The Politics of Class, Gender, and Nation, 1958–1963
This chapter explores the collapse of national front politics and the violent cultural conflict that followed the revolution of July 14, 1958. It shows how relatively minor ideological disputes over the meaning of “Arab unity” evolved into a vicious cultural confrontation between communists and nationalists. The chapter documents the role of nationalist poets in constructing an anticommunist cultural discourse that emphasized the sexual immorality of their rivals. Their own vision of “muscular nationalism” portrayed the nationalist Baʿth Party as custodians of national honor and progressive advocates of women’s liberation. Communist poets struggled to combat these allegations by defending the progressive aspects of their agenda, but they remained hesitant to address questions of gender and sexuality directly. The poetry wars of this period critically shaped the cultural politics of national liberation and presaged the sectarian violence of the coming decades.
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