Rabat - Political culture is defined by the International Encyclopedia of social sciences as “the set of attitudes, beliefs and sentiments which give order and meaning to a political process.”
Rabat – Political culture is defined by the International Encyclopedia of social sciences as “the set of attitudes, beliefs and sentiments which give order and meaning to a political process.”
In other words, political culture is how people think about politics. People’s political culture can be divided into three main categories. First, there is the “parochial citizen,” a citizen who does not wish to participate in political affairs and represents a typically apathetic individual. Second, there is the “subject” citizen, a person who wishes to obey and not necessarily participate in political affairs. Finally, there’s the “participatory” citizen, one who is keen to participate in political affairs, because he or she has political aspirations, which can include civic engagement and activism or simply an interest in the political process.
Participatory citizens believe in political change, sometimes to their disappointment, whereas the two previous types of citizens (parochial and subject) either have a reactionary vision of their political systems, or just don’t have enough knowledge and skills to be truly engaged. In fact, education plays a great role in how people think about politics. Undoubtedly, an illiterate worker who never had the opportunity to go to school could be in a zone of “political illiteracy” therefore being parochial. On the other hand, there are much higher chances for an unemployed graduate to participate and dive into the world of political activism, its complications, and its inherent divisiveness. It will be argued here that political culture is directly linked to the stability of a political power, and that political power can effectively shape political culture. Several historical and current political examples and situation will be used to support this claim: Germany during Nazism, Hitler’s Charismatic domination and the change of political culture which happened as a result of the fall of Nazism. Then, we will also address Sarkozy’s charismatic victory in 2007. Finally we will take a look at the current state of Moroccan politics.
To start with, ‘There are no such things as immutable national characteristics’. National characteristics are “mutable’ and change over time, under various circumstances. In my view, political culture works the same way. It changes overtime. For instance, if they conducted a poll during the Third Reich in Germany, and asked if Hitler’s position was legitimate in the sense that he had the consent of the people to rule, we probably would have the majority of Germans who would have said “yes” to the poll. Many of whom would have said “yes” out of political conviction, whereas others would have given a positive answer out of fear of persecution of the regime.
People do lie during polls, out of fear. The legitimation of power during Nazi Germany is what is called in Max Weber’s Politics as a Vocation “Charismatic legitimacy.” Charismatic legitimacy or domination arises out of the talent of the great demagogue, a monster of political demagogy who eventually succeeds in having the consent of the citizens. In other words, the great demagogue shapes political culture just as the painter paints a masterpiece. Finally, German political culture radically changed after the end of the Second World War, and Nazism was gradually seen as a tragic anomaly of the past.
In Moroccan society, there is a sort of dualism concerning people’s perception of political power. A category of people sees political power as legitimate, by accepting tradition or (the eternal yesterday) (Weber). That is, that monarchy is a several centuries old dynasty which has a right to rule by what Jean Bodin calls ‘Divine Right’. King Mohamed VI is the prince of the believers, or “Commander of the Faithful.” This type of legitimacy is what Max Weber calls “Traditional legitimacy”.
Another category of Moroccans have a mixed perception of power, they too accept the ‘traditional,” while also acknowledging the legal aspect of Moroccan power. ‘Legal Legitimacy,” which rests on the belief that a particular exercise of power is legal in the sense that it rests on rules, constitution, political institutions, elections, referenda and so forth. The victory of the PJD and Abdelilah Benkirane as Prime Minister newly reinforced this “legal” aspect of the legitimation of Moroccan political power. On the other hand, in Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia, the state of mind has been changing, from servitude and silent suffering, to revolution, political ideals, chaos, and radical change. These two respective examples show that the former political culture reinforces political power, while the latter weakens power or overthrows it.
Sarkozy’s victory in the 2007 French elections could be seen as a mixture of legal and charismatic elements; legal in the sense that he was elected democratically through universal suffrage. Charismatic in the sense that Sarkozy is well known for being a great demagogue in the sense that he succeeded in manipulating the political opposition (he succeeded in convincing many member of the Socialist Party to join his conservative UMP party (such as Eric Besson) and convinced many National Front voters to vote for him, (with the help of mass media). Hence, we witnessed a decisive victory in 2007.
Sarkozy succeeded in shaping a worldview where he assured the French that with him “Tout est possible” (UMP Party slogan, “Anything is possible”). French citizens who voted for Sarkozy switched from pessimism to optimism but, only for a moment. His convincing mandate was ephemeral, given the events which occurred later. This is to say that political culture does affect political power, and political power can shape political culture through the skills of the demagogue and via mass media. After all, if the French viewed Pétain as their protector during World War II, it proves that the political culture of a given society can change in the blink of an eye according to the given circumstances.
Again, how people think about politics is a matter of education and maturity. How political power is practiced depends on the institutional basis of the particular political system, as well as the people and groups in power. The current tumult in world politics promises radical changes in both political cultures and political systems.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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