Rabat - The feature that seems to dominate political discourse in the Arab world these days is the attempt to divert attention from the real structural social, cultural, economic and political problems to focus it either on imaginary problems or on those of others. What is called politics, culture, education and successes and failures is a total diversion from the universal understanding of these into instruments at the service of the few dominant groups. Likewise, what is referred to as law and order, security and stability are but the conditions in which their own rule and comfort can last.
Rabat – The feature that seems to dominate political discourse in the Arab world these days is the attempt to divert attention from the real structural social, cultural, economic and political problems to focus it either on imaginary problems or on those of others. What is called politics, culture, education and successes and failures is a total diversion from the universal understanding of these into instruments at the service of the few dominant groups. Likewise, what is referred to as law and order, security and stability are but the conditions in which their own rule and comfort can last.
The issue of the refugee situation which mobilizes the whole world, for example, is not only not given as much time in official Arab media and public discussions as it is in Western and Russian media, but also when it is treated it is talked about as if it were the work of others, although it is a spinoff of the degradation and disintegration of the Arab region. As another example, we have a country like Algeria, rich because of all the gas and oil she is sitting on and which she exports and the billions she has made throughout the last few decades. With a political system that maintains in power a president too feeble to govern and a military junta that draws all the privileges from the situation while citizens can hardly make ends meet, the government continues to divert the attention of Algerians by fostering and funding a militant separatist discourse addressed against the unity of neighboring Morocco.
This paradoxical situation (one would normally expect politicians to draw attention to real problems) may be the result of an increased nervousness about facing the public with unpleasant facts of history and the image of characters who have dismissed the priorities of peace and wellbeing of their nations for the interests of minority socioeconomic groups or those of faraway foreign powers.
In fact, the failure of politics to generate a discourse powerful enough to mobilize the population around credible and viable alternative social projects has led politicians in power to focus on justifying their increasingly complex forms of oppression — at times with extreme forms of intellectual, emotional and physical violence — of those criticizing them by accusing them of jeopardizing the peace, internal coherence and stability of the country. The politicians have faced the pitiful political, economic and cultural regression of the region and its respective countries by falling back on ideologies that need neither very much rigor nor imagination in argumentation to be sold. This has resulted in blurred visions, incoherent propositions, ambiguous concepts and hesitant choices which have left populations confused and at a loss.
While an Arab leader was spending billions of dollars on a two-month holiday surrounded by more than one thousand courtesans, millions were being shelled, bombarded, burnt alive, beheaded and put on boats that were not seaworthy and caused more to drown than to reach a safe haven. Those lucky enough to manage to reach the shore become wanderers in Europe hoping someone would host them, feed them and provide care for their babies and young children. The hardships and the loss of dignity which Arabs are undergoing both in their own countries and as refugees have no significant presence in the political alternatives that their leadership is proposing.
In such times, opportunistic, and often extremist, trends, are born and bred. Likewise, statuses are hijacked and identities stolen, as when, for instance, propagandists are taken for lecturers, abusers of the vulnerability of populations for philanthropists, preachers and evangelists for intellectuals, radicals for revolutionaries, obscurantists for saviors of humanity and dictators for democrats. The ambiguities that thrive in these times affect procedural political concepts such as those involving democratic processes by overloading them with loosely defined moral values like irreversible loyalty to a party and total denial of one’s individuality and submission to the decisions of a political central authority. When the ideology motivating a party is of a radical religious nature, this kind of ambiguity turns democracy into hegemony, dictatorship and totalitarianism.
The manipulation of democratic concepts includes the claim that a relative majority in a multiparty system (such as in a country with more than thirty parties like Morocco) should allow the highest percentage party to rule even with less than one-eighth of the votes. Any coalition to form a majority that excludes the party with the higher number of votes is presented as a betrayal of the will of the population and the members of that coalition are charged with plotting against the people and taxed with the worst moral evils and vices possible. Furthermore, because of the dominant self-righteousness of these pseudo-majority political parties, they may choose to coalesce with former adversaries to make up control of some city council, for example, but would accuse of the worst immoral qualities any other party who does exactly the same thing. While in their case there is always the supreme interest of the nation that justifies such odd coalitions, there is only disloyalty, greed, corruption and immorality that motivate others.
These manipulations may also include the exclusion of a category of the population based on gender, religion or ethnic group from some political, judicial and administrative responsibilities.
Thus, a political party will claim to adhere to democracy but will not accept, for example, that a woman, a Christian, a Jew or member of an ethnic minority be a judge, a minister or a senior officer of law enforcement agencies. None of the Moroccan major parties presented a women to run for mayor or for president of a region in the last elections, although they all claim adherence to the parity principle in politics. This poses a serious problem to the coherence of the discourse of these parties both with their own behaviors and with the criticism they level against Western societies, which they tend to accuse of racism and religious discrimination when everyone knows that they appoint Muslim women of Arab or other minority descent to high-ranking positions. The universal aspect of Human Rights is thus often problematic to many democrats of the region.
A confusion that is maintained purposefully by some political trends concerns concepts of right to work and of Human Rights. In fact, many are translating the right to work as having to mean the right of every citizen to be employed by the state in the public sector. According to this manipulated definition of this right, to be democratic, equitable, egalitarian and fair, the State must recruit all new graduates of all universities and schools in the public sector. It becomes thus legitimate, and a Human Right, for anyone to oppose resistance to the State when it does not comply with this definition. Likewise, the concept of Human Rights was used to counter the fight against crime by corrupt law enforcement organizations that allege complying with Human Rights laws when they are actually protecting criminals and helping them to avoid falling under the rule of the law.
To conclude, this manipulation of concepts is mixing up, in the minds of many concerned citizens, political choices, economic analyses, governance procedures, and religious morality. In other words, it tends to substitute technique for theory, justifying for explaining, submitting to protocols for understanding processes, regimenting cohorts of children and young men and women for education, opportunistic loyalty for solidarity and illusion for realistic projects.
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