Developing a Phenomenon Doesn’t Mean Denying it
Wisal Farhah Bagdash
Now many ideas about political plurality, development of the front work formula in Syria, the view and the other’s view and other concepts are presented. It is necessary to say, first of all, that developing a phenomenon does not mean denying it, for Syria is famous for political plurality since a long time. Party life is deep rooted in Syria. It is enough to mention that the Syrian Communist Party was founded 75 years ago, and the Baath Arab Socialist Party was founded half a century ago. There were other parties founded and later on demised because they did not respond to the rhythms of time.
During the French Mandate, the importance of the party role increased very much because the mandate authorities did often dissolve the national government and arrested its members. They also dissolved the Parliament, or the Constituent Assembly. In Syria the parties hurried to hold the reins of the affairs. The people used to have confidence in the national parties, as happened during the 50-day strike in 1936, when a high commission was formed of the national parties and forces, led the strike and organized every thing in order to avoid chaos. It collected donations and distributed them on the harmed families. And back to the early period of the Ottoman occupation, the representatives of the nascent awakening movements used to hold meetings for coordinating their popular works and organizing the propaganda and dissimination of their ideas, with disregard to their differences about how things should be.
Before independence, the Syrian Communist Party made an alliance with the National Block which represented rather a political grouping more than a political party. During the fifties, the Communist Party, the Baath Arab Socialist Party and the national personalities made an alliance against feudalism and foreign treaties, for defending and solidifying the independence and liberating the national economical utilities from the foreign control.
Later on, the Baathists and the Communists all over Syria allied themselves against feudal domination and for obtaining the workers rights, including fixed working hours and the right to strike. The Communist Party also cooperated with the Baath Arab Socialist Party and national personalities in the electoral battles to let deputies who express the people’s interests win parliament seats. In the 1954 elections, a socialist block was, for the first time, formed in the Syrian parliament, and the secretary general of the Communist Party won the overwhelming majority of votes as a deputy for Damascus. He was the first communist deputy to be elected in the Arab World.
In the Parliament, a national grouping composed of the Communist Party, the Baath Arab Socialist Party and representatives of the national bourgeoisie was formed. Independent personalities and broad minded clergymen, such as Sheikh mohamad al-Ashmar and Sheikh Salah al-Zaeim and some notable personalities who fought in the Syrian Revolution of 1925, backed this block outside the parliament. This block succeeded in confronting plans such as Baghdad Treaty, Greater Syria and the 4th. Point. The military legions that were mobilized against the Syrian borders retreated. Syria didn’t care for the naval manoeuvers of the USA 6th. fleet which was showing its muscles near the Mediterranean coasts.
At an initiative by the late President Hafez al-Assad, the National Progressive Front was established in 1972, two years after the Corrective Movment. This Front was one of the late President’s achievements and an expression of his great expertise in Syrian peculiarities. Compared with previous fronts, it is more sublime. Its Charter, set by all the Front parties, stipulates that the Front parties consult each other for sensitive issues such as war declaration and peace establishing. This was actually achieved during the October Liberation War. It also stipulates that each party maintains the right to administer its own regulatory affairs independently.
The Front played an important role in confronting the major challenges the Country faced. Now the Front is 28 years old, we should comprehensively look at the great role it played. The Front parties collectively confronted the major challenges that faced the country. Some of them were: Camp David Agreement, the Gulf War, the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon, the anti-reactionary fight, the stand towards the separate settlements and the attempts to undermine the legitimate rights in the occupied Arab territories. And now, at these sensitive moments, Dr Bashar al Assad has been elected as the President of Syria. The Syrians see in him, as the recent days proved, a continuation of the principled national line on which Syria was based.
The smooth transfer of authority, the election of a new President and the unity of ranks indicate a stand which is well aware of the perils that besiege our country and the great hopes our people have in the constitutional institutions, the Front and the faithful sons of our people.
After the elapse of 28 years since the founding of the Front, it is normal to develop its work and activity and, possibly, its structure. By change and development we understand that the different political parties and forces develop themselves,
their methods of work and their conceptions according to the developments of time. They increase their adherence with people masses and listen to them. Development does not mean the political affairs only, but it also means serious and constant work for improving the life of the toiling class, the major support of the Syrian national policy, and to crackdown at corrupt officials, the parasites who are sickening our national economy and stealing the citizens food by stealing the public funds.
Development is that the parties develop themselves, that is to say, to develop the methods of their political and ideological work without distancing themselves from the basic principles which should be dedicated for serving the people and the homeland. Development is not face changing, i.e., to fire someone and replace him by another. Because the major question is that does such a person have additions or conceptions that might enrich the world development movement and its reflections of Syria?
Marx had a predicament which says that ‘‘the style of life determines the thinking’’, and consequently, there are some people who are weakened by the march continuation, so they have been transformed into a brake for halting the development process.
The NPF created the supra structure of several parties that are united by common denominators, first of all, the liberation of the occupied Arab territories, the enhancements of Syria national line, a respectable life for our people and the solidification of the national unity. These are the points that contributed to Syria steadfastness and uniqueness in the gray time.
The NPF work combines unity and plurality. It was a pioneer experiment that became the focus of attention and appreciation by several countries. The NPF work was not limited to politics, as it might appear at first sight. It went far beyond that to include the economic affairs. It backed the state-run sector which formed a major support for Syria national policy, because, as we see these days, the political exhaustion is being carried out through the economical exhaustion. We have to protect this sector which helped our steadfastness during the days of hardship. We should protect it from the exaggerators and those who propagate doubt. It seems that the proponents of the market economy didn’t learn from what had happened to the socialist countries which were transformed from prosperous leading countries to countries that became beggars at the doors of western organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The NPF shall have great future responsibilities like defending the national culture and confronting the market ehtics that are associated with market economy. Ethics that spit on all values and impose hamburger and CNN culture and dazzlement by other aspects of brutal capitalism. Those who promote the market economy weep and shed crocodile tears for the state sponsorship of the public sector and pretend not to see the domination of the major imperialist countries over the world economies, that is to say, the imperialist countries do not run their own economy only, but they want to run the economy of several other countries as we see in the case of oil which is no more subjected to ‘‘Supply & Demand’’ but it is subject to the rate that the USA imposes. The oil of the Gulf countries and other countries is not an exception. The stock market rates are also decided through circulation frequency, not through the real values of these stocks.
The political, economical and ideological struggles are interrelated these days. This makes it necessary to understand the urgent issues, keep with rhythm, give a substitute and enhance what is unique in our people ideological, militant and political heritage.
The exchange of views and the respect that should be given to the views of others are important elements that were given special emphasis in President Dr. Bashar al-Assad Oath Speech. This was greatly welcomed because the country needs the views of all faithful citizens. We should encourage the talks that are carried out not in the dark but under the light. The ‘‘view and the others’s view’’ predicament means equality in rights and obligations. In this field, we believe that it is necessary to grant the NPF parties licences for their own press in order to enable them fight back the mad attacks, that are broadcasted round the clock, against all liberal countries in order to defame them, crush human values and erase the cultures of the peoples and annex them to the flock which Imperialism wants to harness for its interests.
Heavens have become open and we also want to send our winged words to fight the crows of darkness. The recent meeting of the NPF Central Leadership positively evaluated the NPF work. The meeting was carried out in an atmosphere of frank disclosure. The necessity for developing the formulas of the NPF work, after the elapse of such a long time since it was founded, was stressed. The meeting also stressed the necessity of benefiting from the NPF in building the homeland. The relation among the NPF parties is a relation of cooperation, comradeship and brotherhood.
(Wisal Farhah Bagdash is Secretary General of the Syrian Communist Party)