Ottawa - Many writings, diagnosis, and critics have focused on the protest of Al Houceima. We see a huge repertoire of written paragraphs aimed at gaining people’s emotions. This is understandable. This article will tackle one angle of the issue that is the role of ethnic entrepreneurs.
Ottawa – Many writings, diagnosis, and critics have focused on the protest of Al Houceima. We see a huge repertoire of written paragraphs aimed at gaining people’s emotions. This is understandable. This article will tackle one angle of the issue that is the role of ethnic entrepreneurs.
By the end of the 20th century ethnicity captivated the world’s attention like no other social phenomenon. Yet we ask why some individuals from the same ethnic group have pronounced ethnic sentiments while others do not? Further than that, why some individuals engage in ethnic-based confrontation and violence, while others do not?
Why the Amazigh of Beni Snassen in Berkane and Oujda are not primed ethnically. In other words they do not “politicize’ their ethnicity while the Amazigh in the Rif do ? We argue because there are non-ethnic entrepreneurs in the East (Oujda and Berkane) to stimulate Beni Snassen. On the other hand, there are many in the Rif. By ethnic entrepreneurs we mean those who produce a politicized version of a cultural group. There are some examples of the ethnic entrepreneurs; those who want to be called sometimes; activists, intellectuals, historians, diaspora, thinkers etc.
Sometimes even outlaws take advantage of the discourse of ethnicity like narco-dealers, and organized crime leaders. They use children, media outlets, and international opinion as their platform for take off. We can call them instrumentatlists or circumstantialists. For them ethnic identity and politics is a result or product of actors who use their rational choices to manipulate towards a specific end result.
The notion of entrepreneurs entails gains and profits par excellence. This can be elaborated metaphorically by an image of an ethnic entrepreneur who opens his or her shop and makes sure his or her products go beyond supply and demand criterion. An ethnic entrepreneur by definition defends the idea that ethnicity exists because there are traditions of belief and action towards primordial objects such as biological factors, historical ties, personalities from the past and territorial location. They contend that ethnic identity is fixed and needs to be understood based on the idea that historical attachments should not be excluded from understanding the origins of ethnic groups.
Clifford Geertz articulates a more precise theoretical frame through which culture should be understood. He suggests the semiotic definition of culture emphasizing on the thickness of contextual description, and deep understanding of contexts. Geertz argues that accuracy cannot be sacrificed for coherence. Millions of people had followed blindly Slobodan Milosevic. He used and misused the ethnic nationalism and exploited it to its fullest. He based his entire political career on the historical premise of revenge and ethnic hate. Children were used and indoctrinated to hate the Bosniens. We all know the deadly result: the Srebrenica genocide in 1995.
Ethnic identity is defined not by inclusion but by exclusion
The ethnic entrepreneurs publish and print their works and media in vernacular language in order to maximize circulation. As a result, readers speaking various local dialects were primed to a common discourse that has emerged. This discourse is built implicitly on the notion of exclusion. The ethnic entrepreneurs alone cannot perform this task but there must be some mediators such as electronic newspapers, civil sometimes even civil society and the virtual media. These mediators primary target is to intentionally selecting the suitable wording and terminology. This theory in linguistics is called the lexical priming theory. It is easy to detect the huge daily bombardment of news that is not always right.
When we exclude a group of people we are automatically signaling our in-group as pure and superior. In this context, to be was to determine what one was not, and to reject it. Association between ethnicity and the ‘other’ is not novel. The other that is seen as an invader that threatens a society invariably comes from “somewhere else”. The advent of the new technological modernity however, allowed this association between ancestry and purity to motivate labeling, expulsion and complete destruction of the “other” in some extreme cases. This development created a hierarchy of races, which justified contemporary power dynamics, which in turn justified and legitimized subjugation. These dehumanizing discourses, which cast particular groups as threat from the in-group, had worked more effectively. This requires extensive prior ideological imagery of imperative.
Metaphor and language that names people as invaders, slaves, cowards, threat, implicitly or explicitly, introduces hate. Hobsbawn in his invented traditions wonders not only about the chances of traditions survival because according to him they are not permanent, but over the appearance and establishment and the functions they can occupy. There exists some traditions that look ancient or pretend to be, but they usually have a recent origin and are sometimes invented. These invented traditions try to establish a continuity with the appropriated past history.
To recapitulate, for those ethnic entrepreneurs in order that ethnic identity to be ‘successful” is to exclude the ‘other’ and strip him or her from the common characteristics of nationhood by highlighting the superiority and purity of a race. Why this doesn’t succeed in Morocco? Because we have what call in our dialect: Dar Dmana or the house of warranty; in other words, the monarchy.
The Monarchy as inclusive: The house of warranty dar dmana
One of the key characteristics of the Moroccan monarchy is its inclusionary aspect. This aspect does not go vertical only but horizontal too. Ibn Khaldoun’s assabiya is crucial here. It is this ´esprit de corps’ this power that comes from up. But in the Moroccan case there is another power that comes from the bottom and that gives this legitimacy. It is called Iltiham. This is a power that binds and welds the base and the crown.
Mansour Mohamed in his Morocco in the Reign of Mawlay Sulayman. Pre-Colonial Morocco: Society, State, and Religion 1792-1822 outlines the very close analysis of the people in Morocco and the constant dynamic of tribes mobility from East, to Atlas to Rif mountains following seasons of pastoral and harvesting in a regulated system. These findings critically argued against the work done by Western anthropologist and sociologists. Clifford Geertz recognized this.
In his Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia is perhaps the most in-depth comparative analysis on the subject. He argues that despite the physical barriers to the state’s legibility strategies, the central government’s legitimacy, or its symbolic power, was remarkably diffused, even on the peripheries. Rooted in a religious, or charismatic, authority localized in the person of the ruler (the Sultan). Thus, even when rebelling against the central government through military confrontation or refusal to pay taxes, areas of the siba, or non-state space, would paradoxically usually still respect the symbolic legitimacy of the king. The monarchy is not only powerful in its routines and practices, but these latters are remarkably old. Even in time of tension of crisis the monarchy always remained inclusive of all the citizens. How to operationalize this?
Building the welfare state
We do recognize that good governance is key to development and poverty reduction. Good governance exists when the government possesses the vision, leadership and capacity to bring positive transformation of society within a condensed period of time by becoming more capable and more supportive of human development. There is general agreement that if development is to succeed, it requires more effective executive leaders at the level of community, municipality and the region. This necessitates conditions of improved governance that are necessary to enable further political, social and economic development.
In order to counter discourses, ideologies and agendas of ethnic entrepreneurs is to put many efforts on the social programs. The national initiative for human development –INDH- along with other initiatives had focused since their inception to the well being of Moroccans. Are we satisfied? Yes and no. The whole process is too long and demands are high and hopes are beyond imagination. The citizen must be the focus of all programs. The more we work on the social the less frustration we see. It is not an easy task, yet with the will we have to end the pockets of corruption and made of accountability our shining path. INDH and other funds can elevate the level of marginalization and poverty. This initiative must be constitutionalized and takes a deeper vision to genuinely eradicate fragility. A robust restructuring of the social programs is a must.
How do we go from here?
Respect for the constitution. This is as simple as it is. We recall the day after the shooting of Michael Brown, which occurred on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, the American army was deployed there to intervene against the outrageous protesters. The second case is when the Dixie Chicks the country band from Dallas Texas in a London concert told the crowd on March 10, 2003: “ We’re ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas..” A negative reaction including boycotts and their albums were discarded in public protests. Imagine how those people who protested against the band for insulting their president are going to be labeled in Morocco! In America they are called patriots.
To prevent those ethnic entrepreneurs from manipulating and disseminating their hidden agendas a genuine and a well structured intervention by the government to put in reality and immediately social programs and implementing care initiatives that would not allow the demagoguery of those ethnic or political entrepreneurs.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.