THE Moroccan crisis, which reached its climax in the period between the overthrow of the Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Yussef on August 20, 1953, and the recognition by the French Government of his restoration on November 6, 1955, has in reality existed in a more or less acute form for the past 20 years. In 1934, the year in which France completed her occupation of Morocco, a group of native intellectuals drew up a "Plan for Moroccan Reforms" which they submitted to the French Premier. In it they denounced the Protectorate policy as racially and fiscally unjust, obscurantist, anti-liberal, colonialist and assimilationist. They demanded that the system of direct administration be abolished, that the country be administered "in the spirit of Moroccan unity" and that substantial numbers of Moroccan natives be included in all administrative councils. They proclaimed that the rôle of the protecting Power should be limited to that of technical adviser until such time as the protected country should be capable of governing itself.
These demands were regarded as revolutionary and their advocates as seditious. Yet in reality they did no more than seek to restore the true purpose of the Protectorate, which had legally established control but not direct administration. Propaganda in favor of reform, limited at first to the middle classes in the cities, spread to the workers and thence throughout the country to the farthest reaches of the Berber mountains. The administration, instead of trying to canalize the movement by satisfying at least some of its demands, chose to regard the "évolués" (the term used to describe the more advanced native elements) as upstarts without a following, and proclaimed itself the defender of the real interests of the Moroccan people, disregarding political reality and limiting itself to purely material considerations.
But the social conditions under which the country had been colonized made it just as impossible to satisfy its material as its political aspirations. This situation had its roots in the basic structure of the Protectorate. The traditional régime Makhzen, as the government was called. He was determined that "people and things should remain as they were, that those born to power should continue to command and the rest obey." The Makhzen remained a tightly-closed caste, and the feudal régime of the caids and pashas continued in force throughout the country. The great caids of the Atlas, notably el Glaoui, were able to assure France of the adherence of the South, thanks to the almost regal powers they exercised over immense territories and their right to coerce, imprison or even execute their subjects with impunity.
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