Speech of June 1, 1935

by Antoun Saadeh

  
 

    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 histo-ry 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 cer-tain 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, in-ternal 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 na-tional traditions to be reared on and to hold to. Our per-sonal 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 ap-plication of the four pillars of the Party which bind us in-dissolubly, 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 be-lieve 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 mo-vement 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 re-novate 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 prin-ciple 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 guaran-tee 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 spiri-tually weak and mentally sterile people, that we are a weak nation incapable of doing anything and with no hope of achiev-ing a purpose or a desire and that the best that we can do is to recognize our incapacity and let our national self dis-appear 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 situa-tion 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 maneuvers 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 wit-nessed 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 gray 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!