Report on Workshop Outlining Literature on Moroccan Politics

~a Unit 2 Workshop~

December 21, 1998

Reporters: REZRAZI, Elmostafa and NAKAGAWA, Kei


Literature concerning research on Moroccan politics, particularly that related to political systems and the Islamic movement, was outlined after an introduction of the factors which influenced the research such as 1) incidents, 2) ideologues, academics and researchers who have brought about cultural debates and 3) the scope of the research, research facilities, scholarly groups and projects, etc., .


(1) Research on Political Systems

One of the reasons that research on the period of Moroccan history from the latter half of the 19th century to the achievement of independence is so difficult, is the lack of historical materials. Another reason is the influence of the change to protectorate status under France.


The difficulty involving historical materials is due to the fact that compared with other Arab countries, Morocco has fewer manuscripts in the form of published books and most are in private collections. The number of manuscripts in the National Library is roughly equal to the number held in private collections.


The second problem was that the change to protectorate status under France did not tolerate dissenting opinions. The researchers working for the protectorate government were not accepted by Moroccan academics during the period from independence to the 1980s. Regardless of the efforts of Sa `id b. Sa `id al- `Alawi and `Abdullah Laroui who conducted a survey of the works of intellectuals who supported the change to protectorate status when they were researching modern political thought, the works of Muhammed al-Mannuni who published the works of Muhammed al-Hajoui , Ahmad Ben al-Mawwaz, ÅMAbd al-Hay al-Kettani in book form as well as the work of intellectuals who supported the change to protectorate status remains taboo even today. This taboo has even extended to scholars of Islamic law such as `Abd al-Hay al-Kettani and Muhammed al-Hajoui who was one of the most important thinkers in the nationalist movement toward independence. It can be said that Moroccan historical studies is suffering due to the fact that the scholarly works of some thinkers have been rejected simply because they supported the change to protectorate status of worked in the protectorate government.


In Moroccan historical studies, the Makhzan system has been understood differently by nationalist Marxists and by colonialists. In Morocco, nationalism (the independence movement) differs from that of other middle eastern countries in that the king was recognized as the ruler of the country even while under the protectorate government. The king, although he was in exile, acted as a representative in negotiations with the protectorate government. As can be seen in the anti-French slogan, thawra al-Malik wa as-Sha 'b, ("Revolution of the King and the People") the re-ascension of the exiled king to the throne was equated with Moroccan independence. There were many political movements supporting the independence movement such as Istiqutal (the Independence Party), the USFP (Union Socialite des Forces Populaires) and the UNFP (Union Nationale des Forces Populaires) etc., but all of these nationalists agreed on the monarchical system. Constitutional monarchy was the traditional form of government in Morocco and the Makhzan system (Makhzan came to mean, "the government"), which was in power before the protectorate government, incorporated hereditary monarchical rule.


The Moroccan Marxists, of course, believed in the progress of history from feudal society to capitalist society to socialist society. However, the Makhzan was viewed as a stage of society wherein this progress was impeded.


Some researchers representative of the point of view taken by the protectorate government as opposed to that of the nationalist movement are Robert Montagne and Michaux-Bellaire. A common characteristic of this group of researchers is that their research began with the concept that Morocco was a tribal society. They understood this tribal society as one displaying the following three characteristics:


1) A tribal society is an amalgamation of tribes based on an alliance which stands in opposition to Leff's system and inter-tribal opposition. Further, in Moroccan society, this mechanism of inter-tribal opposition had been expanded and reproduced and the Makhzan was one factor in this mechanism.


2) They viewed the Arabs and the Berbers as distinctly different groups and the Makhzan as an element of Arab society. In other words, the Makhzan was seen as something existing outside the tribal society which included most of the Berbers.


3) They saw Morocco as divided into two areas, the Makhzan area which accepted the legitimacy of Makhzan rule and the Siba (meaning "disobedient") which did not. The former was Arab and the later Berber.


Until Abdullah Laruoi wrote Les origines sociales et culturales du nationalisme marocaine in the 1960s, the majority of research on the 19th century Moroccan political system was descriptive and not theoretical. In addition, the cololnialist stereotyped analysis of the Makhzan area and the Siba area was accepted as a cultural anthropological analysis.


Marxist economist Driss Ben Ali conducted research before the change to protectorate status in order to investigate what the dominant means of production was prior to capitalism. He conducted research on means of production, relationships of production and upper level structures based on the same scheme as Marx. According to his research, there were two levels of production, grain production carried out in the plains and agricultural production carried out in the mountainous areas. There was also an intermediate type of production which was a mixture of these two. Driss Ben Ali conducted the majority of his analysis of urban areas based on these premises. In the end, this analysis, which focused on economics, simply mapped out the means of production of Morocco in the same way that Montagne and Michaux Bellaire who divided Morocco into the Makhzan area and the Siba area. In short, the Marxist theory of feudal production which Ali so carefully used cannot sufficiently explain the entire socioeconomic structure of Morocco. In this sense he follows in the footsteps of the concept of tribal means of production developed by Samir Amin, the concept of ancient means of production developed by Valency and the theory of Makhzan means of production developed by Paul Pascon.


(2) Research on the Islamic Movement


Analysis of the Islamic movement usually takes one of the following two approaches. The first approach is to search for the origins of the movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This approach has been used to build a bridge between Neo-Islamism (as a political movement) and Pan-Islamism (especially Jamal ad-Din al-Afgani's group). However, so many researchers have taken this approach that it has become commonplace. There are two possible reasons for this. One is that these researchers consider Egypt to be the focal point of the Islamic movement in the early part of this century. Another reason is that Muslim groups began the Islamic movement in Egypt very early on and this was chronologically close to the beginning of Pan-Islamism and this may have brought about confusion among these scholars.


The second approach is the dynamic and structural analysis of phenomena. The historical aspects and internal structure of phenomena are emphasized. In the first approach, which searches for the historical roots of a phenomenon, the phenomenon is given no historical "importance" in and of itself. In the second approach, the phenomenon is studied within its historical context, however at the same time, the phenomenon is examined independently of other phenomena and is viewed as something with its own order and structure. Because the first approach focuses on the historical relationship between phenomena, the Islamic movement, for example, is understood as being a phenomenon which is related to Pan-Islamism.


Pan-Islamism however, above all is a cultural, political and ideological movement that did not take the form of an organized group. It is a movement with universal appeal which has crossed political borders to take root in Egypt, Turkey, India, Central Asia and Morocco etc. The reason for this is that the Pan-Islamism movement is made up of the intelligentsia, in other words, it is not made up of common people, a factor that has been a source of power to the movement.


Although there have been instances such as those in Central Asia and India where Pan-Islamism has been used as the ideological background for political movements, this is not inconsistent with its universal character and the fact that the movement does not take the form of a political party.


On the other hand, Neo-Islamism is first and foremost a political movement and therefore, unlike Pan-Islamism, is a movement which occurs on a national level, one country at a time. It is also a phenomenon occurring only after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, whereas Pan-Islamism began toward the end of the Ottoman period. This awareness of political issues was due to the resistance to the formation of a nation-state. In other words, Neo-Islamism is a movement within the framework of a nation-state. It can also be seen as the result of the cooperative work of many movements, each with its own independent history and conditions. However, Muslim groups who first tried to export these ideas to other countries and Khomeni, who tried to export the Iranian revolution are exceptions to the rule. Currently, an example of a new method used by the Islamic movement is the use of the Internet and CMC (Computer Mediated Communication).


Pan-Islamism is basically a movement based on usul to renew Islamic theory (ijtihad) as well as a reaction to the very conservative Islamic tradition (taqlid) Another aspect of Pan-Islamism is deeply rooted in the idea of rejection of the cultural sphere of imperialism which characterizes the Islamic and Christian worlds. The split between salafism and nationalism in late 19th century Egypt was a result of the nationalist focus on the issues of colonialism and political revolution and salafism's focus on religion and morality. Egypt had to wait for Hasan al-Banna to combine these two movements.


There are three interpretations of the legitimate historical roots of the Islamic movement in Morocco. The first is that the Islamic movement in Morocco was a result of the expansion of the Muslim groups in Egypt. The second is that it developed from the so-called salafism of Morocco (including figures such as Allal al-Fasi and Mohamed Ibn al-'Arbi al-'Alawi during the French colonial period) and the Islamic movement after independence (including figures such as az-Zamzami). The third interpretation is that Islamic groups such as Sufi cults, the Islamic Cultural Association, Jama 'a at-Tabligh wa ad-Da 'wa ila Alla and the Islamic Students Association etc. are regarded as the Islamic movement. After independence, the so-called salafists became members of political parties or participated in politics as religious staff in the governmental system. However, both groups hoped for a monarch who would "guide the believers" and they were only divided by what ideology should guide the nation-state and how to keep the balance with the francophone government officials who had become an important conservative force.


The flowering of the Islamic movement took place at the same time that political parties and the government were in the process of compromising with each other. This was the same time that the revolutionary experiments ended in failure due to the national political parties. One other special characteristic of the Islamic movement in Morocco is the existence and role of the king. The king declared himself "guide of the believers" and put forth the religious precept that he was the protector of the umma and the shari'a. The king was also the sharif. These elements limited the standoff between the governmental system and the Islamic movement to religious interpretation and application. This was, of course very different from the principles of detachment from religious issues outlined by President Assad of Syria for his Baath Party and the national socialist ideology espoused by President Nasser of Egypt.