Culture and Ideology
Sékou Touré makes conscience the prime mover of culture; and while he distinguishes conscience from ideology when he states at page 72 that ‘conscience is not ideology’ he also states at pages 70-71 that ‘culture is the framework of ideology, the latter remaining the content of the former’. Just as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah holds ideology as the content of cultural expressions which it utilizes as its instruments for self-realization so does Sékou Touré see culture as a container (framework) within which ideology operates. Sékou Touré’s introduction of ‘conscience’ in the equation appears to deepen it.
The significance of this occurrence of three categories in the cultural equation for the determination of the dynamism of culture could be felt in Sékou Touré’s virtual comprehensive statement that employs them thus: ‘Since the foundation of all culture is Society itself, since the prime mover of all culture is the collective conscience of Society, considering that collective conscience is not ideology, the historical process of evolution of every Society has consistent repercussions in the process of its cultural and ideological development.’ P.72
How do we understand that? We appear to be aided at pages 75-76. There, we are told that society creates culture, first, spontaneously and, second, more consciously. As we have already seen, these correspond respectively to the biophysical stage (instinctual) and the stage of development of life (conscience) in culture. The said pages proceed to explain that once created by society culture does not only become society’s ‘distinguishing characteristic feature’ but in turn reacts upon society to recreate it. It also has a corresponding ideology (pages 70-71) which consistently follows its development and with it interacts. The content follows the framework. Read:
To every culture corresponds an ideology and the nature of culture is but a transposition of the ideology which, as a set of rules of conduct fit for the attainment of certain ideals, follows unintermittingly (sic) the development noted in culture which is the framework of ideology, the latter remaining the content of the former. The harmony between the framework and the content forms the basis for the appreciation of the viability and dynamism of culture and ideology. This characteristic feature of the interaction between the framework and the content justifies the specific character of the cultural personality of each society.
Thus, whereas ideology constitutes the content of culture as its framework, it appears to be at the heels of and determined in its development by culture. And since conscience is presented as ‘the prime mover of culture’ we are obliged to understand conscience to be the ultimate determinant of ideology. According to Sékou Touré (pages 75-76) although the analysis distinguishes between the acts of creation of culture by society and re-creation of society by culture in a sequential order, in reality the process is integrated. We might be justified in including ideology in that integrated process. Hence, ‘conscience’, ‘culture’ and ‘ideology’ are integrated in the definition of culture – with ‘conscience’ being the source of dynamism.
Thus, in the beginning are instinct and conscience:
Then conscience overtakes instinct.
Conscience shows two forms:
The epistemological and the ethical or moral.
It finally gets rid of instinct.
While the epistemological understands the environment
And constructs systems of science and philosophy,
The ethical or moral sorts out the right and the wrong;
These latter are determined by which class interests are represented,
On the basis of which interests ideological systems are erected
To determine the ideals to be attained in promotion of right.
Right is justice
Wrong or evil is injustice
In promotion of which two – justice and injustice –
The fruits of science and philosophy are mutually employed.
All these actions and reactions on the environment accumulate
As Culture of the people who thus create it
But on whom it reacts to recreate them in their eternal march forward.
So that every human society exhibits a culture of and for its survival;
No human society therefore ever lives without a culture.
That is why Africans have always had a culture;
That Africans ever lived without a culture,
As their colonizers and neo-colonialists claim,
Is a lie that no African should ever accept
Lest the light of the African Personality be dimmed in its brilliance!
Thus saith Revolutionary Pan-Africanism
Through the voice of Ahmed Sékou Touré
In elaboration of Marxism-Nkrumaism.
July 1, 2013
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