The Fourth Reform Principle

The abolition of feudalism, the organization of national economy on the basis of production and the protection of the rights of labour and the interests of the nation and the state.

Although feudalism is not legally recognized in Syria, there exists in certain parts of the country a number of economic and social feudal conditions that threaten the economic and social welfare of the nation. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party considers that it is of the utmost importance to put an end to this state of affairs to safeguard national unity.

The organization of the national economy on the basis of production is the only means for the attainment of a sound balance between the distribution of labor and the distribution of wealth. Every citizen should be productive in one way or another. Moreover, production and producers must be classified in such a way to assure coordination, participation and cooperation in the widest extent possible and to regulate the just share of laborers in production and to insure their right to work and to receive just compensation for their labor. This principle will put an end to absolute individualism in Production because every form of production in society in genuinely a collective or a cooperative one. Grave injustices can be perpetrated against labor and laborers were individual capitalists to be given absolute control. The public wealth of the nation must be controlled in the national interest and under the superintendence of the national state. Progress and strength of the national state can not be achieved save with this policy.

The aim of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is the achievement of a sound national unity which enables the Syrian nation to excel in the struggle for existence. This unity can not be realized if either the economic or social order is not sufficiently wholesome. Justice in the judicial, social and economic spheres is an essential condition for the triumph of the Syrian Social Nationalist Movement.

Collective production is a public not a private right. Capital which is the guarantee of the continuity of production and its growth, and in so far as it represents the resultant of production, is consequently, in principle a public national possession. Individuals acting as trustees may dispose of it and utilize it for further productivity. Active participation in the process of production is the necessary condition for the enjoyment of public rights.

Critics of the SSNP, particularly Marxists, have often raised the issue of lack of extensive development and detail of the economic plan as a limitation of the doctrine of Social Nationalism. It is actually the strength of the doctrine. Considering how rapidly outdated and consequently injurious detailed economic plans become, it is more consistent with the principle of serving Syria best to avoid limiting the energy and creativeness of Syrians in theoretical economic formulations. This does not mean that the SSNP and Saadeh have not delved into the details of economic issues. Indeed, Saadeh has constantly addressed economic matters as they arose and there is no period in the available written record where an article dealing with economic issues is not extant. This is not surprising from a thinker who was intensely involved in all the issues that affected the life of the nation. While it is beyond the scope of the present essay to examine Saadeh’s approach to these different economic issues, it is to be remembered that the principles were meant to define aspects and positions that Saadeh considered essential and immutable. The approach to the details of the changing world of economy needs to be principled, but unencumbered. It is for this reason that this principle was formulated in its current format.

The primordial role of productivity in the Social Nationalist economic view illustrates clearly Saadeh’s divergence from the utopian approaches that characterize many of the political movements in the Near East. Equality in poverty is not a condition that the SSNP accepts for Syrians. The economic approach should embody the view of the SSNP for the future of Syria as a vibrant and viable polity. Equitable prosperity can be achieved only if the productive forces of the Syrian nation and the resources of its homeland are activated. The imperative for such a view rests in what Saadeh has termed ‘the will to life’. The survival and success of the Syrian nation depend among other things on its economic strength and power.

It is important to note that productivity is understood in a wide sense. It is agricultural, industrial, and intellectual productivity. This broad concept of productivity is a guard against the disasters frequently brought upon rising nations by an exclusive and a stubborn attempt at industrialization at the expense of other components of the economic life of the nation. While the SSNP recognizes the need for the Syrian nation to develop industry, the latter is viewed as but one component of economic growth and advancement. Saadeh has clarified in his book ‘The Genesis of Nations’ that the industrial stage that societies have achieved is superior to the agricultural stage, but remarks that industrial nations have achieved superiority by their industry, agriculture and intellect.

The concept of basing an economic system on productivity has been interpreted in the past, naively, to imply regulation of wages according to work performance. While the latter formulation is acceptable within the framework of safeguarding the rights of workers, it is not the correct interpretation of the concept of productivity. It is likely a formulation made to parallel the popular communist slogan ‘To each according to his need and from each according to his ability’. Saadeh’s formulation was rather concerned with an economic view for the society at large, not of the issue of wage regulation. It is directed at the entire economic life of the nation not at a regulatory component of a single aspect.

The safeguarding of the rights of labor is not a call to unionism. SSNP members have been active in the union movement in Syria since the inception of unions in the early thirties. The Party has, at various stages in its history, supported the rights of workers when presented in the context of union struggle. The limitations of unionism, however, have also been considered. Unionism is usually based on a narrow view of economic life. It is frequently limited to a specific sector of the economy, and the demands are perceived in isolation of more general issues. The framework of the national character of the economy is absent from most union demands. A call for wage increase, for example, is a frequent union demand. The consequences of this event on the competitiveness of the product in international markets is rarely considered. While many political groups catered to the nascent labor movement in Syria by uncritical endorsement of unionism, and admittedly achieved political gain because of this endorsement, Saadeh had the intellectual foresight and the political courage to objectively assess the benefits and drawbacks of unionism in Syria. His resistance to unbridled unionism is not only on the basis of the principle of safeguarding primarily the interest of the entire nation, but also on the realization that unionism in Syria has frequently been exploited by political exploiters, duped by capitalists or controlled and emasculated by ‘socialist’ governments. Based on these theoretical and observational factors, Saadeh calls for organization of productivity and labor on the basis of specialization, but only as a means of improved productivity and streamlined management. The economic system, however, does not call for militant unionism because it presupposes the application of the economic view within the framework of a Social Nationalist state.