Morocco: Problems of New Power. 

I. WILLIAM ZARTMAN. New York: Atherton Press, 1964. ix, 276 pp., 2 maps, index, 8 tables. $7.95. (The American Association for Middle East Studies Series.)


Reviewed by CLIFFORD GEERTZ, University of Chicago



Professor Zartman, a political scientist, regards the functional and institutional approaches to the study of government current in his field as "unhelpful," "mislead­ ing," "inappropriate," and "suggestive of normative judgments about institutions not yet established" when applied to the study of developing countries, where governmental life has not yet settled into "comfortable patterns." In place of these, he employs, in this interesting and informative study of political process in independent Morocco, what he calls "the decision making approach," a form of analysis in which the units of investigation are neither governmental structures nor political functions but concrete national problems.


He selects five such problems faced by the Government of the late King Mohammed V between 1956 and 1961 and traces the stages through which the attempts to resolve them passed. Of the five, "the military problem," a study of the organization of the Moroccan army, is far and away the best and in fact one of the most useful empirical case histories of the evolution of military policy in a new state yet to appear. Zartman's description of the integration of irregular resistance forces into the Royal Army and the establishment by the then-Crown Prince and now King, Hassan II, of firm palace control o\oe.r it is incisive and comprehensive. Perhaps the least effective of the studies is "the economic problem," a case history of agrarian reform which is hampered by a lack of detailed knowledge of Moroccan agriculture as such and by a neglect of ecological and economic considerations which, taken together, give the discussion of policy deliberations a formalistic, rather disembodied air. A "diplomatic problem" (the evacuation of American bases), a "social problem" (Arabization of primary and secondary education), and a "political problem" (the organization of elections) complete the work, along with a suggestive, but rather too brief concluding theoretical chapter on "Evolution and Decision Making." In this last, Zartman outlines four characteristics of the decision making process in Morocco and, beyond it, of developing societies generally: (1) problems for decision are chosen in reaction to extra-governmental pressures and solutions to them thus go no further than is necessary to assuage that pressure; (2) inertia and conflicting pressures within Government foster inaction and so decisions tend to be shaped more by the course of events than by deliberate governmental actions: (3) decisions are taken seriatim and in independence of one another rather than in the context of long term political aims and perspectives; and (4) decisions tend to be based on symbols and problems are thus more often ideologically exorcised than actually resolved.


That Zartman is justified in holding the "decision making approach" to be the only valid one for the analysis of new nations politics seems doubtful. But he has demonstrated eminently its usefulness as one approach among others, and, especially if read in conjunction with Douglas Ashford's more institutionally-oriented and more deeply probing Political Change in Morocco, Morocco: Problems of New Power forms an excellent introduction to the governmental style of the at once very "old" and very "new" Moroccan monarchy since it regained its independence nine years ago.



Book Review, in: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Feb., 1965), pp. 197-198.


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