In the postcolonial era, Arab societies have been ruled by a variety of authoritarian regimes. Focusing on his native Morocco and building on the work of Foucault, the author of this text explores the ideological and cultural foundations of this persistent authoritarianism. Hammoudi argues that at the heart of Moroccan culture lies a paradigm of authority which juxtaposes absolute authority against absolute submission. Rooted in Islamic mysticism, this paradigm can be observed in the drama of mystic initiation, with its fundamental dialectic between "master" and "disciple"; in conflict with other cultural forms, and re-elaborated in colonial and and postcolonial circumstances, it informs all major aspects of Moroccan personal, political and gender relations. According to Hammoudi, its influence is so pervasive and so firmly embedded that it ultimately legitimizes the authoritarian structure of power. Hammoudi contends that, as long as the "master-disciple" dialectic remains the dominant paradigm of power relations, male authoritarianism will prevail as the dominant political form.