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Socialist Ideas Are Ideas Of The Last Resort

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The society would continue to suffer and suffer under the current economic system. People would try all sorts of things and tactics to get out of the crisis of capitalism, but fail all the time. The crisis would come after one another. The society would look at other ways; free marketeering, corporatisation, indigenalisation, privatization and all other forms trying balancing tactics between capitalism and reality of life. But the crisis of unemployment, inequality, violence, economic recession, racism, crime and drug abuses would remain with the society. But in all these conditions the poor working people would continue to fight for the alternatives. And these alternatives are, in-all, echoing socialist ideas.

When one is asked to speak on the relevance of Scientific socialism or Marxism to Africa at this particular time, one is being asked to involve oneself in an historical debate, an ongoing debate in this country, particularly among the black population as to whether we can introduce scientific socialism as a basis of economic and social control. It is a debate which has heightened over the last 20 years, and from my own observations, it is being waged in a large number of places across this country. 

Sometimes it appears in the guise of the so-called Nationalist socialism versus the capitalist nationalism; sometimes it appears in the guise of those who claim to espouse a class position as opposed to those who claim to espouse a race position. Thus it would not be possible for us in a single session to enter into all the ramifications of that debate, but it does form the background for our discussion. Not now, but in the future.

Is scientific socialism possible in our time?  What mode of production do we have at the current moment? Is it capitalism? Is it working? Are we able to identify challenges that the current system have on us? Can we think of the alternatives? It is an important debate. It is an important fact that such issues are being debated in this country today, just as they’re being debated in other parts of Africa, in Asia, in Latin America and in many parts of the metropolitan world in Western Europe and in Japan. Because the widespread nature of the debate and its intensity at this time is a reflection of the crisis in the capitalist-imperialist mode of production.

Ideas and discussion do not just drop from the sky. There is not simply a plot on the part of certain individuals to engage others in a meaningless debate. We see today in Europe, particularly in the US and Britain, there is a chronic economic recession. The US has a larger number of homeless people than any other nation on this earth. Britain has huge problem of drugs and alcohol consumption amongst the college students. France is facing its worst enemy; rising unemployment in double digits in the first time since WW2. South Korea is the highest with suicide rate in the world. There is war everywhere, violence between states and within states is a proof that the world is in crisis. There are many wars everywhere today than there were wars in 1700s during the era of colonialisation and slavery. There is a refugee crisis in the world. Half of the world population is displaced by violence. Violence in US, Britain, France, Germany and other EU states because of the conflict between the bourgeoisie regimes and the poor working people is rising. 

I am raising this question because Africa and South Africa in particular is hurting its own people. The question is not new to Africa or to the black people as a whole – that is perhaps essential to understand. Many of us have raised before the question of the relevance of Marxism to this or that. Its relevance to Europe; many European intellectuals debated its relevance to their own society. Its relevance to Asia was debated by Asians. Its relevance to Latin America was debated by Latin Americans. Individuals have long debated the relevance of Marxism to their own time. Was it relevant to the 19th, 20th or the 21st century? If not so, why do we have so many problems than we had in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries? One can debate its relevance to a given facet of the culture of society or to the society’s law or culture as a whole. The capitalist system is not working everywhere in the world as it disappoint millions of working people, even in the mighty USA. It puts the US in unending wars everywhere with terrorists trying all the times to bomb the US state buildings.

Today, we have heard of the white-only conference in France, the capitalist-imperialist class, discussing what they termed “the World over-population”. We should be worried, that these people would kill us in numbers trying to reduce the working class population, particularly in Africa and India. Only they have the power and means to depopulate the world as they have been doing so for years. These imperialists have been killing Africans in Congo and Asia with chemicals decades ago. The Belgian King, Leopold II, castrated many male black miners who refused to work in his mines. He also used chemicals to poison the natives in West Congo and Uganda.

We have seen how Britain in 1920 started to divide the Arab world. They started wars everywhere in the Muslim world and sent the working class to go kill one another. They architecture conflicts, supply arms and present themselves as “intervention”. But we know that their only motive is capitalist intentions. When the poor kill each other in battles the imperialist give them medals as trophies to have killed each other in ceremonies held in New York. 

These are all issues that have to be looked at before we scream “socialism is not working” and we should have some sense of history when we approach this question today, because with that sense of history we can ask, why is it that the question of the relevance of socialism to society always crops up? And, in a very brief answer, I would suggest that what is common to the application of the question is first of all, a condition of struggle, a condition in which people are dissatisfied with the dominant mode of perceiving reality – capitalism. 

Only at that point the society asks about the relevance of scientific socialism or Marxism. More than that, the second condition is that people ask the question because of their own bourgeois framework. One starts out located within the dominant mode of reasoning, which is the mode of reasoning that supports capitalism and which we will call a bourgeois framework of perception. And because one starts out that way, it becomes necessary to raise the question about the relevance of Marxism today.

If this system of socialism worked for the Scandinavia world and Latin America to raise millions of the lives of the working people from economic oppression, why not try this method here in Africa? One might be confused that Marxism is a theory of English-speaking people or the European ideology. It was useful in China, it was useful in India. It was useful in USSR. It was useful in Venezuela and it is today used in Bolivia. They are not speaking English nor either are white people. Most of those who criticize Marxism often are the ones who knows nothing about it. When pressed about it one says “but why bothers to read it? It is obviously absurd”. So one knows it is absurd without reading it and one doesn’t read it because knows it is absurd, and therefore one glories in one’s ignorance of the position.

It is rather difficult to seriously address the question of the relevance of Marxism unless one does the basic minimum of accepting that one should attempt to enter into this full body of thought, because it is a tremendous body of literature and analysis, and from the outside as it were, it is extremely difficult.

We need to study this ideology and method and try it at home. This is because we have arrived at the crisis stage where we cannot move forward. We have taken a two steps forward and three steps backward in the past 20 years. We have destroyed racism only to arrive at racism. We have destroyed inequality only to arrive at inequality. We have taken power from the racial oppressive system only to arrive at racially oppressive system. And our land we di not take.