The blogger and novelist Marcel Côté calls himself partial to "marginal neighborhoods and poor countries," though none of the places he's lived in, with one exception, rates as either poor or marginal (Ohio, New Mexico, North Carolina, San Francisco, New York, Paris).
The exception is Morocco, to which he devotes most of Eatbees, his blog--including, earlier this month, as good a brief sum-up of Morocco as I've read recently. Morocco has just finished celebrating the 10th anniversary of Mohammed VI's benevolent tyranny. Compared with Hassan II, his brutal and megalomaniac predecessor, Mohammed is usually portrayed as kinder and gentler, though in the end an authoritarian, undemocratic regime, no matter how kind and gentle, is by definition illegitimate and repressive. So it is with Mohammed VI (as his occasional forays into enthusiastic repression show).
Here's Eatbees' somewhat more indulgent take:
When I reflect on the stuckness of Morocco I reflect on two things: the political and economic system, and the mentality of the people. It’s true that there is ongoing development on a material level, development that is visible, particularly in the major cities: new highways, communications infrastructure, commercial and residential buildings, resorts and spas, improved public spaces, a major port in Tangier. However, it must be said that no development takes place in Morocco unless it benefits the political and economic elite and further enhances their position. Their monopoly over the life of the nation is clear, and ultimately it all flows back to “la volonté du roi” who in addition to being the constitutional center of decision making in Morocco, controls massive private interests at all levels of the Moroccan economy, even down to the manufacture of cooking oil or the handing out of taxi medallions (grimas) as a perk of personal privilege. As far as the mentality of the people is concerned, it seems that however much they may complain, most are easily distracted into acts of personal desperation, hedonism, or advantage-seeking within the existing system, rather than engaging in the more difficult task of collective self-criticism and building a better world, which would entail at least the risk of crossing the famous “lignes rouges.” As a result, after venting their frustration for a few minutes they lapse into the default mode of quiet resignation, and the cycle of “fear and ignorance,” as a friend put it, continues undisturbed.
Reading that bit I was reminded of the opening lines of Conversation in the Cathedral, the 1969 novel of Peru by the great Mario Vargas Llosa: "From the doorway of La Cronica Santiago looks at the Avenida Tacna without love: cars, uneven and faded buildings, the gaudy skeletons of posters floating in the mist, the gray midday. At what precise moment had Peru f*** itself up?"
- Eatbees Blog
- Morocco's Democracy Mirage
- Morocco: Country profile
- Morocco Targets Shiites and Homosexuals
- Morocco's King Hassan II Mosque of Megalomania
- Maya Angelou in Morocco: Tea and "Cockroaches"
- Morocco's TelQuel Takes on the Koran