By Youssef Sourgo
Morocco World News
Casablanca, June 17, 2013
When the first sparks of political upheavals began in Sidi Bouzid, in Tunisia 2010, after the street vendor Mohamed Boazizi set himself ablaze in a do-or-die protest against those who had treated him unjustly, the plague of political turbulence rapidly swept neighboring countries. Not surprisingly, the bulk of despotic regimes in those countries resorted to coercive means in order to stabilize the situation in their nations. The kingdom of Morocco was immune from the plague, as it resorted to dissimilar means than those deployed by its neighbors.
When the executive power resorts to coercive means in countries where revolutions have already sparked, it is a problem because it ignites highly abrasive reactions from the people. Gradually escalating in intensity, the political upheavals in these countries eventually provoke the downfall of despotic regimes and the triumph of the people’s voice.
The handful of countries that were relatively immune from the intense political turmoil, particularly Morocco, were countries that had access to means of stabilization other than coerciveness. Yet, admittedly, the first waves of relatively peaceful demonstrations that marked the Kingdom were initially countered by coercive means. Some protesters were assaulted on the spot, whereas others were detained and tried for kindling political instability in the country.
Many political analysts generated an accumulation of interpretations in a bid to elucidate why Morocco was not fully attained by the increasingly common plague of political turbulence. Little or no attention was granted to the Moroccan government’s masterful use of other means of political stabilization other than the deployment of force.
The power of public discourse was Morocco’s master card, which was exceptionally used as an advantage to avoid disorder. The discourse of hope, change and patriotism that radiated from almost all Moroccan mass media cannot go unnoticed. Besides the occasional news of sporadic, regional instabilities, public discourse in its medial manifestations shed more light on the prospects of positive political change in response to the people’s demands.
However, one should not jump to hasty conclusions, such as claiming that the Moroccan government was in a position of weakness while using public discourse as a strategic tool. Public discourse is no less than an implicit and less direct incarnation of institutional power, one that is enshrined in the masterful and rigorously well-calculated deployment of language to tranquilize the masses.
Speeches and public addresses have played a pivotal role as well. Such discursive manifestations of power are adopted as realities. Here again, it is principally owed to public discourse (mass media). Citizens in all nations of the world are socialized, since their very childhood, via a myriad of means. Mass media, with its wide appeal, induces us to be indirectly socialized. We internalize realities as truths and facts and deploy them in our day-to-day life as such.
Who does not drop whatever he or she is doing when a King is about to give a speech? This is not solely due to the position he occupies in the hierarchy of power and authority in the country, but rather, and more significantly, due to the importance and power the public gives to the mass media. Every speech is preceded by an external address, uttered in a serious and indifferent tone of voice, inciting citizens to grant full attention to what will follow: “O citizens HM the King is addressing you.”
The mass discourse, that both preceded and followed the constitutional referendum adopted by Morocco amidst the radical political mutations, radiated the same undertones of an inexorable positive change. This is by no means a questioning of the believability or veraciousness of such public discourse, but rather a bid to situate it in its political context, because it was expected that Morocco would lured into the same abyss that enticed its neighboring countries.
The power and effectiveness of public discourse is an unwavering reality. For one to differentiate the rarity of the Moroccan model, ample attention has to be given to all of the elements constituting its dissimilarity to other contexts. Morocco secured its diplomatic and economic interests because of the realization that coerciveness leads to nothing less than abrasiveness and vehement resistance. Morocco observed, and skillfully extracted lessons from the happenings in its neighboring countries. Since then, the Kingdom has been teaching lessons on how to sail through the most riotous political tempests.
Edited by Allison Kraemer
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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