The Moorish Wanderer

Worthy Of Democracy

Posted in Moroccan History & Sociology, Moroccanology, Tiny bit of Politics by Zouhair ABH on May 5, 2010

Madame Speaker,

I usually do not comment on what my fellow bloggers write on their blogs (but I do leave comments from time to time). Or rather, I didn’t have the chance to discuss things and issues seriously (which is all natural, given that the blogoma, in its huge majority, deals in such simplistic schemes that one cannot but stand idle before it…)

An esteemed blogger posted an article that was the last straw for me to bear, or rather, gave me at last something to write about. You might call it left-wing intellectual arrogance in my tone, I am simply angry that ‘grown-ups’ like Citizen Hmida could speak such foolish things, and confirm this idea of the Blogoma as a ‘garbage idea‘ (which, save for a happy few, do not justice to itself); A stereotype other bloggers are trying to avoid by bringing intellectual uplift, or at least by advocating local, yet noble causes.

Not that I hold anything against the honourable gentleman: everyone is entitled to their opinions –how ever misinformed and superficial it might be- but there are things that make me wonder about the benefits free speech or rather, its necessity: do we give the loonies the right to manage themselves? Well, for the time being, another tribe of well-meaning fools -the Makhzen and their obedient useful idiots- run the country, so the lunatics are trying to see if they can take over the internet beforehand.

Let us turn to the main argument the Citizen Hmida develops about democracy. He is actually targeting the post-Massira young Moroccans (i.e. those born after 1975) and their supposed exaggerated thrust for Democracy: “La génération « post-Massira » considère que la démocratisation de notre pays se réalise mal, ou au mieux trop lentement à son gré!” as he puts it in his unique fashion.

Given he is a man of culture and knowledge, I was surprised how misinformed he was on British politics. Indeed:

“Les élections anglaises se sont déroulées avec les mêmes partis qui subsistent depuis lors : les « torries », royalistes devenus progressivement « conservateurs » et les « wights », libéraux, remplacés au XIXème par le « Labour » travailliste. Un dernier né tente de se faire une place depuis quelques temps et semble y réussir cette fois : ce sont les «libéraux démocrates », des centristes qui semblent en quête d’identité”

Or does it? Early-age Tories are not remembered for their sole monarchism, a minimum knowledge of the English Civil War would teach a lot about that. And about the Liberals, the Whigs and Labour, I wonder how Sir Herbert Asquith would react if he knew he was put with,say, Ramsay Mc Donald in the same political basket? What would David Lloyd George say if he was told the Liberals were ‘replaced’ by Clement Atlee’s chums? and what comments Charles Kennedy would provide if he’d read about his ‘newly-found’ Lib-Dem party, so ‘newbie’ that their are still looking for their political identity? Oh, I am sure it was just a civic slip of the mind (and indeed, of fingers on the keyboard…) but it tells how superficial our colleague could get when discussing serious issues like politics. And he still has the nerves to defend his mistakes; what is it? The elderly pride has been wounded? Can’t the honourable gentleman stand younger people to point out his mistakes?

But that’s not what I want to discuss; I wanted to point out this paternalistic –and frankly, annoying- tone in his article, and in many others, about modern history, democracy, Moroccan politics… No bottom to it, no consistent arguments, no better than the average Moroccan journalist (and they are, just like him, very average).

His main argument –if I understood it well- was that ‘democracy was not built in a day’.

Of course Democracy is not to be of ex-nihilo nature, and of course it is always a bit of a process. However, his flawed argument stands on the wrong idea that democracy is something to be achieved at a definite stage, a sort of a goal really. As if Great Britain is indeed a complete democracy.

I am a great fan of British democracy, and I would love Moroccan politics being run just like in the UK: the King would have honorary duties, respected and revered as a symbol, and not for holding extra-constitutional powers; A government that could be voted against at any moment if they do not have a substantial majority in parliament, and so on and so forth… A strong government, capable of carrying out their policies, the very one they got elected on. Does it mean Britain is an achieved democracy? That is not for him, nor for me, nor for anyone else to say; it’s up to factual history investigation.

(By the way, I think he should read a bit about modern British politics, I think the ‘Very Short Introduction Of’ Oxford Series is a good start) There’s at least one thing about this political regime that is worthy of praises, namely it intrinsically admits its own imperfection (spiritual and temporal theocracies, on the other hand, not so much…) and, through its very own mechanisms, work it out. I shall of course present some academic papers on that particular subject, for the benefit of those of us who lack proper education, or those that lacked rigorous apprehension of political theory and knowledge to that matter.

Madame Speaker,

I believe Dahl (1971) provided some interesting insights on what he calls ‘polyarchies’ since “no large system in the real world is fully democratized”. In a nutshell, democracy is a continuous quantity with an upper bound quite out of reach, the upper bound being function of the general set of references a specific society endorses as are not logically consistent, and ultimately perverted by what K. Popper calls ‘historicism’; Let us for the sake of argument, admit the United Kingdom took three centuries to turn truly democratic (which it didn’t; Lord Melbourne might have been a progressive Primer Minister, he didn’t have much sympathy to the common people).

This does not mean Morocco will have to wait three centuries as well to be in turns democratic as well. This is not catch-up growth theory, nor basic mathematics for him to apply. I do not deny the benefits of looking up history, quite the other way round: I am a staunch advocate of the process, but there’s something odd about this callup, namely that because western democracies took such a long time, we wetheads should not claim democracy too loud, and by this token, should instead be glad to live in a country that is, after all, better off compared to fellow MENA and Arabic countries. Strangely enough, that does remind me of the very official line the MAP (that one always cracks me up) or Le Matin follow: Morocco is building its democracy, and those claiming it is not are either nihilists or traitors, and in any case enemies to the ‘sacred values’ our country holds dear.

The honourable gentleman did sound as though his pre-Massira generation utterly failed to establish democracy, and now wants somehow to put the blame on us (I felt targeted as well as many others) and in any case, the fact that Britain achieved a higher state of democracy does not absolve us from pushing for greater democracy in Morocco. If anything, it is not for the young people among us that need to “se pencher sérieusement sur le problème, d’essayer d’en démonter les mécanismes afin de participer efficacement et à leur manière au long cheminement qui aboutira inéluctablement à la mise en place d’une démocratie viable dans notre pays.” Hmida and many others sharing the same ideology advocating a rewriting of History, either because it didn’t turn out quite as they expected it to, or because they know nothing about and tend to reject anything that contradicts the compulsory national curriculum of civic education circa 1990’s.

It seems he doesn’t understand, or accept that the 5 years following independence were full of political progress, and we achieved more than what we could have ever hoped for in the previous centuries and indeed, in the next decades.

I mean in less than a decade, Morocco has its own pre-constitutional parliament (meant to be a constituent assembly, if it was not for the then-crown prince Hassan) with a good representation of political parties, trade unions, professional trusts and so on (the 76-strong Conseil National Consultatif). In this particular matter –and in many occurrences as well- Morocco catched-up quite quick with the Western democracies, how odd! Why can’t we then advocate for, say, a full secularist judiciary and political legitimization of power, or do we have to wait a couple of centuries as well?

Let us take a look to what the 4th government: Prime Minister Abdellah Ibrahim carried out in less than two years so much workload it can still be felt everywhere: the Moroccan Central Bank, the national Currency, the public companies, the first moudouwana (which, ironically enough was far more liberal than the next one, and, to some extent, the latest amendment) all of that in two years. What the honourable gentleman thinks is impatience is merely anger, or perhaps disappointment to this intellectual waste. One can understand indeed why “La génération « post-Massira » considère que la démocratisation de notre pays se réalise mal, ou au mieux trop lentement à son gré!” as he puts it.

May the house allow me for a conclusion to my long and tedious statement; The bottom line is, democracy is not a ‘steady’ process, and it’s not because far more advanced coutries achieved high levels of democracy that we need to follow the same fashion; I dare say its speed is function of what we Moroccans want to make out of it. I think I can speak for myself and my honourable friends, democracy is here and now, with constant discussions (just like this one) and no self-satisfaction that we should achieve it”.