Human Rights Swatch & MBA Awards
Warning: This is an MBA-related post. the Maroc Blog Awards are up, and well, One has to turn on the charm and tone down a bit the nihilist frenzy. After all, some of our most prestigious jury members will be selecting the lucky blogs, and well, it always pays off when there’s a proper decorum going on. So, for the benefit of my vanity and indeed what can be perceived as an inherent lack of self-confidence and a desperate seeking of peer approval, I’m a devoting this piece to get into the good graces of the MBA’s patrons. I’ve almost forgotten: I would appreciate if you’d vote for me.
The topic at hand is somewhat depressing. Perhaps the word is not adequate: hopeless would be more to the point. It certainly fits for those I am claiming to expose for what they are. Setting aside those with islamist -hardcore, not the PJD wets- sympathies, many of those shaping our intellectual future are definitely drawn to hopeless causes. Human Rights for one. Human Rights are the nihilists’ “Ligne Rouge“, as in the one thing all of the motley lot will not compromise upon, and could even go as far as state them as paramount to anything else. It belongs to a whole mystic of human rights as the cornerstone of democracy, the shield of human dignity. It is all honourable, and I do subscribe to this alacrity in defending the case; I really do. In facts my criticism is about the way it is carried out, not the struggle itself. So even if it does sound like a caustic criticism of its inanity, there is a need to defend human rights, and it should not distract attention from the fact that they remain at the heart of principles the organic intellectual in Morocco should not compromise upon; As far as I am concerned, there is just a miss in terms of the specific rights involved here, and the way the message is conveyed.
Truth of matter is, the common man does not give a flying monkey for abstract ideas of freedom of speech, religious belief and sexual orientation. Harsh truth, but some activists and advocates of the UN Universal Declaration of ’48 look and behave as though it is the cardinal thing to spend time and resources on. Human Rights activists include individual with outstanding academic and intellectual standards, the flower of the western bloc of our future leaders, and these are in the danger of becoming, when the time comes, disconnected leaders with superficial, pre-conceived ideas of how to manage a country they certainly cherish. Bright and public-service spirited indeed, but utterly at odds with the majority of their people.
Let us take a look at the MALI group. Not because I want to target them -there are after all some nice dear ladies among them- but they offer the cheap opportunity for me to focus my criticism on something more or less organized. The most committed members are likely to be, in a couple of decades’ time, part of the governing elite. It is a quasi-law of nature that the Makhzen -or their surviving heir- institutions are very good at absorbing their former dissidents, and so, weakening any future would-be maverick careers. It is the case nowadays with the former left-wingers that explicitly acknowledged their yielding to the Royal power by publicly endorsing specific initiatives, making speeches on the need to emphasise “citizenship” values, and at times, stifling dissent they were in some three decades ago. If thing remain the same, it is very likely some of these heralds of individual liberties would rejoin the Makhzen side, and though they would keep to the libertarian tone, signalled loyalty to the monarchy become more and more obvious. By seemingly harmless twists of words, individuals like Khadija Rouissi still portray themselves like a left-wing figure, but subtle references do disabuse the ingenuous: as Ibn Kafka once stated, these can be labelled as “touche pas a ma bière et a mon commandeur des croyants“. Are the MALI people likely to go down the same road? If hardcore, committed and former political prisoners yielded after these years, what chances do young libertarians stand to stray from their initial claims. Some of them are from well-to-do backgrounds, and so there are limitations for/on their actions on Ramadan and the freedom to fast or not. This is not about individual liberties. Libertarian issues are not the ones common individuals care about. Their activism is not just about Ramdan, far from it. They tried -unsuccessfully- to stage a protest against sexual harassment, too.
Another noble and worthy cause, but hopeless because Moroccans, even of the female population do not consider the issue as part of their thrust for liberty (if they have had any). Even feminism is out of fashion, and some circles once progressive, view it as subversive. In times of economic hardship and a locked political spectrum, libertarian activism looks pointless. Not just on the fasting, but also on sexual harassment, sexual liberty and more broadly individual liberties. The way things are carried out, the background of the prominent advocates and the way messages are channelled are running high chances to end up being labelled “rich-spoiled-kids’-cause”. Unless they are assured of blitz-style political and moral superiority to state their claim, bottom line is, they are just damaging it. And it is a shame: I’d love to live in a country where individuals are not forced into submission because their preferences differ from those conventional in our society. Surely one way not to alienate support is to think of a different strategy other than constant confrontation and mindless provocation.
What’s the lambasting for? Perhaps this irritable claim that civil society can achieve more without any political platform. The libertarians might not know about it, but they do act on behalf of some political agenda; inadvertently, they do act as a sort of a Guy Fawkes for the conservatives, to the Makhzen’s benefit. It is indeed a wicked game, for those believing in the Makhzen theory, that is. It now more or less an openly stated policy that Morocco should and eventually will move towards a more open-minded society. People like MALI could perhaps in a couple of years’ time, switch back and deliver some fulsome support for the regime’s projects. Beyond MALI, many libertarians do operate as franc-tireur, with an obvious apolitical stand, something that harms the cause more than it helps it. The other point was exactly that: the lack of political appeal, or the lack of political ambition, in the short term, beneficial for their cause. On the longer run -and indeed, a year is a short time in politics- it delivers a weak message of an agitate group of people. By focusing only on individual liberties without a structuring project that would conciliate these and the imperative of policy-making, it does look, and I am sorry to point it out, as a rebel phase of rich, spoiled kids.
On the other hand, I’d love to join if they need someone to shape up their claim into policies. I’m just saying.