Translated by Fakhri Maluf, edited by Adel Beshara
The aim of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party includes (a) the creation of a Syrian Social Nationalist renaissance (which will fulfill its declared principles and return the Syrian nation to vitality and strength); (b) the organization of a movement seeking the complete independence of the Syrian nation and the vindication of its sovereignty; (c) the establishment of a new order to protect its interest and raise its standard of living; and (d) the formation of an Arab front.
This article clarifies that national revival is the central theme in the program of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. The Social Nationalist Movement aims to lay down the foundations of the concept of nationhood in Syria, guarantee the very life of the Syrian nation and the creation of the conditions necessary for its progress and unity, and set up a new social-national order. This far-reaching aim of the Party is of the utmost importance because it is not restricted to the treatment of a particular political form, but it affects the very foundations of nationhood and the basic principles of national life. The purpose of the Party is the direction of the Syrian nation towards progress and prosperity and the activation of the elements of national energy latent in Syria. Once fully developed, this national energy will crush forces of reaction, free the nation from apathy and adherence to antiquated beliefs, and place an insuperable obstacle in the way of foreign powers threatening the interests and existence of the millions of Syrians. The Party also aims to disseminate new ideas expressing our new outlook on life and our Social Nationalist creed.
The aim of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is an all-embracing one directed towards the examination of the foundations of national life in all its aspects, the basic issues of the Social Nationalist society (economic, social, political, spiritual, and moral), and the final lofty ends of existence. It also comprises the national ideals, the significance of independence and the establishment of healthy nationalist society. In turn, this implies a new intellectual ethical outlook and a new theory of values. Consequently, the fundamental and reform principles of the Party reflect a new and complete philosophy of life.
A complementary part of the foreign policy of the Party is the creation of an Arab Front from the Arab nations. This front should serve as a bulwark against foreign imperialistic ambitions and prove of considerable moment in deciding the major political questions.
As the Syrian Social Nationalist Party proves conclusively, Syria is one of the Arab nations. Indeed, it is the nation qualified to lead the Arab world. It is obvious that a nation with no internal cohesiveness to ensure its unity and progress cannot help revive other nations and lead them along the path of progress and success. Syrian nationalism is the only genuine practical way: the first prerequisite for the awakening of the Syrian nation and its ability to work for the Arab Cause.
Those who believe that the Syrian Social Nationalist Party seeks Syria's withdrawal from the Arab World are grossly mistaken. They do not distinguish between Syrian national awakening and the Pan-Arab cause.
We shall never relinquish our position in the Arab World, nor our mission to the Arab World. We want primarily to be strong in order to accomplish our mission more adequately. Syria must forge ahead in its national revival so that it can fulfill its great mission.
This comprehensive outlook of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party represents an idealistic conception of national life. The Party does not intend to confine this broad outlook with its far-reaching consequences to Syria alone. Instead, it intends to pass it on to our sister Arab nations through cultural activities, mutual understanding, and exchange of opinions, not by destroying the identity of those Arab nations and imposing those principles on them by force.
Regarding the political aspect of the Party's aims, the Party considers that, from the internal point of view, the Lebanese question arose from subsidiary reasons that were valid when the concept of the state was still a religious concept. Nevertheless, the principles of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party affirm the national social-legal basis of statehood. Upon the realization of the principles of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, those reasons for Lebanese isolation cease to be justified.
Concerning the Arab World, the Party favors recourse to conferences and voluntary alliances as the only practical way to cooperation between Arab nations. The Party also favors the formation of an Arab Front of definite moment in international politics. National sovereignty, however, should not be surrendered in such pacts and alliances.
THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
- SYRIA IS FOR THE SYRIANS AND THE SYRIANS ARE A COMPLETE NATION.
When I began, at the outset of my nationalist consciousness, to consider seriously the resuscitation of our nation against the background of the irresponsible political movements rampant in its midst, it became immediately certain to me that our most urgent problem was the determination of our national identity and our social reality. Although there was no consensus of opinion concerning this problem, I became convinced that the starting-point of every national endeavor must begin from the fundamental question: Who are we? This was the question that preoccupied my mind from the very beginning of my social nationalist thinking. I submitted it to our people for the first time in 1934, on the solemn occasion of my father’s death, in a message addressed to the Syrian community in Brazil, and later expounded its significance in a number of lectures and talks in which I set down my Social Nationalist teachings. After extensive research, I concluded that ‘We are Syrians, and we constitute a distinct national entity.’ On this basis, I formulated the first principle.
Confused conceptions of our nation implied in statements such as "We Lebanese", "Palestinians", "Syrians", "Iraqis", or "Arabs", have contributed to the breaking up of our national identity. They cannot serve as the basis of a genuine national consciousness or the revival of the Syrian Nation, which has a social-economic life-cycle and a destiny of its own.
The assertion that the Syrians constitute a nation complete in itself is a fundamental doctrine that should end ambiguity and place the national effort on a basis of clarity without which no national revival in Syria is possible. The fact is that the realization of the complete nationhood of the Syrians and the rise of an active consciousness of this nationhood are two essential prerequisites for the attainment of this aim: Namely, that Syria is for the Syrians, and/or the vindication of the principle of the national sovereignty of a people conscious of its being and exercising sovereignty over itself and over its own homeland, - the basis of its own life, and an essential factor in the formation of its character. For, were the Syrians not a complete nation having the right to sovereignty and to the establishment of an independent state, Syria would not be for the Syrians in the full sense, but might fall prey easily to the intrigues of some other sovereign power pursuing interests conflicting with, or which might conflict with, the interest of the Syrian people.
This principle is intended also to safeguard the unity of the Syrian nation and the integrity of its homeland. It removes any ambiguity, from the legal point of view, which might attach to the tenet that the Syrians are a nation that possesses the sole right to own, dispose of, and make decisions concerning every inch of Syrian territory.
From the internal point of view, it entails that the homeland belongs to the nation as a whole and that no one, not even individual Syrian citizens, may dispose of an inch of its territory in such a way as to destroy or endanger the integrity of the country. This integrity is a necessary condition for preserving the unity of the Syrian nation.
Let every Syrian who desires to see his country free, sovereign, and prosperous, keep this principle uppermost in his mind.
All those who deny that Syria is for the Syrians and that the Syrians constitute a nation complete in itself are guilty of the crime of stripping the Syrians of their right to sovereignty over their own homeland. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party, in the name of the millions of Syrians yearning for freedom and struggling for life and progress, declares such people to be criminals.
- THE SYRIAN CAUSE IS AN INTEGRAL NATIONAL CAUSE COMPLETELY DISTINCT FROM ANY OTHER CAUSE.
This principle signifies that all the legal and political questions that relate to any portion of Syrian territory, or to any Syrian group, are part of one indivisible cause distinct from, and unmixed with, any other external matter that may nullify the conception of the unity of the Syrian interests and of the Syrian will. In fact, this principle follows from, and is complementary to, the first principle; for, since Syria is for the Syrians, and the Syrians are a full nation endowed with the right to sovereignty, it is evident that this nation’s cause (i.e., its life and destiny) belongs to her alone and is independent of any other cause which involves interests other than those of the Syrian people, or which are beyond their reach. This principle reserves to the Syrians alone, the right to expound their own cause and to be their own sole representatives, determine their own interests, and shape their own destiny, and renders theirs an inclusive and indivisible cause.
From the spiritual point of view, this principle entails that the will of the Syrian nation, which represents its highest interests, is a general will, and that the lofty ideals which the Syrians seek to realize emanate from their own character, temperament and talents. The Syrian nation cannot tolerate the disintegration of these ideals, or its dissociation from them or their mingling with other aims in which they may be forfeited. These ideals are freedom, duty, discipline and power, abounding with truth, good, and beauty in the most sublime form to which the Syrian spirit can rise, and which the Syrians must attain through their own endeavours, since no one else but themselves represent or realize these ideals for them.
In accordance with this principle, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party declares that it does not recognize the right of any non-Syrian person or organization to speak on behalf of Syria and its interests, either in internal or in international matters; nor does it recognize anybody’s right to make the interests of Syria contingent on those of other nations.
The millions of peasants, workers, professionals, artisans, merchants and industrialists who constitute the Syrian nation have a will and an interest which must remain their concern collectively, and that of no one else.
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party does not recognize the right of any non-Syrian person or organization to thrust its own ideals upon the Syrian nation, in substitution for its own.
- THE SYRIAN CAUSE IS THE CAUSE OF THE SYRIAN NATION AND THE SYRIAN HOMELAND.
In this principle, we wish to give an unequivocal definition of the Syrian cause and to emphasize the indissoluble bond between the nation, referred to in the previous principles, and its own territory. A nation has no meaning without a distinct territory that sustains its life and national character. Such an unequivocal definition of the national cause should free the meaning of nationhood from such historical, racial, or religious misconceptions as are contrary to the nature of the nation and its vital interests.
The concept of the unity of the nation and its homeland would enable us to understand the nation as a social reality and save us from being enmeshed in pure logical forms and verbal constructions.
The organic correlation between the nation and the homeland, or territory, is the only principle whereby the unity of life can be achieved. That is why we cannot conceive of a human community without an environment wherein the unity of life and the participation in its activities, interests and aims are attained, and wherein the development of the social character - that of the nation - is possible.
- THE SYRIAN NATION IS THE PRODUCT OF THE ETHNIC UNITY OF THE SYRIAN PEOPLE THAT HAS DEVELOPED THROUGHOUT HISTORY GOING BACK TO EVEN PRE-HISTORIC TIMES.
This principle follows the preceding one in the correct logical order, for it amounts to a definition of what constitutes the nation, mentioned in the previous articles. The ethnological importance of this principle requires careful examination. We do not seek in this principle to derive the Syrian nation from one specific racial origin, whether Semitic, or Aryan. Rather, it is to demonstrate the concrete reality of the nation as the final outcome of the long history of all the peoples who have settled in this land, inhabited it, interacted with each other, and finally became fused in one people. This process started with the peoples of the Neolithic age who preceded the Canaanites and the Chaldaeans in settling in this land, and it continued through to the Akkadians, the Canaanites themselves, the Chaldaeans, Assyrians, Aramaeans, Ammorites, and Hittites. Thus, we see that the principle of Syrian nationhood is not based on race or blood, but rather on the natural social unity of a homogenous racial compound. Through this principle, the interests, the aims and the ideals of the Syrian nation are unified and the national cause is guarded against disintegration, disharmony, and strife, resulting from primitive loyalties to blood ties.
Some people who are ignorant of the principles of sociology and unacquainted with the history of their country protest against the truth and allege the purity of our racial origin and the superiority of the one-stock thesis over that of the racial compound. Those people commit a philosophic error and also a scientific error. For, to ignore deliberately the reality of our temperament and character and to set up a fiction in its place is a sterile philosophy similar to the assertion that it is better for a body rotating around an axis to depart from it. The alleged purity of the race or the blood of any nation, whatsoever, is a groundless myth. It is found only in savage groups, and even there it is rare.
All existing nations are a mixture of dolichocephalics, mesocephalics and of several historic peoples. The Syrian nation consists of a mixture of Canaanites, Akkadians, Chaldaeans, Assyrians, Aramaeans, Hittites and Mitanni just as the French nation consists of a mixture of Gauls, Ligurians, Franks, etc., and the Italian nation of a mixture of Romans, Latins, Etruscans, etc., the same being true of every other nation. "Saxon and Norman and Dane are we," says Tennyson of his English nation.
As to the superiority of pure over mixed races (especially advanced and homogenous races), the contrary has been established. For the genius of the Syrian racial compound and the intellectual superiority of the Syrians over their neighbors and others is an indisputable fact. It was the Syrians who civilized the Greeks and laid down the foundations of Mediterranean culture to which the Greek genius manifested itself in Athens, the city of mixed races, rather than in Sparta, which has so proud of its lineage and so scrupulous in preserving the purity of its blood. Yet we must admit the existence of racial differences, the distinction between cultured and non-cultured stock, and of the principle of homogeneity and heterogeneity in blood and race. For this would enable us to understand the grounds of the superiority of the Syrians, which is due, not to an indiscriminate racial inter mixture, but rather to the quality of the distinguished and homogenous mixture suited as it is to the quality of the Syrian environment.
The Syrian nation denotes this society, which possesses organic unity. Though of mixed origins, this society has come to constitute a single society living in the distinguished environment known historically as Syria, called by some the Fertile Crescent - a purely geographical designation having no relation to history or the nation and its character. The common stocks, Canaanite, Chaldaen, Aramaean, Assyrian, Ammorite, Mettani, and Akkadian, whose reality and blending are an indisputable historical and scientific fact, constitute the ethnic-psychological-historical-cultural basis. Similarly, the regions of natural Syria (the Fertile Crescent) constitute the geographic agricultural-economic-strategic basis of Syria's unity.
This ethnic and geographical reality has been marred by successive historic events that destroyed valuable documentation and led to the substitution of various foreign accounts for authentic facts. It was distorted as well by the numerous interpretations of the events of our national history. A large number of historians have confined their definition of Syria to Byzantine or later Hellenic ‘Syria’, whose boundaries extended from the Taurus Mountains and the Euphrates to the Suez. Hence, they excluded the Assyrians and the Chaldaeans (Babylon and Nineveh) from Syrian history. Other historians have further confined this definition to the region lying between Cilicia and Palestine, thus leaving out Palestine. All these historians were aliens, who were unable to grasp the reality of the Syrian nation and of its environment and the process of its development. Moreover, most of the Syrian historians, who derived their information from foreign sources without adequate criticism, have followed their lead. Thus the truth was falsified and our genuine cause was lost. This continued until I completed my research, analysis and interpretation of this problem and announced my results, which I intend to expound fully in a separate scholarly work.
The history of all the ancient Syrian states (Akkadian, Chaldaean, Assyrian, Hittite, Canaanite, Aramaean, Ammorite) points to a single trend: the political, economic and social unity of the Syrian Fertile Crescent. This fact should enable us to view the Assyrian and Chaldaean wars, aimed at dominating the whole of Syria, in a new light different from that in which it was falsely viewed hitherto. For these wars were internal wars, a struggle for supremacy among the powerful tribes and dynasties within the nation, which was still in the making, and which later attained its maturity. The fact, however, is that the Chaldaeans and the Aramaeans were in origin and speech one people, for the Aramaic language was the same as the Chaldaean, and the Assyrians were a scion of them both.
This principle is not in the least incompatible with the fact that the Syrian nation is one of the Arab World, nor is this latter fact at variance with the statement that it is a whole nation, with sovereign rights over its territory and, consequently, with a distinct national cause, entirely independent of any other cause. By overlooking this vital principle the religious sects in Syria have had the means to disunite the country into a Mohammedan-Arab faction, on the one hand, and a Christian-Phoenician one, on the other, so that the unity of the nation is thereby destroyed and its energies dissipated.
This principle would redeem Syria from the blood-tie bigotries that are apt to cause the people to neglect the national interests and to direct their energies towards internal strife, corruption and apathy. For those Syrians who believe or feel within the country or nation that they are of Aramaic extraction, they would no longer be actuated to fan Aramaic blood-loyalty, providing the principle of Social Nationalist unity and the equality of civic, political and social rights and duties are guaranteed, and no discrimination between one blood or race in Syria is made. In the same way, those Syrians who claim to descend from a Phoenician (Canaanite), Arab, or Crusader stock, would no longer care also for any other than the cause of their community, within which all matters affecting them would take place, and on whose fate would depend the fate of their family and of their descendants, their hopes and their ideals. Thus genuine national consciousness would arise. For, if Phoenician (Christian) loyalty were thesis, and Arab (Mohammedan) loyalty the antithesis, or reversed, if these two religio-racial loyalties entailed two contradictory theses, then the synthesis, which would furnish the solution of the conflict, would be the principle of the national unity of the Syrian nation, which consists of two fundamental races, Mediterranean and Aryan. This unity arose from the elements that have formed, throughout history, the Syrian people and the mental and spiritual traits of the Syrian nation. Further, this principle should put an end to those futile disputes that run counter to the facts and rest on mere fiction that replaces sociology by sophistry.
This principle cannot be said to imply that the Jew is equal in rights and duties to the Syrian. Such an interpretation is incompatible with this principle, which excludes the integration of elements with alien and exclusive racial loyalties in the Syrian nation. Such elements cannot fit into any homogeneous nation. There are several large settlements of immigrants in Syria, such as the Armenians, Kurds, and Caucasians which are of similar stock as the original Syrian composite, and whose assimilation is possible, given sufficient time. These elements may dissolve in the nation and lose their special loyalties. However, the Jewish settlement is a dangerous and large settlement that cannot be reconciled to the principle of Syrian nationalism in any respect. This settlement consists of a people who, although they have mixed with many other peoples, have remained a heterogeneous mixture, instead of a nation, with strange stagnant beliefs and aims of its own, essentially incompatible with Syrian rights and sovereignty ideals. The duty of the Syrian Nationalists is to repulse the immigration of this people with all its might.
- THE SYRIAN HOMELAND IS THAT GEOGRAPHIC ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THE SYRIAN NATION EVOLVED. ITS DISTINCT NATURAL BOUNDARIES EXTEND FROM THE TAURUS RANGE IN THE NORTHWEST AND THE ZAGROS MOUNTAINS IN THE NORTHEAST TO THE SUEZ CANAL AND THE RED SEA IN THE SOUTH. THE BOUNDARIES INCLUDE THE SINAI PENINSULA AND THE GULF OF AQABA, AND THEY EXTEND FROM THE SYRIAN SEA [MEDITERRANEAN] IN THE WEST, INCLUDING THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS, TO THE ARCH OF THE ARABIAN DESERT AND THE PERSIAN GULF IN THE EAST. (THIS REGION IS ALSO KNOWN AS THE SYRIAN FERTILE CRESCENT, THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS BEING ITS STAR).
These natural boundaries have housed the elements of the Syrian nation and provided Syrians with the basis of their lives and the opportunity of contact and collision, and then with mixture and fusion, which resulted in the formation of the distinct character of the Syrian nation. The Chaldeans and Assyrians were alive to the internal unity and integrity of this country and sought to unify it politically, interested as they were in the idea of the territorial state. Similarly, all the other people who inhabited this region were conscious of the internal unity of the country and sought to build up confederations between decentralized governments to avoid internal dissension and to ensure protection from external incursions.
The secret of Syria's persistence as a distinct nation despite the numerous invasions to which it succumbed lies in the geographic unity of its homeland. This geographic unity ensured the political unity of this country in the environment in which the Syrian nation evolved. It was this geographic unity that ensured the political unity of this country even in ancient times when it was still divided among the Canaanites, the Arameans, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Assyrians, and the Chaldaeans. This political unity manifested itself in the formation of alliances in the face of threats from Egyptians and other invasions. That unity reached its culmination with the formation of a Seleucid Syrian state, which grew into a powerful empire, dominated Asia Minor, and extended as far as India.
Syria's loss of sovereignty because of the major foreign invasions resulted in its partition into arbitrary political units. In the Perso-Byzantine period, the Byzantines extended their rule over western Syria and applied the name Syria' to that part only, while the Persians dominated the eastern part which they called ‘Irah' (later arabicized as Iraq). Similarly, after the First World War, the co-dominion of Great Britain and France over Syria resulted in the partition of the country according to their political aims and interests and gave rise to the present political designations: Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cilicia and Iraq. Natural Syria consists of all those regions, which constitute one geographic-economic-strategic unit. The Syrian Social Nationalist cause will not be fulfilled until the unity of Syria is achieved.
The partitioning of Syria between the Byzantines and the Persians into Eastern and Western Syria and the creation of barriers between them retarded the national growth and the development of the social and economic life cycle of the country considerably for a long period. This division resulted also in distorting the truth about the boundaries of Syria. Additional factors contributing to this distortion were the incursion of the desert upon the lower arch of the Fertile Crescent, the decrease in population, the recession of urban areas (by virtue of constant wars and invasions), and deforestation. All these factors made vast areas of the country desolate. The lack of reliable studies pertaining to the cause of this ever-increasing drought, which has caused deepening of the arch, has contributed to the view that the expansion of the desert has been a permanent phenomenon. In my studies, I have demonstrated the indisputable unity of the country and examined the arbitrary grounds for its present condition and its partitioning. I have established that all the territory to which the term “Mesopotamia” refers, as far as the Zagros Mountains that form the natural boundary separating Eastern Syria from Iran, falls within Syria.
As for Island of Cyprus, the Phoenicians occupied it long ago and it became one of their most important centers. The Syrian Phoenician philosopher Zeno, founder of the Stoic School of philosophy, was born in Cyprus.
The Syrian homeland is an essential factor in Syrian nationalism. Every Syrian Social Nationalist must be conversant with the boundaries of his beautiful country and continually picture them in his mind. In order to safeguard his right and the rights of his descendants in this wonderful country, he should grasp well the unity of his nation, the community of its rights, and the indivisible unity of its country.
I have indicated in Book One of The Genesis of Nations that the dynamism and vitality of a nation may lead to the alteration of its natural boundaries. A strong and ever-growing nation will transcend its frontiers and expand beyond them, whereas a weak and withering nation will shrink within those frontiers. After the decline and fall of the great Syrian states, the Syrian nation was reduced to impotence and recession. It lost the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and Cilicia to Turkey, shrank within its own natural boundaries, and was finally broken up by the powers that invaded and occupied its territory.
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party symbolizes the resurgence of the Syrian nation, which is bent on recovering its power and vitality and redeeming its dismembered parts.
- THE SYRIAN NATION IS ONE SOCIETY.
On this fundamental principle are based some of the reform principles to be expounded later, such as the separation of church and state and the elimination of social barriers between the various sects and creeds. This principle is the basis of genuine national unity, the mark of national consciousness, and the guarantee of the life and endurance of the Syrian character.
One Nation-One Society. The unity of society is the basis of the community of interests, and consequently, the basis of the community of life. The absence of social unity entails the absence of common interests. No resort to temporary expediency can compensate for this loss. Through social unity, the conflict of loyalties and negative attitudes will be replaced by a single healthy national loyalty ensuring the revival of the nation. Similarly, all religious bigotry and their nefarious consequences will cease, and national collaboration and toleration will prevail. Moreover, economic cooperation and a sense of national concord and unity will be fulfilled and pretexts for foreign intervention will be abolished.
Through social unity, the conflict of loyalties and negative attitudes will disappear. They will be replaced by a single healthy national loyalty ensuring the revival of the nation. Similarly, all religious bigotry and their nefarious consequences will cease and in their stead national collaboration and toleration will prevail. Moreover, economic cooperation and a sense of national concord and unity will be fulfilled and pretexts for foreign intervention will be eliminated.
Real independence and real sovereignty will not be fulfilled and will not endure unless they rest upon this genuine social unity, which is the only sound basis for a national state and Social Nationalist civil legislation. This unity forms the basis for citizenship and the guarantee of the equality of rights for all citizens.
- THE SYRIAN NATIONAL AND SOCIAL RENAISSANCE DERIVES ITS INSPIRATION FROM THE TALENTS OF THE SYRIAN NATION, AS WELL AS FROM ITS NATIONAL, POLITICAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY.
This principle asserts the spiritual independence of the nation in which its national character, qualities, and aims are grounded. The Party believes that no Syrian revival can be effected save through the agency of the inborn and independent Syrian character. Indeed, one of the major factors in the absence of Syrian national consciousness or its weakness is the overlooking of the genuine character of the Syrian nation as manifested in the intellectual and practical contributions of its people and their cultural achievements. Some examples of these contributions are the enactment of the first civilized code of law and the invention of the alphabet, which represents the greatest cultural intellectual revolution in history; the material-spiritual effects of Syrian colonization and culture and the civilizing influence Syria exercised over the whole of the Mediterranean; and the immortal achievements of great Syrians such as Zeno, Bar Salibi, St. John Chrysostom, Ephraim, Al-Maari, Deek-el-Jin of Emessa, al-Kawakibi, Gibran, and other great figures of ancient and modern times. To this list may be added the names of Syria's great generals from Sargon the Great to Esserhaddon, Sennecharib, Nebuchadnezzar, Assurbanipal, Tiglath-Pileser, Hanno the Great, Hannibal (the greatest military genius of all times), and Yusuf Azmeh (the hero of Maysalun).
We derive our ideals from our own character and we declare that, in the Syrian character, all science, philosophy, and art in the world are latent.
Unless the Syrian ethos is strengthened, and unless it is freed from dominating alien influences, the elements of real sovereignty will be wanting and Syria will fall short of its lofty ideals.
- SYRIA'S INTEREST SUPERSEDES EVERY OTHER INTEREST.
This is the most important principle in national activity. First, it provides the clue to the sincerity and integrity of national militants. Second, it directs their energies towards the interest of the Syrian nation and its welfare. By this criterion, all national movements and actions are judged. Through this criterion, the SSNP excels all other political factions in Syria, to say nothing of its obvious excellence in other respects. The SSNP aims at serving the concrete interests of the Syrians and at meeting their common needs and aims. A need no longer remains to seek in vain the definition of national endeavor in the domain of the abstract and the impracticable. This principle centers all other principles around the interest of the nation so that Syrians are misled no longer by the teachings of those who would serve contrary interests.
The life of the nation is a concrete reality and so are its interests. The success of the SSNP in bringing about this amazing national revival in our country is due, in great measure, to the fact that the Party seeks to serve the genuine interests of the Syrian nation and assert its will to life.
Syria embodies our social character, faculties, and ideals and our outlook on life, art, and the universe. It is the symbol of our honor, dignity, and destiny. Thus, our loyalty to Syria must transcend all personal interests and considerations.
THE REFORM PRINCIPLES
- SEPARATION OF RELIGION AND STATE.
The greatest obstacle to our national unity and our national welfare is the attachment of our religious institutions to temporal authority, and their claim that sufficient justification exists for the religious centres of influence to exercise sovereignty within the state and to dominate, wholly or partly, the functions of political authority. However, the truth is that the great struggles for human liberation have always arisen between the interests of nations on the one side and the interests of religious institutions on the other, the latter claiming the divine right to rule and to exercise the judiciary functions.
The principle of divine right is a dangerous one. It has enslaved many peoples to the point of exhaustion. It was used not only by the religious institutions but also by the so-called divine royalty, which claimed to derive its authority from the will of God and the sanction of the religious institutions, but not from the people.
In the state where there is no separation between the state and the church, we find the government ruling in the place of God, and not of the people; but wherever the excessive dominance of the state by religious institutions is diminished, we find the latter always trying to preserve themselves as civil authorities within the state.
This is the temporal aspect of religion, and religion was suited for it when mankind was still in his savage stage or close to it, but not in our modern civilization.
It is against this aspect of religion that the Syrian Social Nationalist Party fights, not against religious or theological thoughts and philosophies which deal with the mysteries of the soul and immortality, the Creator and the supernatural.
The concept of pan-religious political community is opposed to nationalism in general and to Syrian Social Nationalism in particular, because the adherence of the Syrian Christians to a pan-Christian political movement makes of them a group with special interests discordant with the interests of other religious groups within the country and, on the other hand, exposes their own interests to the danger of dissolution in the interests of other peoples to whom they are tied by religious bonds. In the same way, the adherence of the Syrian Muslims to a pan-Islamic movement exposes their interests to coming in conflict with the interests of their countrymen of other faiths and to becoming lost in the interests of the greater community, over which they have no control, and which is always in danger of disintegration in the struggle for political power on the part of the constitutive nations, as happened in the Abbasid period and in the Ottoman period. The inevitable outcome of the concept of a religious bond is the disintegration of the nation and the decline of national life.
Nationalism cannot be based on religion. Neither nationalism nor the national state is based on religion. This is why we find that the two greatest religious communities in the world, Christianity and Islam, did not succeed in their attempt to become temporal or political communities as they did in becoming spiritual and cultural centres. A religious spiritual community is not a danger and need not be feared. As for the religious temporal political community, it is a great danger to the existence of nations and to the interests of their peoples. This was clearly demonstrated by the last Ottoman regime.
We cannot achieve national unity by making the state a religious one, because in such a state, rights and interests would be denominational in nature pertaining exclusively to the dominant religious group. Where such rights and interests are those of a religious group, common national rights and interests will not be obtained. Without the community of interests and rights there can be no unity of duties and no unified national will.
Based on this legal philosophy, the SSNP has succeeded in laying down the foundations of national unity and in realizing them within its ranks.
- DEBARRING THE CLERGY FROM INTERFERENCE IN POLITICAL AND JUDICIAL MATTERS.
The rationale for setting forth this principle in a separate article is that religious bodies attempt to acquire or retain civil authority even where the separation of church and state has been conceded.
This principle ends the indirect interference of ecclesiastical bodies in civil and political matters with the intent of directing matters in favor of their interests. It defines precisely the meaning of the separation of the church from the state so that it would no longer be subject to false interpretations. Reform must not be confined to the political sphere. Instead, it must extend to the legal-judicial sphere as well.
It is not possible to have well founded national civil status and common rights with a diverse and discordant judiciary based on, and divided among, the different religious sects. This condition prevents the attainment of unifying laws that are necessary for the achievement of one national order.
The Social Nationalist state must be based on a unified judiciary and a single system of law. This unity, which would make the citizens feel that they are all equal before the law, is imperative.
No unity of character can exist where the basis of life is in conflict with the unity of the nation.
- REMOVAL OF THE BARRIERS BETWEEN THE VARIOUS SECTS AND CONFESSIONS.
In Syria, age-old barriers between the various sects and denominations exist that are not of the essence of religion. Conflicting traditions are derived from the structure of religious and denominational institutions that have exerted an enormous influence on the social and economic unity of the people, weakened it, and delayed our national revival. As long as these barriers remain, our call for freedom and independence will remain futile.
It is no proper of us to know the illness and continue to ignore the cure. We the Syrian Social Nationalists are different from the quacks who call for union while ignoring the true ties of union and who shout for unity while concealing different purpose in their hearts.
Every nation that seeks a free and independent life in which it can realize its ideals must possess real spiritual unity. Such spiritual unity is impossible in a country in which each group lives in isolation from other groups and has particular social and legal systems that set it apart from other groups. This results in diversity in character and disharmony in aims and aspirations.
National unity will not be achieved unless the causes for dissension are removed. The socio-legal barriers separating the sects and denominations of the same nation constitute a major obstacle to the unity of the nation.
Unity is something real and not fictitious. Thus, let us not surrender reality and cling to fiction. We must stand together before the world as one united nation rather than as a conglomeration of heterogeneous elements of conflicting attitudes. The existence of the present social and legal barriers, which separate the various sects, entails the persistence of obnoxious religious bigotry. Those barriers must be demolished so that the unity of the nation might become a reality and the Social Nationalist order, which will restore the nation to health and energy, might be established.
- THE ABOLITION OF FEUDALISM, THE ORGANIZATION OF NATIONAL ECONOMY ON THE BASIS OF PRODUCTION AND THE PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF LABOUR AND THE INTERESTS OF THE NATION AND THE STATE.
Is there in Syria a feudal order? In one sense, feudalism in Syria does not exist because feudalism is not legally recognized. In another sense, we find that there exists in different parts of Syria a feudalistic condition both from an economic and a social standpoint. There are in Syria real feudal estates which involve a considerable part of the national wealth and which cannot be considered as private property in any sense of the word. These estates are under the disposal of Beys, or feudal lords, who manage these properties or neglect them as they choose, without any consideration for the national interests. Some of them neglect their feudal properties and go to such excesses in their mismanagement as to create financial difficulties that result in the loss of the land to foreign banks, foreign capital, and foreign plutocracy. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party considers that it is of the utmost importance to end this state of affairs to safeguard national unity.
On some of these feudal lands live hundreds and even thousands of peasants in miserable slavery. Such a state of affairs is not only inhuman, but also endangers the safety of the state, because it leaves a large section of the laboring and fighting people in a state of weakness, and a considerable part of the national wealth in a state of underdevelopment. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party cannot keep silent with regard to these matters.
The organization of the national economy based on a production basis is the only means for the attainment of a sound balance between the distribution of labor and the distribution of wealth. Every citizen should be productive in some way. Moreover, production and producers must be classified in such a way to assure coordination, participation, and cooperation to the widest extent possible, to regulate the just share of laborers in production, and to ensure their right to work and their right to receive just compensation for their labor.
This principle will end absolute individualism in production because every form of production in society is a collective or a cooperative one. Grave injustices can be perpetrated against labor and laborers if individual capitalists are given absolute control. The public wealth of the nation must be controlled in the national interest and under the superintendence of the national state. Progress and strength of the national state cannot be achieved save with this policy.
The aim of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is the achievement of a sound national unity that enables the Syrian nation to excel in the struggle for existence. This unity cannot be realized if either the economic or social order is not sufficiently wholesome. Justice in the judicial, social, and economic spheres is an essential condition for the triumph of the Syrian Social Nationalist Movement.
Collective production is a public and not a private right. In principle, capital (which is the guarantee of the continuity of production and its growth and represents the resultant of production) is a public national possession. Individuals, acting as trustees, may dispose of it and utilize it for further productivity. Active participation in the process of production is necessary for the enjoyment of public rights.
With this economic organization we can realize our economic revival, improve living conditions for millions of workers and farmers, increase national wealth, and strengthen our Social National state.
- FORMATION OF STRONG ARMED FORCES THAT WILL BE EFFECTIVE IN DETERMINING THE DESTINY OF THE COUNTRY AND THE NATION.
In the international competition between national interests, national right is recognized only to the extent that the power of the nation supports it. The vital interests of a nation in this struggle cannot be protected except by force in its material and intellectual aspects. Force is the decisive factor in affirming or denying national rights.
By the armed forces, we denote the army, the navy, and the air force. The art of war has reached such an advanced level that we need to be in a state of complete military preparedness. The whole Syrian nation must be well armed and prepared. We have witnessed parts of our country taken away and annexed to foreign countries because we have lost military power, and we are resolved not to let this state of helplessness continue. We are determined to turn the tide so that we may regain all our territory and recover the sources of our strength and vitality.
We wish to depend on our own strength in securing our rights and protecting our interests. We are mobilizing and preparing for our survival and pre-eminence in the struggle for existence. Survival and victory shall inevitably be our lot.