By Youssef Sourgo
Morocco World News
Casablanca, July 10, 2013
Positive political change has been the aim of almost all nations worldwide. Yet, such a common goal has engendered controversy and dissension among nations. But since the goal is one, where does such dissonance emanate from? It is certainly not the subtle shades of gray that an attempt to conceptualize positive change generates. Rather, the disparate political means deployed to achieve such positive change are where parallel roads tend to diverge.
One might argue that the two predominant political methodologies deployed to achieve positive change today are gradualism and revolution. Gradualism is positive change at a “snail’s pace.” Change systematically takes place, and is felt among the people. Yet, the pace of change usually frustrates people who aspire for immediate development. Criticism against gradualism, which is mainly a governmental methodology, unlike revolutions (the people’s means), holds that such theory of positive change is nothing less but a cynical dogma against its own objective.
Is Morocco a country in favor of gradualism? It emphatically is one, since no revolution demanding abrupt and radical change has taken place on its soil. The Kingdom has opted for incremental reforms against the unknown repercussions of post-revolutions. Morocco’s latest constitutional adjustment reverberated the tenets of gradualism, as it brought about a relatively significant change at the executive level, without uncompromisingly altering the entire executive makeup.
Though reforms might sometimes seem relatively hasty in nature, change sought by such methodology usually stretches for a long-term span of time. The justification for gradualism is that any abrupt alteration of a political or economic structure, which has germinated and become rooted in a county’s grounds, would shake its stability and create unbalance in the government. In natural diction, it is obvious the havoc that can erupt if we abruptly eliminate a natural element that had existed since the beginning of existence. The natural cycle of life would, in this case, unquestionably lose its balance.
Gradualism, however, should not always be seen in an idealistic light: The snail does not unremittingly move onward, as it might sometimes stop for a long while before either proceeding onward or turning 360° to go back to where it came from. Some would argue that gradualism, as a political theory of change, did not always produce what it was meant to in Morocco. We are now witnessing a sort of “sleeping snail phase”, in which political parties are undergoing abrupt reconsideration, while they were practically supposed to continue eying the target, which is gradual change. Some seem to have lost track of this target for the time being.
Nevertheless, gradualism does not always lack the disorganization and subjectivity of its anti-thesis: revolution. Gradualism is also sometimes grounded on empty political platitudes and unrealistic prospects. In a desperate bid to produce a sluggish, yet consistent change, some governments hastily constitute their political foundations, casually appointing officials, ministers and decision makers, regardless of the blatant incongruence in their experiences and background. Gradualism in this case might head straight to civil frustration, and, eventually, implements the seeds of its counter-theory, which is revolution and upheaval.
What can we say about Egypt in this context? Is Egypt gradualist in its political conceptualization of change, like Morocco’s? Axiomatically not! Egypt opted for the anti-thesis of gradualism the day massive upheavals demanded not reforms, but the downfall of an entire despotic regime. Today, a great segment of its population opted for a complete change, once again, via uncompromising upheavals against the recently discharged president Morsi, who has not yet terminated his presidential term.
Most recent debates on Egypt’s latest upheaval are now torn between whether to consider it a revolution or a coup. Debates have even reached the stage of tension among representatives of Egypt’s neighboring Muslim and Arab countries. Among these nations are those that were once gradualist in their conception of positive change, but decided at a certain point of time to target change in a rabbit-like pace. The legitimacy of those nations’ involvement in the debate is their experience of revolutions, which thus induces them to relate to the Egyptian plight today.
But what about Morocco? Moroccans also seem similarly divided into two camps on the issue: those in favor of Morsi’s ouster—thus automatically in support of revolution—and those against it. The latter are not necessarily in support of Morsi in person, but rather see in his ouster as a violation of the highest source of legitimacy in any well-established nation, the constitution. This camp also favors gradualism and sees Egypt heading towards a chasm for not having adopted gradualism with the recently toppled president. But is gradualism necessarily the ideal post-revolution phase?
Whether Moroccans legitimize or incriminate current upheavals in Egypt is certainly not an issue. What might seem alarming is to project Morocco’s conceptualization of positive change on that of Egypt or vice versa. Some Moroccans fervently argue in favor of the downfall of Morsi’s regime; yet, they are intrinsically inclined to gradualism as the ideal political theory of positive change. Such contradiction might potentially stir animosity between Moroccans and Egyptians, for it is clearly ironic to support what does not resonate personally.
A small segment, on the other hand, has unthinkably gone the other way around, projecting the Egyptian case on the Moroccan grounds. Facebook pages borrowed the name of Egyptian counter-regime group, “Tamarod,” calling on Moroccans to mimic what is occurring in Egypt, unmindful of the contextual disparities between both nations.
In history, revolution as a theory of change proved to be serviceable in cases where despotic regimes were intolerant of not even the tiniest, sluggish change in their nations. Revolutions in this case were not hasty, nor abrupt. The oppression and local colonization that preceded them had already foreshadowed upheavals stemming out of social hopelessness and frustration. Revolution in this case was the last option, since gradualism was unwelcomed by those tyrannies.
Gradualism also made history. Between 1890s and the early 20th century, the U.S. resorted to progressive change through radical reforms addressing the plurality of social and political issues that had impeded its development (women’s marginalization, racial segregation, corruption and poor labor, and so forth). Though protests inevitably erupted afterwards, the democratic dimension of such reforms eventually rendered those new rights constitutional amendments.
Both gradualism and revolution are implementable theories of positive change, and both also have side effects. If Morocco’s was an exception to one theory of change while the bulk of neighboring countries opted for the other theory, this does not necessarily mean that the Kingdom has gone the wrong way. If Egypt opted for revolution over gradualism after the downfall of Hosni Moubarak’s regime, this does not forcibly denote lack of tactic or an inclination to anarchism. Both cases are contextually disparate and have idiosyncratic reasons for favoring one theory of change over the other.
Projecting one’s conceptualization of positive change is nothing less than another sort of colonization, one that is less direct, yet strips one of the right to decide on what best suits his or her context. Through our intervention in political debates external to our context enriches and widens the perspectives of the concerned people, any tendency to force our concepts on those of the other are to be considered illegitimate and even self-centered.
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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