By Safaa El Halouti
By Safaa El Halouti
Istanbul – I never had the soul of a rebel. I am too realistic to have one, I believe. This may be why I have developed a sense of comprehensiveness and adhered to realism and utilitarianism as schools of thought. Developing a stand on a certain matter for me would be: inspecting realistically all aspects of things in their specific circumstances, space and time, in order to make a full judgment on a certain act or behavior, while weighing the good and the bad, the evil, and the necessary. There are some innate tendencies related to this mindset of mine. But what influenced it greatly is definitely my liberal political science education.
A few weeks ago, law enforcement intervened to disperse a demonstration lead by a few medical students protesting against a “draft of a law project.” The intervention was in accordance with the University’s dean directives, who warned the students before the forces intervened. The law project concerned “Public Service” to be completed by medical students who graduate from public universities, making them serve for two years in Moroccan rural areas.
Disregarding whether or not the students’ concerns were valid, to me the intervention was totally legitimate, but it wasn’t for the vast majority of people, or at least what I was able to observe through my social media feed. People were empathizing with the students and expressing their feelings of hatred and disgust toward the forces’ intervention, claiming it was illegitimate, unethical, and against the law.
Then I thought why my immediate reaction was to think that the intervention was a totally valid act and I didn’t find myself blindly sympathizing with the students, as was the public opinion. Here comes the comprehensiveness I spoke about earlier; to me there were realistic reasons why the intervention was lawful, again, apart from any judgement on the value of their demands or the inclination to sympathize. A situation of “blocking the ordinary use of property” is enough reason for law enforcement officials to dismiss any protest, in any state and in any democracy. Look it up.
In this particular situation, the students were rumored to be preventing their fellow students from attending classes. At the same time, the entire protest was disrupting the normal operations of the university. So while my social media feed was full of people expressing their disgust and condemnation and blaming the state, the regime, and the government for such brutality, I thought to myself: Who defends the State?
The state is a necessary evil. And this definition lies at the very first cause of its creation and genesis. It’s as old as Hobbes and as recent as Max Weber. State creation came with the need for central authority, the need to organize within the rule of law and have it all in a framework of a social contract, in which individuals compromise some of their freedoms and have the state provide them with security and a certain legitimate political system. The modern state as we know it and the political system as a whole have certain foundations and stands on certain concepts, without which it won’t be called “modern,” “liberal,” or even “democratic.” Some of these principles are known and admired, like legitimacy and public representation. Others not so much, like the monopoly of the use of physical violence attributed to the State. Having this monopoly and being able to control it is one of the necessary conditions of statehood, according to Weber. At the same time, it can be deemed legitimate only if the State itself is built on some sort of social contract. Which is what we can attribute to modern “democratic” state.
Now some might argue that the Moroccan political system is not a democracy, hence such paradigms do not apply to it. But even though Morocco isn’t a perfect democracy, it has the attributes of a modern state undergoing the process of democratization. Therefore, the political system is a legitimate one, and the monopoly on the use of physical violence under specific circumstances, including the ones mentioned above, is allowable.
Going back to the specific incident, after some reflection, I thought: even though my opinion goes against the popular one, I shall share it. I knew it would backfire, and I am no fan of publicly stating my opinions on anything and everything for the sake of it. But I felt some kind of responsibility to the State, to this entity that can seem complicated to grasp its necessity and role for most people, especially when we are undergoing many reforms in the political sphere and one ought to take a position of support to the process. This is relevant to this particular incident because the law draft the students were protesting against is one that is part of the reform measures of many public sectors. Besides, there are few positions which once taken -especially on controversial subjects- give a perspective to people on the kind of mindset you have. And that is of eminent importance to me.
In my reactionary status, I wrote, “If each and everyone is to act according to his very own limited understanding of public affairs, the State will never move forward. A certain dose of discipline is called for. And whoever disobeys should be ready to take responsibility for his actions.” Now that sounds a bit Machiavellian, but the point was made, and I was surprised to see that some people agreed with me. None of this would have been necessary if those who protested knew what was coming for them and took responsibility for their actions, instead of shaming the State for doing what it had to do.
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