By J L Samboma
Our present epoch, the era of neo-colonialism and imperialism, will come to an end but it will only do so when we – the downtrodden in society, Fanon's wretched of the earth – tip it into the dustbin of history. It is difficult for many to accept that this can happen, especially given the recent victory of imperialism in toppling and murdering Muammar Gadaffi and returning Libya back into its deadly embrace.
Surely, goes this school of thought, the forces of imperialism are too strong for us to defeat. A trawl through history shows that international capitalism has been able, eventually, to ride roughshod over previous attempts by progressive forces to counter its attacks. It has always been able to reassert its will. At best, we are led to believe, the current dominance of imperialism over Africa and the Third World as a whole, is but a stage we must go through and, eventually, through step-by-step hacking at its foundations, we will overcome one day.
Self-liberation from imperialist domination
I beg to differ. Agreed, we are living at a moment in the continuum of the development and inevitable decline of international capitalism. To put it another way, we are at a stage in a movement whose logical end point – itself but a moment in a continuum – is our self-liberation from imperialist domination. But though the process of our liberation may be linked to the inevitable decline of capitalism – a necessary condition – it is inextricably bound to our agency as thinking, acting beings. Our liberation will not come about because it is destined to; it will come about when we make it happen. In the Marxian sense, we have to be not only objects, but also subjects of our history.
However, I would also argue that the stage at which we find ourselves now, the present conjuncture, is not necessarily a necessary stage in the development of the revolutionary situation – that tipping point at which successive quantitative changes suddenly metamorphose into a qualitative usurpation of the old order.
I see this conjuncture as essentially a “coincidental” stage, one which occurred at a moment in the process of change of our societies from traditional, colonial outposts: A coincidental stage which gradually became the norm across the board because our people and our leaders could not keep in step with the capacity of international capitalism to creatively adapt and destroy creatively, in order to counter every creative move of the dispossessed with more innovative forms of exploitation and domination. We take one step forward; it takes one back, goes on its haunches and negotiates a flying summersault and lands several feet ahead of us. Dang, we say, what a move! And then we despair.
Neocolonialism is an adaptation of capitalism
This "coincidental" stage can be likened to a cancer which has lodged itself in the body politic of our societies. It was not a necessary development, or one which was somehow "ordained" to take place. Neocolonialism is an adaptation of capitalism. An adaptation in itself is a predictable response. When you heat water, it responds by becoming hot, then evaporating. Had the revolutionary momentum of the colonial period been harnessed and steered in the right direction by our political predecessors, capitalism would have adapted in some other way to those changed conditions. So to believe that we are at a necessary stage is deterministic and mechanistic.
But because our resistance to international capital was weak, what should have been a momentary aberration has become the norm in our societies. An aberration has grown into a cancer which has festered and multiplied and spread to other host organisms.
Obama’s election is a coping mechanism of capitalism
To proceed with the cancer analogy, what is required is radical surgery. If we are only going to treat the symptoms with the ineffectual drug of gradualism, then our class enemy, the capitalist behemoth, is adept at adapting its responses to our responses; the cancer will continue to creatively develop coping mechanisms - like the election of Barrack Obama in America, for instance - which will enable it to perpetuate itself and, by extension, keep the system of exploitation and domination in motion ad infinitum.
That is not to say that we should sit and do nothing but wait for what some have called the "revolutionary impulse." On the contrary, we should engage in daily, “run-of-the-mill” struggles – such as fighting for better working conditions, demonstrating against war-mongering and “democracy-spreading,” etc. But we should also keep our eyes peeled, looking out for THE MOMENT and then SEIZING it at the opportune time to effect the qualitative change which alone has the capacity to rid us of what Malcolm X called “the exploitation which exists on this earth.”
The objective conditions for an anti-capitalist revolution, both in the developed and less-developed economies, already exist. You only have to look at the economic crises and privation around the world to realise that. International capitalism is in terminal decline. The problem is that we don’t know when it will give up the ghost. This is where the agency of the oppressed becomes paramount. We must know when to push the stake through the heart of what Marx rightly called a vampire. For that to happen, the subjective conditions for revolution must be present. It is only when the objective and the subjective synchronise that we can put this rapacious beast out of its – and our – misery.
Objective and subjective conditions for Revolution
And what are these subjective conditions? These can be summarised in three words: education, organisation, agitation. Education: we have to educate ourselves about the exploitation and oppression we face and arm ourselves with the correct ideological tools and the determination to fight for a better world. Organisation: Lenin, Che, Nkrumah, Cabral and others were fervent believers in the need for organising into groups which can rise to the challenges of revolution when the occasion arises. Agitation: waging struggle as the situation demands – whether through strikes, demonstrations, fighting ideological war on the street corner, in newspapers, magazines, on blogs, and even on facebook and twitter.
With the objective and subjective conditions in place, we will have the correct permutation of socio-economic, socio-political, ideological and psychological variables which will ensure a successful revolution when we SEIZE the MOMENT.
Who knows, we could be at this very period in time on the threshold of THE MOMENT, with international capitalism presently in deep crisis. But it is a system we must not underestimate. Its capacity to innovate and recreate itself is legion. Therefore, as we watch the Beast as it writhes in agonising pain, we must educate ourselves, organise ourselves into groups which can rise up to the occasion when it presents itself, and agitate constantly for a better world. In a word, we have to be prepared.
The Beast must die, if We must live
And THE MOMENT, when it arrives, is not going to be a peaceful one. By definition, it is going to be a time OF change, a time FOR change, a time when the oppressors are going to be expropriated. They will not give up without a fight. Why would they? Why should they? Whoever gave up such privilege willingly? Check out history. And we must be prepared to do whatever it takes. Have they ruled over us peacefully? Remember Lumumba's Congo. All you "peaceful" people out there, see Iraq, Libya, Grenada and the others.
Change is never tranquil or peaceful or mild-mannered or by-your-leave! It is the dialectic; it has never been, and never will be, bucked. To make a metal implement you forge steel with fire and hammer it into shape; to make a better world, you change the old one by whatever means necessary. The oppressor has a choice - to do it the easy way, or the hard way. We will react to the stimulus we are presented with. But you can bet your bottom pound sterling the Beast is not going to lay flowers at our feet as we move in for the kill. For, in order for us to live in peace and dignity, THE BEAST MUST DIE.
1.Luwezi Kinshasa, "Nato, Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron: bloody murdrers!," 21 October 2011, http://truthfrequencynews.com/?p=16666
2. Sarah Flounders, "Libya and Imperialism," 24 October 2011, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23364
3. Kwame Nkrumah, "Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of imperialism," 1965, http://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/nkrumah/neo-colonialism/conclusion.htm
4. Rosa Luxemburg on Socialism and the Importance of Objective Conditions, http://struggle.ws/wsm/talks/luxemburg.html