Choice of Texts

Michel Aflak

Students and youth


When young people imitate what they have come to know of the advanced world and when they are deluded that the aim of their lives is to devote their life to personal affairs, private success and free abstract thinking, as young people do in those nations, they will be betraying their nation as well as themselves, for they will not be able to achieve that kind of individual success, free culture and special creativeness while living in a nation whose conditions are like ours. Moreover, they will be shirking the greatest and most honorable responsibility, the responsibility of a generation destined to achieve this historic radical change.
(The duty of nationalist action, 1 – 1943)

The young people of those nations are entrusted with advancement, not with preparation for advancement, with following it up and not providing conditions for it. As the youth of our nation, the nation which is suffering from fragmentation, backwardness and the loss of freedom and sovereignty, this youth is not destined to enjoy progress and live a life of stability and civilization; its fate is the fate of a fighting generation, a combating generation, preparing, by its struggle, the conditions for freedom, stability and progress for the forthcoming generations.
(The duty of nationalist action, 1 – 1943)

It behooves the youth to always be inspired by that spiritual fountainhead and to know that those who were able to record something in this life, to have their impact on history, were those who had the faith of heroes and who preserved in themselves the innocence of children and the force of their drive for the ideals without any consideration of the hardships and to the pressure of their milieu.
(Our live view of the Party, 1 - April 1955)

Man when young has the highest degree and the most potent of living virtues. If he is incapable of expressing them in words and with completeness, wisdom and serenity, it is because they are living and burning virtues, the vitality of which does not allow them to be put into words, wise speech and serene ideas. They do not give them the chance of looking backward, supervising and witnessing instead of propelling and acting, instead of deciding and creating.
(The expertise of the elders and the drives of the youth, 1 – 1955)

Because of the age of youth, and their lack of concern regarding all the interests to which individuals become attached after being immersed in the problems of life, and also because of the education of the youth, all these factors: age, disinterestedness, and the awareness resulting from education, pave the way for the formation and acceptance of this view which has very distant aims and which is daring in its ambition and simple at the same time. If it was not simple in the eye of those who responded to its call, they would not have come to embrace it and they would not have believed in its capacity for realization.
(Our idea on the way of realization, 5 - March 1956)

When we come into contact with reality, when we interact with this reality, we discover this flexibility which makes us abandon some of the secondary points in our ideas for the sake of realizing the most fundamental of them.
When the youth stagnate and stop at the point of their first spiritual standpoint, they will not grow to be men and at the same time they will not remain young. When the young stick to their first awareness after conditions have necessitated further development and require the young to move from the stage of thinking and propagation to the stage of realization, they sentence themselves to live like old and decrepit people who spend their time remembering and crying over what has not been achieved. Such young people lose both manhood and youth.
(Our idea on the way of realization, 5 - March 1956)

Here we grasp the crisis point in the spirit of young people. It is the crisis of youth everywhere and at all time.
Brethren, it is natural that no movement, however faithful and strong, can change anything in a milieu from which it remains distant and into which it does not enter, when it does not become part of it, flesh and blood. Influence can only be exercised through this contact and interaction. In order to change the milieu you have to enter into it, and you have to create a living connection between it and yourselves. The movement should not preach, for it leads nowhere. What some people may consider a loss that should have been avoided is in fact a gain and advancement, for without this step without this interplay with the milieu the idea will lose every capacity for creativeness and effective and earnest influence in its milieu. There is a price, which has to be paid if the idea is to move from the realm of the abstract into that of life. Life, brethren, does not show us complete and brilliant things except in books, on paper and in art works. In human reality there are no perfect things, for life by nature cannot be complete. If it is complete, it is death. I urge you to look deeply into this observation and try to see this transformation, which is not visible and not tangible. To grasp it we have to exert our thinking. It is particularly necessary to grasp it, to suffer and experience it so that one can realize that what appeared to him, as a loss was in fact a transformation from one aspect to another.
The view which you are required to adopt and abide by as a fighting generation that exists to act and radically change the conditions of its nation, not to stop at the confines of meditation and wishful thinking, is this: it is better to renounce some of the perfection of the initial image, provided that our idea is put into action and becomes embodied and realized, than to keep a perfect idea which remains on paper.
(Our idea on the way of realization, 5 - March 1956)

You may enquire: how things are suddenly and unpredictably reversed in the history of nations, and you may ask whether such sudden changes are the work of persons. A quick answer to this is that the basis of such changes is the growth of the thought of the people and the increase in their awareness. When such growth and awareness become sufficient they create the suitable conditions for the emergence of exceptional persons. Then comes the role of persons. The role of extraordinary persons is undeniable in the making of history, but it is wrong to assume that they have existed by chance. They are the outgrowth of their nation and its fermentation. Thereafter, their nation represents itself in them. In turn they urge its forward march.
(The Arab struggle in face of imperialism and "Israel", 5 -October, 1956)

The Arab nation is not Nuri As-Saeed or the governments of Syria and Lebanon. It is much deeper and richer than that, but it has not yet been truly represented. The children of the nation rely only on the people for their struggle and do not despair when the governments capitulate. The people never belie this confidence and that optimism, for every day brings with it something new and a favorable surprise, and expresses unexpected potentialities. The governments were waiting for a pretext to sever the relation not only between Tunisia and the Arab East but also between Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, for they have severed themselves from the people.
(The struggle of the Maghreb and the method of negotiation, 5 - March 1956)

We have said since the inception of this party and since the first battle of the struggle, that the Arab nation in this age is still at the stage of potentiality and has only been partially realized. All its capacities and forces are still hidden and invisible and it is our duty to stake all we have on these potentialities and struggle to bring them out discover and realize them. Consequently our policy should be the policy for the future, and should always look to the future. We should consider the present a stage, a means that must be put at the service of that future which is rich in forces and potential. It follows from this that the difference between the people, who are the reservoir of this potential and the governments tackling the present situation, is very great. These governments, if they have a grain of faithfulness—should avoid considering themselves a true image of the people, for by doing so they will impoverish the people to the utmost degree, for although the potentialities of the governments are very scarce those of the people are plentiful.
(The relation between the governments and the Arab people, April 12, 1956)

Popular pressure would never harm governments when they are faithful, for it is their sole and their greatest power. Every government, which remains frightened and suspicious of popular pressure, expresses in this fright and suspicion its remoteness from the people and a lack of sincerity in its policy as well as a lack of regard for the people.
(The relation between the governments and the Arab people, April 12, 1956)

In a people passing through a stage of revival—as we have said—matters cannot remain static and still. Everything changes and develops as a consequence of the vitality of the people, their drive and their feeling for their rights and human identity.
(The relation between the governments and the Arab people, April 12, 1956)

How should we bring up these people and respect them and respect their will and freedom? Should we treat them as we treat those who are underage? Should we pay them lip service and despise them in the depths of our souls? Should we ingratiate ourselves to them in appearance while we are frightened by them in reality? How should we bring them up to make them responsible so that they will protect the revolution, for it is their own revolution. Leaderships change and vanish hut the people remain. If these values and ideals are not put at the service of the revolutionary people and if they do not become an integral part of them if they do not become something natural to them nothing will protect our revolution. It will fail and imperialism will come back for a while, for we shall have forgotten to be concerned about our revolution and to be faithful to our principles. We shall have neglected our people who are both the means and the end of our revolution.
(The humaneness humanity of the struggle of the Arab nation, 5 Baghdad, Late July 1958)

Students combine two essential and revolutionary qualities: youth and education. Revolution is by nature a youthful spirit; the spirit of revolution is the spirit of rebellion. It is the spring of the soul, the warm hope that moves man to aspire to perfection, and all this is expressed by youth. Education is the greatest weapon in the hand of the revolution for it transforms the revolution and transforms the revolutionary hopes and objectives from sentiments and vague wishes into a high degree of clear consciousness, and planned and organized consciousness.
(The new stage is a stage of foundation, 3 October 23, 1969)

The masses are the final authority. The masses, today more than at any time before, are the makers of revolution and makers of history.
(The masses are the guarantee, 3 October 1970)

What is the evidence of the vitality of a revolutionary party? The first evidence is the number of young people adhering to it, and the second evidence is the adherence of the toiling popular masses.
(The Baath and the armed struggle, 3 - January 16, 1970)


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