintain horizontal political relationships and economic communalism. According to Diamond, the material transition itself leads inevitably to the State, which he refers to as "the kleptocracy," and the most the oppressed can hope for by revolting is for a change in the rate of exploitation and oppression by installing a new group of kleptocrats. In his view, "the kleptocracy" is ultimately a function of material culture.
"Some historical materialists claim a densely settled, agricultural population will inevitably develop into a hierarchically stratified society, with a centralized state and an exploitative economic redistribution system, in order avoid warfare while resolving blood feuds among its members. While this is a common occurrence, it is not the only way these issues have been resolved. Located along the southern banks of Kaniatarí:io (Lake Ontario), the traditional society of the Rotinonshón:ni (Iroquois), "The People of the Longhouse," was a densely settled, matrilineal, communal, and extensively horticultural society... these nations united through the Kaianere'kó:wa (“the Great Good Way”) into the same polity and ended blood feuding without economic exploitation, stratification, or the formation of a centralized state."
This slim volume focuses almost exclusively on the activities of the Iraq Communist Party (ICP) and is a powerful antidote to the patronizing orientalThis slim volume focuses almost exclusively on the activities of the Iraq Communist Party (ICP) and is a powerful antidote to the patronizing orientalism many leftists and anti-war activists have towards Iraq. Through the lens of the ICP, Salucci shatters the illusion that Iraq is a backward, undeveloped society dominated exclusively by a reactionary political Islam without any substantial leftist history. Revealed is a society that grows from a British-installed monarchy with an agrarian economy, through a period of communist resistance to the monarchy and colonial exploitation that was interwoven with tribal and peasant uprisings, to the labor struggles of an emerging industrial proletariat centered on the oil industry. Salucci illuminates this with a very useful chronology of events, many statistics regarding land distribution, domestic production, and occupational employment, and a historical narrative of the many strikes and uprisings during the twentieth century. Even with these other details, the text will not serve well as a general history of Iraq, as it is focused almost exclusively on the politics and fluctuations of the ICP. This is both a strength and a weakness of the book.
The book's inclusion of a speech by Qasim Hasan (Nazim) to the Comintern in 1935 alongside a 2003 statement by the Central Committee of the ICP shows how far the ICP has drifted in its revolutionary commitments. This drift has included opportunistically joining the U.S.-propped-up governing council, a collaborationist gambit which has not led to any sort of gains for the ICP in the most recent elections.
Salucci also more sympathetically describes the Workers Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) which has always rejected the U.S. occupation, and primarily focuses on social mobilization, mass protest and organizing among the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI), the Union of the Unemployed of Iraq (UUI), and the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) as a way of building towards revolution. The WCPI has rejected both the collaborationist route of the ICP and the armed struggle being waged by "Islamic fascism".
With the exception of a passing paragraph reference to the shora uprisings in 1991 and inclusion of a "Statement of the Sulaimaniya Shora," there is little in Salucci's book about one of the most recent significant events in Iraq's left history. With the defeat of the Iraqi army in Kuwait, troops deserted and mutinied as they returned to southern Iraq. Simultaneously in the north, workers' councils (shoras) were setup in Sulaimaniya, Hawlir, Kirkuk, Rania and Nasro Bareeka. For more information about the Shoras in 1991, readers may want to review "The Kurdish Uprising..." pamphlet, as well as "10 Days that Shook Iraq" by Wildcat UK.
Given the lack of discussion in this book, it would not appear that women exist in Iraq. Women's organizations in Iraq are at least as old as the ICP. Considering the degree of organization of women in Iraq, the gains in equality made and lost, the massive involvement and then removal of women in the workforce, and the involvement of the left in women's struggles, Salucci's avoidance of women and feminism is a glaring fault with this book.
Even though this short book does not sufficiently address the politics of the Ba'ath, pan-Arab socialism, the left wing of Kurdish nationalism, the shoras, or feminism, it is still a very useful reference and introduction to a history of the left in Iraq, and is highly recommended for those who would like a brief introduction. With no sign of an end to the occupation by the U.S. in sight, developments in Iraq will continue to dominate our attention.
This book changed my whole world view when it came to politics. It had a profound effect on me, giving me a better idea of who I was, where I came froThis book changed my whole world view when it came to politics. It had a profound effect on me, giving me a better idea of who I was, where I came from and what created the situation of the community around me. In addition to giving me tools to understand what had happened and was happening, it gave me the first suggestions of the kind of things needed to do to change things. Most importantly, that understanding also gave me something very important... hope....more