Who is Afraid of the Youth Awakening?
I was at home when I received a call phone from a foreign friend telling me that some foreign journalists are in Rabat for the coverage of the 20th February movement. Also I received an email from a foreign embassy inviting me for a friendly discussion on the Rabat March and its impact on Morocco and the overall situation in Morocco. I thought deeply before I uttered a word for our neighbors because I consider any analysis a heavy burden on my shoulder as a researcher before I venture on talking about it. Question: is it going to be violent? Answer: no. Q: is it going to be bigger? A: not much. Q: is the reaction from the king going to be quick? A: yes. The arguments I advanced for my answers are: violence is the last resort mechanism Moroccans resort unless all options are saturated; this is at least the rule throughout all the social revolts Morocco witnessed from the 70’s till now. The “young” “new” social movement is not going to much bigger in both influence and number because the democratization process engaged by Morocco 10 years now has stagnated social movements; also the social policies engaged by the king congealed social activism too; the powerful presence of USFP, the King and the language of reform has jellified Moroccans except for some local decentralized revolts now and then but they do not amount to real revolutions. The king proved quick again in responding because legitimacy obliges him to do so. The expectations were high and the answer was political and revolutionary. Between the lines: 20 February movement is not a “young” movement because “old” radical Marxists are behind the movement; the demands are also “old”; these are the same political demands of the Marxists in the 70’s; the tactics of the movement are those of the “AMDH”, “VoixDémocratique” and “Adl Wa Al Ihsan”. How to explain all that:
It seems that the language of “soft activism” has been replaced by revolution. The civil society boom in the 90s, or the NGOization of social movements, is a matter of the past as protest, revolutions and uprising are the new discursive strategies of the public sphere in the Arab world. The Arab world now is witnessing the end of “soft civicactivism” and the beginning of political social movements where the main slogan is “the people want”. People movements now have political, social and economic urgent demands. Presidents, kings and governments are asked to meet these claims now and as quickly as possible. Efficiency and transparency are the key solutions for these protests.
The story of Morocco: the players in the scene know each other well though they have changed their old faces with young ones to meet the fashion; the field is now a fertile arena for boxing and showing “off” power, symbolism and legitimacy. The needs of the people are high jacked: some are buying the political “virginity”; others are training for the coming “Sahwa”; some dream of “a possible Morocco”; others are just curious.
Understanding the movement requires understanding the history of protests in Morocco, the nature of civil society, activism of the youth throughout history and also the nature of political parties, their discourses, most importantly trajectories of actors; the nature of monarchy’s reactions to popular mass protests in Morocco; moreover, it has been demonstrated that actors in the public sphere in Morocco always negotiate their activism, existence and hence their political demands. The spring revolution has destabilized all actors; it has forced some to review their agendas, others to put pressure for more gains. In Morocco, the movement, starting in 20 February, is gaining more ground, mastering more the scene and putting more pressure on the state.