CONSCIENCIST FLIGHTS IN CYBERSPACE
ISSUES IN CONSCIENCISM
In this final chapter we reproduce interactions on the internet dealing with notions and attitudes about Consciencism. These have been edited to address the relevant issues. Some of the notions relate to matters of interpretation. Others deal with application of principles of Consciencism in the understanding of African history directed at determining the way forward for progressive forces on the continent. The desire here is to open the floodlights for informed debates that will lead to a consensus on the nature and content of the book, Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation. In all this we have not hidden our preoccupation with a defence of the principles of Consciencism against its revision and/or neglect in the thought and practice of progressive forces on the continent and in the Diaspora entire. Our overriding concern is that the principles of the book be understood and applied in every sphere of human endeavour on the continent and beyond for the analysis of problems and their resolution. Have a happy read.
AN ENCOUNTER WITH KWAMI AGBODZA
LANG NUBUOR: You are not really tired and are enjoying the encounter. You must be really good at taking punches of the academic type. Ha, ha! I know your type is always afraid of bodily punches. Laugh it off.
KWAMI AGBODZA: I am fine and not tired or unrelaxed at all. I am actually enjoying this as I have not had this kind of debate for a long time. I can foretell what the outcome will be when you start punching me by which you mean my position. I am certain I shall defeat you when it comes to ‘Consciencism’. You will not last one round. Lang Nubuor, there are only two philosophies of ‘materialism’ and ‘idealism’ and Nkrumah proposes a third he called ‘philosophical consciencism’ as a synthesis of idealism and materialism.
LANG NUBUOR: You know, when Nkrumah talks of philosophical consciencism he situates it within philosophical materialism. Look at page 84 where he says that ‘Philosophical consciencism, even though deeply rooted in materialism, is not necessarily atheistic’. Throughout the book he combats idealism from the standpoint of materialism. This does not prevent him from being critical of some issues within the materialist school. And that does not position him outside materialism. His criticism of idealism is so devastating that he gives it several disparaging epithets. Consciencism does not and cannot combine idealism and materialism into its definition. You know, within both idealism and materialism there are different strands contesting each other. The most powerful within materialism is Dialectical Materialism which is where Consciencism is situated and based.
KWAMI AGBODZA: Lang Nubuor, FYI, I did not invent the tension around the use of the word ‘socialism’ in Consciencism. It is there. And what Nkrumah meant when he, not Marxists, said ‘socialism’ is also there. The accusation that Nkrumah was not a Marxist until he wrote ‘Class Struggle’ is still with us. The contrary assertion by Pat Sloan that Nkrumah advanced Marxism beyond its common understanding among Idrix Cox and others at the time is also with us. The widespread argument that Nkrumah himself is not even a Marxist I have had the pleasure of engaging a leading activist on in London not too long ago. The argument that ‘Consciencism’ is an idealist piece of work contrary to the conclusion of chapter one of the same is still commonplace. The assertion by leading Nkrumaists to me that Nkrumah was confused when he wrote the illogical ‘Consciencism’ is something I have concretely experienced. My being told in stronger terms than you have put it that the Left in Ghana will never accept Nkrumaism PERIOD is something, again, I have concretely experienced. I therefore put your comments about me in historical and contemporary context.
LANG NUBUOR: Now, I see clearly what your position or rather verdict on Consciencism is. You do not have any sympathies for it. For you, it is ‘illogical’, ‘idealist’ and ‘confused’. You reject it and attribute to it what it combats.
KWAMI AGBODZA: I am inclined to ignore your entire mail because it is rooted in a misunderstanding of my position. I wrote you of my experience. I was telling you the attitude to consciencism in The Ghanaian Left. And yet you claim that is my attitude. This is false.
LANG NUBUOR: Fonye, You said with respect to those claims that 1. ‘The assertion by leading Nkrumaists to me that Nkrumah was confused when he wrote the illogical ‘Consciencism’ is something I have concretely experienced.’ Comment: What is the meaning of ‘I have concretely experienced’? I understand it as confirming ‘the assertion’. It will be strange to say otherwise. The charge of illogicality is here actually coming from you: but the charge of being confused actually is only confirmed by you. Understand this. No other interpretation is earthly possible. 2. ‘My being told in stronger terms than you have put it that the Left in Ghana will never accept Nkrumaism PERIOD is something, again, I have concretely experienced.’ Note: We make the same observation here. I believe you now understand why I think that those views are also yours – that is, you confirm them with your so-called concrete experiences. If it is not so then you must go back to secondary school to improve on your English Comprehension. Fo Kwami, I say your English so bad that you do not understand even what you Yourself say in the language. Again, I ask how can you understand a difficult text like Consciencism when you cannot exactly express yourself?!
KWAMI AGBODZA: Fo Lang Nubuor, It is all a matter of interpretation. (1) ‘The assertion by leading Nkrumaists to me that Nkrumah was confused when he wrote the illogical ‘Consciencism’ is something I have concretely experienced.’ Comment: It means that the leading Nkrumaists asserted to me ‘that Nkrumah was confused when he wrote the illogical ‘Consciencism’’. They said it was illogical. Not me. I am saying that is the experience I had with The Ghana Left. It does not mean that I think it is illogical. (2) ‘My being told in stronger terms than you have put it that the Left in Ghana will never accept Nkrumaism PERIOD is something, again, I have concretely experienced.’ Comment: This means that I was told that ‘the Left in Ghana will never accept Nkrumaism PERIOD’. Again it is the Left said that. Not me. I am saying that is the experience I had with The Ghana Left.
LANG NUBUOR: Kwami, I think you have a problem of exactly expressing yourself. You appear to be the only person that I have known in these decades who constantly pleads not being understood. Look at the labours you are going through in just asking a question in your exchanges with Guy. Please, be patient with yourself.
KWAMI AGBODZA: I do assert here and now Lang Nubuor that I have only met two people in all my life who have actually read Consciencism and mastered it and with whom I have had impressive discussions; I mean read it to master it. As you know, Nkrumah told us to master three books. It is one of them. The other two are Africa Must Unite and Neocolonialism. Why Guy still thinks I have not mastered them, I do not know.
LANG NUBUOR: You see, when you create the impression that you cannot exactly express yourself you set people wondering whether you can understand an undoubtedly difficult text like Consciencism. Your outpouring in your article on Consciencism is a case in point. It is so bad in its understanding of the text that I wondered whether you were commenting on some other book…I concede that it is scarce to meet many of our compatriots who at least appear to have read and understood Consciencism. Unfortunately, I have decided not to send a copy of my ongoing draft of the Manual to you. Else, you would have seen the historical origins of the problem. I am sure you have met many who have told you that they tried to read it but had to stop because it was too difficult for them. To aid continued reading once one starts it and achieving one’s own understanding of it are the inspiration for the Manual. Some friends who have had the opportunity of critically reading it have not only found it readable and useful but also ‘a must finish’. I am encouraged by their constructive criticisms to upgrade the simplicity and mass accessibility of the text for a further widespread understanding of Consciencism.
KWAMI AGBODZA: (Complains to Explo Nani-Kofi and copies to Lang Nubuor): People always question us Ewes about Nyebroism and fail to grasp why we Ewes will at the end of the day call the other Nyebro. I am writing you Fo Nani because you introduced (Lang Nubuor) to me and to tell you at the same time to be very careful, which I know you already are, with the people you are associating with while working on the grassroots. This Lang Nubuor is very rude and very, very, disrespectful; but I took no offence at his misdirected comments… (T)his guy has never engaged me on anything whatsoever; what is more I have never read a single paper from this guy on anything remotely pertaining to the contents of Consciencism. Indeed, he has never out of just courtesy bothered to contact me out of any reservations he may have. I do not even know if he has ever read Consciencism or read it to master it as Nkrumah said we should. And yet he writes uncomplimentary things about me which I have told him I have put into historical and contemporary context. So Fo Kofi, I ask you who is he and how did you know him?
LANG NUBUOR (Explo is silent but Lang Nubuor responds): Fo Kwami, This is not a ‘nyebro’ issue. And for your information, by cultural acquisition I am an associate Ewe. And I’m very proud to declare as such. Your very low level of national consciousness sinks you to the depths of trying to subvert the debate and divert it into a tribal issue. Explo and I have been in the trenches together for over thirty years. It is you that I have to warn Explo about, not vice versa. The issue really has to do with your dishonest handling of the legacy of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. You haven’t seen anything yet! Check from those whom we had to deal with in the 1970s.You say you do not know me, huh? I will chase you wherever you go to.
For your information, I am a Marxist philosopher-historian with the Consciencist orientation. I am committed to Pan-Africanism and Scientific Socialism. I was the General Secretary of the People’s Revolutionary League of Ghana in the 1970s and early 1980s. I hunt for people like you and when I get them I don’t spare them, intellectually speaking. Either you stop inflicting your ignorance and arrogance on the African youth or perpetually find me on your reactionary tails. The issue of the moment is the spiritual rehabilitation of the soul of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah through the exposition of his ideas and ideals after his physical rehabilitation by Kojo T and others. It is a relentless warfare in which we are fighting for the soul of our nation, Africa. It is not a mere academic exercise for the heartless. Whoever tries to create a wedge in our midst is expeditiously descended on. This spiritual warfare is escalating. Sit there and deceive yourself that it is a ‘nyebro’ issue while picking the crumbs from under the neo-colonial dining table.
KWAMI AGBODZA: Fo Lang Nubuor. Let us get one thing clear. When I speak to my fellow Ewes it is ‘a Nyebro issue’. I have no apology there to make. And if it is not the issue, then leave it out even though you may refer to me as ‘Fo’… Already I can see you have an identity problem and unable to just define who you are as an Nkrumaist… You say of yourself: ‘I am a Marxist philosopher-historian with the Consciencist orientation. I am committed to Pan-Africanism and Scientific Socialism.’ Lang Nubuor you have an identity problem. The quote above is meaningless in Consciencism. There is no such thing as Marxism with a Consciencist orientation that is separate from Pan Africanism that is separate from Scientific Socialism.* An Nkrumaist, at least, as Nkrumah himself defines Nkrumaism, just says, if you are one, ‘I am an Nkrumaist’. Marxism is already subsumed in Consciencism, as is Pan Africanism as is Scientific Socialism. You should know that if you intend to write a Manual for Consciencism.
LANG NUBUOR: Well, I have no identity problem. You see, if you are really acquainted with Marxism you will see that Consciencism is a particular application of Marxism in Africa. To claim to be a Marxist with a consciencist orientation is just to say that I am a Consciencist. And if you understand that Consciencism is the philosophy of Nkrumaism then my Nkrumaist status must not be in doubt. Kwami, there is a lot that you need to know. You now make me laugh a lot tonight… Well, I had promised sending to you a copy of an ongoing draft of what I call ‘Manual for the Study of Consciencism’ for a critical input. It is actually not worth it. I am afraid but I had to rescind that decision when I read your failed attempt to revise Consciencism. I would now prefer that if by grace I finish the Manual and have it published you can then offer a public criticism of it. We can then engage from there…The Manual can help in all this but I won’t give it to you.
KWAMI AGBODZA: I fail to see why you would not want me to give you my criticisms of the Manual before it comes out but would like a public criticism? Why do you think I would like to do that? Why should I? What makes you think I take your profession of Consciencism any more seriously than you take mine? … (I)f you want to publish a manual for people to understand ‘Consciencism’, surely that is a good thing. Why say all those uncomplimentary things about me?
LANG NUBUOR: (Silent on the issue.)
KWAMI AGBODZA (He complains again to others and copies to Lang Nubuor): Fo Kofi and Fo Mawuli, I have done some digging around and found the article below (Kwame Nkrumah Saved Ghana from Religious Confusion) authored by Lang Nubuor. It is in response to articles in the Daily Graphic by Ahuman Ocansey. I only occasionally read religious articles on the web. Normally I do not. Ordinarily, for all kinds of reasons, I would not have read an article on Kwame Nkrumah saving Ghana from religious confusion. Frankly, the topic does not interest me. But as it is written by Lang Nubuor who has said so many uncomplimentary things about me, I decided to read it. It is an interesting read. It contains the odd quote here and there that I have read elsewhere. The article has the correct central thrust. Some details are contentious. He even invokes Kofi Batsa in it and makes reference to The Philosophy Club and Nkrumah’s powers. He puts forward a key concept of ‘Integration’ throughout the article at one point asserting ‘Yes, thanks to the integrationist philosophy of Consciencism that informed the ideology.’ And yet no where in Consciencism does Nkrumah say that an integrationist philosophy informs the ideology of consciencism. But this is what Lang Nubuor is saying. Clearly he is interpreting Nkrumah. This is all the more surprising especially as he invokes Kofi Batsa who co-authored Essentials of Nkrumaism.
What struck me however more than anything is this comment by Lang Nubuor: ‘Consciencism is certainly a difficult book to read with the grand author’s assumption that the reader is already in grasp with certain formal principles of Philosophy and Logic. Many read the first few pages and give up. The disturbing issue here is that having given up reading the entire book some of such readers pronounce themselves qualified to pass judgements on it — basing themselves on the pseudo-interpretations of distortionists like the one we have at hand.’ It struck me because I know one or two people who fit this bill. But they do not pass judgements on the book. They simply ignore it. They quote from all of Nkrumah’s books but never the key book Consciencism. What I do not know is the extent to which this section applies to Lang Nubuor himself. What I certainly know is that it cannot refer to me because not only have I read the whole book over and over again, but in the beginning read it for seven months at a stretch in order to master it. And it was the only book I read in the entire seven months. The purpose was to master it…
The other thing that struck me, but with less intensity, is that his interpretation recalls that of a leading Nkrumaist in Ghana who provided a wholly religious interpretation to the mention of Christians, Moslems and Traditional Africa in Consciencism. I shall not be surprised; I am not saying it is, if this is the motivation – a religious interpretation – that informs his rebuttal of Ahuman Ocansey. He says, referring to Nkrumah, ‘Hence he concludes ideologically that we need to build a culture that integrates or harmonizes our experiences of Christianity, Islam and African Tradition. These are religious cultures. Guided by this ideological stance Kwame Nkrumah pursued a cultural environment that integrated or harmonized these cultures.’ But are they just religious cultures? Clearly not!
Nkrumah does not assume these are religious cultures on the basis of which we ought to pursue an integrated or harmonized religious culture of three religious cultures. Islam enslaved us and so did Christianity and so did Traditional Africa. These are not just religious cultures; they are also economic cultures, military cultures etc. Limiting the question of Christianity, Islam and Traditional Africa in Consciencism to religion and religious cultures has not ceased to astound me. But my point is that I saw this among the Ghanaian Left who dismissed Consciencism with ease. The argument that Consciencism is an idealist work is not far from this assertion.
Instead of engaging me on this and many other issues, all I get is uncomplimentary comments.
And yet you Fo Nani gave him my contact. I am writing this to tell you that I have just discovered a piece by Lang Nubuor which I would normally not have read because of the title but which I have read and I am not in the least impressed although its central thrust is correct. If Lang Nubuor wants to engage with the synthesis of ‘capitalism’ and ‘socialism’ that I have raised then he must master ‘Consciencism’ so we can discuss it intelligently, dispassionately and intellectually to advance social praxis. WHY DOES HE THINK WHAT HE CALLS ‘INTEGRATION’ ONLY APPLIES TO RELIGION AND NOT TO ECONOMICS OR THE BASIS OF SOCIETY OR THE SUPERSTRUCTURE? Why is Lang Nubuor only limiting it to religion and religious culture? To preserve some Marxist purity?
LANG NUBUOR: (Once again his friends do not respond but Lang Nubuor responds) : I’m sorry but you lack a proper grasp of the English language. You see, when I talk about Consciencism as an integrationist philosophy I can never mean that there is some bonafide philosophy called ‘integrationist philosophy’ inside the philosophy of Consciencism but that Consciencism is itself integrationist. If you are not aware of Consciencism’s effort to integrate what it calls the three strands of African society, that is, the Euro-Christian, Islamic and Traditional then I don’t know from which book you read your Consciencism. You see, this is why I said that reading your piece on Consciencism I wondered which book you were actually commenting on…I appreciate your constant plea of humility but let it manifest in an originality of understanding texts yourself. That is what a real Professor does. Only comical Professors do otherwise…
All this should be clear to you if you actually read the book itself and not relied on commentators which is what I suspect you have done… Fo Kwami, I agree with you that it is not entirely a religious issue involved. The article was a reaction to an accusation that Nkrumah was an atheist. The thrust was therefore on the religious issue. And only 1,500 words were allowed by the Daily Graphic. I am glad that you are digging. I am, however, surprised that you found the central thrust correct but remained unimpressed. You must be a very wonderful person. My surprise is that you found something correct about it. You see, I don’t see how you can ever see anything correct about whatever I say because we are several poles apart. Fo Kwamiiii!
KWAMI AGBODZA: I read Consciencism itself and not commentaries. My knowledge is from the book itself which I have mastered. I shall definitely floor you when it comes to Consciencism in the first round. I am not asking you for your Manual. But do send me a signed copy when it is out.
LANG NUBUOR: I’ll send a signed copy to you as you requested after publication. I intend completing it by the end of March, God willing. So, are you still sure you can floor me in the first round? Ha! ha! ha!… Your appeal to others who have turned their back on you reminds me of a similar situation when I had to take Professor Kwami Karikari on in 1981. When I criticized him in a rejoinder to his report in the Legon Observer on a rally that Rawlings had addressed in Kofridua, instead of responding to the editor’s request on him to write a counter-rejoinder he went about complaining to others about what I had written for publication. Finally, Tsatsu Tsikata and Rawlings were asked to intervene. Although Rawlings sent for me he did not raise the issue at all; having been rather reported to me to have expressed his admiration for my piece. As for Tsatsu, his confrontational pose rather put me off and made me more resolved that the rejoinder be published and it was published. Fo Kwami, you are doing something similar. That is why I honestly feel real pity for you. But I can assure you that once you stop your unfounded attacks on Nkrumah you will find me a very pleasant person. I believe that you could be innocent of what you are carrying about. Cheer up, we can be friends. It just happens that those of us with our heads deep in Marxist polemics do not have respectful words for those we honestly see to be strong headedly distorting facts.
KWAMI AGBODZA: I do not personally care if we are friends or not. I did not take offence because I am aware of such Marxist polemics. Finally, I have noted your comment on my English. In my humble opinion, it is worth considering and I am thankful to you for pointing this out.
LANG NUBUOR: Nyebro, Efonye, Mi a dogo. Good night. Sound sleep.
KWAMI ABODZA: Good night too.
*Editorial Comment: Self-acclaimed Professor of Consciencism, Kwami Agbodza, does not differentiate between Marxism, Pan-Africanism and Scientific Socialism when he says that they are subsumed in Consciencism. As the foundation principle upon which Consciencism is built, Marxism enjoys a status of permanence with Consciencism. It stands and falls with it. Not so with Pan-Africanism and Scientific Socialism which are programmes generated by the principle.
In his comment on the quote from Mazzini, Kwame Nkrumah explains the relation between a principle and a programme. They do not share a common status. Whereas principle cannot be compromised, a programme is subject to change or can even expire while the principle lives on. Nkrumah again explains that the transition from socialism to communism does not involve a change of principle but a change of programme. Any change of principle precipitates a revolution which, by the Consciencist definition, does not occur in the transition from socialism to communism. Hence, socialism may come to pass but the Marxist and Consciencist philosophical principle lives on.
In the following quote from the last sentence of chapter fifteen of Africa Must Unite Kwame Nkrumah makes it clear that Pan-Africanism will not live with us forever: ‘… it is only when political unity has been achieved that we will be able to declare the triumphant end of the Pan-African struggle and the African liberation movement.’ This is what happens to programmes but not philosophical principles like those of Marxism and Consciencism which have a life of their own. ‘Professor’ Agbodza appears innocent of this vital distinction which Nkrumah also stresses in chapter 4 of Consciencism.
TO CAPTURE STATE POWER OR TO BUILD STATE POWER
REFLECTIONS ON THE CHINWEIZU – ADDAI-SEBO ENCOUNTER
Addai-Sebo responds to Chinweizu Chinweizu in a short note written on November 3, 2006 over some issue. Dropped into that note is this: ‘We must now respond seriously to the challenge of the seizure or winning of state power. We need state power in order to act and make that decisive difference.’ This occasions an instructive though disproportionate response from Chinweizu on November 9, 2006. In an e-mail to Nii K, dated April 26, 2010, Chinweizu copies his exchanges with Addai-Sebo and explains that in the exchanges his advice to Addai-Sebo ‘was to devote his energies to the political education of the young, and to avoid re-entering the struggle for state power.’
In fact, during the initial reaction to Addai-Sebo’s continued enthusiasm for seizure/winning of state power Chinweizu could be understood to be against seizure of state in favour of building State power. After castigating Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela for winning power while the colonial state structure remained intact, Chinweizu declares that ‘Our job, at this final stage of our lives, is to organize the appropriate knowledge and deliver it to those following us who need, seek and deserve it – for the project of building Afrikan power for the victory of the Afrikans.’ So that Chinweizu, in his advice to Addai-Sebo, is not advising against a struggle to build State power but against the struggle to capture or seize or win state power. And he has excellent and valid reasons for saying that.
Reference to ‘the struggle for state power’ in the e-mail to Nii K can therefore only be a reference to the struggle to seize/capture/win state power. Perhaps Addai-Sebo does not get the essence of Chinweizu’s reaction to his enthusiasm for power capturing. Hence, while he embraces Chinweizu’s educational project he forcefully insists on the need to seize power. This is what he says in his response to Chinweizu, dated November 10, 2006: ‘Thank you very much for refocusing my energies but we must also let the business of the seizure of power be our concern at the same time we are building the cadres. We must build the cadres and place ourselves in a state of constant preparedness.’
The introduced emphasis here displays Addai-Sebo’s limited understanding of Chinweizu’s position: Chinweizu calls for an education project to churn out cadres for an eventual involvement in a State-building process; Addai-Sebo agrees to the educational project idea but thinks that Chinweizu abandons every idea about state power and thus misses the vital point about building State power. When Chinweizu fails to be specific when he rejectionistly talks about ‘struggle for state power’ in his Nii K e-mail he does not help matters. Of course, with his missing the strategic point about building State power, Addai-Sebo would not know why cadres could be churned out in anticipation of nothing.
And since we cannot have a void he insists on filling Chinweizu’s apparent vacuum with his power seizure/winning enterprise; an enterprise that falls short of learning the real lesson of the past struggles – to build power but not to seize it. Let Addai-Sebo’s enthusiasm, however, not wane since necessary though Chinweizu’s prescription for building State power is, it is not dialectical. The building of State power is the context within which political education to create cadres is undertaken. To let the building of State power await the maturity of cadres is to deny political education its true sustenance: only in the State-building process can anybody learn how to build the State. At page 90 of Africa Must Unite Kwame Nkrumah puts it this way: ‘… experience can only be gained by experience.’ Constant involvement in practice enriches thought that, in turn, influences the direction of practice. To create a wedge between thought and practice is the very abandonment of the Consciencist principle that ‘Practice without thought is blind; thought without practice is empty.’
In his Nii K e-mail, Chinweizu discourages ‘the veterans’ of the PNDC struggles from a ‘return to serious political activism’ because he does not ‘expect the veterans of those struggles to have much appetite for (it)’. This perception of the Ghanaian Left among comrades on the continent predates the PNDC era when some of our South African comrades at AASU remarked that Ghanaians were forthcoming in fine speech-making at symposia but fell short of the real thing: action. Within months after that remark the bellows of December 31, 1981 boomed. The leader of that action was present at the symposium that attracted the remark.
The People’s Revolutionary League of Ghana (The League) organized that symposium. It became a part of the events that involved an attempt to create an alternate State power via the People’s/Workers’/Community Defence Committees. The PNDC leadership condemned that attempt as ‘creating a parallel State’ and at the least opportunity apoliticized the defence committees, dismantled emergent structures and chased persons like Addai-Sebo, who scarcely understood the undercurrents, into exile.
Hence, Chinweizu’s characterization of the appetite of ‘the veterans’ is not new. What he urges to be done by the Ghanaian Left in an eventual future had twice been attempted, first, by Nkrumah, whom he has a few uncomplimentaries to shower on, and, second, by The League with specific constraints in their respective eras. He appears to need a lot of learning from Ghanaian comrades; the relevant ones, of course. And all the indicators are that comrades like Chinweizu serve a better purpose and will serve a better purpose in the realization of aims projected in our regenerative efforts to build the people’s State power.
That is, if only he concedes that the actions we take today, including the education of the new generation, must be part of the process of not ‘capturing state power’ but building a new State power to replace the existing state power structure. His undialectical dichotomy of the learning and building processes requires a dialectical fusion in a happy reunion. In the same way Addai-Sebo needs to disinherit himself from the archaic power capturing syndrome and properly re-orient. His efforts with his darling wife shall not be in vain with this disinheritance as their cadres would not need to stand-by for the opportune moment to capture state power but be involved now in the process of building a new State power structure in replacement of the current one that does not require being seized/captured/won but rather dissolved on Osagyefo’s terms.
In this respect, let it be understood that this process of building a new State power structure does not require the partial retirement of ‘the veterans’ who might resign themselves to the harvesting and bequeathing of knowledge. The ‘veterans’ must still be involved all-round. In the process of building the new State power questions about partial or absolute retirement do not arise. The struggle continues all-roundly till death do us part.
The above are comments passed on what Addai-Sebo and Chinweizu say. What are their exact words and their meaning? Let us structure out their arguments now in validation of the interpretation placed on their statements above. In this respect, we go back to Addai-Sebo’s initial e-mail. In that e-mail he calls for a response to the challenge of the seizure or winning of state power and emphasizes that state power is needed in order to act and make that decisive difference. These are his words, ‘We must now respond seriously to the challenge of the seizure or winning of state power. We need state power in order to act and make that decisive difference.’ The suggestion here is that before we can act and make a difference we must first of all seize or win the current state power structure; without seizure/winning of control over this state power structure we cannot make a decisive difference. In fact, this is what, in the main, has been continually going on since 1966 when Kwame Nkrumah’s attempt to build a new structure of State to replace the current state power structure was aborted.
Chinweizu disagrees to Addai-Sebo’s prescription. He says unambiguously that ‘we need to understand that abolishing these colonial countries, with their states, and replacing them with Afrocentric states and societies is a necessary condition for getting Africa out of its humiliating situation. Seizing power in them is not on! … Unless the comprador mentality and system is eradicated, those who capture state power henceforth will only further entrench compradorism, not liberate Africa!’ He repeats this with the statement that ‘Unless a comprehensive and basic mental revolution is accomplished in the next decade, by bringing millions of Africans to an Afrocentric political consciousness, those of the coming generation who attempt to seize state power in these comprador colonial Bantustan states will only become comprador warlords…’ For him, therefore, what requires to be done is a definition of ‘the problems and tasks of building Afrikan power in the 21st century.’ He requires and insists on ‘Knowledge that is necessary for building Afrikan power in the next 50 years’. Clearly, then, Chinweizu focuses on building a new State power to replace the current neo-colonial power structure.
To achieve this, however, he contemplates a comprehensive and basic mental revolution for the next ten years, beginning from 2006 when he types these words. He makes this the condition for even those who will attempt to seize state power. That is where Chinweizu unintentionally creates special difficulties. Does he think that in case millions of Africans achieve a mental revolution within ten years it will then be right, we mean correct, to seize state power which, in his terms, means inheriting the colonial power system the Nkrumah-Mandela fashion? He has very strong words for those who inherit such systems of power. For instance, he tells us to ‘Look at what happened to the Nkrumah-Mandela gangs after they inherited power from the colonialists.’ Gangs! A very strong word for ‘elders’ who suffered in our behalf! But this only emphasizes his abhorrence for those who inherit the colonial power structure. Why then does he appear to endorse inheritance somehow in his cited statement in the preceding paragraph above? He clearly had a slip of fingers on the computer keyboard. What should rather arrest our attention is his phasing of the educational and action processes.
He suggests a decade for political education. He also suggests ‘the next 50 years’ for building State power. Even if we assume that the decade for education is within the 50 year period we cannot help understanding him to conceive a process in which there are two phases, one preceding the other. This is why he finds it necessary to advise Addai-Sebo to concentrate on the political education of the youth because they are old and are now elders. If a revolutionary’s life span is divided into one of harvesting and bequeathing knowledge and another of activism then so must society have a period to be educated and another period to be active, he appears to tell us.
His exact words regarding the power capturing enterprise are that ‘we are too old to be getting into that. As elders, our task is to give political education to the up-and-coming generation of PanAfricanist activists so they can effectively tackle and solve Afrika’s problems. Ours is to harvest and bequeath knowledge to the under 30s.’ It appears that it is only in Africa that revolutionaries in their 50s are deemed to be old and elders. While the neo-colonial state engages people to work for its continuance for at least 60 years of their lives revolutionaries seeking to effect a cessation of the neo-colonial state are declaring themselves incapable before age 60, partially resigning and urging others to do the same! This phasing of the lives of the forces of progress and of the revolutionary process itself sounds like a fifth columnist compradorial device to postpone revolutionary activity forever.
Chinweizu maps out a beautiful educational programme that will make sense within an on-going process of building a new State power structure to replace the neo-colonial state structure. For, since such a programme is based on knowledge acquired from research which always lags behind unfolding reality its relevance depends on being constantly enriched through practice. To do otherwise is to adopt a mechanistic and undialectical conception of the revolutionary process. It is, with all due respect, the lazy person’s way of doing things. In the revolutionary process, theory and practice work simultaneously to enrich each other. This consciencist outlook is the only basis from which the African Revolution can be prosecuted with economy of time, life and talent.
Possibly, Chinweizu might not take kindly to this assertion since he neglects to mention, for compulsory reading, Kwame Nkrumah’s books, especially Consciencism, which analyze the question of imperialism in its two phases of colonialism and neo-colonialism. He neglects such contemporary analyses of imperialism in preference to stories about semi-colonial China and 18th century Haiti. Towards Colonial Freedom, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-colonisation and Class Struggle in Africa analyze contemporary imperialism and fashion out ways and means of uprooting it. Africa Must Unite, Revolutionary Path, Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, The Rhodesian Files, Dark Days in Ghana and papers like Revisiting African Socialism, etc. enlighten us on the difficulties of supplanting and replacing neo-colonial state structures. In fact, Africa Must Unite virtually chronicles the day-to-day efforts made to build a new State that would respond to the task of reconstruction. It serves as a manual for building a new State power and shows Nkrumah’s profound awareness of the need to replace the inherited colonial state apparatus.
Rather than studying these materials on contemporary imperialism Elder Chinweizu says we should study materials on pre-monopoly finance capitalism. Yet, any serious student of history knows that history being a process its study goes backwards to trace the genesis of a phenomenon like capitalism to its present state of development in order to deal with it. Lessons learned over the entire period are then utilized to formulate and prosecute current programmes. Thus reading even historical fictions about the earlier stages is only a very small part of the learning process. The real material to be read is the analysis of the present day reality. And Kwame Nkrumah has bequeathed to us copious volumes of such analysis, especially in the pages of Africa Must Unite.
There is something uncomfortably mechanistic about Elder Chinweizu’s modus operandi. Consciencism teaches us that even the appearance of serenity of a situation masks its inexorable dynamism. Hence, our methods in dealing with any given situation must be fashioned out of that situation but not from some ancient situation. Any importation from an ancient situation requires validation within the present reality. Given the Ghanaian and South African reality, Nkrumah and Mandela could not have respectively destroyed the colonial state apparatus all at once even when they became Presidents of those countries. Nkrumah’s difficulties in his efforts at dealing with the unavoidably inherited colonial state apparatus and replacing it, as stated above, are well chronicled and analyzed in Africa Must Unite. The so-called belated efforts at political education at Winneba were part of his drive at dismantling the inheritance.
And yet, Dear Elder Chinweizu says that Nkrumah failed because he, like Mandela, was ignorant of the centuries old Haitian struggles which Afrocentric studies have only recently (1985) unearthed long after his death in 1972. In fact, Africa Must Unite gives us evidence that Nkrumah was aware of what he calls ‘the Haitian revolt’ in that book. Is our veteran Elder aware that Kwame Nkrumah encouraged the institutionalization of Afrocentric studies and, in fact, in Ghana he established the Institute of African Studies from which some of us, like yours truly, benefitted when African Studies (Afro Studs, as we called it) was made compulsory for all first year students at the University of Ghana even more than a decade after his demise? In this respect, Elder Chinweizu inflicted the unkindest cut on Nkrumah with the following judgement:
Much of the failures of the Nkrumah-Mandela generation derived from their ignorance of the anti-imperialist struggles that took place before theirs. Luckily, by now, we have some Afrocentric studies of the Haitian and other struggles. [e.g. Jacob Carruthers, THE IRRITATED GENIE, Chicago: Kemetic Institute, 1985] Had these been available to the Nkrumahs, they would have been better prepared to carry on the fight against the neo-colonialism he rightly denounced. There’s hardly any of the pitfalls of the anti-imperialist struggles of the 20th century that had not manifested in the Haitian struggle a century and half earlier. Had the Nkrumahs known of them, they would have been forearmed. And today’s up-and-coming activists need to know all of that.
For this mechanistic, unilinear, undialectical reason that Nkrumah and Mandela did not have access to unpublished works to guide them, leading to their failure, Elder Chinweizu called them a ‘gang’ who were turned into comprador servants of imperialism by their inheritance! For his celebrated condemnation of these ‘elders’, our Elder & Veteran has these exact and self-typed words to dump on this and generations to come: ‘The system they took over turned all of them, some willingly and others not-so-willingly, into comprador servants of imperialism!’ Such infantilist effusions bordering on congenital ignorance were, once upon a time, commonplace with our comrades in the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania. And such are bound to be the content of Veteran Chinweizu’s educational set up? Tell Elder Chinweizu to read Africa Must Unite, minimum, to know what rich history we have in Nkrumah’s efforts to uproot what he considered a bad inheritance for simultaneous replacement by way of building a new State structure. To lie that Nkrumah was a comprador servant of imperialism is the greatest contamination and poisoning of the Mind of Africa that a person of his wasted calibre and potential could ever inflict on the African conscience.
You see, after about four years of making that statement he still felt proud enough not only to keep on believing it but also to circulate it to Nii K, Akoto Ampaw and Bankie Bankie under the caption ‘Veteran activists and state power struggles’. One wonders what kind of discussion he had had with Nii K the previous night that encouraged him to circulate his years-old exchange with Addai-Sebo. E ye morbor! God bless Africa!
KWAMI AGBODZA AS THE FACE OF REVISIONISM
To see the face of revisionism in Ghana across the coastline, forest, savannah and desert regions as well as the mountains and valleys of Africa and over the continental shelf of Europe to the British Isles, where he is to be located, one only needs to look at the face of a gentleman cultured in British traditions and called Kwami Agbodza. That face paints a fine picture of and personifies what intellectuals of great repute over the centuries have called the act of subjecting a system of thought to such an interpretation as to not only bleach it of its meaning but more importantly replace it with its opposite under the guise of defending it in its true interpretation. Revisionism is that act. In Ghana during the late 1970s it was once referred to as ‘Petty-Bourgeois Revolutionarism – An Infantile Directionist Emptiness’ by yours truly. Seeking to direct us on the way out it ends up leaving us so confused in a way we have never ever been.
After two years of placing a proposal before his colleagues to ‘Please let me know what you think’, the only known self-appointed Professor of Consciencism, Mr. Kwami Agbodza, states over the internet that nobody responds to his call. That was on January 14, 2011. The paper that he places before his colleagues has various titles. The recipient of the e-mail bearing the article is first greeted with the title Proposal for Going beyond Capitalism-Socialism. Upon downloading the article one finds the paper with this different title: The Social-Political Theory of an Nkrumaist Government: Resolving the ‘Socialist Ideology’ Confusion. The cover letter that comes with the article however suggests that there is confusion over both socialism and capitalism within the Nkrumaist family. As one later directs the computer mouse’s pointer at the icon of the article yet another new title pops up thus: Consciencism as a Basis for Multi-Party Democratic Practice: Unlocking the Conceptual Confusion for an Nkrumaist Government. At the end of it all the second title has beneath it this copyright announcement: © The Kwame Nkrumah Historical and Research Foundation. Clearly, his article is/wears a coat of many colours.
Long before ‘Professor’ Kwami Agbodza claimed that nobody had responded to his coat of many colours this author had actually reacted in the Insight of Ghana with a short piece entitled Redefining Nkrumaism which was later circulated on the same platform where the gentleman had posted his offending article. The brevity of that reaction was due to the fact that this author, like the others who ignored the article, did not think that that article deserved attention. But our cyberspace encounter with the ‘Professor’ saw him asking for an engagement on his perception of a socialist ideological confusion in the Nkrumaist Family and his synthesis of capitalism and socialism as the stance of Nkrumaism. This response is not just to honour our promise to him but also to justify why leading lights like ‘K. Afari-Gyan, George Hagan, Takyiwah Manuh, Kwame Arhin, E.A. Haizel and Kofi Agyeman amongst others’, whom he refers to in his paper, should not waste their time on him. The standard of the English language used in the paper itself, not to talk about the foul distortions therein, does not encourage such academicians to expend much time on that paper. But we promised, so here we are.
Beginning with the cover letter, Mr. Kwami Agbodza says that ‘the collapse of USSR in the 20th Century undermined Nkrumaists who said socialism was the ideology for the social transformation of Ghana and Africa.’ He also says that ‘recently in this 21st century the Global Credit Crunch has undermined Nkrumaists who said capitalism was the ideology for the social transformation of Ghana and Africa.’ On the bases of these events he claims that ‘our attention has been drawn to the need for Nkrumaists to come up with new thinking that goes beyond the discredited capitalist and socialist ideologies’. For this purpose he attaches the ‘file Nkrumaist PIE that proposes just this Nkrumaist new thinking.’ The Nkrumaist PIE is another colour of his paper. He ambitiously christens this new thinking ‘economic Consciencism’ or ‘Progressive Economics’ at the closing paragraphs of the paper proper. Listen! Don’t stop reading. Continue.
To develop the new thinking, Fonye Kwami Agbodza structures his paper with an Introduction that states the aim of the paper, followed with a History of Socialism that traces the origin of socialist ideological confusion in Ghana. The third section of the paper then suggests The Way Forward. Whereas the Introduction has a single sentence stating the paper’s aim the second and third sections have discernible subsections. The second section dealing with the history of socialism has nine identifiable subsections. The third section showing the way forward has three subsections with the second subsection showing three further sub-divisions. After each subsection where he makes statements of fact he follows up with a comment before proceeding to the next subsection. We intend to march along this structural trajectory of the paper in our exposition and critique of it. In this manner our critique treads at the tails of his comments.
Directing our attention then to the text of the paper we look at the Introduction first. It states the author’s aim of resolving the socialist ideology confusion in the Nkrumaist family. It places that confusion in its ‘proper social-political context’. This, it intends, will revive the lost confidence of Nkrumaists to think of winning elections to govern Ghana once again. This is all that the paper proposes to do. To think of winning elections within the neo-colonial power structure without a corresponding programme to dismantle it, we observe, has been the age-old strategy of post-1966 Nkrumaist politics in Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah’s efforts to build an alternate power structure, as symbolised by the cluster of civil service and security forces operating at the Flagstaff House, to ultimately replace the inherited colonial power apparatus was aborted in 1966.
The experience of the Limann administration illustrates the futility of Nkrumaist forces holding on to power without a programme to situate them in a position of strength vis-a-vis the inherited colonial power structure. The pages of Consciencism make it clear that to overcome neo-colonialism a new power structure with an opposed cardinal ethical principle must be built. Africa Must Unite on the other hand shows the difficulties involved in implementing a programme with a cardinal principle opposed to the neo-colonial ethic within the neo-colonial power structure. To capture/win or build state power is the strategic issue to address. The paper’s option to win power without a programme to build an alternate power system does not learn the lessons of history. The building of the new State power is an evolutionary process that culminates in the ultimate replacement of the neo-colonial state apparatus. To await the winning or capturing of control over the latter state system before building the new State is not dialectical in the Consciencist sense of the term.
This brings us to the history of socialism in Ghana. The paper traces what it calls socialist ideological confusion from the founding of the Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Economics and Political Science, otherwise known as the Winneba Ideological Institute. It recalls Nkrumah’s declaration on February 18, 1961 that ‘only socialists can build a socialist society’. According to the paper, Nkrumah stated that the Party’s ideology was a religion that should be carried out faithfully and fervently by the products of the Institute. By implication these suggest that the said ideology was socialism. In fact, according to the paper the Institute was to ‘indoctrinate people in socialism’. The firm propagation of the essence of African Unity in Ghana and the rest of the African Continent, the paper states, was the purpose of the Institute. Thus the paper affirms that before Consciencism was published in 1964 socialism was the declared ideology of Nkrumah.
The next subsection of this history deals with the mission of the Ideological Institute. Here the paper quotes from a staff member who stated that key positions of the state machinery required being occupied by persons with socialist training to replace those with bourgeois or British colonial mentality to implement the Party’s programme of socialist construction. Historically speaking, therefore, according to the paper, socialists at the time sought to replace only key positions within the inherited colonial state machinery but not all positions while the said machinery of state remained intact. Hence, we are made to observe that socialists of the period had a limited focus in dealing with the inherited state system – that is, before 1964 when Consciencism came out. Did those socialists ever go beyond their limited focus? This takes us to the next subsection where the paper looks at the personnel manning the Institute.
Kwami Agbodza states that personnel of the Institute were either communists or pro-communists and that some of them were of Nigerian origin. He rationalizes this reliance on communists on what was available to Kwame Nkrumah at the time. According to him, those communists were the Ghanaians Kodwo Addison and Professor Abraham and the Nigerians Bankole Akpata and Samuel G. Ikoku. It is instructive, if we might chip this in, that one of these personalities, Prof. Abraham, is reputed to have played an important role in the preparation of Consciencism later on within the decade. Fo Kwami insinuates that these persons were not desirable to Nkrumah who had to make do with them.
In the next subsection, the paper handles the question of the Party, Ideology and the State. At this stage it states categorically that by 1963, that is only a year before Consciencism was published, the CPP had settled on socialism as its ideology. It says that the Party’s ideology became intertwined with that of the state. At the Ideological Institute, it goes on to say, students were taught to see the Party’s ideology as a religion as well as the religion of the state. Consequently, in the student’s mind ‘the theoretical notions of a ‘political party’, ‘the state’, the ‘one-party state’ and ‘socialism’ were intertwined and easily came to mean the same thing.’
This, according to the next subsection, was affirmed and acknowledged in the philosophical statement of Consciencism which sees multi-party democracy as a ruse to cover up the inherent struggle between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in society. A people’s one-party system, on the other hand, is therein understood as being better able to express and satisfy the aspirations of the nation as a whole. Fo Kwami insinuates that within such a conceptual framework ‘The multi-party democratic state under the current Ghana 1992 constitution would have been dismissed as bourgeois politics of ‘multiple-party parliamentary system’ which is not suitable for Ghana.’ This is as if the current neo-colonial state and its multi-party system are not essential bourgeois institutions that only determine which section of the dominant classes should take their turn in the management of the retention of the neo-colonial system in perpetuation of neo-colonialism. This loud implicit endorsement of the neo-colonial state as a multi-party democratic state by the CPP’s UK Regional Secretary, ‘Professor’ Kwami Agbodza, is one of the conceptual as well as practical difficulties confronting Nkrumaism today.
Endorsements of this type do not question the existence of the neo-colonial system in fact as they take it as a given. This is one aspect of the principal contradiction defining the CPP. It is this particular aspect of the mass movement that Consciencism calls upon us to contain if neo-colonialism should be forestalled in the aftermath of the independence struggle against colonialism. What is multi and democratic about a system that restricts the contest for power to factions of the same dominant classes while all other classes, by the rules of the electoral game, are materially and financially excluded? And as we speak here there are pressures for the state to advance more state resources to these dominant factions of the ruling classes within the framework of a revised constitution.
How are the working people also empowered to have their own party to contest elections? The ruse that this so-called multi-party democracy represents, as Kwame Nkrumah puts it, should not be questioned by Fonye if he sincerely appreciates the reality of Nkrumah’s perception of positive and negative actions on the pages of Consciencism and elsewhere. His attack on him in that insinuating posture questions Fonye’s own depth of understanding of Nkrumah’s thought and practice. One would have appreciated our brother’s concern for multi-party democracy if all the parties are representatives of sections of the working people as the dominant class. In such a situation each of such parties will be running a non-neo-colonial State system on the basis of a shared cardinal ethical principle.
Within that system the minority bourgeois parties, if the electoral rules enable them to contest, will be effectively contained in the same manner that the current system contains the majority of our people in subordination today. Kwame Nkrumah would not object to such a multi-party system as evidenced by the fact that he tolerated the factions in the CPP. As for a multi-party system of the bourgeois forces, by the bourgeois forces and for the bourgeois forces, Allah!, he would resist as all focused Nkrumaists should. That is the reality of the class struggle.
In the next subsection of the history of socialism in Ghana, Fo Kwami explains and takes issue with the Programme of the Convention People’s Party for Work and Happiness. He explains that this Programme ‘laid the basis for such ideas and went as far as even stating that Nkrumaism was based on scientific socialism’. Christian Kwami Agbodza counters this claim of Nkrumaism being based on scientific socialism, made in a programme that Kwame Nkrumah himself sanctioned and propagated as the cornerstone for the country’s development, with the assertion that it ‘was logically impossible’ and that ‘Consciencism itself was to make (that) clear when it was later published’. Once again he disagrees with Nkrumah, per the Programme, that the basis of Nkrumaism is scientific socialism. He does not in this respect quote Consciencism to buttress his assertion here but he will come to it in the next section of his offending paper.
Meanwhile, he directs his attacks on the late K.S.P. Jantuah who was alive when his paper made the rounds. He describes Jantuah as a veteran Nkrumaist and a Minister in Nkrumah’s CPP government. He says that by as recently as September 24, 2002 notables like Jantuah still proclaimed this ‘version that Nkrumaism is based on scientific socialism’ and that they falsely state ‘that Nkrumaism is ‘but an ideology within the general concept of socialism and therefore all true Nkrumaists must recognize it as such’.’ He says that this means their rejection of Consciencism as a philosophy, an ideology and any notion of Nkrumaism as a way of life. Let us take good notice of his use of the term ‘false’ in reference to the stated view of the notables. It connotes a conscious act of wrong-doing. The charge is severe. We will be back to it.
The paper now directs us to the consequences of the conception and adoption of socialism by Nkrumah. It states that the February 24, 1966 coup d’état dismantled the ‘one-party state’, the Party and socialism. It neglects to add that those who overthrew the CPP were informally allied to the scattered opposition who became their advisors and ran the state without the participation of all who did not belong to the resurgent opposition. The formal one-party state was then replaced with an informal one. It also neglects to add that the State that was actually dismantled was not the inherited colonial state but the fledgling State that was slowly evolving at the Flagstaff House, the seat of the CPP government. The inherited colonial structure was not in any way dismantled. Only a relatively few personnel of the CPP were dismissed or chased out of it. This negligence glosses over the strategic effort that Kwame Nkrumah made to build a new State independently of the colonial inheritance that could not be relied upon for socialist development.
According to the paper, another consequence of the adoption of socialism was that what it calls the indoctrination of people in socialism was achieved as evidenced by the fact that ‘many of that generation still demonstrate (it) in their beliefs’. It holds, however, that that achievement was negative in its effect. That effect on the CPP ‘was pervasive, conceptually confusing and fundamentally destructive to the psyche of its leading intellectuals and members and their ability to rethink and separate an Nkrumaist party’s ideology, from scientific socialism, from the ideology of Nkrumaism itself, from the ideology of society where it is not a one-party state, and vice versa, and how to clearly identify itself in a multi-party electoral contest for power and office dismissed as bourgeois politics.’ My Lord Jesus Christ of Liberia! What is this fine English from a resident in England intended to mean? What mishmash! At least, let us ask how we are supposed to separate Nkrumaist party’s ideology from the ideology of Nkrumaism? Laa hila hi lalaa! What is Fonye saying for sure? Of course, the many of us with a fundamentally destroyed psyche cannot understand this. Herein comes majestically another severe insult from a cultured British-trained gentleman.
Hello!, do not stop reading as more issues await you down here. You see, so far we have been enlightened on the source of the ‘socialist ideological confusion’ at the historical level: that is, our generational indoctrination that has fundamentally destroyed our psyche to such an extent that we are now incapable of rethinking to separate one concept from another. This generational tragedy is indeed an all-generations-calamity that stands between us and winning of electoral victories within the neo-colonial system. This is what Fo Kwami says in this respect for maximum effect: ‘The inability of the Nkrumaist Political Family to unite, fight an election as a unified political force, win and govern Ghana again, derives its sustenance from this theoretical confusion and ideological minefield, located deep in its family psyche, of which some of the older generation are guilty, while many of the younger generation are simply lost.’ (Our italics)
In spite of this psyche problem Nkrumaist forces returned to power in 1979. The failure of that regime is not subjected to Consciencist analysis which would seek to unravel the contradictions in Limann’s government and the PNP, find out which of them is the principal contradiction and what forces constituted what aspects of that contradiction, locate how minor contradictions played out to the aspects of the principal contradiction etc., etc., to explain and understand what happened. The Agbodzan paper already knows the answer and readily places the blame neatly on the socialist forces with their characteristic psychic insufficiencies thus: ‘Indeed, this (the psychic problem) was responsible for the destruction of the Nkrumaist Government under the Limann Presidency as socialist ideologues amongst the old and younger Nkrumaists went out to self-destroy a constitutionally elected government in December 1981 because it was not ‘socialist’ enough, while illogically proclaiming it is impossible to achieve socialism in Ghana alone; thus asserting their own permanent demise as a political force.’ In all this and in the light of one of the titles of the paper suggesting the use of Consciencism to unlock conceptual confusion Consciencism does not appear of use to Fonye in his pretentious analytical comments.
In fact, every failure of Nkrumaist forces to make an impact is blamed on the Ideological Institute and its impact on the psyche of those forces. A 1985 symposium at the University of Ghana by Nkrumaist academicians is declared a failure predicated on the impact of the Institute on the psyche of the academicians whose analyses led to conclusions identical with the Institute’s. At the symposium were persons like K. Afari-Gyan, George Hagan, Takyiwah Manuh, Kwame Arhin, E.A. Haizel and Kofi Agyeman. Please read this comment on that symposium which was ostensibly expected to crystallize in the production of an ideological paper to be the basis for a political take-off: ‘This inability to provide an ideological basis for the take-off of an Nkrumaist Government for Ghana can be traced to the destructive effect that socialist indoctrination such as taught in the Winneba ideological Institute has had on the psychic well-being of the Nkrumaist Political Family and leading Nkrumaists drawn from that family today. The collective failure of that Nkrumaist symposium to arrest the political situation is exemplified by K. Afari-Gyan’s paper entitled ‘Nkrumah’s Ideology’ which was later published unchallenged. In line with the teachings of The Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Economics and Political Science, commonly known as the Winneba ideological Institute, he stated its doctrinal position which taught that ‘a socialist one-party system is the best framework for achieving social justice’; and that this was Nkrumaist ideology.’ One wonders how a symposium or a series of it can be expected to do what nobody does in the open.
But the Ideological Institute is not the only ‘analytical tool’ that Fonye employs to explain his diagnosis of a ‘socialist ideological confusion’. He also employs the fall of the USSR to explain the deepening of the confusion. He says that the received conception of socialism had been hoped to rejuvenate Nkrumaists but the USSR event dashed such hopes. So that the historical explanation of the current stalement in Nkrumaist political progress that he offers us shuns the application of Consciencist notions about the complex process of motion in any phenomenon in favour of a weird selection of events, internal and external, for the purpose. And yet, this type of weird explanation is offered in the name of Consciencism. Fonye appears so disappointed by the failures in socialist history that he is prepared to attack Kwame Nkrumah’s well-considered notions by way of attacking those who faithfully represent Nkrumah’s ideas while he pretends to be representing the true notions of Nkrumah. That is the stuff that revisionism is made of.
Revisionism seeks to distort through correction. While nervously and faint-heartedly confronting a strong personality’s ideas revisionism first of all tries to avoid a direct confrontation with that personality, dead or alive. It targets disciples of the said personality and accuses them of distortion of the personality’s ideas. As a final step it projects its disagreement to those ideas as the ideas of that personality. So that through an ill-intentioned correction of the disciples it distorts those ideas. Consequently, new converts to the original ideas, when they are not yet that matured, are swayed to uphold the revisionist’s banner – a path of inconsistencies and confusion. This theft of minds was known to Friedrich Engels who had to combat so-called Marxists in defence of the ideas of Karl Marx, Marxism. In Russia and later the Soviet Union, Vladimir Ilich Lenin was constantly on the necks of the revisionists. The history of Christianity is also very rich with revisionism. In the history of socialism in Ghana, the face of revisionism is the face of Fo Kwami Agbodza. Listen to him as you observe his application of the revisionist’s technique:
‘… the idea, that socialism is the ideology of philosophical Consciencism, as taught in The Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Economics and Political Science in the 1960s by Kodwo Addison, Bankole Akpata and Samuel G. Ikoku amongst others was simply incorrect. Nkrumaist ideology is not socialism and never has been. Nkrumaist ideology has always been ‘Consciencism’. The ideology of philosophical consciencism has always been consciencism. The philosophy of Nkrumaism has always been philosophical Consciencism. Moreover, ‘socialism’ in Nkrumaism is a social-political theory and practice derived from materialism in the same way that capitalism is also a social-political theory and practice derived from idealism. Thus, both capitalism and socialism are understood as social-political theories of development in Nkrumaist ideology. This correction of the ideological position which is overdue is necessary to build the confidence of Nkrumaists for Government Now.’
Below, we address ourselves to the issues raised in this quote as we consider the next section of Fonye’s paper on the way forward.
The final section of the Agbodzan paper is here divided into three subsections. The first is a kind of an introduction that invites the reader into a process to trace the truth of the foregoing claims in the pages of Consciencism itself so that knowledge of the truth could set them free to contest and win elections in Ghana to govern the country once more. The second subsection, which interprets some concepts in the text, comprises three further divisions. The first division addresses the concept of ‘society as a plurality of men’. The second treats ‘capitalism and socialism as social-political theories’ only. The third segment considers the ‘linkage of philosophy with social-political practice and political forces’. A summary of this subsection is then provided before the third subsection deals with a ‘Programme for an Nkrumaist Government Now’.
To proceed with the details, after that short introduction the paper plunges into the first division of the second subsection with the statement of its setting out to address ‘the notion of Ghana as a society in which there exists a plurality of men of diverse ethnicity whether Ashantis, Ewes, Dagombas etc.’ It states that it would like Consciencism to speak for itself so that rather than explain the notion of society as a plurality of men within the context that Consciencism uses the phrase it quotes a passage of the first two paragraphs of page 98, combines them into one and proceeds to comment on them. Within context, the passage explains not the ‘notion of Ghana as a society’ but how ethics transits into politics. It explains that when a plurality of men in society accept the cardinal ethical principle that each man needs to be treated as an end in himself and not merely as a means a transition from ethics to politics transpires.
The transition consists in the fact that institutions to regulate the plurality of men’s behaviour and actions in accordance with the cardinal ethical principle need to be created. That is where politics actualizes in the sense that it comes into being to provide such institutions. To guide political action, the passage says, Consciencism outlines a political theory together with a social-political practice to ensure the effective observance of the cardinal ethical principle. At page 95 in the last but one paragraph, Consciencism does not only claim this cardinal ethical principle to treat man as an end and not as a means as a principle of Consciencism but also asserts that that principle ‘is fundamental to all socialist or humanist conceptions of man’. And thus establishes the socialist credentials of Consciencism.
In its social-political practice, Consciencism, in accordance with its cardinal ethical principle, focuses on the prevention of the emergence or the solidifying of classes. This is because, as Marxist explanation has made clear, within a class structure one class exploits and subjects another class to it in violation of the cardinal ethical principle. So says the passage. It further explains that Consciencism is committed to the development of the individual which must be pursued in such a way as not to introduce such diversities as would destroy the egalitarian basis of society that the cardinal principle assures. Finally, the social-political practice of Consciencism seeks to logistically mobilize social forces along the true egalitarian lines of the cardinal ethical principle to ensure maximum development for which planning is essential.
In all this, where is the concern with ‘Ashantis, Ewes, Dagombas etc.’ and a notion of Ghana as a plurality of men? But does Fogah Kwami Agbodza address that notion at all? He offers to us no explanation of the passage quoted. And his comment on that passage is clearly a non-event as he runs amok thus:
‘So it is clear that in society philosophy precedes political theory and social-political theory/practice. It is also clear that political parties are an expression of politics and political organisation in society. Thus, ‘politics’ which arises from a society is conceptually separate from the structure of political institutions. These political institutions can take many forms. Thus a one-party state is only one of them. A multi-party state is also another example. Thus contrary to the indoctrination at Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Economics and Political Science, multi-party politics cannot be simply dismissed as bourgeois politics that socialists must eschew. This anti-bourgeois thinking then leads to the contradictory position in which socialist ideologues seek state power through undemocratic means such as a coup d’état that overthrows the popular will. Thus all Nkrumaists must accept multi-party democracy however informal or formalised as an essential feature of the democratic aspect of African communalism.’
This is what he offers to us as a comment on a passage that enunciates on how ethics transit into politics. Reader Dear, your forbearance in sustaining your reading this far is impressive and must be maintained as we move on with his style of interpreting Consciencism.
In the second division of the second subsection in the purported interpretation of Consciencism, Fogah Kwami Agbodza seeks to explain that the text of Consciencism provides evidence that socialism and capitalism are not ideological but theoretical categories in the lexicon of Consciencism. Here, again, he resorts to his familiar trick as exposed above. To achieve his end he quotes a long passage which he does not explain in context but massages into the evidence. The first part of the quotation begins from the last paragraph of page 70 and comprises three paragraphs which end at the last line of page 71. He, again, combines all the paragraphs. But then he skips over the next five paragraphs on pages 72 and 73 before quoting the next paragraph which he connects to the previously quoted paragraphs to complete the combination process.
In chapter 3 of Consciencism, where Fogah quotes the paragraphs from, capitalism is variously described as ‘only a social-political theory’ (page 71), ‘a method’ (page 72), ‘social-political system’ (page 76) or simply as ‘a system’ (page 76). Socialism, on the other hand, is described as ‘a form of social organization’ (page 73) while at page 77 there is reference to ‘socialist philosophy’ and then at page 59 the reference is to ‘socialist ideology’. At page 105 there is this statement, ‘Under the searchlight of an ideology, every fact affecting the life of a people can be assessed and judged, and neo-colonialism’s detrimental aspirations and sleights of hand will constantly stand exposed’. Following upon it in the next paragraph is this statement that ‘In order that this ideology should be comprehensive, in order that it should light up every aspect of the life of our people, in order that it should affect the total interest of our society, establishing a continuity with our past, it must be socialist in form and content and embraced by a mass party.’
This assertion of the ideological credentials of socialism is enhanced at page 113 where the text insists that ‘It is only a socialist scheme of development that can meet the passionate objectivity of philosophical consciencism.’ With respect to the status of Consciencism, the very last paragraph of the book is decisively conclusive that ‘Philosophical consciencism is a general philosophy which admits of application to any country’ (our italics). Hence, the conclusion held by the Ideological Institute and persons like K. Afari-Gyan that, to requote Fogah, Consciencism is a ‘philosophical statement which gives the theoretical basis for an ideology’ is not an imposition on the text but the position of that text, Consciencism. And that ideology is clearly ‘socialist ideology’ as Kwame Nkrumah categorizes it.
Fogah disregards the various categorizations of socialism and capitalism with the exception of their categorization as social-political theories. But the text of Consciencism explains the central role of ideology in determining the form and content of theory and practice. In fact, at page 56 the text states that philosophy is an instrument of ideology. It says that the ‘statement, elucidation and theoretical defence’ of the ideological principle collectively forms a philosophy. As an instrument of ideology, philosophy, in its various departments of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political theory, et cetera, seeks to lay the fundamental principles that all aspects of thought in every social endeavour must exhibit in conformity to the ideological principle. Hence, we have socialist philosophy and capitalist or bourgeois philosophy as well as socialist theory and bourgeois theory. It is not the theory or philosophy that determines the form and content of ideology; it is the ideology that determines the form and content of theory or philosophy. A social theory without an ideological content is bereft of substance. Fogah violates this essential Consciencist world outlook when he inflicts on us his own version of speaking in tongues thus:
‘Consciencism makes it clear that, like capitalism, socialism is a social-political theory which, in the case of socialism, can be used to organise society so that all the people benefit from development rather than a section of society. The ideology of philosophical consciencism is therefore not socialism. On the contrary, it is Consciencism. And here we come to the source of the socialist confusion, for although ‘socialism’ ‘can be and is the defence of the principles of communalism in a modern setting’, there was no need to call it socialism as it could easily be confused with Marxist socialism, scientific socialism, Fabian socialism, Christian socialism and African socialism amongst other variants, as indeed is still the case even today amongst Nkrumaists. So by naming the form of social organisation advocated by Nkrumaist ideology socialism, Nkrumah and Ghana found itself at the centre of the East-West Cold war and all its disastrous consequences (our italics).’
‘You see, it is a special version of speaking in tongues to explode in this manner and even separate ‘Marxist socialism’ from ‘scientific socialism’. Fogah’s castigation of Kwame Nkrumah for his use of ‘socialism’ to categorize the ideology that informs Consciencism is yet another sign of his uprising against Consciencism in the name of Consciencism. Revisionism, that is, at its best.’
That uprising finds a more pronounced expression in the third and final division of the second subsection under consideration. Its objective is the replacement of ‘socialism’ with what is supposed to be a more appropriate nomenclature. In order to come to that, ‘Professor’ Kwami Agbodza sets out an assumption that Consciencism’s assertion that Africans see ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’ as a continuum means that both ‘materialism’ and ‘idealism’ are accommodated in African thought. According to him, what Africans find ‘unacceptable’ are ‘hard core materialism’ and ‘hard core idealism’. As a result, he tells us that philosophical consciencism, as the African world-view, is a synthesis of materialism and idealism. But since socialism and capitalism are respectively asserted as being aligned to materialism and idealism these former systems, which he understands to be theoretical systems, must be a synthesis with a new name. In his fine English this is exactly how he puts it: ‘Philosophical Consciencism is a synthesis of both materialism and idealism and its response to both socialism and capitalism as social-political theories of development must also be a synthesis of both capitalism and socialism and a new social-political terminology (our italics).’ He does not appear to suggest that this is what Consciencism does but rather what it must do. The specific demand of the uprising is now set – pure and simple.
This demand for a synthesis of capitalism and socialism with a new social-political terminology christened Economic Consciencism or Progressive Economics is a demand for an alternative to what Consciencism stands for. In its final subsection that outlines a Programme for an Nkrumaist Government Now it sees Consciencism as a document not only for a socialist one-party system but also for a non-socialist multi-party system and for a way of life. These are its exact words: ‘Consciencism is therefore more than a document for ‘a socialist one-party system’ as it used to be called; it is also ‘a way of life’ as some like Edward Mahama have said; it is also a document for a non-socialist multi-party system… (our italics)’. Fogah Kwami does not tell us exactly where in the text of Consciencism the concept of ‘a non-socialist multi-party system’ is formulated. In fact, there is nothing like that in the pages of Consciencism. He just defecates it. It is exactly that type of a multi-party system that Consciencism describes as a ruse. It is really an Economic Consciencism concept pretending to be a concept of Consciencism. It is a component of its insurrectionary demand.
That it is a demand for an alternative is particularly upheld in the statement that ‘Nkrumaist ideology is not socialism; progressive economics is the preferred social-political alternative that is in tune with the ethics of consciencism.’ Economic Consciencism, whose ‘guy’ name is Progressive Economics, clearly presents itself as the preferred social-political alternative to socialism as Nkrumaist ideology. The reference to ‘the ethics of consciencism’ might appear to suggest a disposition to replace the ethics of neo-colonialism with it. But the Programme, in its rejection of socialism, makes no attempt at replacing the neo-colonial system within which an opposing ethic defines every mode of social behaviour and conduct including the rules of electoral qualification and conduct. The self-appointed Professor of Consciencism, Christian Kwami Agbodza, is more comfortable with the neo-colonial power structure within which he thinks the ethic of treating man as an end but not as a means can be better expressed than with a socialist power structure wherein that ethic defines behaviour and conduct. Like the wife who joins every gossip against the husband but is comfortable in his arms our potential Sir Christian speaks badly of neo-colonialism while he objectively embraces it.
Our final word is a comment on Fonye’s attitude towards religion. In our interaction with him in cyberspace (see the first part of this chapter) he was loathe to dealing with the Euro-Christian, Islamic and African traditional inheritance as a religious phenomenon. We conceded that the issue was not one of religion but one of culture. We explained that the religious focus was occasioned by the accusation that Kwame Nkrumah was an atheist. But we observe that in his consideration of the position that Consciencism takes on uniting that inheritance the ‘Professor’ wears a religious spectacle. He claims that normally he does not read religious stuff but the article in the Daily Graphic under our byline prompted him. He writes there that ‘I only occasionally read religious articles on the web. Normally I do not. Ordinarily, for all kinds of reasons, I would not have read an article on Kwame Nkrumah saving Ghana from religious confusion. Frankly, the topic does not interest me’. And yet his Economic Consciencism enjoins that
‘Nkrumaists today must embrace consciencism as their distinctive ideology which brings together Moslems, Christians, Traditional worshippers and atheists together for the development of the nation in which Ghanaians will be free to worship in the Mosque on Friday, pour libation at the Shrine on Saturday and worship in Church on Sundays as new Africans expressing the African Personality.’
This is what the religions have already been doing these past centuries till today. What is new here? Consciencism has no conservative attitude towards religion. It sees it as a phenomenon ‘that must be understood before it can be tackled.’ It is opposed to a declaration of war on religion which it regards as a social fact. It holds that to declare such a war on it is to treat it as an ideal phenomenon, a supposition that it might be wished away or scared out of existence. See page 13 of Consciencism. The negative purposes that religion has been put to require its demystification in social praxis. The conditions of poverty that breed it must be eliminated. This is why the text makes it clear that the State must be secular. To forestall any notion that by such an attitude Consciencism is atheistic a definitive statement is made at page 84 that ‘Philosophical consciencism, even though deeply rooted in materialism, is not necessarily atheistic.’ The quote above from Economic Consciencism views religion as part of the definition of the African Personality. Consciencism makes no such claim.
In his life Kwame Nkrumah was a spiritual person with a belief in God. It is the add-ons to spirituality for its expansion into religion that he considers as a mystification of spirituality for religious exploitative purposes. His call for religion to be tackled is a call to remove the add-ons and thus demystify it back to spirituality. His assertion of being a non-denominational Christian is a rejection of Christian religiosity in favour of Christian spirituality. Tourist guides at the Kintampo Water Falls in Ghana point to a dilapidated structure that, in its days, served as a retreat where he conducted himself in meditation.
All close associates of his attest to this fact.
[Since new forms of society emerge from but are not imposed on the old a process of evolution and revolution is always involved. It is the task of the revolutionary to discern the evolutionary moments of the newly emerging and progressive trend so as to promote its development and dominance over the old and dying trend. The decisive moment, the revolutionary moment, is when the final act is undertaken to formally assert and constitutionalize the predominance of the new and the demise of the old. Evolution is thus involved in the revolutionary process as its initial stage.]