Myth No. 10: Baath is a Political Entity
In order for a party to do all of this shit, it has to be a Political Party. Karfan wonders when in monkey's name this “Thing” became a real party. Yes, granted we call it “The Party”and “Baath Party”, but these are mere names of some “thing” that exists and we had to call it a name. It does not mean anything like a political party or any political or organizational entity. It just exists around us and between us like that black-cloud of pollution on top of Damascus and Banias, like the sewage stink, or like the Mukhabarat's Peugeot white cars. “Baath Party”, “People's Assembly”, “Cultural Center”, and “People's Army” are just names of things that had nothing to do with those names.
Back when Karfan was forced to serve his country and waste two years of his already-useless life in the army, he was assigned to a radar unit in Lebanon. That was because his degree was in electronic engineering and all, although he himself did not have the slightest idea what did he study during those years he spent at university. Regardless of that fact, service at a radar station was both the most useless and most dangerous service in the Syrian Army. They were not allowed to ever turn on those junk backward radars the Russians had bullied Syria into buying. If they operate them, the Israelis would detect their location, send missiles and blow the whole thing up. You cannot think of any more useless way to spend a year and a half of your life: you have to sit inside a dead piece of junk that is supposed to detect enemy's airlines, but you cannot turn it on because if you do, it would be blown away, with you in it of course. The biggest fear was that one asshole up in the upper command, might actually take the risk and order them to turn the radars on one of those days. Every one there knew what would happen then; they code named it: The Suicide Order.
That is why Karfan accepted his new assignment few months later of becoming the Psychological Warfare Officer (A Baath Party officer who is responsible for the party and propaganda affairs in the unit). The real joke was that Karfan never have been a Baathi in his entire life. The unit commander was an ignorant from Dara'a who thought that just because Karfan is from Tartous and Alawie, then he is certainly a member of the Baath! Theses are the sort of Myths that many has on the miserable Alawie population who was not lucky enough to be blessed of belonging to the entourage of our Lord the King Lion. Despite the fact that someone like Karfan is on the bottom of the bottoms in the social hierarchy of this country's society, many think that he is Baathi, he is certainly working for the secret service, and he has certainly very well established connections among the upper command! Why? Just because he is an Alawie by birth, regardless of the fact that his belief in religions is not much firmer than his belief in Mickey Mouse.
So when his commander assigned him to that position, Karfan did not bother to tell him that he is not Baathi. The commander won't believe him anyhow and would think that Karfan is pulling his leg. So Karfan shut up and accepted the great job which would guarantee at least that he will not be inside one of those junk machines when the Israeli missiles blow them up. He kept saying that his Baath Enrollment Card has not been transferred yet to the unit so that he would avoid been asked about his Baath membership details (transforming membership between cities could take anything between three months to three years, or eternity when it is lost on the way).
During those following months, Karfan came to know great deal about the great sophisticated Baath Party which he never joined. Karfan was responsible of writing down the minutes of the weekly party meetings: It would start in chanting the great symphony: “Our goals: Unity, Freedom, Socialism”. “Our leader for Eternity: The Faithful Lord King the 1st.” Then it would go something like this:
Commander: Comrade Saleem, it is your turn to read the brief.
Saleem: Yes sir, this week news highlight is .. Saleem continues reading the most boring news that ever been compiled by a human being (taken from the Second most boring magazine that ever been compiled by human being: The Solider) on how our lord King Lion the 1st greeted this president and telegraphed the other president and how he dined with this and farted with that etc..
Commander: Next, comrade Muhsen, did you prepare the weekly discussion topic.
Muhsen reads certain paragraph that he had just cut out of the Munadel (quarterly Baath magazine: this is the First most boring magazine that ever been compiled by human being) about the validity of the Arab cause in unification.
Commander: Comrades, anyone has a comment on the discussion issue of this week.
Other comrades: .... (their faces look empty and bored as a dead black old cat).
Commander: Well good, we can end this week's meeting, and we can as well consider this meeting sufficient for the coming month (A common practice was to condense those weekly meetings into one every month or two or ... six). Comrade Karfan, have you written what we said? Comrade Karfan?
Commander: Comrade Karfan, ARE YOU SLEEPING?
Karfan: nnnnooo sir I am not, just my eye was a bit heavy.
Commander: Comrade Lieutenant Karfan, how many times I warned you not to sleep in meetings. Don't let me ever see you sleeping again. Now ask comrade Saleem about what we talked about this meeting and write it down.
After the commander had left.
Karfan: So Saleem shit-head, you want to tell me what the hell did you speak about this week?
Saleem: oh yea, we spoke about attacking Sweeden with a nuclear bomb. You know what we spoke about asshole.
That was true, every single meeting was almost a carbon copy of the previous one. The commander never did anything really about Karfan sleeping in the meetings because he thought that Karfan could do that since he is an Alawie and influential and all!
Beside boring people with the morning news and preparing the commander boring speeches at the many events that the unit celebrated, another duty of Karfan was writing the minutes of the “Baath Active Member Examinations”. When a miserable citizen joins the Baath, they are considered “Supportive Members” for couple of years until they can pass an interview to become an “Active Member”. In those interview exams, the examiner would ask the member something like What is the Definition of Socialism, What are the Basis for our Arab Unity, and the like. In reality, it all depends on the Secret Service “Security Evaluation”. A good one means “pass” even if you answered that Hawaii is a part of the Arab Union, and a bad one means “stay as a supportive member” even if you happen to go crazy and memorize by heart the whole party's constitution. In the army, those interviews were conducted by bored high rank officers who were so frustrated and angry that they ended up with this filthy boring duty instead of doing what every Syrian officer dreams to do: To have a Range-Rover and do nothing at all.
Before the interview the interviewers usually give the anticipated questions to Karfan, so that he can make the examined members memorize some semi-decent answers to those questions at the last minute. In one of those interesting interviews, a bored interviewer asked a question that was not previously given, a surprise question:
- Define the Party.
The perplexed Sergeant answered:
- eih, Sir?
- Give a Definition of the party.
- What? The party, Sir? THE party.
- YES, Sergeant, Define the Baath Party.
- The Baath Party, Sir? You mean the Party.
Loosing his nerve, the officer yelled:
- YES, SERGEANT, YOU HEARD ME, WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF THE PARTY?
- eih, emmm, the party sir, the party sir is ... the Party.
The sergeant, looking confident now that he found the absolutely unshakable true answer to this weird quiz:
- The Party sir? The party is the Party. (El Hezeb Ya Seedee, El Hezeb Hweih El Hezeb).
That was, in Karfan view, the most exact and profound statement that has ever been said about the Baath Party. Maybe it was some sort of a definable political entity in the old days, before King Lion the 1st decided to turn it into a joke, but for us, the happy generation who were borne after the happy revolution, it is just that: THE PARTY. We were born and it was there, and we had to just live with it, like the breakfast or going to toilet, you never question what the hell are those things and why we are doing them. Everyone knows that really, everyone who has ever been to a party-meeting knows that.
But somehow all of a sudden, the Baath is being re-invented as a political entity. Maybe it was the fault of the shit-head Americans who, before destroying Iraq, invented this fictitious big deal about the Baath Party as something that controlled and existed as an organized entity. Maybe it is the fault of the people who wants to forget that King Lion the 2nd rules over them by Republican Guard and Special Forces and Mukhabarat. The people who dreams that their life would drastically improve if someone changes the name of that “Thing” or changed some words in its constitution, which 99% of the party members never laid eye on to begin with, not to mention ever read. You think if the party's slogan: Unity, Freedom, Socialism became: Freedom, Unity, Market, or even: Hommos, Falafel, Bnadoura, then this society and country would miraculously change?
Karfan thinks that Marie Antoinette was very unlucky: If only she had people like the Syrian people when she went out of that window and promised the angry mob that they will be fed biscuit instead of bread. They would have actually gone back home, and spent the next two years speaking about the different types of biscuit they would get! Many here sincerely think the next convention will bring us biscuits. Karfan suggests that the “Thing”, the “Party”, which is now trying to play the role of a real party, should change its name really as many are guessing it would do. But Karfan suggests the following name: “Hizeb El Baskoot” (Biscuit Party). “The shouting would even sound better than in the original name,” says Karfan, “Listen:
Bil Rooh Bil Damm Nafdeek Ya Baskoot, Bil Rooh Bil Damm Nafdeek Ya Baskoot.”