Pan Arab Nationalism versus State Nationalism


The debate between state Nationalism and Pan-Arab nationalism is a widely heated one that breeds extreme disparities in arguments. A middle ground for the arguments is difficult to obtain as individuals who hold the ideologies either stay at the far right end or the far left end of the argument. The notions held by these individuals is understandable since both theories have compelling arguments that could make individuals subscribe to them. The nationalist theory was the first to take root and in the somewhat way, it defines the Arabian culture that we know now. It played a major role in the slew of immense changes that ravaged of the Middle East immediately after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Pan-Arabism however, arose immediately after world war one. It was a nationalist movement built on the shared interests and heritage who resided in the lands spanning from the Arabian Peninsula all the way through to North African states. It was the major driving factor of the Middle East movement or rather the Arabian spring. It also serves as the base theory that equips people with power and common awareness of their state.

Those on the side of Pan- Arabism claim it brought with it good implications including the recognition of the individuals who lived in the regions spanning the Arabian Peninsula all the way to the North Africa. Pan-Arabism was influential in deepening the sense of belonging and a wide acceptance of culture than was there before. To this end, it was an influential tool for advancing some of the major requirements that the Arabian people needed at a time of wide marginalisation. It formulates sense, a general acceptance of self and the knowledge that the Arabs could be fully fledged and run their country (Dawisha, 30). State nationalists on their end refute this claiming that their ideology was integral in the whole process of bringing the wave of change that pan-Arab nationalism got built on. In essence, they viewed it as the founding doctrine that bred independence, at least to some states. Although the form of independence was not that deeply rooted, and the rulers, especially in some regions were still dictators, at least it created a foundation for independence to be nourished.

Pan-Arab ideologists also commend it for joining the Arabian nation in a way that state nationalism could not manage especially for the citizens. It served as a major end goal that all the states were shifting. Moreover, all that state nationalism did was to join the states in the sense of the leaders. Pan-Arabism therefore, supported the Arabian culture and highlighted some of its best attributes as the people could openly come together to make common decisions that could impact the whole region in a positive light. It considered their homeland as a natural geographic unit that was made up of different states with communised ideas. Additionally, that the region was a living body filled with sensible, hospitable and joyous inhabitants who wanted well for all. The theory portrays Arabian hospitality as a joyous type of hospitality in a way that it wasn’t portrayed through state nationalism (Ṣulḥ, 10). The people around, especially in the western world saw the Arabian region as a conflict-ridden zone filled with extremist individuals who advanced their beliefs in the most uncanny and uncouth circumstances. However, the theory refuted this, shedding the Arabs in a good sensible light. However, this, as viewed by state ideologist are not that much of an alarming occurrence since state nationalism played an integral point of differentiating Arabian states and highlighting their best values. So it does not serve as much of a new occurrence. For rebuttal, pan-Arab nationalist claim the form of joining advocated through state nationalism was majorly pretence used by the leaders as they stole away the country’s resources. Most of the leaders at the time were dictators who bottled up their beliefs claiming that they were in light with the values of the common people. However, Pan-Arab ideologies view this as propaganda because what they wanted was exploitation of resources without scrutiny from the outside world.

Pan-Arab ideologist stands on the claim that it advanced the liberalisation of the Arabic people from domination by the western world. The western world, to some extent, very much meddled in the affairs of the Middle East. In most circumstance, it can be argued that they saw the Middle East as a source rich in abundance of resources (Citino, 45). Exploitation in this light, therefore, was advanced in the pretence that they were bringing control and change to the region. To this effect, pan-Arabism was influential at repealing the effect and held with it views that the only people who held the common interest of the region were its inhabitants themselves. Therefore, it left the Arabian people to advance their ideas and opinions and exercise their sense of leadership. State nationalists claim that the sort of independence sort through pan-Arabism is dumbfounded since it is not as pure as that sought by state nationalism. The independence in most cases aligns to personal interest groups who hope to set in immediately the western influence left and continued with their extremist views, values and norms. To some extent also, according to them, western influence is affecting the pan-Arabic states at present in the way that it could not have done in the past century when state nationalism thrived. State nationalism, therefore, question the sort of independence championed by the pan-Arab ideologists since there are way more troops in the country at the moment than there was in the past

Pan-Arab nationalists ideologist view their theory as the driving factor within the advance of the Arabian spring that affected the region in the new millennium bringing liberty to the people as opposed to the state nationalism that saw individual liberty as a distraction to state will. It, therefore, advanced democracy that was an aspect totally not addressed by the theory of nationalism. Through the Arabian spring that spanned such regions as Egypt, Syria and so on, the common individual started to have a normalised and independent thought of self (Dawisha, 21). The wide oppression regarding resource division and deeply rooted corruption was thus eliminated. Corruption was an aspect that was, as viewed by pan-Arab ideologists advanced by the nationalist theoretical output. State nationalism made it possible for corruption since it clouded wrongdoings as a factor requested by the general public. However, it was not factual because its major goals were aligned towards rule, power and advancement of the nation as a whole while overlooking the individual. To this end, pan-Arabism propelled democracy to greater heights making citizens revolt against oppressive rule. The nationalists on their end argue that the theory was majorly a refurbishment of the past nationalist theory. It arose from its collapse and, therefore, was inclined towards perfecting it and highlighting some of its best attributes. The state nationalists, therefore, see pan-Arabism as generally continuing what state nationalism had started.

Pan-Arab nationalism ideologists applaud it for being and influential tool at empowering the people economically and eliminating class stratification. They see state nationalism as a theory that thrived well under suppression of the people and that it overlooked economic empowerment especially if it could act to the advantage of citizens. Under the nationalist theory, it was hard to be economically empowered as an individual. Resources were majorly owned by the political class and their band of the friend while creating propaganda that they were acting for the common good of all. However, this was not the case as most of the resources enriched a limited few while the rest of the people were subdued and oppressed in the uncanny of ways. Pan-Arabism, therefore, came in repealing all these detrimental occurrences. To this end, it made the general public widely aware of their state and played a major role in propelling the economy. Moreover, it also advances the general knowledge through education making people know that education was the key for all. As a result, unusual class stratification where more power was availed to the people was realised. The occurrence of a few rich individuals and a bulk of poor ones was thus realised. Pan-Arabic ideologists justify their ideology as a tool that totally rid the states of unfair distribution of resources. Evidentially, the countries started to have an identifiable middle class that was sound and made demand (Ṣulḥ, 21). Conversely, though, State nationalists hold the claim that the type of economic advances and repealing of economic advances proclaimed by pan-Arabic ideologists are mere illusions since they are not that evident. Additionally, they are not that deeply rooted. They hold their opinion that is there was ever an evidential change in economic prowess then it had to be under state nationalism. The level of change then was immense. It is in that time that states discovered their wealth of oil bringing in economic growth upwards of double digits. They, therefore, see pan-Arab ideology as thriving on the minimal growth pattern that are not that observable.

State nationalist theorists hold the claim that state nationalism was rather integral in bringing about Islamic sense and Arabian consciousness that has never been matched ever, even though pan-Arabism. State nationalism advanced liberal Arabism in the Middle East and was an advantageous tool that separated Syria from the Turkish Ottomans regarding leadership and disparities. To this end, it separated the religious equality brought about by the Islam culture separating it immensely from the religious hierarchy portrayed by the Turks. The Turkish religious doctrine seemed to differentiate worshippers differentiating them in hierarchies of who was closer to sanctity that the other (Citino, 33). However Arabian culture and the religion advance through Islam portrayed the religion as communised as everyone was equal at a level when worshipping. Moreover, the theorists themselves claim that it advanced the stand on individual citizenship as opposed to ethnic and religious sectarianism evidential the Turks form of rule. State nationalism was influential in the sense that it advanced the fact that an individual was the major driver of his or her world and could not be externally affected through ethnicity or religion. Although religion was an important aspect of the Islam culture, its effect on the self could not be as much as the effect that the Turkish sense of region brought. Additionally, the level of ethnicity bred in the Turkish Ottoman form of rule was detrimental in some aspects and the state nationalism theory addressed this making the culture interconnected ant the people friendly to one another in the most perfect of ways.

However, this argument although fully accounted for through the history books, is labelled unsubstantiated by the pan-Arab nationalists. One of their compelling rebuttal for the argument is that state nationalism thrived at a time when dictatorship and an authoritarian rule was quite prevalent. The way state nationalism was defined and the way it was formulated did not seem to align towards democracy in a way that was communally accepted and common to all (Hopwood, 22). Most of the rulers used state nationalism as a cover to advance their personal interest to use most of the resources available in the countries for their personal good. These were some of the compelling reasons that led to its collapse since the people noticed that they were being exploited to wide proportions. They support this by the notion that nationalism theory was a formulation of the ideological outputs of 19th-century German cultural nationalism. To these Germans, unifying the nation was the most important thing rather than satisfying the common needs and meeting the requirements of individuals. Therefore, although the common goal of unification was advanced, it was all done at the expense of the common citizen. Nationalism needed subordination to thrive. To this end, the common desires of the citizens were all taken for granted as the leaders did what they thought, in their opinion, was for the common good of the nation (Dawisha, 45). The theory, therefore, viewed notions of liberty and freedom as mere distractions barring unification. In essence, therefore, they had to be repressed to advance national will and move progressively as a whole. All these were the contributing factors that led to the collapse of the theoretical approach of nationalism (Hopwood, 49). The people became too oppressed to the extent that they had to revolt and change or refurbish the rules giving way to Pan-Arabic nationalism


In conclusion, the theories of Arab nationalism all align to the common identity of Arabian states. The allowance for this seemed to be missing in the compelling arguments brought about by their leaders. Most of the leaders in the states were dictators motivated by political interests. The debates, therefore, provide immense political impacts as they align towards the common understanding of the people and their recognition of their individual countries. To this end, they make compelling arguments on Islamic identity and the rise of the Arabic culture and Arabic language. Pan-Arabic nationalism, therefore, is the new form of ideology that arose after the fall of state nationalism. With its formulation, it brought about advantages to the system that were not there before. Some of them include a power to the people, individual liberty, democracy, economic and repeal of class stratification and so on. In the end, therefore, pan-Arab nationalism is monumental to democracy and will propel all the Arabian states towards a good trajectory of prowess













Works Cited

Citino, Nathan J. From Arab Nationalism to OPEC. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002. Print.

Dawisha, A. I. Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003. Print.

Hopwood, Derek. Arab Nation, Arab Nationalism. Hound mills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 2000. Print.

Ṣulḥ, Raghīd. Lebanon and Arabism. London: I.B. Tauris, 2004. Print.


















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