THE ESSENCE OF AFRICAN LIBERATION
IN THE EYE OF REVOLUTIONARY PAN-AFRICANISM
Lang T.K.A. Nubuor
The fundamental alteration of production relations within and from the womb of the communal mode of production is predicated on a prior appropriation of the means of production by the emerging dominant class and crowned with the political hegemony of that class. Over the recent centuries, however, efforts to effect a fundamental re-alteration of production relations within and from the bourgeois mode of production have rather been and continue to be the prior pursuit of the crowning moment of working class political hegemony. This anticipates the assumption of working class control over the means of production through acts of expropriation (nationalization, for instance) by the newly-emerged state power.
Thus, and this is to restate the idea, while all preceding dominant classes achieve control of and exercise state power in their own interests after appropriating the means of production – a component of the forces of production – working class forces all over the world, since the proclamation of The Communist Manifesto, seek state power before assuming control over the means of production. This reversal of the essential strategy of class history in our era concentrates the energies of progressive forces on ways and means of what they call ‘capturing state power’. In the process, evolving the socialist mode of production while liberating the forces of production from that appropriation in its aid hesitantly slows down.
This detrimental effect on the process of evolving the socialist mode of production and its corresponding state power structure as well as culture remains the unintended denial and abortion of working class organic control and exercise of state power. Amilcar Cabral emphasizes that the effective exercise of state power resides in the class exercising that power owning property. Hitherto, the emergence of class society observes a consistent process of a small section of society appropriating to itself social property in the economic means of production and this forms the basis of its control and exercise of state power. By historical analysis the working class is the class capable of naturally leading society for the recovery and free development of such property within a socialist mode of production.
That spells out the essence of liberation which is to free and develop the productive forces under collective social control. It means that property recovered through expropriation of the capitalist class can be developed to the people’s benefit only within the framework of an evolving or evolved socialist mode of production. To develop it outside that framework is to develop it in itself; that is, to develop it in accordance with its own exploitative logic acquired through the conditions of capitalist development. Ownership changes but the essence remains. Hence, the development of expropriated capitalist property in the means of production to the people’s benefit requires the prior framework of the socialist mode of production which suggests a collectivist logic in opposition to the logic of individualism as capitalism dictates.
Without working class ownership of the means of production – property – and control over the products of its sweat, the working class has had no means and continues to have no means of control and exercise of state power. Those who lead successful upheavals against capitalist, colonialist and neo-colonialist regimes through political movements end up, despite the best intentions, in alienating the working classes (considered uneducated) from this control and exercise of state power. Rather than placing the development of expropriated property within the framework of an evolving socialist mode of production, as controlled by the working class, it is developed in itself to the exclusion of developing that framework.
This sole development of expropriated (or simply put, captured) property on its own premises to the neglect of developing a socialist mode of production, within the ambit of which it should rather be developed, we hold, alienates the working class (the proletariat). Having been alienated from the socially-created means of production for a very long time, the working classes – without having firstly assumed control of the means of production as their own property, collectively though – customarily observe their continued alienation in economic-political structures that do not actually guarantee even their future exercise and control of state power. This forcefully calls to attention the fundamentality of working class ownership of collective property in the means of production within the productive forces.
Reference to the development of collective property draws attention to petite-bourgeois experiments carried out from above. The failure of such experiments is explained in terms of the involuntary premises of their undertaking – consequently, they are not seen as working class initiatives but imperatives issued from above. The question here is: which class in the annals of world history is led by the nose to create its property base for an alienating established state power? Certainly, the dynamics of history point to the voluntary acts of a mass of individuals spontaneously responding to material opportunities of the moment. Out of such spontaneity evolves the new order.
In its embryonic state, intellectual representatives of the new order seek its legitimacy in statements of principle seeking to legitimize those acts in their conscious and universal execution. Such statements of principle are of an ideological nature stating their higher values for social living. Those are the values that then form the basis of society and for the observance of which the state is called upon to facilitate. But since the existing state was previously established to facilitate the opposite and dying value system it rather opposes the new value system which represents its negation. The overthrow of such a state and replacing it with a new one capable of facilitating the observance of the new values is then carried out.
The scenario above illustrates the play of the inexorable dynamics of history. In this light one cannot discard the spontaneity element which involves the activism of the emerging class or coalition of classes. But that element has always required and requires its catalyst. This catalyst is constituted by those few individuals who are the first to observe the potential of material opportunities to be taken advantage of and take it. Their act spreads through those who are attracted by the material benefits and security to be gained therein. These facts of history predispose us to state that until the working class acquires its own collective ownership in property, for which it is prepared to fight to retain, the advent of socialism will be long delayed.
The liberation struggle, thus, must be seen as the quest for the restitution through the new state’s nationalization of appropriated property to those whose efforts created it. But such restitution, a kind of primitive accumulation, is only secondary to the initial or mainstream acquisition of collective property by workers within the socialist mode of production. Restitution through nationalization by the state becomes meaningful only as a reinforcement of collective property acquired through the framework of the collectivist principle. Certainly, a dialectic comprising nationalized property and collective property plays out in such a situation and must be resolved in favour of collective property as the dominant category.
In the field of day-to-day working class endeavours, therefore, liberation struggle assumes a bifurcated character: the struggle to build an independent socialist mode of production based on the collectivist principle and the struggle for the restitution of appropriated or alienated social property to progressively aid the emergence of the socialist mode of production within the framework of a united Africa. We uphold the pursuit of this dialectical bifurcation as the guaranteed strategy for total African liberation from imperialist and capitalist forces – the condition for Man’s emancipation. Such endeavours presuppose the simultaneous elimination of the inherited colonial borders that pigeon-hole and freeze our countries in disunity.
The said pursuit and presupposition constitute the essence of the programmatic preoccupation of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism under Marxism-Nkrumaism. For, as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah indicates, without socialism a liberated and united Africa stands the risk of falling back into the very hands of those against whom so much sacrifice in brawn and blood is made to achieve liberation. A programme for the final liberation of Africa and Africans from neo-colonialism and imperialism is, therefore, founded strategically on the building of the socialist mode of production within which alone nationalized property can be developed – that is, if what Amilcar Cabral calls ‘true national liberation’ is to be achieved.
Having said all this it might appear superfluous to state that inasmuch as the current state of a multiplicity of progressive organizations marks the African political landscape without making an impact on African politics a process of the unification of their front is imperative. However, the repeated statements of the necessity of this unity to merely enable the Left to be heard on platforms preoccupied with finding solutions to problems and challenges afflicting the neo-colonial state and its ruling classes, as of old, raise the need to pointedly address the issue. (Nostalgia for those days rather than their regret is expressed with unbelievable conviction.)
For, no suggestion is made to connect participation on those platforms to the fundamental need for such an organization or party to initiate and accelerate the evolution of a socialist mode of production which alone assures working class control and exercise of state power to address the problems and challenges confronting the working class. Certainly, the advocates of this need to be heard on bourgeois platforms intend to make known the socialist perspective on issues under ‘national’ (that is, bourgeois) discussion. But just making a perspective known without the power to back it is to shout oneself hoarse to be inevitably ignored without a reaction from them.
Living memory of recent events prove that so-called left-wing participation on those platforms and even agitations in the streets end up, at best, in individuals of the Left being siphoned into the state apparatus of the neo-colonial system where they abandon the liberation struggle and concentrate on the socio-political engineering of the neo-colonial state. Instances of this could be cited immediately in South Africa and Ghana where persons believed to be on the Left successfully confronted the existing regime only to continue with the same policies their opposition to which catapulted them into positions of power.
Of course, without a base in a non-existent socialist property nothing else could be expected from them. Finito!
At this point we are compelled to make a few statements about the choice of Marxism-Nkrumaism as the mainstream ideological guide for the programme of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism. This is necessitated by the need for a homogeneous and integrated ideological system if we should have our heads straight on the Pan-African Project. For, the current multiplicity of ‘isms’ on the continent, generated after the immediate post-independence period, leaves the emerging African youth virtually confused as to the way forward. It might suffice to say that the ideological proliferation reflects the interests at play; but a little more elucidation could be of help.
To cut a long story short, Revolutionary Pan-Africanism emerges out of the concern and understanding that without the creation of a single African State based on a socialist mode of production to consolidate a united Africa the independence won from imperialism would be lost through processes of neo-colonialism. The lone voice that articulates this vision is that of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. From his doctoral dissertation, Mind and Thought in Primitive Society (1944) and Towards Colonial Freedom (1945) through Africa Must Unite, Consciencism and Neo-Colonialism to African Socialism Revisited and Class Struggle in Africa Dr. Nkrumah makes the consistent clarion call for a single socialist united African State.
This unparalleled consistency in the annals of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism finds its antithesis in a multiplicity of thought systems that, though sharing the ideological and cultural values of all Africans, are united in their common reluctance to surrender the quasi-sovereignties of unviable states in Africa in favour of a single African State. Hence, these other thought systems acknowledge aspects of Dr. Nkrumah’s vision and thought. The sorry spectacle of attempts to elevate such aspects to the level of an independent equipoise with the entire thought system of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is the immediate unfortunate source of diverse ideological proliferation in Africa. The construction of an Nkrumahism-Toureism is an instance.
To straighten our heads on the ideological question, therefore, we hold that Marxism-Nkrumaism is the mainstream ideological system of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism which is the programmatic statement of that ideology in our era. This ideology expresses the fundamental humanist egalitarian values of African aspirations within the conditions of African modernity. With Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as its foremost protagonist, this ideological system resonates, partly or wholly, in the works of great Africans like Sheikh Anta Diop, Ahmed Sékou Touré, Patrice Imery Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Felix Moumie and others. The initiative, so to say, finds its corroboration and elaboration in the works of these others. It is the most comprehensive statement of African ideology. All others are subordinates of it.
Hence, in the application of the principles of Marxism-Nkrumaism any other stated principle that negates it is considered inconsistent with African ideology. In this regard, any negation of the dialectical and historical materialist premises of Marxism-Nkrumaism stands inconsistent with it and is combated to extinction. For instance, the assertion and insistence on the retention of the multiplicity of these unviable neo-colonial states in Africa are inconsistent with the political philosophy of Marxism-Nkrumaism that asserts a single African State and must be rejected and combated to extinction.
To conclude, it needs be stated that since the application of a principle might yield different results within different conditions Marxism-Nkrumaism does not insist on its proposal of measures to be abiding across space and time. Whereas some of such measures might still be relevant others might be outdated by changed circumstances.
May 4-9, 2013