1. On What Motivated me to Establish the Syrian Social Nationalist Party
Trans. Dr. Adel Beshara
This short letter was written by Sa'adeh during his first imprisonment in 1935, at the request of his lawyer Hamid Franjieh. It offers a valuable insight into the political and intellectual atmosphere in which the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) was established. The letter also sets out in a clear fashion the pattern of Saadeh's early political consciousness, his views on the fundamental national problems of Syria, and the factors which shaped the development of the SSNP.
I was only a child when the Great War broke out in 1914, but I had already begun to perceive and comprehend. The first thing that suddenly occurred to me, having witnessed, felt and actually experienced the affliction of my people, was this question: What was it that brought all this woe on my people?
Soon after the end of the war, I began to look for an answer to this question and a solution to this chronic political problem which seems to drive my people from one adversity into another, constantly delivering it from a lesser evil to make it an easy prey to a greater one. It then happened that I left the country in 1920 while dormant sectarian rancours were still widespread and the nation had not fully buried its corpses.
The situation in the diaspora was only a little better. Various tendentious movements had had their effects and badly factionalised the community. Although they were all Syrians, a sizeable group among them had yielded to extreme inter-sectarian hatred, so that, a Lebanese patriotism concept arose in turn, which is itself also an outgrowth of the leadership of religious institutions and of their authority and influence [in society].
Obviously, I was not seeking an answer to the above-stated question for the mere purpose of satisfying a scientific or intellectual curiosity. For a scientific knowledge which does not benefit is no better than a harmless ignorance. Rather I sought an answer to that question purely for the purpose of determining the most effective way to eradicate the causes of that woe. After a preliminary systematic inquiry I came to the conclusion that the loss of national sovereignty was the primary cause of my nation's past and present woes. This led me to pursue the study of nationalism, the question of communities in general, and of the issue of social justice and its evolution. In the course of my inquiry and research I became keenly aware of the importance of the idea of a nation, its meaning, and the complexity of the factors from which it emanates. It was on this issue that my line of thinking became completely distinct from those of all others who became profoundly pre-occupied with the political life of my country and its national problems. They worked for freedom and independence in an abstract manner which took their pre-occupation outside the national endeavour in its correct sense, whereas I wanted the freedom of my country and the independence of my people in it. The difference between this better-focused conception and the previous ambiguous and highly abstract conception is clear. I tried with all the Syrian political parties and associations that I happened to join, or form, or have contact with, to direct their thinking towards the insights that I had myself gained, but I did not have too much success in this regard.
Even a contrast with the ideas of the political bosses would help make my own position clearer, in the sense that my position became more and more founded on a national basis, whereas their stances had been and continued to be determined by political pragmatism. Politics for the sake of politics could not possibly constitute a national act.
Accordingly, and in view of the fact that a comprehensive national endeavour dealing with the question of national sovereignty and the meaning of the nation, could not be emptied of its political contents, I decided to enter the political field by following the path of a new social nationalist renaissance that would guarantee the purification of the existing nationalist beliefs and their unification into a single ideology and would, in turn, foster the kind of solidarity (Esprit de Corps) which is essential for national co-operation, progress, and the protection of the national interest and rights.
After I was able to determine my nation on the basis of modern science, which forms the cornerstone of every national construction, and to establish the social and political interest of this nation in the aspects of its internal situation and its external and internal problems through the social, political and economic inquiries which I undertook, I realized that I would then have to devise means that would protect the new social nationalist renaissance as it surged ahead. It was this that first suggested to me the idea of forming a secret political party that would initially incorporate those forces of our youth that stand out for their integrity and lack of affection for the corruptions of debased politics. So I founded the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and I unified the various nationalist beliefs into the one idea namely Syria is for the Syrians and the Syrians are one nation. I also laid down a number of reform principles, namely, the separation of religion from the state, turning production into an infrastructure for the distribution of wealth and labour, and the establishment of a strong army that can play an effective role in determining the destiny of the nation and the homeland. Furthermore, I adopted a clandestine formate for the party to shield it from the onslaught of the various factions in society which dreaded its creation and growth, and the authorities which would not desire such a party to exist. I then organized the party on a central hierarchical basis and in the fashion that focuses on the quality of each recruit in order to prevent internal confusion, and to avoid all forms of factionalism, destructive competition, and other social and political ailments, as well as to foster the virtues of discipline and duty.
I laid all of this down and went ahead with founding the party in total disregard of the existence or non-existence of the mandate. Thus, the party was not founded exclusively as a counterweight to the mandate, but to unify the Syrian nation into a sovereign state that has the will to determine its own destiny. Since the mandate was only a passing phase, calculating its position and the party's attitude toward it is a purely secondary political consideration. The party was not founded on the principle of foreigner hatred or chauvinism, but on the principle of social nationalism. The mandate may have temporarily boosted the popularity of the party and strengthened the motives to create it, but it remains a subordinate issue which has limited importance.
At any rate, the national question, by its very nature, would inevitably have to come to grip with the conflict of survival between national sovereignty and mandatory rule.
2. Speech of 1 June, 1935
Trans. Dr. Adel Beshara
The Speech of June 1, 1935, was the first major policy address delivered by Saadeh to the members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). In it, Saadeh set out in a clear and unequivocal terms the position of the party on the fundamental political issues of the day, and explained, for the first time, the nature, aim, and basic characteristics of the SSNP. The picture painted in this speech is that of a political party seeking to break away from the daily routine of conventional politics in an atmosphere of uncertainty and profound sense of insecurity. As such, it is a meaningful starting point for grasping the oft-repeated aphorism that the SSNP is not a political party in a conventional sense.
Ever since the hour in which our social national ideology began to bring together thoughts and feelings, to unite the forces of youth threatened with dispersion by the political and national chaos that blanket our country, and to transform this union into a new system (nizam) with new methods, deriving its life from the new nationalism, namely the system of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party - ever since that hour, dawn has followed darkness and movement has come out of lethargy and the force of organization has burst out of confusion. We have become a nation after having been mere human herd, and a state resting on four fundamental pillars - freedom, duty, organization, power - which are symbolized by the four pointers on the flag of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
Ever since that hour we have repudiated by our actions the judgment of history and begun our true history - the history of freedom, duty, organization, and power, the history of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the true history of the Syrian nation.
Ever since the hour in which we united our hearts and our hands to stand or fall together for the sake of the realization of the highest ideal proclaimed in the principles of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and in its aim - ever since that hour we have put our hands on the plow and directed our eyes forward toward the ideal. We have become one community, one living nation seeking the beautiful free life, a nation loving life because it loves liberty and loving death when death is a path to life.
Before the Syrian Social Nationalist Party was constituted, the Syrians were not a nation in the true sense of the word. All that existed was a certain dissatisfaction with an unnatural situation which the Syrian people could not accept and in which they could not find satisfaction for their vital needs. Some people took up the leadership of this popular dissatisfaction and exploited it in order to obtain the positions they sought, and they bolstered up this leadership by the remains of family power derived from the principles of a bygone age - principles which consider the people as herds to be disposed of by certain families, dissipating the interests of the people for the sake of their personal power. And when these so-called leaders found that the family and the home were not sufficient in this age to uphold leadership, they resorted to certain words beloved by the people - the words of liberty, independence, and principles - and they played upon these words, words which are sacred when they indicate an ideal for a living nation, but which are corrupt when they fire a means for assuming leadership and a screen behind which lurk ambition and private aims.
The word "principles" should be noted in particular, for it should represent the living power and the basic needs of the nation. But these so-called leaders have used the people as a means for expressing some of these principles, and in a very subtle way reversed the order of things. This may have been the outcome of impenetrable ignorance, but even so they have concocted a tragic-comical order which makes the people serve the interests of these leaders and sacrifices the people for the sake of these interests; they have almost succeeded in their scheme. Obviously, only very misled people could see elements of a national cause in any of this.
Thus it came to pass that in this age, which is the age of the struggle of nations for survival, and in this difficult times when the factors of corruption and division and national nullification are rampant amidst our people, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party rose, as dawn rises from the darkest hours of the night, to proclaim a new principle. This is the principle of will - the will of a people that wants sovereignty over itself and over its country (watan) in order to realize its lofty ideal; the will of life for a truly enduring nation. It is the principle that principles exist for the sake of peoples, and not people for the sake of principles - the principle that every principle that does not serve the sovereignty of a people over itself and its country is a corrupt principle, the principle that every true principle must serve the life of the nation.
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party therefore is not a mere society or group, as may still appear to some members whom time have not yet permitted to understand the fundamental principle which the Syrian Social Nationalist Party embodies, or the need of the Syrian nation in this age. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party is indeed much more than a society which brings together a number of members, or a club which was established for a particular set of people or youth. The Party is an ides and a movement which embraces the life of a nation in its entirety. It is the renovation of a nation which some imagine to have collapsed for ever because the various factors which have conspired against its national spirit have been so great that an ordinary nation could have hardly borne their impact and still preserve its existence or the hope of surviving. It is the rise of an extraordinary nation - a nation unique in its capacities, surpassing in its powers, rich in its characteristics - a nation which does not accept the grave as its place in the sun. This is what the Syrian Social Nationalist Party means to those who have united their faith and their belief in it. This is what the Syrian Social Nationalist Party means for the Syrian nation. The purpose for which this Party was established is a sublime purpose: to make the Syrian nation the sole titleholder of sovereignty over itself and its country. Before the rise of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the destiny of this nation depended upon external wills. And after moulding ourselves to suit these external wills, our views were always directed toward them. But now the existence of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party has changed this situation. It is our own will which decides everything. We stand on our own feet and defend our right to live by our own power.
From now on, our will guides the rudder. Every member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party feels that he is being liberated from foreign hegemony and from external dominating factors because he feels that the Party is like his own independent state, which does not deprive its power from a mandate or rely upon external authority. The truth, fellow comrades, is that we have bound ourselves together in this Party for the sake of a very important task which is the establishment of our state, so that every one of us will become a subject of his independent state. This task is no doubt difficult. Will we be capable of it? The answer to this question stirs in our souls and resounds in our breasts, and may issue from our mouths. To inscribe it on the pages of history will depend upon our struggle, for history does not record hopes or intentions, but actions and facts. And I do not doubt, with these faces displaying the manifestations of power and resolution before me, that our actions and our facts confirm the judgement of our will which does not know incapacity.
Within the Party, we have liberated ourselves from foreign authority and from external factors, but we still have to deliver our nation and liberate our whole country. In this important work we shall meet many difficulties, internal and external, which we must overcome, beginning with the first, namely, the internal, because we cannot over-come the external difficulties completely except after having conquered the internal ones. The first internal difficulty which confronts us is the lack in our community of deep national traditions to be reared on and to hold to. Our personal selves are always in conflict with our general self in all that has to do with our national causes and the way we meet them. Add to this the conflicting traditions derived from our sectarian organizations, and the effect of these traditions in resisting the national unity of the people.
I must declare here that the Syrian Social Nationalist Party has found a means of overcoming these difficulties by its system (nizam) which breaks down both the traditions that oppose the unity of the nation and individual psychologies which opposes the psychological individuality of the nation. Our final success depends, in fact, upon our understanding of this truth and upon the application of the four pillars of the Party which bind us indissolubly, namely freedom, duty, organization, and power. Our understanding of the reality of this change which the Syrian National Party has begun to effect in our national life prevents us from ignoring the nature of the change and the means by which it can be accomplished. The truth which- comforts our heart is that the Syrian social nationalists, on the whole, believe completely in the necessity of this change and show their full readiness and their firm resolution to realize the victory of the principles of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, each beginning with himself. In this struggle between the forces of reaction and the forces of renovation, we believe in the victory of the new forces; the forces that want to overcome all that stands in their way, to come out from a state of putrefaction, knowing no organization and no power, to a healthy state whose symbol is organization and whose emblem is power, the power represented in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
Likewise, I have on this occasion to declare that the system (nizam) of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is not a Hitlerite or a Fascist system, but that it is purely a Syrian system which does not stand on unprofitable imitation, but on basic originality which is one of the characteristics of our people.
It is the system which is indispensable for the molding of our national life, and for the preservation of this remarkable renaissance (nahda) which will change the face of history in the Near East and liberate it from the influence of the reactionary forces which cannot be trusted and which may constitute a serious danger, threatening every renovating movement with corruption under the auspices of the traditional parliamentary system that is powerless to reform itself.
I should add also that our system is not built on an ac-cumulative basis which piles a number of people, said to be of eminent position and standing on top of masses of other men. Such bases represent mere inflation and cumulation in their clearest forms. Our organization is built rather on bases which are living, and which lead individuals to order and open before them the scope of evolution and growth in accordance with their capacities and attitudes.
I have been told, and I have heard it many times, that certain members joined the Party expecting to see in its hierarchy men of inflated position, but their wonder was soon transformed into admiration when they found that the internal policy of the Party is directed toward reliance upon real strength - the strength of arms and hearts and brains rather than on the strength of position. The position of many of the people of the age which we want to abolish is derived mostly from principles which do not agree in essence or in their form with the principles which will renovate the living power of the nation. Our national principles have guaranteed the unification of our direction, and our organization has guaranteed the unification of our action in this direction, and we feel that change has begun to produce its natural results.
The principle that Syria is for the Syrians and that the Syrians are a complete nation is beginning to liberate our being from the bonds of fear, lack of self-confidence, and submission to external wills.
Nationalism is nothing but the confidence of the people in themselves and the reliance of the nation upon itself. From this point of view, we find that this principle of ours gives us the necessary living force to impart to our national personality a special ideal and an independent will, which is the basis of every independence. Furthermore, the principle that the Syrian nation is one social community is a principle that must filter through to the depth of our souls, because it is the principle which places the personality of our nation above all the desires and the inclinations inherited from a certain kind of education which the religious missions and schools continue to impart. This constitutes a situation which it will be one of our main actions to terminate in order to substitute in its place a new nationalism which will guarantee the unification of our feelings. Likewise, the principle of the abolition of feudalism and organization of the national economy on the basis of production is one which has been decreed so as to form the basis of our economic progress which is indispensable for the production of material power and sound living for the whole of the nation.
Embodied in the principles of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is the way of liberating our thoughts from decadent beliefs and fancies which have prevented us from seeking what we ought to seek. Such is the fancy, cultivated by a group of spiritually weak and mentally sterile people, that we are a weak nation incapable of doing anything and with no hope of achieving a purpose or a desire and that the best that we can do is to recognize our incapacity and let our national self disappear from among the nations and be content with any state which we attain. The members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party have liberated themselves from such false fancies and have taken upon themselves to liberate the rest of the nation from them. This is a responsibility incumbent upon every member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a responsibility which is greater than all other responsibilities, a responsibility in comparison with which every other responsibility is small indeed. As the sense of this responsibility develops and grows, there grows with it the living force of every member of our group.
The rising Syria is built on the new national forces represented by the Syrian National Party will be different from the old Syria laid down by tradition, given over to the fancies of those who have lost their national spirit and their self-confidence. The Syria of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is the Syria of national unity organized in such a way as to make the abilities stored up in it a general force capable of achieving what it wants. We have full faith that the spirit created by our principles will achieve a final victory and overcome all the internal difficulties. If this needs time, it is because time is a necessary condition for every important achievement.
As for the external difficulties, these become small once we overcome the internal ones and once the will of our nation is crystalized in our system (nizam) which guarantees its unity and prevents the divisive forces prevalent outside the Party from infiltrating into our solid unity for which we are ready to sacrifice everything.
At this juncture, I do not wish to deal with our external problem as a whole. This I shall do on another occasion which I hope will be soon. Now, I shall merely mention a general principle which applies to the whole of our history, namely, that the destiny of Syria has been decided by external bar-gaining without the actual participation of the Syrian nation itself. It is on this principle that the big powers rely on in their rivalry to spread their influence upon us. I wish to declare now that the establishment of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and its continuous growth will take it upon themselves from now on to dispel such fancies from the heads of ambitious politicians.
We feel now the existence of a strong Italian propaganda in this country in particular, and in the Near East in general. We feel a similar propaganda from Germany and similar ones from other countries. The Leadership of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party warns all its members against falling prey to foreign propaganda. We recognize that there are considerations which call for the establishment of friendly relations between Syria and foreign nations, in particular the European states, but we do not believe in the principle of propaganda. Syrian thought must remain free and independent. When it comes to foreign relations, we are always ready to clasp the hands that are extended to us with a frank, good intention and in a situation of common understanding and agreement.
The foreign states which desire to establish solid, free relations with us should recognize in the first place our right to live and should be ready to respect this right. Otherwise, the new Syria will not remain silent in the face of political manoeuvres intended to lead our nation to make the political mistakes which were committed in the past and which have done her so much harm.
The task of preserving our national revival is among the most important tasks of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and we shall not fail to undertake it in the best possible way. Foreign propaganda may spread in the chaos of parties, but when it reaches the Syrian Social Nationalist Party if finds a solid barrier through which it cannot pass because the Syrian Social Nationalists form a Party which is not built on anarchy and because they follow only the policy decided upon by their party. They are not a disordered group but an organized force.
I repeat once more this organized force will change the face of history in the Near East. Our forefathers witnessed the conquerors of the past and trod on their remains. But we, we shall put an end to conquests.
Amidst the con-fusion of irresponsible talk and shouting spread all over this nation, the Syrian Social Nationalists undertake their work with calmness and confidence; and the spirit of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is growing in the body of the nation and it is organizing its groups. The day shall come, and that day is near, when the world will see a new sight and an important event: the sight of men clad in black sashes on grey suit, with sharpened spears shining above their heads; men walking behind the banners of the Red Tempest carried by giants of the army. The forests of spears will advance in well organized ranks and the Syrian nation shall have a will which cannot be checked. For this is destiny!
3. The Rise of Nations (Preface)
Society is knowledge, and knowledge is power.
To the men and women of the mighty national renaissance who are striving for continued existence and glory of Syria,I dedicate this book. The Author
National consciousness is the greatest social phenomenon of our time - a phenomenon with which this age is colored to such a high degree of civilization. While the emergence of the personality of the individual was a great event in the advancement of the human psyche and the development of human association, the emergence of group personality was the greatest, most far-reaching, most truthful and delicate, and most complex event in the evolution of mankind. Group personality is a social-economic-psychological complex requiring the individual to add to the awareness of his own personality, an awareness of the personality of his group and his nation, that is to f eel, in addition to his own needs, the needs of his society, to complement his understanding of his own self with an understanding of the psychology of his social community, to link his own interests with those of his people and to feel with every member of his society, care for him and seek his welfare as he seeks his own welfare.
For every group that rises to the level of national consciousness so that it has become aware of the personality of the group, it becomes essential for the individual members of that group to understand the social facts, their circumstances and the nature of the resulting relations.
It is these relations which determine the degree of vitality of the group and its capacity to survive and advance. If these relations remain obscure, they would create many difficulties causing misunderstanding and activating the forces of antagonism in society so that it becomes self-obstructive, loses much of the effectiveness of its vital unity and grows less alert to its interests and to the external dangers surrounding it.
A study along this line which explains the human social actuality in its moods, circumstances and nature is essential for any society which wants to survive. Such a study brings about a correct understanding of the realities of social life and its courses. Any nation lacking scientific social studies will inevitably fall into ideological anarchy and intellectual confusion.
However, not all social studies are useful. There are academic or scholastic studies constituting a collection of general material or elementary information which does not help to determine a standpoint or to understand the nature of a particular social actuality. A proper sociologist or social expert is not one who has studied academic social science subjects specifically organized in a particular university and has passed an examination in his studies thereby obtaining a graduate or doctorate degree or the like.
Since Ibn Khaldun wrote the Prolegomena of his famous history and laid the foundation for social science, no other work in - this branch of learning has appeared in Arabic, so that the nations of the Arab World have remained socially stagnant, with the situation made worse by the confused attitude of their thinkers to the affairs of their nations. True, Nicola Haddad, the Syrian social writer, wrote a moderate-sized work entitled "Social Science", but it is of the academic type which can lead its reader astray. Nevertheless, it is, to my knowledge, the first attempt at opening the way to modern social science. The deficiency of the Arabic social books has led to relative limitations in scientific social terminology. In this book, I have adopted new terms which I hope I have well chosen to indicate the specific meaning, such as the Arabic equivalents for “social actuality", "social community", "morals" and “moralism" or "morality".
"THE RISE OF NATIONS" is a purely scientific social work in which I have avoided, as far as possible, interpretations, theoretical conclusions and all branches of philosophy, basing the facts on reliable sources, and making every effort to learn the most recent technical facts which illuminate the inside of social manifestations and prevent the passing of arbitrary judgments thereof.
I finished writing Book One while in prison, between early February and early May 1936. I wrote the first three chapters before entering prison.
It was my intention to review this book and be able to spend more time with the aim of rendering it more complete in form and of elaborating further on certain points, but the successive terms of imprisonment and the difficult political circumstances in which I found myself following my first imprisonment made it impossible for me to return to this scientific subject. Since the national renaissance is deeply in need of this scientific base, I decided to deliver the sole manuscript for printing in its original version, as it was when I left prison.
As for Book Two of this work, I studied most of its material and prepared the necessary remarks and notes, but all of these documents were confiscated during the second wave of arrests in the summer of 1936. I shall try to retrieve them from the court because they are personal papers which have no connection with the case, and then find an opportunity to write Book Two.
Yet, Book One is in itself a comprehensive work, comprising the general aspect of the rise of nations in all its manifestations and basic f actors, and although the publication of Book One does not obviate the need for Book Two, it does fill the need for the general subject of the rise of nations.
Book One deals with the definition of the nation, the manner in which it rises, its place in the course of human development and its relation to the manifestations of human association, while Book Two takes up the subject of the rise of the Syrian Nation, its place in the course of human development and its relation to the other nations and to the general trend.
It is hoped that this work will serve the purpose for which it has been written by explaining such facts about human association as will dispel any obscurities in the understanding of nations and nationalities.
25 September 1937
4. Return Speech of 1947
Trans. Dr. Adel Beshara
On March 2, 1947, Saadeh returned to Lebanon to a monster welcome after spending almost nine years in exile. Upon his arrival, he delivered the following speech to a massive crowd which came practically from all over geographical Syria to welcome him back. The importance of this speech cannot be emphasized not only because it rocked the Lebanese political system to its foundations, but, more importantly, because it determined the course of events for the next two years, leading up to Saadeh's arrest and swift execution in the early morning of July 8, 1949.
Fellow Social Nationalists
Today is the happiest day I have ever experienced in my life. For I have come back after almost nine years separated from you in the diaspora to join this growing multitudes of our adherents which represents a nation that, in its strong thrust to live in history, would never allow any enemy to bury it. After fifteen years of disciplined struggle, unparalleled anywhere else in the world, we stand today as a living nation victorious over all the foreign designs which aimed to keep this nation fragmented into contending denominations and sects, all of which have an equal heavenly origin, and to which our social nationalist teachings came offering a single unified religion designed to raise this nation to their level, to find in them its long-term guidance.
Today, our flags flap triumphantly in the wind without the flags of the occupying foreigner present at their side. If it is our flags that fly today, the credit for that is due to your teachings, your faith, your work, and your united struggle.
We have now reached a stage in our independence which, however, we do not see as the furthermost limit of progress that we should attain in life. It is just a step among many more undertaken by this great and powerful nation, though, an important step the credit for which, I again reiterate, is due to your work and disciplined struggle.
You are different from the other groups in the nation which worked and struggled in an improvised fashion, often in disagreement with each other. You had, in fact, to work at one of the most difficult stages in the course of this independence. But you did not do so in an opportunistic manner or under the protection of British bayonets, just as in the past, when you declined to work under the protection of German or Russian bayonets, or any other country for that matter.
You struggled on your own on behalf of this nation and by yourself you redeemed its honour at a time when your leaders, those directing the renaissance, were in shackles in prison. But your leaders held their heads high and their will was unshaken. They remained true in their resolve, refusing to bow their heads or to retreat by even a single hairbreadth from the supreme demands around which we had made our stand. And you [pointing to the masses] embodied the sincere hope of the nation. Like true faithfuls, you did not abandon your leadership neither in the time when it was in the prisons nor in the time in which it was - and remains - in the field of battle, in the field of actual fighting, whenever the need should demand.
As you were carrying out your unaided unity and struggle, you could hear voices soaring from within the other groups of the nation praising and glorifying the foreigners, and advising the people to bow heads to their guns, warplanes and bayonets. Indeed, you were the one who redeemed the honour of this nation. Your stand during those stormy times was nothing but the stand of the nation.
This is the outstanding fact about this independence and this first step, which we maintain has to be followed by other steps until the nation wins that final hope to which it constantly directs itself.
By prevailing over all the rumours which the occupying foreigner spread and which spoke to certain sicknesses of souls in a portion of our people, Day after day, and in every hour of your life, the people have come to realize that, contrary to such foreign-inspired rumours, you are not the enemies of Lebanon and of the Lebanese entity which the Lebanese people clearly desire.
Indeed, your nationalist endeavour was the most authentic expression of the will of the nation in Lebanon, in hinterland Syria, in Palestine, in Jordan, and in Mesopotamia. The Lebanese entity. What is the real meaning of the Lebanese entity? Is it an iron mould in which thought in Lebanon can be placed to implode into itself? Or is it a sphere of safety, a point from which thought can proceed to diffuse brotherhood throughout the whole nation, to spread unity and unify ranks, and to unite the whole nation on a single future from which we refuse to deviate even by one hairbreadth.
What is it that the Lebanese desire from their entity? Is it to have light themselves while the surrounding region can remain enshrouded in darkness? If there is light in Lebanon, it is only to be expected that this light should spread itself out throughout the whole of natural Syria. Could we accept that we Lebanon could have a light without all compatriots in our nation having a share in it? That can never be. [Pointing to the masses] This is the Lebanese entity and this is the authentic expression of the sublime feelings and the grand aims embodied in the Lebanese soul.
Anything other than this is baseless. It does not represent Lebanon or the will of the Lebanese people at all.
The Lebanese entity depends for its legitimization on the will of the Lebanese people. In all its positions, the party has demonstrated that, on this issue, it places the will of the people above every other consideration. The fact that the party was ready to cooperate with the Lebanese Administrations in everything touching on issue of sovereignty, even in times when it disagreed with their internal policy, clearly shows that the party does not want to impose anything on the Lebanese people.
You also have clearly demonstrated the groundless of yet another false rumour namely that the Social Nationalists are the enemies of the Arabs and Arabism. If there is in the world true committed Arabism, it would be that found in the ranks of the Social Nationalist Party.
What is the meaning of the Arab League which represents the Arab World today. Does it carry out the concept of the utopian enthusiasts of Arabism who want an Arab empire and an Arab national unity? Or does it rather implement the construction of a Front of Arab nations for which your party has argued and which would act as a deterrence to foreign designs and a force that would have weight in deciding wide political issues and thus be the effective means to realize the wills of this group of nations? Today's Arab League is the realization of that for which the Social Nationalist Party has called. We have been the group pursuing real Arabism while others pursued a false Arabism. We are the front of the Arab World, its heart, and its sword and protecting shield.
We have emerged victorious over the occupying country in this sector [of the Syrian homeland], and also over what is even more deadly than its artillery and weapons -over all the falsifications with which that country strove to alienate the people from its own cause. You have often heard the charge that the Social Nationalist Party was working for the interests of foreign states. They even named these states claiming that they were Italy and Germany, in a joint alliance. [During the Vichy interval], these two countries were occupying our lands through a treaty with France: they had two committees that used to sit in our country. But did they ever intervene on behalf of the leaders of the Social Nationalist Party still imprisoned by the State that had that treaty with Germany and Italy? Nothing of that sort ever happened! You are the only group that worked on behalf of the nation without depending on the bayonets of foreigners of any kind. Those ordinary members of the nation who were alienated from you through vicious propaganda today realize this fact very clearly. And they stand with you because you are redeeming their honour in the most critical of situations. Fellow Social Nationalists! I want to use an analogy to depict the condition of the independence in which we are now in. I want to use parallels from prison life. Many of you may not have actually entered the prisons to fully grasp the comparisons I am about to draw, but you will still understand something of that life through the reports you have heard.
In the present state of independence, the nation is outside the prison cell in which it was held. It has come out of the prisons inside the large building that Imperialism prepared for it, but until this time it still remains behind the great wall which surrounds the complex of the prison building. We are presently outside the prison cells but still behind the wall. The doors which lead inside are open while those that lead out are still watched over by the jailers who, unfortunately, are usually recruited from our own people.
This is the state of independence in which we are today. Other groups want to celebrate it and act like a child on the festival day brought brocaded garments with shinning buttons, some of them in the form of a field marshal's uniform, some others like that of an admiral, and some like the uniforms of the commander-in-chief of an Air Force. But in reality they are nothing more than costumes. Other groups may want this kind of destiny for the nation but such mere appearances cannot deceive us. We will never waste our time looking for games to play in life.
Fellow Social Nationalists!
Our struggle is continuing and you must never allow yourselves to forget that Palestine is part of Syria. This southern wing remains, as you know, mortally threatened. The Social Nationalists are determined to save Palestine fro Jewish designs and their collaborators.
You may from time to time hear those who say that delivering Palestine would be at the expense of Lebanon and the Lebanese and something in which Lebanon cannot get involved. In reality, saving Palestine is the most Lebanese of enterprises, just as it is a core matter for hinterland Syria, as well as, of course, a core matter for the Palestinians. The Jewish threat to Palestine is a threat to the whole of Syria, a threat to all its entities.
I would stress once again that there is no need at all to turn these entities into prison houses. Let us rather turn them into citadels in which the nation can shield itself as it prepares to leap from their ramparts onto those with designs on its rights.
I am instructing you fellow Social Nationalists to return to the field of battle.
Fellow Social Nationalists!
I would like to have had time enough to shake the hand of every one of you and get to know you individually, but time is running out and does not suffice. But I am determined as ever to visit your various regions and call in to see you.
5. The Maronites are Syriac Syrians
Trans. Dr. Adel Beshara
Some ignorant people who have studied neither history nor ethnography are attempting to mislead the unwary that there exists in Lebanon a discrete people that is not a part of the Syrian nation that is established as a single people throughout natural Syria. [When the commander of the occupying French Army first played the tune of the independence of Lebanon that he proclaimed, those concerned to assure the future of the Christian community in Lebanon readily seized on the concept of creating a separate Lebanese national state that would base itself on the myth of a Phoenician origin in Lebanon. They took the ancient sea-going Canaanite cities that developed on the coast before Mount Lebanon, notably Tyre, Sidon and Byblos, as a support for this myth.
But even if this mystical "Phoenician" (that is to say, Canaanite) origin be allowed for the sake of argument to have had some truths to it, it would then only connect the Lebanese people, from the ethnological point of view, very closely to the Palestinian people, and both of them would indeed form one people because the origin of the Phoenicians, who were given this name by the Greeks, and then become formed under it in Mediterranean history and in the Mediterranean civilization that emerged in Syria - is in Palestine that had been known as "the land of Canaan". Palestine had been the centre and "body" of the Canaanites and remained the repository of those among them who did not migrate elsewhere has proven beyond any doubt the intermixing of the three main peoples that spread throughout Natural Syria.: the "Phoenician" Canaanites, the Aramo-Chaldeans and the Hittites. Their integration and fusion with each other finally led to the emergence of a new single well-defined personality, namely the Syrian personality.
These definitive scientific researches include data relating to the dimension of pure anthropology that studies races/ethnic groups (ajnas) from a rigorously physical viewpoint. The most decisive of these researches were those undertaken by the Dutch scholar Kefrus, who, while teaching at the American University of Beirut, studied the races present in Syria, in particular those in the Syrian mountains and plains in both North and South. From these studies, he composed a report that he presented to the Dutch academy. The Maronites in particular - and the Hittite form, let it be remembered is very common among as well - are Aramites in their origin and language, that is to say Syriac or "Syrians". They came originally from the hinterland of Syria. The story of the monastery of the monks of Mar Marun near Homs and the Maronites flight from that place to Lebanon is an established fact which Archbishop Mubarak saw fit to mention a few days back in one of his sermons.
Thus the Maronites, they being part of the Syrian people that is centered in the interior of Syria, are Syriac rather than Phoenician in their original tongue and in culture and blood. Their religious and social literature is part of the Syrian literature which so greatly flourished in Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates , although also in Urfa (Edessa) and elsewhere. Returning now to "the Phoenician origin", we find that the Phoenicians extended from Palestine along the whole length of the Syrian coast. The major Phoenician sites that were lately discovered between 1929 and 1932 were Ras Shamra near Latakia and not along the coast before Fam al-Mizab, Sinin or al- Kanisah.
The main Syrian peoples intermixed with each other as historical periods passed and even before they intermarried their sense of common destiny already led them into partial or comprehensive alliances - notably the alliance they formed against the Egyptians that followed the Syrian conquest of Egypt and the sovereignty the Syrians exercised over Egypt for a considerable period. This intermixing produced the special Syrian type which differs in hue and colour from the Egyptian form which is the outcome of an admixture of various peoples, and which distinctively colonizes them together in relation to other forms. The Syrian social race unites the Syrians and the coastal residents and the hinterland Syrians and the Palestinians, and all residents of the Syrian regions in a single type that distinguishes them from other forms. Wherever individuals of this type meet in the diaspora, their form and temperament unite them and distinguish them from others such as the Egyptians and the French and the English and the Germans and the Russians and so forth.
Returning now to the Maronites specifically, we find them to have a grasp that preserved a residue of very ancient Syrian customs which they share with some groups of the Syrian hinterland and Mesopotamia. Their historical language is Syriac, that is to say the general Syrian language which was current throughout Syria and indeed for a certain period became the standard language of dealings between nations: some treaties between Egypt and Persia were drafted in the Aramaic (Syriac) language. The Maronite Patriarch is not the Patriarch of a Lebanese see but of a general Syrian one. He is "the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East" - Antioch being in the North of Syria, having served as the capital of the Syrian Empire in the Seleucid era in which the reigning family were Greek but the state Syrian. Phoenicia itself knew very well that it was Syrian rather than "Lebanese": the Gospels characterized it as Syrian when it described the travels of Jesus of Nazareth to Galilee and the areas of Tyre and Sidon. Before the First World War all the Lebanese used to consider themselves Syrians. None of them would define himself as Lebanese in any but a narrow regional sense as distinct from the nationality. It was the usage we observe in the phrases "Butrus al-Bustani the Lebanese" and "Yuhanna the Damascene" and Dik al-Jin al-Humsi (of Homs).
The Maronites in particular are the bearers of a Syrian heritage; their sect has always been part and parcel of overall Syrian history. We expect them to play a major role in preserving the heritage. Every idea that is intended to isolate them from the mainstream of this history is an idea that would harm their basis and which would bring ruin to their future. The Lebanese question was never one of a particularist nation or a distinct race or of a separate land. Rather it is the issue of a religious group that bygone religious wars in tandem with a lack of political and civil rights pushed to demand an arrangement that would offer security to its religious rites and customs in order to maintain - certainly not to destroy - that ancient heritage. The truth of this issue is known to the Christians and the Mohammadans equally. The founding of the Lebanese Kataib Party or Phalange in itself recognized that no "Lebanese nation" exists given that the first article of its foundation constitution states that its aim is "to work continuously towards the establishment of a Lebanese nation" - that is, that this nation is still non-existent and that the Phalange wants to bring it into being.
Even to this day the Phalange has never issued any statement that it has concluded its construction of this Lebanese nation. It has yet to call people to view the outcome of its landmark in any formal exhibition! Gibran Khalil Gibran, who was a Maronite when they set up the entity of Greater Lebanon, could only exclaim in an article he penned for that occasion: "You have your Lebanon, as I have my Lebanon." The Maronite Archbishop al-Dibs titled his magnus opus The History of Syria, and considered all of Syria his homeland and the Syrian Nation his nation. Sulayman al-Bustani, the great writer, likewise a Maronite, said on his deathbed: "Syria is the sanctuary in which hopes are invested:...." Do not betray the spirits of your fathers and grand fathers. Do not be so foolish as to rob yourself of that immortality to which you were from. There is no question - although some may make the claim for their own purposes - of dismantling the [Lebanese] entity because all groups now have accepted that entity. Let us then, distinguish between the entity and its safety on one hand and, social realities on the other.
6. 1949 Communique on the Revolution, its Procedures and Objectives
Trans. Dr. Adel Beshara
Was the revolution that Saadeh declared on the Beshara el Khouri's Regime in July, 1949, an act of treason intended to destroy the newly-independent state, or an act of self-defense provoked by the careless actions of the Regime? The answer to this question has never been - and may never be - known. But this communique, which Sa'adeh released on the eve of the Revolution, sheds an important light on this issue. It contains a chronology of the events leading up to the proclamation of the revolution, and an outline of its course and objectives. It is advisable, however, to read it in conjunction with Qadiyyat al-Hizb al-Qawmi (The Case of the National Party), which the Ministry of Information in Lebanon compiled in 1949, in order to establish who was the guilty party in this tragic episode in post-independence Lebanon.
On Thursday evening, June 9, 1949, several hundred members of the "Phalanges Libanaises" gathered in front of the printing building of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) in Philip el-Khazin Street of al-Jimmaizah Quarter of Beirut. After listening to provocative speeches by Phalangist speakers, the rally then launched into an armed attack on the printing press and administrative offices of the Social Nationalist newspaper, resulting in varying injuries, some seriously, to five of our Social Nationalist comrades. The attackers also set fire to the printing paper stock and destroyed some of the [printing] machines using machine guns during their attack.
Not long after the incident, on the same evening, the Lebanese Cabinet was convened by the President after he was telephoned at the Fadduls house, where he was spending the evening playing cards. In this meeting, the government decided to take advantage of the [Jimmaizah] incident and suppress the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party through a campaign of reprisal and terror. The Jimmaizah incident served as a screen concealing the real intentions of the government which, however, became to be revealed almost forty-eight hours after launching its campaign. The measures adopted by the government quickly took the form of a full-scale campaign which was unmistakably such to all observers. In the same night, immediately after the cabinet meeting, the army commander, General Fuad Shihab, summoned his staff and issued orders to units from the Lebanese Army to move into certain areas of Beirut, while other units were sent to the hills and other districts of the Lebanese Republic to assist the gendarmerie and police in their campaign of sweeping arrests. Within few hours, they had detained hundreds of members and officials from the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party who were taken by surprise while sound asleep in their beds.
The two primary targets of the campaign were the Leader's residence in Ras Beirut so as to arrest him and to confiscate his papers, and the Central Office of the Party in Rue Ma'rad. Although the campaign failed to capture the Leader, it succeeded in seizing the records of the Party from the Central Office.
The military campaign against the Party did not end here. It continued to build up until it reached a very high point in terror in all the areas of the country without exception. Police raids went on day and night and hundreds of Social Nationalists were imprisoned in a highly skilful and planned operation. SSNP employees in the public service were also discharged by the government and most of them were arrested without any specific charge or justification. Throughout the harassment and house searching that took place, lasting over three weeks, the members of the Party did not put up any resistance save for isolated incidents of individuals trying to flee from the rough tactics of the police. In fact, to this very moment, as the revolution against repression and armed tyranny is declared by the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party, the government's campaign is showing no sign of subsiding.
The campaign of terror and reprisal against the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party is, without a doubt, a glaring violation of the civil and political rights by the Lebanese state, and an unparalleled tyranny against its people. It is reminiscent of the days of the first tyrannical state which did not respect the will or right of the people because in those days only the will of the absolute ruler counted. While it was generally a prince or a king back then, in this age of ours, it is being exercised by a gang of political bandits.
It is also clear from the statements issued by those in power to the press regarding the ferocity of the operation, that the government is responsible for the destruction of property and the torture of innocent people, and that it has tried to justify its attack on the Party and its members on the pretext that the Public Security Department [PSD] has been informed by its secret agents that a rebellion was planned by the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party to take effect on ...
We really do not know whether the government has actually received any reports [from the PSD] or whether these reports have any real informative value. But judging from the way the government is behaving, it seems that they have either been fabricated or they don't exist at all. If there are actually any reports containing accurate information and names, what stoped the government from raiding any specific cite or centre in which the plot was evidently underway, or to indict anyone whose name appeared in these report. Moreover, if there are any real or factual reports, why then did the government fail to locate a single ammunition dump allegedly reported [by the PSD]. Instead, it has carried out a full scale attack on those areas with a strong Party concentration, indiscriminately arresting its officials, big and small, and its rank and file members, which proves that there was a premeditated plot on the part of the government to annihilate the Party, rather than merely to arrest a handful of conspirators in order to foil a plot or to avert an alleged coup d'etat.
The government has followed the rule "strike first and then proceed to look for justifications." But although none of its anticipated justifications materialized, the government proceeded on with its ferocious campaign, raiding houses in all the districts of Lebanon and taking people in for no particular reason other than for belonging to a legal party, licensed by a government which has brutally turned against it. The policy pursued by the government is a violation of democratic principles and a breach of the civil and political rights of its citizens. It is an intolerable injustice.
This is not the first time that those in power who control life and political rights in Lebanon, have behaved in this manner toward the political forces which aim to spread the principles of democratic rule and fulfil the free will of the people which these rulers have carelessly wrecked by they own selfish aims. The same rulers had previously approved a series of measures, contrary to the principles of free thought and free speech, against the Leader of the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party on the day of his return from South America. Indeed, no sooner had the Leader arrived [in Beirut] and delivered a speech in which, apart from his to wish to maintain the prevailing situation in Lebanon, he expressed his views on current political affairs, the government issued instructions to the Public Security Department to arrest him. It then fabricated a groundless case against him built upon false allegations, and then proceeded to bring it before the legal system to track him down legally, flouting with the principles of freedom and justice and with the basic need for public security and social and political integrity that would guarantee the rights and dignity of the people and lead them in the direction of an economic and cultural revival. As a result of this, the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party was forced to resist the government with arms for seven months until eventually the government backed away from its repressive stands. Moreover, between 1947 and 1949, the government used every conceivable form of obstruction and restriction against the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party and outlawed its rallies in public squares, as the time when it would not allow the party to stage a mass rally in Beirut and elsewhere, on November 2, 1947. Another example was the time when it tried to disperse a modest gathering organized by the Beirut Executive branch of the Party on February 28, 1949, on the eve of the birthday anniversary of the Leader-Founder of the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Movement, although the meeting was being held in a private garden. That attempt nearly ended in a clash with a throng of young men attending the celebrations. Having failed in its bid, the government then proceeded to ban the official ceremony which the Party was planning to hold in the Normandie Hotel on the day of the Leader's birthday. Consequently, the Party was forced to celebrate in a comrade's private house in an atmosphere of intimidation by the secret police which spoiled the social nature of the occasion.
Despite widening its campaign of investigations and terror to all districts of Lebanon, the government failed to find any real justifications with which to sway the public opinion. It then signalled to some newspapers, that usually tailored their coverage to the wishes of the Prime Minister [Riad al-Solh], to publish false reports alleging the discovery of large dumps of arms and ammunition in the Leader's house and documents linking the Party to Israel, as well as other fabricated accounts. It is clear from this that the government, and its proxies in the judiciary and the press, are prepared to use any justification even if they are false.
What must be pointed out is the sheer ferocity with which the campaign was carried out. The police were instructed to shoot anyone who tries to escape from the face of repression. At one stage, they fired on a group of Social Nationalists in Ayn Annoub, and on fellow comrades Mounir al-Shi'ar at Eynab and Fouad Farah Moufrej who was hit in the hand and thigh and imprisoned despite his injuries. In most cases, the forces taking part were trigger happy although their victims were only unarmed people attempting to escape from the armed terror.
Those who currently exercise power over the Lebanese people through methods of terror, rigging of elections, and violent intimidation of the emerging political forces that embody the principles of a new social life, have trampled the free will of the people. These are the people who have stood as a stumbling block in the way of social freedom and have waged war on the general political principles which insure the welfare and progress of the people. They have cynically damaged the well-being of individual and family life and carelessly exposed the life of law-abiding individuals to danger and their families to fear. They have set to out to degrade human beings through terror and violence and, consequently, turned into a dangerous type of political or governmental brigandry, to say nothing of the corruption with which they infested the offices and bureaus."
On the basis of this: The [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party declares this government, which has exposed the public welfare to danger and its safety to jeopardy, tyrannical and disloyal to the will of the people. The Party wishes to reaffirm here its commitment to the declaration it had previously made regarding the current parliament which formed from the flagrant forgery of the elections that took place in 1947 in an atmosphere of harassment and systematic intimidation of politicians and opposition leaders, i.e., that this parliament is unlawful and does not represent, in any way, the true aspirations of the people. The party thus declares the popular revolution in order to achieve the following objectives:
1 - To bring down the government and dissolve the parliament in order to invalidate its legislative resolutions relating to internal politics which were largely the outcome of private bargaining.
2 - To form a [new] government which would restore to the people the rights, freedom and will that were wrested from it.
3 - To draw up a modern constitution emanating from the will of the people that would replace the present constitution, which lacks sound constitutional character, guarantee full equality of civil and political rights for the people, and base political representation on the national interest instead of the confessional or narrow clannish interests.
4 - To let the previous political circumstances pass.
5 - To consolidate the Lebanese independence on the basis of the free will of the people.
6 - To uphold all international treaties and agreements concluded until now.
7 - To protect public security and private property.
8 - To counter communist threat to the Social Nationalist renaissance and to liberate the workers from communist political feudalism.
9 - To achieve the following Social Nationalist reforms:
- Separation between religion and the state;
- Debarring the clergy from interfering in political affairs and the national judiciary;
- The removal of all barriers between the various sects and denominations in society and in education;
- The abolishment of feudalism and the organization of the national economy on the basis of production, labour justice and the higher interest of the nation and state;
- The establishment of a strong army capable of playing a crucial part in determining the fate of the nation and the homeland.
10 - To purge the Administration of bribery, corruption and despotism.
11 - To set up a national economic policy based on the economic unity of [geographical] Syria and the necessity of a stable industrial-agricultural development.
12 - To erase immediately the injustice inflicted on the workers and farmers.
13 - To put an end to capitalist monopoly and tyranny.
14 - To release and compensate the prisoners who were unjustly detained [during the reprisal campaign].
15 - To reinstate every Social Nationalist and anyone else who lost his job during the campaign of detention and persecution.
16 - To reinstate and compensate every Social Nationalist who was discharged from the public service on account of his membership to the [Syrian] Social Nationalist Party.
17 - To suspend all regulations that nullify civil and political rights.
This Lebanese government, which has betrayed the freedom of the people and abused the rights of its members, has, through lack of any bounds and its abrasiveness, left no other course but to revolt in defense of [our] sacred freedom, and the life and aspirations of the people. The major People's Movement has accepted the challenge and declared the revolution.
Therefore, noble people! To revolution against tyranny and treason.
The High Command.