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“If Not Now, When?”

Doga is back! It’s been a while, but I’ve managed to get my friend from Fez to write about how he sees the current political situation in Morocco. I told him that many Moroccan bloggers are uneasy with the thought of a PJD victory in this year’s elections because they are afraid it will limit their freedoms. Some, such as BO18 in this post, have gone so far as to wonder whether Morocco is ready for democracy at all. Doga responds that the political atmosphere is so stifling in Morocco that the first priority is to force open the debate. He sees a PJD victory as the best way to do that. For him, this is not so much an endorsement of the PJD, as an indictment of politics as usual. In this article he avoids any discussion of political parties, instead taking the broad view to answer those who say “Morocco isn’t ready” or “We need to go slow.” His title is borrowed from the Jewish moral philosopher Hillel.

— • —

It’s clear that everyone already understands the need to initiate real change in Morocco, including those in power. So why is it that every time someone calls for change, there is always the question of whether it is the right time? Is that the question that is really blocking us?

Whenever a society feels the need for change, it’s because that society has arrived in a situation where it can no longer continue in the same direction, or where a course correction is needed. Yet we need to ask, what type of change interests those already in power? It’s clear that profiteers who seek their own interests and not those of the community have arrived in power as a result of numerous errors, including our own, namely our absence from the decision-making process that determines the future of our country. This absence, which we have permitted too easily, has greatly aided the profiteers to entrench themselves in power. It’s obvious that they and their supporters are the same people who claim that this isn’t the right time to make a change, because the only sort of change that interests them is one that will reinforce their mastery over the political, economic and social order, a mastery that will further increase their profits. They are always quick to marginalize our country’s true patriots who sincerely want to start the process of change. In the eyes of the corrupt and powerful, those patriots are like a clarion call to justice that will eventually demand a judge to bring an end to their abuses. Unfortunately we have gotten used to sitting on our hands as we watch the exclusion of these patriots, and one of the best examples is Aboubakr Jamaï who endured numerous pressures designed to smother his voice, until he was finally forced to leave Morocco.

The real question is not one of choosing the right time, because “when” is always now. Rather, the real question we should be asking is “how.” How to change? How to say no to things as they are, and impose our own ideas? How to begin? How to plant the seeds of confidence among our people? This question of confidence is important so long as people continue to fear being the victims of police repression. How can we change things without ending up in a cycle of violence?

If we ask these questions with reality in front of us, we will surely find ourselves confronted with the obstacle of ignorance, because as long as people have no understanding of the role oppression plays in their lives, and the ways in which their consent is manufactured in order to better exploit them and profit from them, no attempt at change can be useful. To start with, we need to find ways to stimulate people’s consciousness in order to better engage them in the process of change.


Comment from Yahia
Time: April 9, 2007, 19:38

“To start with, we need to find ways to stimulate people’s consciousness in order to […]”

This sentence says that the people that are conscient of the need for change must engage the people who are still asleep.
In other words, people aren’t ready like it’s been said.

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 11, 2007, 11:57

I agree with you that Doga is saying that people who understand the need for change must wake up the others. He told me in a later discussion (which I want to post here) that before taking action, people need to understand the roots of their problems—how things got as they are. He thinks that new organizations, free of ideology, should be formed to engage the people. He also thinks the state should give activists and intellectuals free use of the media (which will never happen). And he insists that constitutional reform needs to happen soon.

I think the contradiction you mention can be resolved by asking, “ready for what”? Morocco will not solve its problems overnight, which is all the more reason to start now. Even the uneducated are ready to be treated with dignity as participants in the process. The political class must begin to trust ordinary Moroccans with the decision-making power, because they have forfeited the right. What Doga is arguing for is not a revolution, but a process of self-education which has already begun.

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