Revisiting Ideological Borrowings in Syrian Nationalist Narratives: Sati ‘al-Husri, Michel ‘Aflaq and Zaki al-Arsuzi

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Rahaf Aldoughli


In Revisiting Ideological Borrowings, Aldoughli takes us on an in-depth journey of the intellectual foundations of nationalism in Syria. Her focus is Sati’ al-Husri, a secular nationalist thinker whose work formed the basis of several nationalist political movements, including the Baath party. Aldoughli connects al-Husri’s thought with two subsequent political activists/thinkers, Michel Aflaq and Zaki al-Arsuzi, highlighting the extent to which they heavily relied on the intellectual contributions of al-Husri. Aldoughli illustrates the internal contradiction within their idea of nationalism, as first articulated by al-Husri, a contradiction which stems from the fact that two different traditions, i.e. the Germanic and the French, were being borrowed from, despite their opposing conceptions of nationalism. As one reads Aldoughli’s exploration of the secular legacy of Syria, one wonders whether secularism, irrespective of how broadly understood, will survive in any form in future Syria, or whether this phase was far too elitist and politicised to be capable of resisting the destruction of the last five years.

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