Seventh Basic Principle
The Syrian Social Nationalist movement derives its inspiration from the talents of the Syrian nation and its cultural political national history.
This principle asserts the spiritual independence of the nation in which its national character, qualities, and aims are grounded. The Party believes that no Syrian revival can be effected save through the agency of the inborn and independent Syrian character. Indeed, one of the major factors in the absence of Syrian national consciousness or its weakness is the overlooking of the genuine character of the Syrian nation as manifested in the intellectual and practical contributions of its people and their cultural achievements, such as the enactment of the first civilized code of law and the invention of the alphabet, the greatest cultural intellectual revolution in history; let alone the material-spiritual effects of Syrian colonization and culture and the civilizing influence Syria exercised over the whole of the Mediterranean, and the immortal achievements of such great Syrians as Zeno, Bar Salibi, St. John Chrysostom, Ephraim, Al-Maari, Deek-el-Jin of Emessa, al-Kawakibi, Gibran, and other great figures of ancient and modern times-To this list may be added the names of Syria’s great generals from Sargon the Great to Esserhaddon, Sennecharib,Nebuchadnasser,Assurbanipal, and Tigiat-pilasser; from Hanno the great to Hannibal (the greatest military genius of all times) and Yusuf Azmeh, the hero of Meyselun.
We derive our ideals from our own character and we declare that in the Syrian character are latent all science, philosophy and art in the world.
Unless the Syrian ethos is strengthened, and unless it is freed from dominating alien influences, the elements of real sovereignty will be wanting and Syria will fall short of its lofty ideals.
The history of the Syrian nation is viewed by Saadeh in a multidimensional fashion. This history is at once the record of the genesis of the Syrian nation, a clue to the character and abilities of the nation, and an incentive to the present revival of Syria. The doctrine of Syrian Social Nationalism is derived from an intense and detailed analytical study of the history of Syria by Saadeh that did not end with the founding of the Party, but continued until his martyrdom. Saadeh aimed to show the Syrians that the realities of their history are reasons for pride, self-respect and eagerness to restore Syria to its creative role in human civilization. In his scientific, philosophical and ideological writings, Saadeh constantly illustrated doctrinal issues with examples from Syria’s historical record. What is even more crucial is his directives to Party intellectuals to seek their inspiration in the events of this history, in Syrian mythology and poetical writings.
In a sense, Saadeh is responsible for the modern wave of intellectuals in Syria whose poetry, novels and theater are imbued with topics and influences from Syria’s cultural heritage.
Syria’s history was more than a source of literary material, it is also a guide to the character of the Syrian nation and its view of itself, life and the universe. Saadeh elucidates in his book ‘Intellectual Struggle in Syrian Literature’ how the SSNP’s philosophy of life is consistent with the trend that Syrian civilization has exemplified throughout time.
The implication of this principle on national struggle is clear. A nation needs to be self-consistent, its civilization continuous and its character preserved. A nation needs to be intellectually independent to contribute in a creative way to human development.
It is instructive to examine briefly the list of Syrians mentioned by Saadeh as illustrative of the contributions of Syria to human civilization. The first mentioned was Zeno of Citium (founder of the Stoic school in philosophy). This is symbolic of the admiration Saadeh had for the philosophical school of stoicism, and also the fact that a major school of ‘Western’ philosophy is basically a Syrian school. Bar Salibi, St John Chrysostom, and Ephraim are prominent Fathers of the Christian church. Of note is that the two Fathers that represent the Aramaic element in the Syrian Church (Bar Salibi and Ephraim) flank the Father that represents the Hellenistic element (John Chrysostom). It should be remembered that Syrian thought in the Seleucide, Roman and early Byzantine periods found its expression in a polylinguistic form: Greek and Aramaic (Syriac). By choosing these prominent Syrians, Saadeh is illustrating the contributions of Syria to Christian thought. Next, Saadeh lists two poets of differing standing: Al-Maari, Deek-el-Jin of Emessa. Considering the wealth of poets in Syria, the choice is intriguing yet instructive. Abu Al-Ala’ Al-Maari was a philosopher poet and likely the only Arabic writing poet to have had any philosophical and intellectual depth to his poetry. The poetry of Deek-ei-Jin of Emessa is sincere and esthetically refined. Saadeh was thus highlighting aspects of literary contributions that are of greater import that the popular ‘classical’ Arabic poets. al-Kawakibi (1849-1902 AD) and Gibran (1883-1931 AD) are more modern writers notable for their involvement in social and political aspects of Syrian life and their adherence to principles of Syrian revival and renaissance. Four of the military leaders that Saadeh lists are direct descendants (Sargon 722-704 B.C., Sennecharib 704-681 B.C., Esserhaddon 680-669 B.C., Assurbanipal 669-627 B.C.) and represent the rulers of the Assyrian state at its best. It is a period of Syrian history notable for the crowning of the social, economic and cultural unity of Syria with political administrative unity (38). Nebuchadnasser (605-562 B.C.) and Tiglat-pilasser Ill (745-727 B.C.) are ruler that established major expansion and centralization in the government of Syria. There are several Hanno-named Carthaginian leaders among them is the famous Hanno that was the first to sail around the western shores of Africa. It is easy to understand the choice of Hannibal to be included in this roster. Of equal significance is Yusuf Azmeh who as the defense minister of the Syrian state that arose in Damascus at the end of the First World War led the only organized armed resistance to French colonial forces in the battle of Meysalun.
It is clear that the choice of these notable Syrians is to illustrate aspects of Syrian history , in all the diverse ways in which a civilization can express itself, that are noteworthy of study and inspiration for modern Syrians.
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