14 Pages


BySusan Silsby Boyle

As George Antonius saw it, the Arab nation was never simply a passive recipient of European political theories and models of nationalism and state formation. Instead, he had a vision of decentralized governance: He designed what might today call low-cost knowledge networks, flattening the organization of public administration to encourage high performance at low cost. When Antonius moved to Palestine after the war, Greater Syria had been dismembered. The French controlled its northern portion, and the British controlled Palestine—Syria's southern flank—which served as a buffer between the French and Egypt's Suez Canal. Antonius, a Greek Orthodox Catholic, respected diverse faiths, admired Muslims' tradition of charity, and perceived the culture of civic virtue as beginning with fundamentally moral concerns from ancient worlds of faith. Yusuf Ibish, historian and biographer, says: Antonius's great role and fascination lay with the little groups, the debating societies, and the secret societies through whom he perceived the Arab nation could work into something bigger.