Morocco - questions for the Movement of 20 February, one year on

Submitted by AWL on 22 May, 2012 - 12:59

For more coverage of the Moroccan Movement of 20 February, see here

On the 19 and 20 of February, on the first anniversary of the movement in Morocco, rallies and demonstrations took place in dozens of towns. To those who talk of the movement running out of steam after the departure of Al Adl Wal Ihsan [a hard-right Islamist movement which left the movement of 20 February in December 2011] or because of the difficulty of becoming a comprehensive and credible alternative, the streets have made a retort. One year on, although the movement has not won its demands, the determination is still there.
This continuity is the real expression of the depth of the social exasperation and the emergence of a new generation which will not bear the weight of past defeats upon its shoulders. But if the battle is far from over, many questions remain which seem to us to be essential to debate, especially by those who wish to be part of a project of democratic, social, and anti-imperialist emancipation:

1) Why has the movement not been able to create a broad social base in the struggle, of hundreds of thousands or millions of people, when its demands represent the principal social preoccupations of the popular classes and their desire for political freedom and an end to tyranny?

2) Is a generation gap responsible for the difficulty for broad layers of society to leave behind the logic of survival and join the collective struggle? The weight of defeats which have greatly weakened the ability of the workers and oppressed to resist collectively? The weight of local situations? Social emergencies which cannot be channeled into a long-term political struggle and whose outcome remains unpredictable? Why does the sympathy manifested by the people not translate into active participation?

3) What is the weight of the “traditions of struggle” that existed before the birth of the Movement of 20 February? How is it that they were so ill-prepared for the political struggles of the masses? Is it due to the weakness of the organisations, none of which has a real popular implantation, or who did not know how, because of the history of their tactics and actions, how to foster real prolonged popular actions which go beyond the traditional activist networks?

4) What is the impact of the regional situation, in the sense of struggles against dictators which has not necessarily ended in the fall of dictatorships (even if the tyrant falls, like in Tunisia or Egypt)? What is the effect of repressive wars against popular uprisings?

5) What to make of the fact that the regime is not only wielding the carrot and the stick; but in fact has a broad base of support?

And beyond an analysis of “objective conditions”, what was the effect of the forms of struggle and organisation used by the movement, and its political platforms, in the social weight it achieved?

Did not the policy of concentrating on the demand for a democratic constitution and the struggle against corrupt statesmen, give rise to a broad perception of the Movement of 20 February as being mainly oriented towards reform or changing institutions and personnel rather than changing the daily, concrete conditions of life and work of the immense majority? The correct and legitimate position of boycotting the referendum on the constitution and the elections which formed the core of the activity of the movement from February to November 2011left little place for social questions and support of bread-and-butter struggles.

The platform and slogans adopted, while they may have allowed for partial unity of organised groups, did they allow for popular unity in action? Did they allow the movement to address sacked workers? To the unemployed without degrees whose numbers are legion? To peasants who have no land to survive on? To the millions of people who live in shanty towns or who are unable to pay their rent? To millions of women who are prisoners of the patriarchy and whose desire for equality was only given consideration after Al Adl Wal Ihsan left the movement? Was it enough to demand social justice, or to proclaim that we are poor because of thieves? Is there not a need for concrete social demands, based on figures which show that a different distribution of wealth is possible, in the manner which the admittedly timid “Stop TGV” campaign has done?

Is not the political platform too defensive? A democratic constitution – but to what end? Demanding a popular, democratic, revolutionary government based on the mobilisations of the people is easier to understand and shows a perspective for taking power, whereas the demand for a constitution does not, and it appears too elitist, leaving unanswered the question of who should rule the country, who should decide and control.

Has not the movement had difficulty in linking itself to other social movements and concrete popular struggles? Certainly there is today a call for the coming-together of movements. But is a call enough to construct a front of struggle? Why is it an issue of a “co-ordination” of movements rather than their integration into the Movement of 20 February? If we take the example of [the town of] Taza, there was broad solidarity against the repression which took place there. But the point is not only to mount a mass campaign for the release of political prisoners in Taza but also to give national visibility to concrete local questions such as jobs and low wages, and the right to housing. And furthermore, how to tie links between the movement of unemployed graduates and the movements of the unemployed more broadly? The course of the democratic struggle will be decided by the responses to these questions.

A “profile” centred on social questions implies creativity in forms of organisation and action. There is a need to reflect on the forms of organisation which would allow the movement to root itself in the daily life of working-class districts and workplaces; and to move beyond the current form of organisation in creating committees of popular struggle which aim to be active in all the theatres of conflict, local and national; to orient part of the activity of the committees to aid on day-to-day issues, not in the manner of Islamist clientilism, but in a project of concrete solidarity which speaks to people and gives a greater social and moral legitimacy to the movement.

The movement, while keeping it mass and peaceful character, must be at the heard of the confrontations which are taking place today and which will develop; and which, far from being simple riots, show a will to defend people’s rights to the end, including by self defence, in the face of the barbarism of the forces of order and repression.

The demonstrations are reaching their limits. There is a need to imagine forms of occupation which aim to give mass support to current struggles and set up new campaigns. It is possible to go beyond demonstrations which we know are not sufficient to change the balance of forces.

Can we move towards new forms of trade union struggle which advance the common interests of workers, eliminate bureaucratic blockages, and combine specific demands with the need for a general response to policies which are hostile to the people?

Many other questions could be posed, but the key thing is to debate, not just the gains of the movement which we all recognise, but the road which remains to be travelled. It will not simply be a matter of linear growth of the movement, because the movement aims to stay for the long haul. We cannot ignore the fact that the conditions for a new cycle of mobilisations exist, which are developing independently of the movement of 20 February; or the fact that a political awareness is developing of the regime’s opposition to all popular demands and that the regime only knows the language of repression. This cycle will be born of the deepening of the social crisis and the major effects of capitalism’s policies of crisis management. A popular eruption is being prepared and its roots are broader than the Movement of 20 February and they concern the still-silent majority, which struggles in a different way to the M20F. Preparing the future is also a matter of understanding that the paths of the struggle are many and that contradictions can arise unexpectedly. There is a need for clarity on the objectives and methods of struggle, in order to see the path ahead.