Choice of Texts

Michel Aflak


On Socialism

 



If I were asked about my predilection towards socialism I would answer: with regard to this issue what I aspire to is not to increase the wealth of factories but that of life. My concern is not that people should be equal in the distribution of food but that every individual should be allowed to exploit his talents and potential.
The laborer crushed by his misery may not find in socialism anything except a promise that he may take what he is deprived of, but I view it as continuous and generous giving, as giving to life many times what it has offered us.
(The wealth of life, 1 -1936)


He who thinks that socialism is a religion of pity is gravely mistaken. We are not hermits taking refuge in mercy to give peace to a conscience disturbed by seeing misery and suffering, so that we become great in our own eyes and sleep untroubled. Defending deprived masses is not a matter of giving them alms but demanding their rights. We are not only concerned about alleviating misery but also about increasing the wealth of life.
(The wealth of life, 1 -1936)


In fact this class on which the representation of the country fell in a certain period is very far from the spirit of the nation, its needs and requirements, for it is a senile and ancient class whose vitality has been exhausted and its relation to the spirit of the nation shaken. It has become so servile to economic interests and traditional ' social influence that it is impossible for it to discern the qualities of the Arab life at this stage of development in its history .The consequence of this is that it enters the national struggle unwillingly while dreaming of stability and longing for rest. How many times during the short period of the national struggle has this class deluded itself that the play has come to an end, that the trust was delivered and that the time has come for plucking the fruits and receiving the wages. But the people in their renewed vitality, awakened instinct and repeated revolutions has been warning this class from time to time of the falsehood of its illusions and violently reminding it that the struggle is not yet finished.
(The new formula for patriotism -The Baath, 4 -July 17, 1946)


The fact, which the people realize through contradictions and in spite of equivocation, is that the presence of the foreigners in the past was not the real obstacle to those leaderships bringing about reform within the limits of the possible, and that the evacuation of the foreigners today is a sufficient reason to enable them to realize that reform. The crux of the matter and the reason lies inside this leadership itself, in its rigid mentality and its corrupt social conditions. If the foreigners were able to obstruct something, that thing was the emergence of the correct leadership, and if their evacuation allows anything it is that the people will recognize their correct leadership and follow it with awareness and support it, with faith in it, and cast away the charlatans and exploiters once and for all.
(Our cause is still that of national liberation -A1-Baath, 4 -August 19, 1946)


In spite of the fact that the social and economic question is of a very great importance in our life we feel that it is secondary to a question of more importance and depth and we cannot insure a solution to the economic question unless it is considered a branch and necessary consequence of the nationalist problem.
(The landmarks of Arab socialism. 1946)


Socialism in the West was forced to stand not only against capitalism but also against nationalism, which protected capitalism, religion that defended it and every idea calling for preservation and sanctification of the past. All this because capitalism exploited the past for the defense of its interests, therefore it was in opposition to socialism.
(Landmarks of Arab socialism, 1 -1946)


We believe that any treatment of the rise in prices, which does not deal with the real reasons of this elevation, is a shallow treatment doomed to failure. The problem of the high cost of living in our country is a deep one, related to the foundations of our corrupt social and economic system. It is closely connected with the existence of this profiteering and exploiting class, which makes the people suffer. It is the result of this selfish economic system, which is free from any supervision or control by a conscious and strict state that fully represents the people.
The problem of the high cost of living will not be resolved except in the light of the socialist principles ardently and faithfully called for by our Party .It will not be solved except through the nationalization of the foreign companies and putting them under state ownership, thus saving the people from other exploitation of their vital needs such as water, electricity and communication, and by distributing the state owned lands among small farmers, rescuing them from the feudalists who draw off their blood and drain their efforts and give them a life close to nakedness and hunger for their continuous travail in the summer heat and the cold of winter. It will not be solved except by forcing the big feudalists and capitalists to do justice to labor, limiting the oppression created by ownership and capitalism and granting the peasant and worker their natural rights in a dignified and human life.
(Our stand vis-a-vis the present government -Al-Baath, 2 - January 27, 1947)


The ruling class in the Arab nation is by structure, education and interests, incapable of, if we do not say loathe to--realizing the complete national liberation and the unity of the fragments of the Arab land, for it is incapable of realizing unity in the hearts of the Arabs.
(There is one popular task for the Arab nation -Al-Baath, 2 -March II, 1947)


The tragedy of the Arabs at this stage is that the ruling class which has imposed itself on them is living a life the course of which runs counter to their aspirations, for it is decrepit and corrupted by luxury, by exploitation, by its oppression of the others. The psychology of the oppressor and exploiter is always senile and weary. This is why when this class views simple manifestations of progress it says to the people, to the whole Arab nation: this is as far you can possibly go.
(The party of radical changes, 1 -February, 1949)


The national interest, the survival of the nation and its progress along with the developed nations as well as its steadfastness in the race among nations all depend on the realization of socialism, that is, allowing every Arab, without distinction or discrimination to become a tangibly productive entity and not an illusion.
(In socialism is the survival of the Arab nation and its progress -Al-Baath, 5 -October 7, 1950)


Progressivism in its real significance is nothing but the recommencement of the march of the nation in its living and ascending history before it underwent degeneration. The liberation, which we call for is nothing but a liberation from the fetters and residues which accumulated in this nation during that long period in which it stopped to march and to be in touch with the genuine fountainhead of its spirit.
(Progressiveness is the way to be in touch with our past - Al-Baath -February 7, 1950)


We represent liberty, socialism and unity. This is the interest of the Arab nation, I mean by nation the greater number of the people and not that disfigured and deviating minority which has denied its identity, the minority enslaved by its selfishness and private interests, for it is no longer a part of the nation.
(The Arab Baath is the will of life, 1 -April, 1950)


We, who are not deceived by appearances, know that behind every opinion there are psychological and moral factors as well as factors created by interest. In most cases, the contradiction between the others and us is not in the realm of thinking, but it is a contradiction in interests and the detachment from personal benefits. Those who think that the Arab nation has not become sufficiently mature to put its case in a rationalized formula like the cases of other nations who have had important messages in history, and those who think that our nation has not come of age yet do not express in fact their opinion of the nation but expresses their selfishness.
(The comprehensive ideological movement -1950)


The achievement of socialism in our life is a fundamental condition for the survival of our nation and for the possibility of its progress. If we do not spread socialism and if we do not endeavour to realize social justice for all individuals, and if the Arab people are not turned of their march and protect it form retrogression and conspiracy.
(The tricks of reaction and the alertness of the people A1-Baath -June 15, 1956)


A policy, which has this grave importance cannot be improvised and cannot be sentimental. It must be our duty, when the reactionaries retreat and adopt a new fashion, to know the reasons for this retreat and its deviousness, and always make the connection between their present and their past and realize that when they go back one step, it is because they want to be ready to leap two steps or because they want to avoid being forced to go back many steps.
(The tricks of reaction and the alertness of the people - June 15, 1956)


But when the cause of nationalist liberation and the cause of national unity were entrusted to the masses of the Arab people and these masses connected the demand for liberation and unity with that of their daily struggle for bread and the attainment of a dignified level of living then we entered the stage of realization, we became able to realize victories over imperialism.
Then Arab unity no longer was a fantasy. All this happened because we handed over these dear objectives to their owners, to the toiling class.
(The working class is the vanguard of the Arab struggle, 3 .1960)


The nationalist cause is an indivisible whole as it is the material life of the people and their spiritual life. It is their just social demands as it is their legitimate rights and nationalist demands. It is their bread and prosperity as it is their national independence. It is the unity and unification of their homeland after dismemberment and fragmentation.
(The working class is the vanguard of the Arab struggle, 3- 1960)


Unity is demanded by the struggle of the workers before everything else-the struggle of the workers demands unity on a world scale, why should it not require it on a nationalist scale? When the workers and the popular and laboring class enter into this unity, every reactionary and every suspect will be cast out.
(The working class is the vanguard of the Arab struggle, 1- 1960)


Then appeared to us the first shaft of light, a shaft of salvation. It was evident to us that salvation cannot take place except at the hands of the people, the overwhelming
majority of our people, at the hand of the toiling, oppressed and exploited majority not only because it is the majority but also because it has been suffering from injustice, exploitation and deprivation 0f freedom as well as wounded in dignity , in all human and national aspects.
Therefore its situation, conditions and power have enabled it to become the vanguard of the struggling nation and its true identity.
(The working class is the vanguard 0 the Arab struggle, 1- 1960)


Marxism is a socialist theory .It is the first and most important scientific theory ...and it is not good to view Marxism with fanaticism. We must be open to it objectively, and in our differences with it we have to argue by giving evidence against evidence and proof against proof not by being prejudiced. We must be able to see right and wrong wherever they are... Our stand today of Marxism and communism is no longer negative. In the past we were not imitators and we are still not imitators, but we must take what is of benefit to us in our socialist struggle.
(A speech to the Branches. The Syrian Region, 3 January 18, 1966)


Leftism does not mean extremism, demagogy and insolent exaggerations. It is not to calumniate others. Leftism is a realistic analysis and practical stands, its objective reasoning is not affected by desires, ambitions and transitory influences but is governed by a scientific spirit, detachment and honesty.
(A speech to the Branches -The Syrian Region, January 18, 1966)


Our party has distinctive characteristics. The communist party has behind it theories written and collected during scores of years. Books and studies were written about it before the party was established. As for the Baath party , it entered the struggle in the first day of its foundation. The generation, which founded the party were involved in the struggle. They did not start their struggle with the party, but with every individual who had his own history of struggle. The party is not founded on paper but by a power experienced and prepared for the struggle. Through the struggle this power has gradually obtained a clearer picture of its work, and while so doing it defines its theory .This is how the Baath started.
(A speech to the Branches -The Syrian Region, January 18, 1966)


Our nation has been built since ancient times, by their sweat, their efforts and sacrifices, by their heroism. They are the toiling majority who constitute our people and who build our present and future. This great role of the toiling masses, the workers, was not recognized in the past. For this reason our country was asleep, imprisoned in backwardness and vulnerable. It was subjected to imperialism and occupation, to the worst kinds of exploitation and oppression. This was because the role of the toilers has not been discovered yet. The truth was not made public clearly and frankly. That was the age of backwardness.
(The role of the working class in building the revolution, 3 November, 1969)


The working class, by virtue of its social position, by dint of its revolutionary consciousness and its socialist awareness, recognizes more than any other, the requisites of the new circumstance and knows that we are approaching hard and harsh times. These coming years will test our ability to survive and will test the capacity of the Arab nation for survival. Will it be able to defend its existence by arms and intelligence, by fighting and construction, by the rejection of backwardness of all types and forms, in order to enter at one stroke the world of light and civilization, organized life, creative life which will release the talents of man instead of killing his vitality and his urges towards good and creativeness?
(The role of the working class in building the Arab revolution, 3 -November, 1969)


The fundamental disease which prevented the Arab revolution from coming to full fruition and attaining all its objectives and goals in the best and most complete way, and the essential reason for this failure is the deficiency of its view of the people, a lack of appreciation for the role of the toiling class, the working class.
This is the core of the matter upon which we should throw light so that its treatment becomes a starting point for renewal and rectification of our revolution in the whole of the Arab homeland.
(The role of the working class in building the Arab revolution, 3 -November, 1969)


We are part of the working class. True socialists consider themselves part of the working class. The socialist rule is that which is led by the working class, giving attention to what it can give and create in the life of the nation and in the battle of destiny, than viewing the possible mistakes made through practice, or the details of action. This is the leap required from the revolution, the whole Arab revolution in every Arab region, for such shortsightedness was a stumbling block in the past.
(The role of the working class in building the Arab revolution, 3 -November, 1969)


For socialism, in order to acquire meaning, scope and be of benefit, the nation must survive, the homeland must be safeguarded. We have to save the land and protect it. We must restore the plundered soil and stand up in the face of all imperialist and Zionist plots. As you know, this is the distinctiveness of your party, for it has not become satisfied with half-truths. It has not stood in mid-air. It has stood, from its inception, from the outset, on solid ground, because it has combined the goals of the popular masses in just and dignified life with the relations of these masses to a soil, a homeland, a heritage, history, independence and a restoration of unity of all parts of this nation, which should have been lost. The task of the working class is to produce with one hand and fight by the other or if necessary fight with the two hands and defer everything else, for rescuing the homeland from aggression, and imperialist threats is superior to every other task.
(The working class is the hope of the future, May 28, 1969)


The peasant class in our country , my comrades, if it could be said that it suffered the burdens of ages of backwardness, it could also be said that it carries, through its practice in life, its behavior and ethics, through its view of life and its patriotic, national and human bonds, the essence of civilization. Backwardness does not preclude deep rootedness in civilization, and our people are deep-rooted and our Arab peasant is deep-rooted. It is the duty of the party and its militants, when working and co-operating with our people in the country, to discover daily these Arab cultural features that our peasants live in their behavior and practice, even though they do not learn them in schools.
(The steadfast region has to carry the responsibility for the Arab destiny. 7 June 21, 74)


Industrialization is a tremendous productive force and it is also a force of defense, which protects sovereignty, dignity and freedom. If I say that we are looking forward to the day when we shall produce rifles and guns, it is not because we love war and destruction but because we love liberty and independence and because we know perfectly well from experience that no peace can exist if it is not protected by force.
(Our ambition should be great and we must build a pioneering experience, 7 -June 22, 1974)


In all quarters, which I encounter I see and sense aspects and bonds that connect them to with the party and the revolution. But at the same time I feel there are a number of elements lacking for the picture to become complete. Awakening is necessary as well as struggle. It is also necessary to explain ideologically and guide in practice. Continuous vigilance must not relax. All this is in order to avoid deviations and to assure that the march will not be obstructed. The toiling classes with the working class as their vanguard have the perfect picture and the perfect conditions for the Arab revolution. They are the origin. They are the body, while the other groups and quarters are complements and assistants in one aspect or another. The origin is the people, the greatest number, with their toiling class, with their liberated and revolutionary spirit, with their life projecting the sufferings of our nation and representing its will and aspiration, its will for liberation and its aspiration to build the Arab future we seek.
(The working class is a guarantee for the success of the revolution and the values of the party -Speech in the headquarters of the trade unions in the region of Iraq -June 22, 1974)


 

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