A balance sheet of eight months of revolutionary struggle in Morocco

We interviewed the young comrades of the Communist League of Action who speak out on how the Arab spring has affected the Kingdom of Morocco. They explain how it has deeply shaken the regime, and most importantly that “the movement has also rid the masses of the feeling of fear and transferred it to the other camp, the camp of the ruling class and its parties and repressive apparatus.”

The February 20 movement has been struggling against tyranny in Morocco for more than 8 months now.What has this mass movement achieved?

We have achieved a lot! Since February 20, 2011, the poor masses have been out on the streets, in the beginning every month and then every week, not only in large cities, but also in towns and villages.This in itself is a great achievement as for the first time in the history of modern Morocco thousands of youth and downtrodden masses, who had been so far without a voice, persistently took to the streets to express their demands for freedom, dignity and the elimination of exploitation and tyranny.

A demonstration is a school for revolutionary action. We have already confirmed this before when we spoke of the mass demonstrations that erupted in protest at the Israeli war against Gaza, where we said: “The demonstrations and the occupation of the streets in countries suffering under the yoke of a dictatorship that suppresses all forms of expression, such as theMoroccan regime, is not a simple experiment. A demonstration is a school of revolution and revolutionary work par excellence. It requires a great deal of courage and a willingness to sacrifice especially as the result sometimes is death due to barbaric repression, [...] hence the participation of this large number of Moroccan youth, most of them without any political affiliation or experience of struggle, and their confrontation with the machine of oppression is in itself a good exercise of warming up their young muscles before entering the upcoming battles which are going to have a class content revolving around social issues such as education, employment, health etc..”

“During these wonderful movements of struggle there have emerged many fighters and natural leaders of the movement. They learned, for the first time in their lives, to occupy the streets, challenge oppression and gain experience in mass protesting, an experience which will bear its fruits in the near future.”

Here are the battles with class content, which we predicted would erupt two years ago, that have now broken out, and here are these young people, who gained skills during those demonstrations and battles, and who have now returned again to the squares of struggle with greater experience and greater determination.

The movement has been able to force many concessions from the ruling class, whether of an economic nature, such as the recent increase in wages and postponing the ending of the budget, or concessions of a political nature, such as amending the constitution, etc. These concessions, though superficial, would have been impossibleto achieve without the mobilization of the masses, which in itself constitutes a lesson of great importance to the masses who confirmed in practice that there is no way to achieve reforms except by the revolutionary struggle on the streets. This is the opposite of what the reformists kept telling us for decades, that the best way to improve our living conditions passed through“social peace” and “friendly negotiations”, etc.

It is worth mentioning in this context that the movement has raised to a great extent the degree of politicization among the youth, the workers and toiling masses, where discussion on slogans and concepts such as secularism, democracy and tyranny has become like their daily bread. It has posed the question of political power: parliamentary monarchy, republic, revolutionary constituent assembly, etc. not only among small circles of educated youth in universities and coffee shops, but also among thousands of the poor on the streets.

Last but not least, the movement has also rid the masses of the feeling of fear and transferred it to the other camp, the camp of the ruling class and its parties and repressive apparatus. This is an important factor in the equation of the revolution because in revolutions, as in wars, morale is the most important factor in determining the outcome.

It seems to be that the monarchist dictatorship was able to escape the Arab spring?

Too often this claim is repeated in the bourgeois media,but it is not true at all.The revolutionary mobilization which was launched by the movement is still continuing. It is true that it has not yet reached the same degree as in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen, but it exists and the worst days of the ruling class are yet to come.

Even the ruling class, despite its constant going on about the “Moroccan exception” and its “ability to withstand the storm”, is not convinced of this at all, as is evident from the king himself who recently cajoled his ministers during the ministerial council meeting on October 17, because ofthe continuing protests. He then left Morocco to go to France in a prolonged visit that lasted for three weeks.This indicates that the top of the pyramid has begun to realize the seriousness of the situation and the seriousness of the movement.

The imperialists and the serious theorists of the regime understand this, including even a cousin of the King, Hicham Alaoui, who is constantly warning the regime of the necessity to implement reforms from above in order to avoid a revolution from below.

Those who are counting on the Moroccan regime escaping the laws of history and the advancement of the “Arab spring” are being really ridiculous because they are relying on their own wishful thinking rather than on the facts.The regime is bankrupt and the crisis is stifling. Unemployment has reached very high levels, a situation which no longer highlighted only by activists, but even by the defenders of the existing regime, like the former finance minister Mohammed Berradah who has expressed his horror in saying: “No one will want to replace the government of El Fassi becausethe date to present the bill will be coming soon.”

According to the Human Development Report of 2011, issued by the United Nations, Morocco fell by 16 positions, on the scale of international classification, to 130th out of 181 countries.Preceded among the Arab countries by Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, countries which have all experienced and are still experiencing revolutionary movements, and of course, by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Algeria, and even Palestine, Jordan, etc., and behind it comes only Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania and Djibouti.

It is true that the pace of the Moroccan revolutionary movement remains slow and has not yet reached the level it did in other countries, but this situation will not last long.What is important is that the revolutionary period has started, and the regime is thus doomed.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the movement of February 20?Are there different currents within it?

On the question of currents, there are multiple tendencies within the movement. Apart from the currents of the revolutionary left and reformist left, there are also fundamentalists as well as youth without any political or organizational affiliations.

With regard to strengths and weaknesses, the most important strength of the current revolutionary youth movement is the extensive participation of women who are in the leadership in most cases.This gives the movement much momentum, given that their position in capitalist society is worse and their demands are more radical; thus from among their ranks will emerge the most militant, most assertive and revolutionary elements.

It may seem strange to some to list the two most important points of strength of the February 20 revolutionary youth movement as also its points of weakness!But this is the reality!

First, it is an unorganized youth movement which means it is not under the control of the bureaucracies of the reformist parties and trade unions, but the lack of organization means, at the same time, the absence of a central leadership with a clear programme and scientifically worked out tactics capable of accumulating experiences and benefiting from the lessons of revolutions whether the current ones in the Arab worldor from the past in general.

The majority of those participating – and even the symbols of the movement reveal this – are young people without experience of earlier struggles. They are fighters who are entering onto an arena of struggle for the first time in their lives which means they are free of the frustrations of the tired previous generation and its illusions and prejudices. They are the new generation full of revolutionary fervour that has not experienced past defeats. They took up the struggle at the height of the revolutionary tide and victories and they are determined to continue the revolutionary march until the end.

But this strength is at the same time a serious weakness because this generation of young activists does not have sufficient experience or revolutionary theory. It is a generation of brave sailors who are struggling with high waves with the courage of heroes, but without a compass or a map.

The main other weaknesses are: the continued self-imposition of a layer of middle class pampered kids as leaders of the movement with the systematic help of the media, and the use of exclusionary methods against radical militants who come from the ranks of the working class and toilers.

These are people who no one has elected or appointed, but they – and the bourgeois media that backs them – consider themselves, consider them the crowned leaders of the movement. They believe they alone have the right to determine its goals and they have the right to determine who belongs and who does not belong to it, etc. Ithas been revealed on several occasions that they are the fifth column used by the regime and its cronies to attack the movement and split its ranks (with their position on the constitution, on the elections, etc.).

There is also a problem, although temporary and transient in nature, that plays an important role in blocking the development of the movement at the present time. That is namely the widespread illusion among some groups of youth who believe it is not important to paying attention to the programmes and political differences among the different currents, and who consider that all participants in the movement are “friends of the movement” and that “everyone should stay calm and delay differences to a later time” in the interest of “unity.”

We have already pointed out our position in regard to this in a previous article (Morocco: the movement of twentieth February, proposals for discussion) where we said that “the movement, from our point of view, has now reached the point where it has became necessary for it, or rather for its constituent parts, to look into its demands and slogans and define clearly what it wants and the alternative it is proposing. What is meant by democracy? What does every activist and current in the movement mean by an alternative constitution? What is the desired system of government?

We also made clear that those who hold that view, “are divided generally into two categories: a category of people with good intentions who want to defend the unity of the movement and think that any attempt to be particular will inevitably lead to splits in its ranks, as they do not see any benefit from focusing on the details, ‘What matters is the struggle, while everything else can be postponed’, and another category of false friends and enemies of the movement who wish the continuity of its “spontaneity” meaning the continuation of its subjection to the dominant thinking and ideology which appear under the guise of “public opinion” and “common sense”.

Has the labour movement joined the political struggle?

We definitely have workers extensively participating in the demonstrations, and they and their children (students, unemployed, etc.) form the backbone of the movement.But their presence is as yet disorganized, and still without class conscious political slogans. The leadership of trade unions is playing an ominous role in this regard as it refuses to mobilise the working class on the basis of clear demands and to participate in the movement with centralized political slogans and traditional working class forms of struggle, especially the general strike which would, if it were to materialise, resolve the conflict much sooner and with the least possible losses.

The trade union bureaucracies are hostages to their illusions about “social peace” and fear the revolutionary struggle as much as the bourgeoisie does.This has pushed them in the recent period to bargain with the state to pacify the working class by accepting a meagre increase in wages (600 AED) in return of a one-sided assurance of “social peace”, an increase which could not be forced from the bourgeoisie without the threat of revolutionary action.

What is necessary to overthrow the regime now?

The regime is in fact very weak, with crises at all levels, and its social base is also fragile and small. In addition, the support of its imperialist masters is no longer guaranteed without conditions, as was shown to us from the experience of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc...

Its rural support, which for a long time had been a solid base for it, is no longer as strong as it was. The urban middle class has become steadily eroded, and some of its lower ranks have joined the movement, or at least sympathize with it.The reformist parties do not have the ability to influence the streets.False promises of reforms and a new era no longer have the same effect as before, especially since the reality lived by the masses on a daily basis is one of misery, exploitation and oppression.

The repressive apparatus is tired and has begun at times to show signs of discontent among its ranks. The army is divided; a silent ferment is taking place within it and at the first attempt to direct it against the movement it will break into pieces along class lines.This explains the delay in using it by the regime until now, as they prefer to use thugs and recruit gangs from among the sons of the middle class and the scum of the lumpenproletariat rather than relying on the army.

All economic and political data indicate that the existing regime in Morocco is weaker by all measures than the regime of Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt and Gaddafi in Libya.Thus, its overthrow is not an impossible matter.

However, the reality of the state of revolutionary movement in Morocco is what is delaying this task, and we can summarize these in the following manner.

First: The working class has not entered the movement with its independent demands and traditional methods of struggle: the general strike and armed uprising etc.

Second: the weakness of the revolutionary left forces.

Third: The trade unions are still under the control of powerful bureaucracies which have a long history of betrayal, and an ample experience in restraining the movement of the working class, weakening its morale and suppressing all voices of protest and criticism.This is a factor that cannot be underestimated in the midst of a revolutionary situation, as the history of most revolutions in the last century shows us that the conspiracy of such leaders is what destroyed revolutions which were close to gaining victory.

Fourth: The conspiracy of fundamentalist forces against the movement. Despite the image they are trying to portray of themselves before the eyes of the masses, as “revolutionaries” and “activists for change”, they take advantage of every possible opportunity and available channel (including the U.S. embassy) to pose themselves as a possible alternative to maintaining the continuity of the system as a whole.Their position and the fact that an important section of the youth continues to have illusions in them, hinders the development of the movement and its progress towards the overthrow of the regime.

If there existed a revolutionary party with a clear programme, if there was an organized and conscious leadership of a few thousands rooted in the unions and working class neighbourhoods with a clear transitional programme, credible in the eyes of the masses, then it would not only be possible to bring down the regime, as happened in Egypt and Tunisia, but also to resolve the question of political power in favour of the working class.

Those who underestimate the capability a few thousand Marxists with real roots among the masses to lead the revolution do not understand anything about revolutions, either in the past or at present.In real revolutions the masses carry the bulk of the tasks: they overthrow systems, form councils and committees of self-defence, divide the army along class lines, etc.What is still missing is for someone to raise the right slogan: “We should immediately attack Versailles and nationalize the Central Bank.” The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions provide clear evidence of what we are saying.

Do the fundamentalists also participate in the movement?Are they really democratic and what is their influence?

Yes they are involved, and we mean specifically Justice and Charity, but they are involved in an opportunistic way. In the beginning, they were hardly participating, especially when the movement was threatened with repression.But wherever and whenever the movement has been successful in achieving gains and imposing a balance of forces to its advantage, they have come out heavily to put their mark on the movement.

Their relationship with the movement is linked to self-interests based on putting pressure on the regime to make political gains for themselves, such as the right to form a political party.Especially since they do not in fact adopt any of the points raised by the movement, they are not genuinely democratic or against tyranny and capitalism.

Abdel-Salam Yassin, the leader of Justice and Charity himself had already written justifying tyranny thus: “There are Islamists who think that the prince should consult and should not exceed the Shura one bit. This means total and general paralysis. And some of them disdain the question of obedience as if they see in each twisted rope a lethal snake because of the length of what we havesuffered under tyranny.”

He also wrote against democracy saying: “Shallow is the proposal of democracy in Muslim countries, and calling for the creation of this foreign democracy away from its homeland and conditions of its existence is total shallowness. It is foreign and its creation in our homeland is strange.”

He also says about democracy: “[...] it is the result of an experience that took place in a social and historical climate different from that of our society and history, so it is a strange plant that cannot cultivate in a land different from its land.”

These quotes are only the tip of the iceberg of the group's stance on democracy which we already exposed in previous articles (see The Communist, Issue 7)

It should be noted here that their influence appears bigger on the surface to the extent that some of the currents that claim to belong to the left and even to Marxism have refused to join the movement under the pretext that it is controlled by the fundamentalists.But the reality is something else and totally the opposite.

The movement is based on material and concrete demands concerning healthcare, education, bread, and the elimination of tyranny, etc., and not to impose some form of autocratic rule, the application of Sharia law, or the imposition of the veil, among other similar points in their project.

The revolutionary movement is not currently a source of their strength, but a source of their crisisnot only in Morocco but also in Libya and Tunisia where these fundamentalists have managed to gain some power and get a slice of the cake.This will eventually tear down all the masks, which they have for long hidden behind, and will show the public, which still has illusions in them, that they are nothing but bourgeois parties like the other parties. The core of their programme is to defend the capitalist system, private ownership of the means of production and exploitation.

What is the role of leftist forces such as the Democratic Way (Voie Démocratique) and the United Socialist Party (PSU)?

The youth of these parties are militant fighters.They are present in all forms of struggle, make sacrifices, and stand at the forefront of the movement.However, hyperactivity, the lack of theoretical thinking, and the lack of experience renders these militants more excited about the movement rather than actually acting within it.

Also, these parties are generally weak and have had little impact so far. Their leaderships are still floundering in all kinds of illusions and errors, of an organizational and theoretical character, and which are Stalinist or Maoist in origin. In addition to the widespread sectarianism among their ranks, there is no tradition of working together on the basis of a united labour front tactic, no readiness to assess how to deal with the masses, and no ability to draw revolutionary programmes that provide the masses with a clear and convincing revolutionary alternative.

The majority of these parties and movements were surprised by the revolutionary tide, and some still do not see that there is a revolution taking place in front of their very eyes.

However, the revolution teaches and polishes, and in its midst the most revolutionary and critical among the ranks of these parties and movements will learn how to evaluate errors and return to the Marxist outlook on how to lead the masses and carry the revolution to the end; the outlook of Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

What are the comrades of the Communist League of Action doing in this struggle?

We, in the Communist League of Action, are an exception to the situation of the Left in general. We also are still a small group, and our influence in the working class is still very small.Also, the excessive activity imposed upon us by the revolution causes an enormous strain on our young forces.

However, unlike other left currents, we have a transitional programme for the movement and intervene on the basis of that.Most importantly, we also have an internationalist organization and an internationalist perspective of the struggle within which we frame our intervention in the local movement.In addition to this, we attach great importance to theory, following the approach of Lenin who always emphasized that there is no revolutionary movement without a revolutionary theory.

We are working to win the revolutionary youth in the movement over to Marxism and organize them to build a revolutionary leadership, whose presence we consider essential to the success of the revolution.We also work in all places where we are present to provide a Marxist and internationalist perspective of the movement while respecting internal democracy and patiently explaining our positions without imposing our views.

We are also working through and with every means available to us, using data, presentations, articles, etc., to invite progressive left currents to form a united workers' front on the basis of democracy and unity in action in order to strengthen the influence and impact of the left within the movement.

Off course all of this runs side by side with direct intervention and participation in all forms of struggle, with all the great sacrifice this implies, including harassment, arrests and repression (see, for example here)