The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History

By Walter Z. Laqueur | Go to book overview
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THE ARAB SOCIALIST MOVEMENT

by GEBRAN MAJDALANY

BEFORE GIVING any account of the Arab Socialist movement, one has to lay down a simplified definition of Socialism. I shall call that party Socialist whose programme includes the abolition of social classes, the vesting of the principal resources of the country in the community, and the struggle against capitalism -- first international and then national capitalism. I shall take account only of parties that answer to this criterion, and neglect the rest. Many parties adopt the label of 'Socialist' in the hope of attracting the Arab masses, whose condition in some regions is so wretched that they are all too likely to fall for the magic of the word. I shall say nothing, therefore, of the 'Corporative Social Party' of Syria (whose leader, Faisal Assali, has no connection with the present Syrian Premier), nor of the 'Socialist Party of the Nation' in Iraq (whose leader, the late Saleh Jaber, has more than once been Prime Minister); nor of the old 'Socialist Party' of Egypt which has points in common with the Muslim Brotherhood; nor, finally, of the 'National Socialist Party' of Jordan, which in the last two years has gained in prestige by its hostility to the Baghdad Pact. These parties may, in certain cases, take up positions which are healthy from a Socialist point of view, but their record, their organization, their programmes, and their leading personalities give no guarantee of continuity or progress.

There are two main currents in the Arab Socialist movement. The first, and by far the stronger, is represented by the 'Ba'ath al-Arabi al-Ishtiraki', or party of the 'Arab Socialist Renaissance', often called simply the Ba'ath (Renaissance). This party holds that the Arab world, by its unity of culture and of aspiration, forms 'one nation' and that its present political divisions are artificial. The party is organized to bring about this union, in which all its members are

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The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History
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