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  • Powerful assemblages in the Rif

  • By : Ghally Rhannou, researcher in political anthropology and an activist based in Morocco

     

    ملخص

     

    الاحتجاج الفجائي أو ما عرف ب"الشن الطن" سمة ميزت حراك الريف. تختار مجموعة من الأشخاص ساحة عمومية أو شارعا يعرف برواجه ليرددوا شعارات الحركة : "لا للعسكرة"، "الحرية للمعتقلين السياسيين". بالمغرب، جرت العادة بالنسبة للحركات السياسية المعارضة أن تفاجئ السلطات بأحداث غير مخطط لها. بالمقابل، سرعان ما أصبحت ممارسة "الشن الطن" نموذج الفعل الوحيد من نوعه في "الحراك" وتوقف انعقاد الجموع العامة ابتداءا من يناير 2017. على ضوء الأعمال الاثنوغرافية التي قادها كل من الصميلي والساخي (2017) والمنشورة في مجلة تحرريات الالكترونية، تتساءل هذه المقالة حول قيمة الممارسات التلقائية في السياسة. من الممكن استشفاف أن التلقائية لعبت دورا حاسما في المقاومة وإضفاء الشرعية للحراك. ظهرت فائدة التلقائية بشكل خاص لتكشف تفوق اجتماعية الحراك على سياسات نزع الشرعية التي نهجتها الدولة.

     

    Résumé

     

    La manifestation spontanée ou chen-ten est une marque distinctive du mouvement de contestation al-Hirak. Un groupe de personnes choisit une place publique ou une rue fréquentée et entonne les slogans du mouvement : "Non à la militarisation !" ; "Liberté pour les prisonniers politiques !" Au Maroc, il est habituel pour les mouvements politiques d’opposition de prendre par surprise les autorités par des événements non planifiés. Cependant, la pratique du chen-ten devient rapidement la seule modalité d’action d’Al-Hirak et les assemblées de ce mouvement cessent d’être tenues dès Janvier 2017. A l’appui des travaux ethnographiques sur al-Hirak conduits par Esmili et Sakhi (2017) et publié sur Taharouryat, cet article s’interroge sur la valeur des pratiques spontanées en politique. Au fil de l’analyse, il est possible d’entrevoir que le spontané a joué un rôle décisif dans la résistance et la légitimité d’al-Hirak. Le spontané s’est révélé particulièrement utile pour révéler la supériorité de la socialité du mouvement sur les politiques de contention et de délégitimation de l’Etat.

     

     

     

    Abstract

     

    Spontaneous demonstrations or chen-ten is a distinctive feature of the protest movement al-Hirak in the Rif region of Morocco. A group of persons choose a public square or a street, usually crowded, and shout al-Hirak slogans : “No to the militarisation !” ; “Freedom for the political prisoners !” Surprising the authorities with unplanned events is a common tactic used by Moroccan political opposition groups. However, the chen-ten grew rapidly as the stand-alone modality of action of the movement and assemblies stopped to be held from January 2017. Drawing from the ethnographic work on al-Hirak conducted by Esmili and Sakhi (2017) and published in Taharouryat, this article investigates the value of spontaneous practices in politics. Throughout the analysis, one can glimpse that the spontaneous played a decisive role in the resistance and legitimacy of al-Hirak. The spontaneous was particularly useful to reveal the superiority of the sociality of the movement over the policies of containment and delegitimization operated by the state.

     

    As soon as you hear a voice, you go out

     

    “We continued our peaceful protests. The authorities kept watching us, and began trying to close public squares. So, we invented something called ‘chen-ten’ ; it’s Irifiyen Tamazight slang word for ‘sudden speed’. Al-Zafzafi used the term to describe gathering people quickly – in about half hour – through his live videos. (…) Al-Zafzafi succeeded. Everyone left whatever they were doing for the streets, to start the protest march : Men and women, including housewives and old people ; the young ; rich or poor ; educated and illiterate, practicing Muslims and non-practicing Muslims, and people of different ideologies. It is a people’s voice, al-Hirak, the Movement, or Anhezzi, as it’s called in our language.”(Hayns 2017a)

     

    The chen-ten is a distinctive feature of the protest movement al-Hirak in the Rif region of Morocco. A group of persons choose a public square or a street, usually crowded, and shout al-Hirak slogans : “No to the militarisation !” ; “Freedom for the political prisoners !” At the same time, lives videos are broadcasted in social networks to call supporters to join the action. City centres in the Rif are densely populated and, in few minutes, a spontaneous demonstration occupies the area : “The phenomenon of chen-ten for this is incredible, in five minutes, you can mobilize 15 or 20,000 people. As soon as you hear a voice, you go out !” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017c). The protest gathers all categories of people : activists, passing-by supporters as well as taxi drivers and neighbouring shop keepers. Police usually intervene and are effective in dispersing a good number of protesters. Meanwhile, another group may have started a chen-ten in another area (Esmili and Sakhi 2017a).

     

    In October 2016, the death of a fish vendor in al-Hoceima during a police arrest triggered a wave of protests across the country. Popular anger persisted and developed into al-Hirak, a protest movement demanding for social justice in the Rif region (the demands focus on health, education and cultural rights). Protests organized by the movement were systematically prohibited by the authorities. In the course of 2017, police vehicles stationed permanently in the public squares of al-Hoceima and its neighbouring towns in the objective to contain public gatherings. Roads and train stations were regularly blocked to prevent supporters from joining demonstrations. Activists reported that 25,000 police officers were assigned to the region (Esmili and Sakhi 2017c).

     

    Challenged by police repression, activists of al-Hirak thought of the chen-ten as a way to surprise the police and voice their claims in the public space, preferably in strategic parts of city centres. Surprising the authorities with unplanned events is a common tactic used by Moroccan political opposition groups. During the 20th February Movement (2011), activists organized unplanned demonstrations, open debates and street theatre in city centres of Rabat and Casablanca to avoid systematic prohibition (Esmili and Sakhi 2017b).

     

    However, the distinctive feature of al-Hirak is that the chen-ten grew rapidly as the stand-alone modality of action of the movement. Assemblies stopped to be held from the beginning of 2017 when the movement gained in size and popularity. This is different from the 20thFebruary Movement, which regularly organized local assemblies. In al-Hirak, formal meetings were rare. They wereheld exclusively to write down the demands of the movement (March 5th) and organise mass demonstrations (June 18th).The only organisational feature of al-Hirak is the Committee for media and communication, focusing on sharing information with the supporters and the public. The practices of al-Hirak, focusing on spontaneity and escaping the decisions of assemblies, resonate with the practices of 2011 protest movements in Egypt. Protesters occupying Tahrir square had no leadership, no demands articulated with individual interests and no identity (Khanna 2012).

     

    Nonetheless, al-Hirak defined the political time of Morocco over the year 2017 as well as the occupation of Tahrir square has defined the political time of Egypt and the world in 2011 (Badiou 2012). Over the year, the demonstrations organized by the movement attracted large numbers of supporters from all regions (for example, the 20th July demonstration to commemorate the battle of Annual, victory of the Irifiyen resistance over the Spanish colonialism in 1921). Last April, the Moroccan government accused the movement of separatism before attempting to calm popular anger. On the evening of July 1st 2017, the Head of government acknowledged that the accusation of separatism was a “mistake” during a live interview focusing on the protests broadcasted on the two principal TV stations (Telquel 2017). King Mohamed VI’s yearly public address on July 30th held to commemorate his accession to the throne focused on the inability of political parties to govern the country. As usual, he pardoned a number of prisoners, among them a dozen of al-Hirak activists (Errazzouki 2017).

     

    Unruly politics

     

    The spontaneous is not unprecedented in political action. Riots, proceeding from instinctive feeling and arising from momentary impulses, at the least seemingly, are common place in history. However, the value of the spontaneous in politics is still underestimated by academics interested in power and politics and the engaged citizen. The latter focuses on organizing well planned debates or public campaigns to raise an issue in the political sphere, while al-Hirak in Morocco and the 2011 uprisings in Egypt are pointing at the decisive role of the spontaneous in politics. This is not to say that forms of citizen engagement in a structured and coherent manner have no impact, but that they do not constitute the unique way of engagement. In times of fear and oppression, the spontaneous may constitute the only way of engagement. In other instances, engagement with the state in a legal manner to represent collective interests come alongside spontaneous direct action.

     

    In a broader focus, the recent uprisings and instances of citizen action, in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as in Europe and the United states, tell us that there is a crisis in the way politics are, and that we need new ways of understanding and engaging political action (Khanna 2012). At the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex, United Kingdom), I am part of a research group formed in 2011 to appreciate instances of “unruly politics”. In this perspective, we collected a body of literature at the crossings of philosophy, anthropology and political science. The following is a quote from our initial work, framing what is meant by unruly politics :

     

    “Unruly politics, as we define it, is political action by people who have been denied voice by the rules of the political game, and by the social rules that underpin this game. It draws its power from transgressing these rules while at the same time upholding others, which may not be legally sanctioned but which have legitimacy, deeply rooted in people’s own understandings of what is right and just. This preoccupation with social justice distinguishes these forms of political action from the banditry or gang violence with which threatened autocrats wilfully try to associate them.” (Shankland et al. cited in Khanna 2012).

     

    At first, this definition underlines that unruly political subjects are those who take part in a game they are excluded from, by transgressing its very rules (Rancière 2001). The second crucial aspect is that unruly politics triggers direct support because it points at the fact that the human being is indeed capable of social justice. Unruly protests are universal, not because they represent a majority, but because no one can deny that it does not represent them (Badiou 2012). The last part of the quote introduces how discourses of delegitimization of the powerful are countervailed by the prescriptive universality of unruly politics. Our definition of unruly politics already sheds some light on the possible value of the spontaneous in politics : on one hand, the spontaneous is an opportunity to transgress the rules of the political game for those usually excluded and, on the other hand, it might constrain the state to become subject to social discourses of justice (Khanna 2011).

     

    Drawing from our literature on unruly politics and the ethnographic work on al-Hirak conducted by conducted by Esmili and Sakhi (2017) and published in Taharouryat (www.taharour.org), I will further investigate the value of the spontaneous in citizen action. I will first investigate how the subjective proper to spontaneity was valuable for making the protest movement pervasive and enduring in times of oppression. In the second part of the essay, I will consider how the improvised and impulsive practices of the movement were essential in building its legitimacy. Ultimately, I will question how the spontaneous in al-Hirak contributed to transform Irifiyen people’s perceptions of politics.

     

    Al-Hirak will make the state mad

     

    Al-Hirak, like most protest movements, is an opportunity for those usually excluded to invade the political sphere and express dissent. Al-Hirak accumulated grievances from three forms of exclusions : social, like the bread riots in June 1981 and December 1990 ; political, similarly to the 20th February Movement in 2011 ; and cultural, deriving both from a regional pride associated with the resistance led by Abd-El-Krim against the Spanish colonialism, and from a historical malaise towards the state, originating from the severe repression of Irifiyen uprisings led by the previous King of Morocco in 1959 (Monjib 2017). One al-Hirak activist argues that : “All this (the protest movement al-Hirak) is the product of the public policies applied in the region. They owe us sixty years of development, sixty years of marginalization ! (…) How will they pay off their debt ?” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017c). Thus, al-Hirak served to make the “unaccounted for” visible to society (Rancière 2001 : 5).

     

    However, as a result of celebrating spontaneity with the practice of chen-ten and the absence of leadership, al-Hirak championed in the emergence of unaccounted parts. In the absence of a leadership to decide on when, where and how to act, all actions of the movement held on the subjective perceptions of the supporters. Drawing from their particular resources (among them the new discursive conditions offered by social networks) and grievances, various groups organised numerous actions in the time, the place and the form of their choice in the course of 2017 (Esmili and Sakhi 2017a). Activist A. narrates how the absence of organisation ensured the continuity of action : “The brother Nasser (Nasser Zefzafi is one of the leaders of the movement - he is considered as a symbolic leader) said ‘immouzza’, meaning al-Hirak will make the Makhzen (the state) mad. The Committee for media and communication has stopped (because its members are arrested), but there are still press releases !” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017c).

     

    Thus, on the one hand, the subjective actions of al-Hirak supporters opened up the Rif region to the movement : towns and city centres were permanent spaces of potential demonstrations. On the other hand, promoting subjective politics in the movement helped in sustaining direct action in the long-term despite state repression and attempts of containment. Holding on the multiple grievances accumulated towards the state, political subjectivities proper to the spontaneous in al-Hirak harassed the state under multiple beams of visibility, rather than the subject being an object of constant examination of power structures (Foucault 1975).

     

    Moreover, as subjective and singular as the grievances may be, the fact that they were all bound to one cause made each of them significant and powerful. Unity of singular grievances was promoted by al-Hirak leaders who regularly participated in local protests of the Rif region. Al-Hirak supporters use the term “hajj” - Muslim pilgrimage to mecca - to label the visits. Numerous movements in the region and beyond rallied al-Hirak over the year 2017 (like the movement against land expropriations in Telarouak) (Esmili and Sakhi2017c).

     

    The q’asam (oath) is a crucial feature of al-Hirak which ritualized the marriage of subjective experiences with the cause ofthe Rif. Voiced collectively at each action of the movement, the oath holds its bearer to not betray, bargain and sell the cause of the Rif :

     

    “I swear by Allah the very high and the most powerful (three times)

    That we will not betray

    That we will not bargain

    That we will not sell

    Our cause

    Even if it costs us our lives

    Long live the Rif (three times)

    Let no one live who betrays him (three times)” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017a)

     

    Celebrating Irifiyen identity, the q’asam worked to unite subjective experiences under the banner of the Rif in the spontaneous. An activist interviewed reports that when his younger brother joins action, he “leaves without worrying about the consequences, without waiting for something special, autonomous, just because he has taken the oath” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017a). During the month of Ramadan, repression of public gatherings reached unprecedented levels. In order to continue direct action, supporters of al-Hirak drummed cooking pans (tant’na) on their rooftops to voice their solidarity with the political prisoners (Esmili and Sakhi 2017b). At this point, al-Hirak was considered by observers as a total movement (Hayns 2017b). 

     

    Hence, the pervasiveness of the protests in the public space and the sustainability of action was ensured by the association of subjective experiences with the cause of the Rif in the spontaneous. In al-Hirak, the celebration of subjectivity with unity in the spontaneous served in creating powerful political assemblages resisting to procedures of partition, verticality and separation operated by power structures (Foucault 1975).

     

    It is a people’s voice

     

    In the objective to resist repression and attempts of containment, powerful assemblages of the spontaneous served as a privileged modality of action in al-Hirak. In the interview quoted earlier, activist Yassmin B. highlights that whenever a chen-ten was organized “Everyone left whatever they were doing (…) : Men and women, including housewives and old people ; the young ; rich or poor ; educated and illiterate, practicing Muslims and non-practicing Muslims, and people of different ideologies. It is a people’s voice (…)” (Hayns 2017a). Similarly, anonymous activist A. narrates the protests of al-Hirak as an exceptional moments in which hierarchies are effaced : « Here in Imzouren, you can find a bourgeois who has billions of projects, he closes his shops and participates to the movement. He earns absolutely nothing with al-Hirak, but here we still have this spirit of unity. We say, as Irifiyen, “Tamounit” or “Amouni”, that is to say unity. We still feel as a whole. » (Esmili and Sakhi 2017a).

     

    The two activists indicate that the practice of chen-tenin al-Hirak reunited Irifiyen together beyond social status and differences of the everyday. For Yassmin B., the chen-ten worked as the “voice” of a silenced Irifiyen sociality. Somehow, as if Irifiyen were dislocated in the everyday but intuitively reunited in improvised direct action. For its supporters, spontaneous assemblages in al-Hirak are doing more than demanding for social justice : they represent a generic idea of what is the Irifiyen people (Badiou 2012). Irifiyen name the movement “al-hirak al-chaabi” (the popular movement) or “al-hirak mobarak moqaddas” (the sacred and blessed Hirak).

     

    The spontaneous in al-Hirak was blessed to the extent that it improvised moral and social values superior to political authority. Women played an important role in direct action of the movement. When the police are expected to intervene, women take place in the front of the march to prevent violence. Male members of the police usually refrain from using violence against them and thus the protest remains impermeable. In one case of chen-ten narrated by Esmili and Sakhi in Taharouryat, the sudden intervention of a large group of women impeached the brutal intervention of the police. The police were encircling the small protest but refrained to use violence and negotiated with the protesters (Esmili and Sakhi 2017a).

     

    On those instances, the practice of chen-ten celebrated the role of women as protectors of moral values. Women’s actions in the protest, while contributing to undermine state attempts of containment, transformed an unruly riot into a “sample of the generic being of a people” (Badiou 2012 : 91). The act of restraint by male members of the police itself asserts that the value of public order imposed by the state is inferior to the value of the woman’s sacred body pertaining to Moroccan society. When police officers restrained from using violence against women, they acknowledged the superiority of sacredness pertaining to sociality over the sacredness of the political (Agamben 1998).

     

    Furthermore, Irifiyen identity is pervasive in the practices of al-Hirak. Abd-El-Krim, a historical Irifiyen political leader who succeeded to unite all tribes against the Spanish colonizer and to establish the short-lived Rif Republic (1921 – 1926), is venerated in the protests and the YouTube videos of Nasser Zefzafi. One slogan chanted (in tarifit) during the protests is :

     

    By the force of our hands

    our sun (Abd-El-Krim)

    we will raise him

    high in the sky.

    (...)” (Monjib 2017)

     

    Unique but voiced collectively at each improvised action, the q’asam has the quality to bind singular protests to the generic idea of Irifiyen unity beyond all differences : “I swear by Allah (…) That we will not betray (…) Our cause (…) Long live the Rif” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017a). In fact, in times of state repression and containment, the q’asam in impulsive political acts achieved more than a simple binding between the subjective experience and the cause : it declared the superiority of the cause over the sovereignty of the Moroccan state in enforcing public order. Improvised and impulsive protests may be legally prohibited and repressed, but they had to continue to preserve the cause of the Irifiyen.

     

    Moreover, it is possible to say that pacifism ruled in unplanned protests of all size despite police repression and a number of cases of violence. The pacific practices of spontaneous politics in al-Hirak parallel with the rule-bound behaviour prevailing in the bread riots analysed by E.P. Thompson in 18th Century England. In those riots, disciplined mobs undertook to “set the price” of bread : “It is the restraint, rather than the disorder which is remarkable” (Thompson 1971 : 112). Similarly, ruliness was central to the practices of Occupy LSX and during the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt in 2011 (Shankland et al. cited in Khanna 2012).

     

    The pacific practices of legally prohibited protests in al-Hirak served to evidence that morality is contained in the social movement and not in the state (Khanna 2012). While the government and the media were leading public campaigns accusing al-Hirak of separatism and presenting its leaders as terrorists and dangerous elements, police repression and containment of pacific citizen actions indicated that it is actually the state that may be dangerous. One key slogan of al-Hirak is : “Are you a government or a gang ?” Pacifism in al-Hirak countervailed the attempts of the state to assimilate the movement and its leaders to delinquents. Ruliness of spontaneous politics in al-Hirak worked against strategies of differential management of illegalisms operated by power structures (Foucault 1975).

     

    The sacredness of the woman’s body, the sublimation of Irifiyen unity and the ruliness performed in the spontaneous have all in common the quality to produce a moral economy crucial in undermining the legitimacy of political authority. These features in improvised protests of al-Hirak sustained “something eternal, in the form of an active correspondence, whose power is dictatorial, between the universality of the Idea and the singular detail of the site and circumstances.” (Badiou 2012 : 90-91). In times of repression, the spontaneous holds the potency to bear the mark of a prescriptive universality so essential in delegitimizing the powerful.

     

    Just stones between us

     

    To the Irifiyen, the prescriptive universality of al-Hirak was dazzling to the extent that they saw in it what was not in the state and in formal politics. The spontaneous, with the practice of chen-ten and the absence of general assemblies, served to cut clear with the state and standard forms of politics, that al-Hirak supporters considered “the cause of corruption and fragmentation of society” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017b). Nasser Zefzafi regularly accused formal political organisations and “toughened” activists of trying to manipulate the movement. He labelled them “political shops”, a term common in the narratives of al-Hirak supporters (Esmili and Sakhi 2017b). When political parties and civil society actors attempted a mediation with al-Hirak activists, the latter opposed any relation with the “political shops” and required to speak directly with the King (Mouna et al. 2017).

     

    However, while cutting clear with formal politics, the spontaneous in al-Hirak made direct action commonplace and served to reconcile Irifiyen to the very idea of politics. In Morocco, political behaviours are shaped by the fear towards a hypertrophied and castrating centre of power (labelled the Makhzen, constituted of the King, top civil servants, notables and other members of the establishment) and a disavowal towards the parliamentary system, considered powerless (Bennani Chraïbi 1994). More generally, in the political imaginaries of the youth, feelings of exclusion, isolation and apathy are omnipresent (Bennani Chraïbi 1994).

     

    Thus, the casual and impulsive nature of the chen-ten in al-Hirak helped in reshaping Irifiyen’s feelings and behaviours towards the centre of power. Generally, the movement succeeded in maintaining pacific action throughout the struggle and Nasser Zefzafi urged to respect this principle in most of his videos. Nonetheless, between April and June 2017, violence did happen when popular anger as well as state repression reached high levels. Commenting on a group of young protesters organizing one more chen-ten and confronting the police until late in the evening, an al-Hirak activist said : "They must stop now, the protest is a strategic action, and we shall not undermine it with childish attempts. When people are less, we shall not continue” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017b). It is reported that groups of young men engaged direct confrontation with the police. On these occasions, some activists were shouting : “Pacifism, it’s over !” (El Yadari and Witter 2017). Activist A. narrates one evening of confrontation with the police : 

     

    “It was March 26th, a Sunday. There was a demonstration organized by the student movement, they were repressed at Boukidar on the way to al-Hoceima, then on their way back to Imzouren again. They were young children, and these confrontations were a butchery (…) (when) the police left their areas of residence, what do you want to happen ? It’s obvious that the kids were going to throw stones, one burned a car and the fire spread to the police residence.”(Esmili and Sakhi 2017c)

     

    On those evenings, young Irifiyen trivialized and intensified to its utmost experiences of dissent towards the state. Danger and intensification of danger are characteristics of liminal experiences. Liminal experiences in initiation rites, of being at the margins, in contact with danger and outside or at the peripheries of the everyday life, prompt the initiated to test and push their limits of social and territorial freedom (Alves 1993 citing Turner 1974). For young activists of al-Hirak, the impulsive and casual protests acted out liminal experiences : the very fact of surpassing their powerful feelings of fear while confronting the police challenged the way they usually behave towards the state.

     

    Alternatively, the casual in the political practices of al-Hirak worked as well to question violent behaviours towards the state prevailing within Irifiyen communities. One activist declared : “In the Hirak, we claimed our pacifism. Here in Imzouren and its surroundings, there are the most authentic Irifiyen, people who cannot get along with the Makhzen, no dialogue, just stones between us ! This Hirak, thanks to activists like Nasser Zefzafi, removed the stone : when you see people of Imzouren near a police officer without anything happening, you know that this is a sacred Hirak.” (Esmili and Sakhi 2017c). In those communities, the casual nature of action in al-Hirak rationalized violent behaviours.

     

    The casual and impulsive in the spontaneous worked in different ways : in making direct action towards the state commonplace and in building new models of pacific behaviours. One way or the other, may it be less fear or more rationality, the spontaneous in al-Hirak transformed people’s appreciation of their acts of resistance (McGee 2016). In times of resentment towards formal politics and the state, the spontaneous in al-Hirak harboured new ways of doing politics and modalities of state-citizen interactions.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Recently, al-Hirak has faced several waves of arbitrary imprisonments. The Moroccan Association for Human Rights speaks of more than three hundred persons detained (Hachlaf 2017). Nasser Zafzafi and other leaders of the movement face severe charges (threat to national security, conspiracy and threat to the King’s legitimacy) and His Majesty’s prosecutor appealed for the death penalty. Meanwhile, 30 al-Hirak detainees were on hunger strike in September 2017 (Huffpost 2017). Dispossessed of their leaders and harassed by police raffles, al-Hirak activists do not organise chen-tens as regularly as they used to do. For many, after 10 months of resistance, the struggle is not anymore about practicing the value of the spontaneous in politics, it became a question of life and death. 

     

    The practice of chen-ten in al-Hirak encourages to investigate the value of the spontaneous in politics. The practice of chen-ten did not simply serve for the “unaccounted parts” to surprise the police or the citizen in the public space, as the practices of happening or flash-mob in other contexts would do, but served to harass the state under multiples beams of political subjectivities. When coupled with the ritual of q’asam, the chen-ten created powerful political assemblages resisting to procedures of containment and division operated by the state.

     

    The spontaneous in al-Hirak was more than an account of untenable scarcities or singular, subjective, intensified grievances. The spontaneous unveiled the superiority of sociality over the political. When women took part in the spontaneous protests, improvised scenes performed the sacredness pertaining to sociality while with holding the sacredness of the political. When impulsive slogans for a united Rif were chanted instinctively in the prohibited chen-tens, the protesters achieved a form of sovereignty that does not belong to political authority. Similarly, the ruliness of spontaneous protests evidenced a moral economy that nullified the discourses of delegitimization and strategies of management of illegalisms operated by the state.

     

    Ultimately, the spontaneous in al-Hirak reshaped the boundaries of the possible in politics for the Irifiyen. The casual and impulsive nature of protests in al-Hirak intensified and rationalized direct action in the Rif. In times of fear and oppression, the spontaneous transformed people’s conceptions of politics as they experimented new ways of interacting with the state.

     

    In the spontaneous powerful assemblages emerge, unveiling the superiority of sociality over the political and new possible ways of doing politics. Powerful assemblages may be improvised scenes revealing the sovereignty of the social over the political or casual acts transforming people’s appreciation of their acts of resistance, they all have in common that they harbour new ways of making the political. When politics is habituation to go to vote, powerful structures undermine the possibilities of democracy, whereas when politics is construction of symbols and deconstruction of authority, powerful assemblages of the spontaneous enhance the possibilities of democracy.

     

     

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