Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Democracy: A Source of Strength for the Individual and Society," a Speech by Saddam Hussein

A speech by Saddam Hussein to the Council of Planning, 10 July 1977.


Your task and that of your Ministry are among the most important tasks undertaken by any Ministry in this country because they are related to what we and our people cherish most, namely youth and the students in whom the Revolution created a new sense of national and pan-Arab awareness and feelings, a belief in the socialist course, and a sense of responsibility. Such a state should be enhanced. What are then the proper means to deal with a student on a daily basis, whether in school or at home, in a manner that makes his interaction with the new requirements of education elaborate and genuine? I put it frankly: the means and remedies being used in this field have not been encouraging so far.

We do not want the student to learn in a parrotlike manner things related to the Party or the State. Loyalty to the Party is not only proved through membership or by learning Party slogans. Rather, it is expressed by showing genuine allegiance to the homeland, by carrying out one’s duty sincerely, by being very careful with time, and by adherence to the Revolution’s program in a sincere, proper, and creative way.

It is true that the Minister of Education is guided by a general line. Yet there are many things and many cases and fields that do not fall within his direct responsibility of follow-up and supervision, especially in the details of implementation when they become the responsibility of the lower departments. Hence, when these departments are active and creative the course of work will continue in the same fashion outlined by the competent minister or determined by the leadership for all departments.

We aspire to make the child a source of enlightenment within the family, which includes his parents and his siblings, so that he may bring about positive changes. He may also teach his family some of the rules of good conduct and respect that are based on the Revolution’s concepts, because the school teaches him the benefit and importance of all this. If the father is not acquainted with the rules of new conduct, the student or young pupil will be creating a new style of living. Such a style is linked to the principles of the Arab Baath Socialist Party and its approach to revolutionary change.

The basic principles of the Party are based on two main issues: creating a real national basis, and ending any form of injustice and exploitation with regard to Iraq, as well as putting Iraq within the framework of these two issues, in the service of the objectives of Arab struggle.

If we do not create real patriotism and put an end to injustice and exploitation in Iraq, we will not be able to pass on the Party’s principles beyond Iraq and not even within Iraq. Then our calls could end up like the aborted experiences of Third World countries, where the concerned leaders of national changes at the beginning of political changes clamor about nationalism, socialism, and other slogans. However, when for some reason they leave their leading positions, the opposition forces come back and take over control of the state without facing any major obstacles, because the laws prevailing when those changes took place remained as they were, and because the persons in the second positions neither brought about radical changes nor created new and firm revolutionary traditions in society and governmental departments. They come and take over affairs under various names and disguises that are legitimate and common, without causing any serious damage to interests, culture, and traditions.

Accordingly, your task is a difficult one, and the job of a primary school teacher has priority over that of the secondary school teacher. And the latter’s has priority over that of the university teacher, because a university teacher receives the students as end products whose educational bases have, to a considerable degree, been shaped. If the end products are corrupt, he will not be able to make a great and essential change. But if they are within the general line, his role will be to develop and improve on the results, putting them within the common context of the Revolution’s course and programs. Therefore, you should teach pupils and students the details of daily life, as we said, such as the proper use of knife and fork, table manners, asking their parents’ permission before coming into their room or before inviting a friend, the respect of public property (socialist property), and being careful with their money and fighting bourgeois habits. Passing on the Revolution’s traditions, customs, and directives through pupils and students to their families and safeguarding them against wornout habits that are still prevalent in these families is vital and essential. You should not consider these habits bourgeois because the principles of the Arab Baath Socialist Party do not state that whoever eats with his hand is socialist and whoever uses a fork is not a socialist. We want all people to use the fork and spoon even though our families did not teach us how to use them, because using the fork and spoon is proper and more hygienic and economical than eating by hand, and because it is so, we must integrate it into our lifestyle.

The bourgeois attitude is mainly based on exploiting man. As for socialism, it is not equality in hunger, injustice, oppression, and chaos. It is equality in welfare, strength, and freedom, for we don’t want our people to remain hungry and backward in order to be called a socialist people. We want self-sufficient, well-off, and socialist all at the same time.

We must make the young learn good habits and adopt them at home, because the homes of many of them do not provide the conditions conducive to proper education. It may seem for some these habits are insignificant: in fact, they are essential and important. They are relevant to one of the secrets of our success in building up the new society, and that is orderliness, whose serious impact is reflected in the application of ideas that are common and valid in building up this society. Discipline teaches us how to appreciate the value and importance of time. It teaches us how to respect a senior and to be kind toward a junior. Discipline also teaches a pupil why, how, and for what purpose anything is used, whether at school, at home, or in the street. All this is part of national education. Discipline teaches him how to sit in the classroom and at the table, not to leave the table before his parents, not to start eating before his parents, etc. This is part of making him an orderly person. We should get the student used to obeying discipline because there are important educational, psychological, and national aspects to that. For this reason and other well-known considerations, we find the student who is used to working under the elaborate obligations of order, when necessary, stands still in the sun with his gun night and day. And when he is called upon to confront an imperialist or hostile force in this hot region he is ready to do it because since childhood he has been used to orderly work and its numerous details, which build up and toughen his patience. If further work details within new contexts crop up he will not be annoyed by them, nor by military life and war, because an image of it has become part of his life and his general upbringing ever since he was a student or a schoolchild.

Therefore, in order not to let the parents dictate their backward ideas at home we must let the child play an enlightening role to chase out backwardness, because some fathers have got away with it for many reasons and factors. Yet we still have the child in our hands and we must make him play an effective and enlightening role within the family during all the hours he spends with the family in order to change his family’s lot for the better and keep him away from harmful imitation.

This does not conflict with true loyalty to the family, respect for one’s parents, and the family unity that we are after. Family unity should not be based on backward concepts. Rather, it should be based on and consolidated by being in harmony with the central policies and traditions applied by the Revolution in building up the new society. Whenever family unity conflicts with the proposed policies that are applied to build up the new society, this conflict must be solved in favor of the policies and traditions for building up the new society and not vice versa. Our task then is very hard and complicated, and the brush of a competent artist is needed to give the intended image its proper colors. It is easy to use the hammer in industry, the axe and the spade in farming, but in education there is no way to apply the method of using the axe, the spade, or the hammer because the whole work sometimes lies in the artist’s brush, to ensure the precise image we want to achieve and present as a new model for building up society. We must be realistic revolutionaries in raising up the new generation accordingly. We should not be surprised at the negative phenomena in society and feel too helpless or confused to treat them. Many of our people, including Party members, have not been able to cast off entirely the old society’s concepts and traditions—though they did so in terms of ideology. Casting off a code of conduct is more difficult than casting off ideas, though we assume there is always harmony between thought and behavior. If there has been a considerable tax on ideas mainly consisting of continuous sacrifices and struggle in an early stage, this “tax” has now diminished or has other directions, less serious in their general context at this stage. As for behavior, its tax continues though its form has changed. It is the tax of getting on with others at the expense of particularities that conflict with the course and interest of society. This is expressed in such-andsuch terms in the socialist field and such-and-such terms in national education or in the field of Arab struggle, etc. Therefore we believe that harmony of thoughts does not necessarily produce the required image in detail. But it is supposed to lead to the same image in the end. As for the details, we may find some drawbacks, lack of correspondence, or even contradiction. We may find a Baathist who is not at odds with us in understanding socialism, but who dissents when socialism threatens his interests or wishes. When the split comes about and disorder sets in, it will be at the expense of general creativity and not only at the expense of the Arab Baath Socialist Party’s principles. Hence we realize that the Party is a school for enhancing immunity. But nationalism is not confined to Party members, nor is loyalty. This case is similar in some aspects to examinations. Is an examination the only criterion that proves the competence of all students? The answer is no. But do we have a criterion other than this? The answer is also no. So we have no way to enhance people’s immunity, awareness, belief, and effectiveness, to lead society successfully and to achieve their pronounced national and Arab objectives, other than affiliation to the Party.

Nevertheless, this does not prevent the Arab Baath Socialist Party from stressing that nation - alism is not an exclusive right of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, nor is loyalty felt by Party members only. Accordingly and from a realistic revolutionary viewpoint, the Party has emphasized that the Baath Party’s formula is not formal. It is a formula of principles and practices related to Baathist principles. Hence, we may say that every citizen who is loyal to the homeland, loves his people and his work, and cares for them and believes in the Revolution is Baathist in his own way.

Brothers, you have done so much, but all the same, we would like you to know that we hope you will contribute yet more because your ambition, which is the Revolution’s ambition, is great.

You should win over the adults through their children as well as by other means. Teach the student and the pupil to disapprove of his parents if he heard them talk about the State’s secrets, and to inform them that this is wrong. Teach them to criticize their parents politely if they heard them talk about the secrets of Party organizations. You should place in every corner a son devoted to the Revolution, with a reliable eye and a wise mind. He would receive his directives from the Revolution’s responsible center and carry them out, store old formulas and treat them in a proper way, psychologically and socially, while he maintains and respects family unity.

Teach him to object politely if he finds one of his parents squandering the State property. He should inform his parent that it is dearer than his own property, because he can’t have his own personal property if the State doesn’t have its property, and that State property belongs to society. Hence we should be proud of it and be careful with it.

You should also teach the child at this stage to be wary of foreigners, because they act as spies for their countries and some of them are elements of subversion against the Revolution. Therefore befriending a foreigner and talking with him without supervision is not permissible. Instill in him caution against imparting State and Party secrets to a foreigner. He should politely warn others, both young and adult, not to discuss indiscreetly Party and State secrets in the presence of foreigners. In his relationship with the teacher the child is like a piece of crude marble in a sculptor’s hand. The teacher can mold him into the required shape and not leave it for time and the elements of nature. 

Thus, we are called upon to be in control of the main keys and leave the ends open for the purpose of taking initiatives. We should not leave them loose beyond the central framework of supervision and decision-making in order not to let initiatives be aborted or put an end to the required centralization in planning and supervision. This is one of the Revolution’s basic rules in dealing with the movement of building up society not only in this field but also in all other fields.

However hard we try, we always feel that we must work harder, and most of the time we feel there is more to be achieved. Why do we feel so when we have achieved many good things? We feel so because our ambition exceeds our achievements, and because our ambition is renewable. Thus, we sometimes feel as if we haven’t achieved something vital or essential, or feel we haven’t quite fulfilled our ambition. This feeling is necessary for development and initiative purposes. Nevertheless, what we want is contentment and not despair, that is, self-satisfaction that enhances confidence—but without overlooking the requirements of continuous initiative and development, so that man may not lag behind in his abilities, ideas, and policies.

Avoid being polite at the expense of doing the right thing. If you do so you will succeed and win people’s love, though you will face some difficulties. Here as we talk we are well aware of the difficulties in practical life for those who reject hypocrisy, falsehood, and mere talk. We also know that by taking such an action you will face difficulties. Some of you may stumble, may be trapped by others, or may be misunderstood because we know that such things do happen in the Party, the State, and society. Since it could happen in the Party, which is the most homogeneous circle, why shouldn’t we expect it to happen in the State and in society, which are less homogeneous than the Party? Society moves in a circle unrelated to the State and the Party. Hence its loose ends allow more freedom because there is less need for laws that control its movement even in its smaller units, compared with the demands of the Party’s inner life.

Sustaining some losses is necessary not only as part of the sacrifice and the struggle in the circumstances of the underground stage; we have also to suffer losses as we develop and build up in the course of positive action. The first Iraqi who did away with the veil was the first victim made for the sake of all Iraqi women. The first woman who worked in a factory was the first victim made for the sake of all working women. The same goes for the first woman doctor, first woman lawyer, first real revolutionary, etc.

There are circles whose interests are hurt when dealing out justice and fairness, so they reject them. Yet all people seek and want justice. But when the interests of some people clash with the requirement of justice they strive to make the one who is responsible for applying justice look unjust because their personal case won’t be settled in their favor unless that person was actually unjust. Beyond their own case they might very well like justice, but it is their personal case that conflicts with justice and makes them demand that others depart from the course of justice.

Observing justice and fairness is a human duty that is faced with real difficulties in one’s home, among friends in the Party or in one’s relation with the minister or in the minister’s relation with the director-general or the undersecretary. Sometimes one might even reach a stage in his career where he says to himself: “Since people want to depart from justice, why should I continue to be just?” An action such as this is certainly deviation, and it should never be part of our policy or conduct. Rather we should allow for some losses and accept a degree of sacrifice in order that the right and just course may be firmly established, because this is the way of real revolutionaries who believe in the justice of their cause and in their people.

It has been proved by experience that even the people whom you treat severely with justification would first reject you and be annoyed by you, but after a while they will like you. And when severity has nothing to do with personal intent or design to harm, they will accept it however harsh it is. Sometimes they accept some aspect of it even when it is wrong, provided that it is not related to a personal motive or a grudge, and it should not be a consistent policy.

There are many examples of this in our careers. Sometimes we deal harshly with some of our comrades and we fail in doing justice to them. Yet this comrade whom we wronged comes with his grievance to us, we who took such action against him. Such a spirit has proved, by experience, that man deep down wants justice even when it hurts him, because most people benefit from justice and finally achieve their real interest. It’s only the minority who reject it. And this is the gain we achieve with time.

Remember, brothers, that any man will find out your personal motive however hard you tried to hide it when you hurt him, because every line in your face will say it and you could never conceal it. Just as truth speaks out from its position, injustice will also cry out. Thus, it will be visible and exposed. No matter how many people you gather around you by propitiation you will inevitably lose them because you did not win them over. I am telling you this from experience and through our work in the Party and in the State. Winning people by propitiation is based on personal gain or personal interests, and personal interests are not necessarily material, because there are personal nonmaterial interests. So rallying people through propitiation and personal interests will inevitably fail as personal interests decrease or clash. Therefore, brothers, try to instill this spirit into everyone and make it part of your concerns.

I notice the development that is going on now and see how the present situation is different from what it was a year or three years ago. Within a year it will be different again. But we will always call for more and work for it. Accordingly, you must awaken the students’ and pupils’ awareness. Relate your experiences to them and interact with them. Respect their opinions and supervise their affairs carefully and in detail, because they are real specimens whom you must observe and deal with in a lively way. No man should think that he could do without others who are his subordinates, because as soon as he feels so he will be finished. Whatever his degree may be in education or in struggle, he will dry up, because with such an attitude he will cut off the sources of strength and terms and bases of true interaction and development.

There is no contradiction between democracy and legitimate power. No one should ever imagine that democracy would debilitate him or diminish respect for him and his legitimate power, because this is not true.

There is no contradiction between exercising democracy and legitimate central administrative control according to the well-known balance between centralization and democracy. It is only those who are poor in ability and knowledge who imagine that there is a contradiction between democracy and centralization, between care for others and comradely and brotherly treatment, on the one hand, and maintaining the role and position of leadership, on the other.

Democracy consolidates relations among people, and its main strength is respect. The strength that stems from democracy assumes a higher degree of adherence in carrying out orders with great accuracy and zeal. Strength in this case would not be personal but rather a principled and objective attitude. This is the main value of the result of interaction and democratic relations between seniors and juniors. Therefore, be concerned in it because it is a source of real strength for you. All other images of strength are false and are only related to a particular case and time: as soon as they end, the person finds himself unarmed and unable to stand up before the humblest and lowliest people, before the most trivial and least complex situations.

Pay attention to citizens’ demands and grievances and do not feel weary or bored by the persistence of these demands, because if you save a wronged person, partially or totally, you will be doing a great service to the people and the principles of your Party. The sense of injustice is a serious thing. There is nothing more dangerous than a human being who feels he is wronged, because he will turn into a huge explosive force when he feels that no one in the State or in society is on his side to redress the injustice. Hence, you must deal with people in a way that pleases God and society and satisfies your Party and Revolution. You should not be afraid of the truth. Bear up even with the unjustified reactions of others for the sake of truth and the great values you hold and strive to establish.