Wrong about Kenya?
We have the following observations on the article “Kenya Referendum farce” (Socialist Standard, December).
The struggle for a new Constitution has been going on since Moi took power in 1978. In 1982, the fear by Moi of the setting up of the Kenya Socialist Alliance led the Moi government to convert Kenya into a one party dictatorship. During the 80s, the struggle around the Constitution mainly focused on changing the document to allow for political pluralism. Moi gave in and allowed alternative parties in 1990. But the struggle for a new Constitution continued as Moi continued to use the document to abuse power.
We agree with much of your views that the Constitution will not put food on the table for the exploited workers and the oppressed in Kenya. Our view within the Kenya Socialist Democratic Alliance and which we have repeated several times in the past is that the Constitution is a piece of paper which will be violated by the ruling class if their interests are at stake.
From a Socialist perspective, the Constitution can only matter if the power to implement it rests on the hands of the working class, not the thieving ruling class. Even if another “democratic Constitution” is drafted and passed, it will not solve the problem of mass unemployment, mass poverty, exploitation of workers and peasants in Kenya, collapsed health care system and other social and economic maladies brought about by the rot and decay of the deformed capitalist system in our country.
The “Yes” and the “No” bandwagons have no political alternative because parties represented on both sides are fundamentally liberal. We take the position that the real solution to the crisis in Kenya rests on the establishment of a “Workers/Socialist Party” in the country. At the moment, the unworkable system of capitalism is not facing any confrontation.
Our support for the “Orange team” was strategic. Kenyans need to do away with “the problem of the Constitution” so that they can realize that a New Constitution is actually not the solution to the political and economic crisis brought about by the thieving ruling class.
You could have come out clearly in the article to assert that Kenya needs a Socialist government or a “Workers Party” armed with a revolutionary socialist Program for change and transformation instead of talking about a “system which has no frontiers”.
Your article is good. But your writer should also have attacked capitalism directly instead of talking about a system “where money is being worshiped”. By leaving out the dimension of “Socialism” and “Capitalism” in the article (referring to them indirectly) your writer squandered an opportunity to pit Socialism as an alternative against capitalism which needs to be overthrown in Kenya.
We believe that it could have been wrong for us to support the “Yes” side or to sit on the fence as your writer did because the struggle for a new constitution is part of the democratic struggle in our country. While participating in the process, we utilized every opportunity to point out that the Constitution is not the answer to the crisis in Kenya while at the same time pointing out the limitations of the Orange camp which will not be able to go beyond the Constitution to challenge capitalism.
Needless to say, our Comrades on the ground managed to introduce “Mapambano”, our Newsletter, as the official slogan of the Orange campaign. Since the Orange leaders will not be able to deliver even if they came to power, a new force will have to come into play and this is the period we are preparing for.
Okoth Osewe, Secretary, Kenya Socialist Democratic Alliance (www.kenyasocialist.org )
We don’t understand the logic of your position: why vote for something you know is pointless? We suspect, though, that you have a “vanguardist” approach and were just opportunistically using the No campaign to attract a following and that by “socialism” you mean some sort of national state capitalism – Editors.
Right about Venezuela
I read your November issue about Venezuelan president Chavez. I think the left is wrong to support Chavez. He and his supporters want to keep capitalism but reform it so that the part played by state is increased. Their ultimate goal may be establishing a Cuban-style state capitalism in Venezuela accompanied of course by political dictatorship.
I think socialists should expose this reformist bourgeois leader and his supporters and call for working class power in Venezuela. A multi-party socialist state in which the working class rules over the society and expropriates capitalists and petty bourgeoisie and establishes common ownership of means of production and distribution of wealth is the only revolutionary answer to all the poverty, inequality and political dictatorship that capitalism causes at the present time in all countries of the world.
I also condemn those members of the murderous capitalist ruling class of the United States that plan for terror on Chavez.
Down with capitalism! Freedom, equality, worker power!
Siamak Haghighat (by email)
We generally agree except that we wouldn’t talk about a state or the working class existing in socialism – Editors.