The Moroccan regime is treading very carefully, doing everything to avoid situations that could lead to confrontations between the revolutionary youth and the forces of state repression, but the movement keep getting stronger. It was in this situation that the Moroccan Marxists of the LAC gathered for their first Spring Marxist School.
Youth activists from six cities met for three intense days of political education and discussion. Most of them are effective leaders of the 20F youth movement against the despotic regime. Comrades from another city sent their apologies. Several of them have suffered repression since the beginning of the year at the hands of the police, among them the student leader Azouzi from the University of Fez who is back in the struggle.
Messages of solidarity were received from many countries including Iran and the Latin American sections of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT). The conference was fully self-financed by the comrades themselves and with no ‘help’ from any NGO. The most striking thing was the thirst for theory. As Lenin said there can not be question of real “revolutionary action without revolutionary theory” – well understood idea by the young activists.
The lively debates which sometime were prolonged until deep into the night were regularly interrupted by laughter and the subtle humour so typical of the Arab world. These comrades have a lot in common with the young Russian revolutionaries Pierre Broué describes in his History of the Bolshevik Party: “a merry band of young people”. It was also a well organized event (see photo 2).
Agenda of the School
The topics discussed were the following:
- What is the IMT and how it has developed in the last period.
- World perspectives.
- The Arab revolution and the Manifesto of the IMT.
- The Moroccan revolution and its tasks.
- The Communist League of Action, what it is and what is stands for (presentation of the declaration of principles)
- The transitional programme yesterday and today (and comparison with the programmes of the communist parties in the Arab world)
With the exception of the report on the development of the IMT all other topics were led off by the Moroccan comrades. Special sessions were added on the Permanent Revolution and the tasks of the 20F youth movement. It was very full agenda indeed.
Which stage is the revolution passing through?
The most decisive discussion was of course on the Moroccan revolution and the tasks of the Marxist youth. The first thing to be said is that the revolution has begun with the nationwide movement for regime change initiated by the 20F youth movement. Morocco is proving to be no exception in the Arab world. Mass revolutionary politicization is taking place, especially among the youth. “When young people hesitate in the ‘salon de thé’ – a real institution in Morocco – between watching a football match with Barcelona playing and the news coverage of the Arab revolution on Al Jazeera, you can tell something serious is changing in their consciousness” explained one comrade.
However, the revolution is only in its first stages. The movement is not only spurred on by the will to put an end to the autocracy; it is also a revolt against the economic system, against capitalism. How could it be otherwise in a country where millions of people are excluded from being able to satisfy their most elementary needs in education (68% are still illiterate), drinking water (only 57% of the population has access to it), electricity, medical care (one doctor per 2200 inhabitants), decent housing (a deficit of at least one million houses), 7.4 million elderly people don’t have a pension. The number of absolute poor has doubled in ten years and the majority lives on 3 euro a day. Despite official denials, the dictatorship is very conscious of the fact that this movement poses a risk to its very survival.
That is why it is desperately trying to monitor all kinds of events. The famous soccer “derby” between the two most popular teams in Casablanca has, for instance, been postponed many times out of fear of authorizing mass gatherings of working class youth. The slightest spark could lead to such a football event erupting into an outright uprising. Other events like small illegal markets in cities are now tolerated by the authorities. A few months ago they would have been forbidden with the help of the strong arm of the state. It is as if the regime is trying to avoid the slightest opportunity for confrontation between the state and the people. They are going out of their way to avoid even the smallest of incidents between the police or other arrogant law keepers.
Not by repression alone
The regime knows that repression alone will not save it although it has not hesitated in unleashing its repressive apparatus and will do it again when it feels it necessary. At this moment the regime is using all kinds of tricks and manoeuvres with the aim of deceiving the movement and weakening it. This is the real meaning of the royal speech on constitutional reform (see Morocco: Constitutional reform will not save regime).
With the help of its political stooges in parliament, the media and the NGO’s it is trying to retake the initiative and concentrate people’s minds on the reform of the constitution. Apart from this it is also trying to divide and highjack the movement via its reformist stooges. Here we see the role of the USFP (his majesty’s ‘Socialist party’) which fused with the regime more than a decade ago. Unashamedly this party and the leaders of the PPS (his majesty’s ‘Communist party’ with ministerial portfolios) have now also called for “reform” and are participating in the demonstrations of the 20F movement. They follow the adage, “if you cannot beat them, join them”. When the first Day of Rage was called on February 20 the leaders of these parties refused to participate. Paradoxically one of the leaders of the PPS understood the real potential of this movement. He said: “Now the demonstrations start with the demand for a constitutional monarchy but they will end shouting ‘le Roi, dégage’ (The King, go away).” And he was absolutely! Now those leaders have jumped on the bandwagon with the aim of channelling the movement along safe lines and protecting the regime.
The blogger and journalist, Zineb Rezhoui, recently highlighted one of the dangers in the deceptive Royal speech. By announcing reforms which cannot satisfy the demands of the movement, “the king has opened a door which puts him in direct confrontation with the people. We are going towards a direct confrontation between the ‘Throne’ and the people, because the Moroccans are not ignorant of where real power resides. The countdown has started for the regime.”
Political differentiation inside the 20F movement
The balance of power in Moroccan society is clearly in favour of the revolution. The poor showing of the monarchic youth illustrates this. Despite media support this movement has not taken off and has recently split. A recent demonstration organised by this movement turned into an opposition demonstration as revolutionary youth decided to confront them! That explains why the Ministry of Interior has decided no longer to authorize the demonstrations of the March 9 movement as they tend to mobilize very few monarchists and in that sense they represent more of an encouragement for the left; but more importantly, it adds to the polarization.
Within the 20F youth movement we can see a rapid internal differentiation taking place between the reformist wing, whose demand is limited to a “parliamentary monarchy”. This is the case of the small reformist parties, born out of successive splits from the USFP, namely the United Socialist Party (PSU) and the Socialist Vanguard party (PADS). Actually, quite a few people suspect that the leaders, or at least some of the leaders, of these parties are secretly hoping they will be able to replace the discredited USFP or the PPS as points of support under a “reformed” regime. However, even the demand for a “parliamentary monarchy” may be even too much for the regime to concede. But on the other hand it is nowhere near enough for the youth and the workers.
On the other side of this process of differentiation inside the 20F movement there are a lot of unorganized and independent youth, from the Voie Démocratique and other left groups such as the LAC. The left of the 20F movement is in favour of the most consistent democracy and is calling for a Constituent Assembly and rejects monarchic despotism in all its forms.
Now NGO’s linked to the regime or that are EU funded are “joining” the movement and trying to take control of it. An embrace from these people is not at all a friendly gesture; it is more like a kiss of death. As the French playwright Jean Racine once said: “J’embrasse mon rival, mais c’est pour mieux l’étouffer” (I embrace my rival, but it is to better to choke him).
In an earlier article (Where is Morocco going? by Jean Duval, 17 June 2004) we explained the role of NGO’s in Morocco as a reformist buffer between the revolutionary youth and the regime. This is now proven to be true in practice. The fundamentalists of the ‘Justice and Charity’ movement of Sheik Yassine, have also formally joined the 20F movement and shamefully were accepted. But their role in the movement is pushing more and more the activists to reject them. When meetings are called to decide the demands or the new mobilization they turn up en masse and try to determine the course of action. But when action is called they send only a very symbolic number of people. One of the reasons is that some of their youth might get influenced by the revolutionary spirit on the marches.
Some anecdotic evidence seems to indicate that this is the case. In one demonstration comrades heard Islamic youth taking up the slogan “socialism is the only solution”. During another march others repeated with enthusiasm the demand to “end class education”. The influence of the fundamentalists is also based on their ability to hermetically isolate their youth (in mosques, madrassas, etc) from the rest of society. Once a revolution erupts and their rank and file comes into contact with the street fever they may start to think differently. Something similar happened in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. The struggle against the attempts by all kinds of reformist groups and agents of the regime the take over the 20F movement is a very important one. The defence of internal democracy and control over those elected via democratic structures and the right of recall of delegates is vital.
No trust in the regime – Turn the 20F movement towards the masses!
This is linked of course to the political orientation of the revolutionary movement. The regime is trying to ‘soften’ the leadership of the 20F movement. Actually they are trying to “co-opt” some of them, promoting them in the media, courting them with official contacts in the regime, with foreign embassies (such as the French), offering them public status which can easily go to the head of some of the politically unprepared youth. Those who do not really understand the nature of the despotic regime and limit their demands to reforms within the system can easily fall for this trick.
The 20F movement has now rejected the royal commission that was set up aimed at reforming the constitution within the pre-established framework of the King. They refuse to be used by the regime. Nizar Bennamate, one of the spokespersons of the 20F movement has very correctly stated that: “The current constitution cannot be reformed because it is feudal, totalitarian, backward and religious”. We would add that the forms of the state are feudal but that the main aim of this constitution is to preserve the capitalist interests of the monarchy and the main bourgeois families.
The activists of the Communist League of Action explain that no trust can be placed in the regime and its reforms. This “Constitution of slaves” cannot be amended. The movement can only trust in its own forces. For this it must go forward and widen its base and give a class content to the democratic demands. Very soon the strategy of repeated “Days of Action” will reveal its limits.
You cannot endlessly call for demonstrations without gaining any tangible results. This will provoke a certain tiredness and a feeling of being at an impasse. New methods and orientations will be needed. In a revolution the movement has to go forward otherwise it will go down. Yes, instead of a “parliamentary monarchy” we demand a Constitutional Assembly, but one convoked by the organized people in democratically elected local, regional committees. This demand cannot be left in the abstract.
One comrade took the bold initiative in one small city of raising the demand for a city-wide people’s assembly. They went with loudhailers into the popular and working class neighbourhoods calling for and discussing such an assembly. The result was that young workers from three neighbourhoods were ready to organize an assembly. A city-wide assembly was also called where the workers, the housewives, the unemployed put forward their demands and added them to the 10 official points of the 20F movement. The demands were written down and will now be part of the programme.
Thus, calling and organizing for peoples assemblies in every city, village and neighbourhood is a vital element in the next stage of the movement. The deeper you go into society, the more radical are the demands. When school students from different ‘lycées’ of the new March 23 movement gathered to discuss their demands, the more working class content these had the stronger the demand for the overthrow of the regime. For instance, in the 20F list of demands appears the call for jobs for graduates. Indeed many graduate students are unemployed. But the youth and workers want to change this demand into “a job for all or guaranteed unemployment benefit”.
This is the way forward. Based on this set of demands united mobilizations can be prepared. The 20F movement musts go to the factories, explain the comrades of the LAC. We must discuss with the workers, involve the masses and raise the workers’ demands as an integral part of the movement for democracy.
Building the forces of Marxism now
The comrades of the LAC also work hand in hand where possible with the youth and student wing of the Voie Démocratique, which is the biggest left-wing group in the movement. They were recently invited to the conference of the newly established Left progressive student current. They distributed their leaflet (see marxy.com), called for joint work and in a fraternal manner also pointed to the limits of their manifesto. Their contribution was well received.
The key to the revolution in Morocco, as in the rest of the Arab world, is the building of a Marxist leadership out of these stormy events. If we want to succeed this is the only solution. Audacity in intervening, but also the organisation and political education of the Marxist forces is of vital importance. This was understood by all those participating in the school.
Based on those discussions the comrades will produce an educational pamphlet. The IMT Manifesto on the Arab Revolution will be published as a special issue of their paper, The Communist and will be sold on the Mayday demonstrations. And possibly a new school will be organized in the summer.
At the end of the school the youth spontaneously started to sing the songs of the Egyptian communist singer Sheik Imam who is becoming increasingly popular again in the Arab world. (See for instance this video on Youtube).
At the beginning of the Arab revolution recounted a comrade “a well known Iraqi (ex?) Stalinist criticized Alan Woods and the IMT for seeing revolutions developing everywhere after the fall of Ben Ali. He literally said that the Egyptian regime was more solid today than ever… It was a typical ‘Trotskyite’ thing to see revolutions everywhere. These people are living outside of reality…” Now this same man has stopped commenting about politics (which is good news!) and his dedicating his time to writing about ‘culture’ (not so good news for culture).
The authority of the IMT has enormously increased in the Arab world thanks to its articles, analysis and concrete intervention in the revolution. Based on these political conquests the IMT will be built in the Arab world as it has been in Latin America over the last ten years.
Website of the Moroccan Marxists: Marxy.com (Arabic)