Wikipedia defines Ba'athism as such:

An Arab nationalist ideology that promotes the development and creation of a unified Arab state through the leadership of a vanguard party over a progressive revolutionary government.


A Ba'athist society seeks enlightenment, renaissance of Arab culture, values and society. It supports the creation of one-party states, and rejects political pluralism in an unspecified length of time – the Ba'ath party theoretically uses an unspecified amount of time to develop an enlightened Arabic society. Ba'athism is based on principles of Arab nationalism, pan-Arabism, Arab socialism, as well as social progress. It is a secular ideology.

So, how exactly does Ba'athism compare with movements like Integralism, Fascism, National-Socialism, National-Solidarism, Juche, Maoism, Stalinism and/or other movements that promote Authoritarianism and/or a one-party state in combination with Socialist principles and Nationalist principles?

Other than being rooted in Arabic culture, what is it that differentiates Ba'athism from the aforementioned movements?


1 Answer 1


Part of the difficulty of this question is that Baathist philosophy is not commonly available. According to Wikipedia, Zaki-al-Arsuzi is one of the founding theorists of Baathism through his book, "The Genius of Arabic in its Tongue." Although I couldn't find an English copy of this book, a pair of scholars summarized al-Arsuzi's philosophy here. I'll base my answer on their synopsis.


First, Baathism is a form of Arabic nationalism. Much of al-Arsuzi's work is dedicated to exploring the unique cultural and historical positions of Arabs (especially through their language). The expression of a culture is in its community or government. Therefore, we would expect every culture to have their standards for society. In particular, Arabs should have a kind of government which is a reflection of their own unique culture.

This is similar to other forms of nationalism, which also focus on their unique social contexts (for example, Fascism reflects Italian cultural history and Juche reflects the Koreans'). It is different than Marxism, which purports to be universal (that is - it can be applied equally well everywhere).

Role of Culture

Many kinds of political thought have a "substructure" - some element that is fundamental to the political order. Most elements of theory can be reduced down to the substructure.

In al-Arsuzi's view, the substructure is Arabic culture. Culture is the predominant driver of how the government should work and how society should be organized. It's somewhat interesting that he doesn't place much emphasis on Islam. In fact, he anticipates a re-birth (ba'ath) of pre-Islamic Arabic culture. Islam is the product of Arabic civilization and should be retained in society. Islam, like many other things, is a secondary concern since it results from Arabic culture.

This is not a call to literally go back to historical practices. It is more like how Renaissance writers placed emphasis on resurrecting the values of classical antiquity.

Other theories place other things at their substructure. Marxism focuses on economies. However, the view that government is an outgrowth of society (including cultural, religious, and moral views) is echoed by Edmund Burke (the theorist behind conservatism).


al-Arsuzi definitely sees Ba'athism as pan-national movement. It is intended to be adopted by all countries in the Arabic world.

Although there is some similarity to the Marxist schools, which have a concept of "exporting the revolution", Ba'athism is only interested in the Arabic world.

Political Institutions and Methods

Ba'athism, as articulated by al-Arsuzi, does not mention any particular kinds of institutions. He doesn't describe what kind of government should exist or how its business should be conducted. He doesn't advocate for certain kinds of political strategies or methods to resurrect his desired political order.

Most kinds of political thought do. For example, Juche calls for a strong government which unites the various aspects of Korean society in order to ensure their independence from non-Koreans. Leninism advocates for workers to create a vanguard party to dispose of their enemies and create a dictatorship. Marxism suspected that the state would wither away and die.

  • The Ba'ath Party is described to have a form of congress to assign regional branches, this backs up the evidence of similarities with the pan-national ideology. A side note, maybe you could develop the political methods based on the actions of this party and it's predecessor, Ba'ath Party contributed to the forming of United Arab Republic and garnered 22 seats in syrian parliament in 1954, created by associates of Zaki-al-Arsuzi it could be of significance. Commented May 4, 2017 at 7:19
  • According to Muslim Cultures Today: A Reference Guide they mention the Ba'ath Party. Ba'athists ruled Saddam Hussein's Iraq until the 2003 invasion. "Ba'athist political philosophy is an amalgram of pan-Arabism, Arab socialism, secularism, nationalism and an ideology of "Strength through peace" or militarism" Commented May 4, 2017 at 7:31
  • Which further backs up your answer. Great answer and a great read based on an ideology which isn't widely written about, but had some political significance in certain regions/branches of the Arab world. Commented May 4, 2017 at 7:33
  • @BradleyWilson - Thanks for the idea. I'm concerned about opening up a debate about whether the Ba'athist Party is *really Ba'athist (similar to all the comments we see here about whether the Socialist Party is really socialist, Libertarian Party really libertarian, etc.). Commented May 5, 2017 at 13:30
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    A very valid point, well, the comments can be a source of information if someone would like to read further and make their own determination on whether such parties follow the Ba'athist ideology. Commented May 5, 2017 at 13:47

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