22 October 2009

Democracy is Ours

[CU for Friday, 23 October 2009]

This part is the penultimate (second last) in the present series on Anti-Imperialism, Peace, and Socialism. It is designed to invite comrades to reflect upon the place of the anti-Imperialist struggle within the entirety of world history.

This is why Issa Shivji’s address on The Struggle for Democracy & Culture (linked below) is used. It explicitly and correctly claims, on behalf of the national-liberation and anti-colonial struggle, that this struggle carries, for the time being, the banner of progress for the whole world. For a long time past, and into the future, until such time as the struggle for socialism itself becomes once again the principal one, the National Democratic Revolutions taken together constitute the main vehicle for human progress, bearing and rescuing all that is noble and fine in humanity.

The bourgeoisie is a thieving class and it will steal the clothes of the revolutionaries without any hesitation if it sees the smallest, or the most temporary, advantage in doing so. The Imperialist bourgeoisie wishes to reverse the appearance of its shameful past and of its hopeless future. It wishes to claim the moral superiority that the liberation movement has, and steal it.

Issa Shivji shows very clearly how the monstrous fraud is attempted. The constant droning about “good governance” is the extreme of hypocrisy, coming as it does from the worst oppressors in history – the force that has taken oppression to the ends of the earth – Imperialism. Read Shivji: he tells it well. But also note the hypocritical machinations of our present South African anti-communists, including but not limited to, the DA. If you did not know better, you could believe from what you read that it was liberal whites who liberated South Africa from the old regime.

The struggle for democracy is ours, not theirs. The struggle for freedom is ours. We are the humanists now. We, the liberationists, are the bearers of human history and we have been for many decades past. The 20th Century was the liberation century, the anti-Imperial century. That was when we overtook the others in politics, in morality, and in philosophy - but we were only starting. In the 21st Century we will finish the job.

Mahmood Mamdani’s “Citizen and Subject” (linked below) maps the relations of four class-based powers in the anti-Imperial struggles in Africa: Bourgeois, Proletarians, Imperialists and “Traditional Leaders”. The (national) Bourgeois and the Proletarians are the modernisers and the democrats, who are compelled by necessity to combine together to fight for the democracy that forms the nation. The Imperialists make a marriage of convenience with the most retrogressive social power that they can find – tribalism – in a pact to hold Africa where it was under colonialism: partly rich, but mostly dirt poor.

We say that capitalism has failed, and that Imperialism has failed. In South Africa, capitalist Imperialism arrived more than 100 years ago, and it never delivered to the people at any time. It started bad and it got no better. Now it has come from a boom from which we somehow failed to benefit, to a recession that will last for years. What’s new? These excuses have been there all along. Maybe it is truer to say that Imperialism didn’t fail: it only lied. It was never going to deliver, and it never will.

Pictures: Eduardo Mondlane; Frantz Fanon

Click on these links:

The Struggle for Democracy & Culture, 2003, Shivji (5035 words)

Citizen & Subject, Chapter 8, 1996, Mamdani (7236 words)


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