The great medieval Arab philosopher, Ibn Khaldun, in his world classic of intellectual literature (The Muqqadimah – a sort of philosophical investigation of world history), wrote of a powerful social force called Assabiyyah – what we might call: Solidarity.
He theorised, based on observation and investigation, that all civilisations thrive and decline, based on the presence or absence of this social force.
It is important, that although present in some form even in tribal societies, it does not inherently entail clannishness, factionalism, or partisanship. Without it, however, even the most powerful empires will crumble from within.
In the manner that Ibn Khaldun used the term to describe its value in civilised societies, we would recognise the classical republican ideal Res Publica, which literally comes from the inclusive Roman Republican term signifying “Public Interest”, “Common Wealth” or “Common Good”.
In the English language classic, The Lays of Ancient Rome, Thomas Babington Macauley wrote of it like this:
Then lands were fairly portioned! Then spoils were fairly sold: The Romans were like brothers In the brave days of old.
In the classical, republican tradition – the Roman roots of which the nations of the United States, France, and Ireland continue to grow from and be nourished by – this Assabiyyah has been denoted by various formulas: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité; or in our own Democratic Programme of the First Dáil Éireann: Liberty, Equality, and Justice.
However it is formulated according to each nations’ traditions, however imperfectly implemented by fallible human beings, the branches of this “Liberty Tree” are always capable of growing, of sheltering others and sharing its fruits. So long as it is nourished by this inclusive Assabiyyah.
The brigands who have attacked Paris, who lay waste to their neighbours lives and lands, know nothing but a deformed, stunted Assabiyyah. Nothing a contemporary Ibn Khaldun would recognise, as being anything but tribal and truncated – or symptomatic of a declining and degenerate society. Not the form that sustains a thriving civilisation. I’m not sure Ibn Khaldun would even be spared were he alive.
Their perverse version of Justice is human bondage, inequality, bigotry, and strife. Let’s respond resolutely with our own: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – Assabiyyah. Vive La République.