Letters: Not the Way to Socialism, & Letter From Zambia
Nationalization of the means of production is nothing but state capitalism. This was what was established in the former USSR and now exists in China, Cuba and so on. It shows that the establishment of socialism through state capitalism is a fallacy; the theory already has failed. We have learned from the experience of the nationalization of the means of production there that it was bureaucratic collectivism and gulags in the name of socialism. Every moment there was a political fear in the mind of people in these so-called people’s republics. Freedom of speech was unknown under the political dictatorship. All the social product was accumulated by the political state and privileged consumption given to a tiny minority of bureaucrats. This state capitalism was wrongly called socialism.
Centralization of the means of production is nothing but a capitalist appropriation. Capitalist appropriation has been going on since the invention of the steam engine. To argue that socialism will be established through this appropriation process automatically is nothing but a simplistic misunderstanding of revolution and wrong advice to the working class. When wholesale appropriation is emerging in the world there will be frequent mass demonstrations. Maybe then some violence will occur. But we have a task, to elaborate the real socialist theory in general before the violence. Never try to seize the means of instruments, but seize the instruments of the political state.
Co-operative factories and stores, which were first advocated by Robert Owen as a way to socialism, are also a fantasy. Some people want to establish a borderless, moneyless, stateless society through the co-operative mode of production instead of the socialist mode of production. They want to achieve socialism through co-operatives and then the common ownership of the means of production. Co-operatives are nothing but another form of capitalist enterprise and production. Actually socialism means the socialization of world resources and the means of production. This is the object of socialism and the social revolution, but we cannot make a blueprint.
Letter from Zambia
Barely a month after President Lungu swore his new-look cabinet into office in September last year the country was hit by a sudden hike in pump prices. A litre of petrol jumped up to K13.70 from K11.50 and diesel is now selling at K11.50 from K8.70 a litre. The rise in fuel prices has translated into a rise in other prices – especially mealie-meal which shot up from K75 per 25kg bag of breakfast to Kl10.
Subsidies on fuel were removed by the late President Michael Sata way back in 2012 in order to disadvantage fuel vendors who were deemed the main beneficiaries. But the removal of subsidies on fuel in particular gave rise to unanticipated economic and social problems.
The fight against corruption
During the past years President Lungu has been blamed among other things for having been too silent on corruption. The President announced during the inauguration speech that he was going to stamp out corruption from the PF. The first victim of the fight against corruption was the former Minister of Broadcasting and Information, Mr. Chishimba Kambwili, who was recently dismissed on allegations of corruption.
Back in 2012 the late President Sata had cautioned the anti-corruption Commission against investigating and indicting serving cabinet ministers. It is alleged that Chishimba Kambwili, the most outspoken and versatile of politicians, has amassed large amounts of wealth. It has been revealed that Kambwili recently purchased a fleet of thirty articulated trucks worth billions of kwacha. It is also on record that he owns a construction company that has failed to complete the construction of clinics and schools despite having been paid in full by the government.
In Zambia most cabinet ministers and members of parliament own private enterprises that are awarded tenders to supply building materials, food to hospitals and uniforms for nurses and police offices etc. It is also on record that the government has been in most cases failing to pay private contractors on time – hence the failure to complete public projects. The fight against corruption is in most cases a sterile political tactic as most ministers who have been indicted for corruption have not yet been imprisoned. People were not surprised when President Lungu recently announced that he was forgoing 50 percent of his salary as a contribution towards national development.
Tribalism at the helm
During the presentation of his inauguration speech on 11 September President Lungu went on to assure the people of Zambia that he was going to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to find out who was behind an ethnic fracas that look place in Namwala when a mob of Tonga tribesmen descended upon some Bemba-speaking residents, ransacking their homes and evicting them . This was after it was announced that PF president Lungu had won the elections. It was an expression of political dissatisfaction and UPND leader Hichilema had disputed the election results. President Lungu had defeated Hichilema by a slim margin of 100,530 votes during an election that has left Zambia divided in terms of political and tribal loyalties. Regional tribalism in Zambia today is perceived to be a cultural, traditional and political antagonism between those who voted for the PF and UPND respectively.
Ever since he succeeded the late Anderson Mazoka as president of the UPND in 2005 Hichilema has been championing tribalism by parading himself as a political spokesman of the Tonga tribe. The UPND leader is renowned for promoting, organizing and inciting political hooliganism during election campaigns. It is Hichilema who has been spearheading the culture of political and ethnic antagonism (defined as tribalism) between the Tonga, Lozi and Bemba tribes. The UPND alleges that the Tonga tribe in particular has been politically marginalized ever since the dawn of political pluralism.
The veteran Zambian politician and member of the UPND Daniel Mukombwe even went to the extent of advocating the rotation of the presidency between the Tonga, Lozi and Bemba tribes every four years. The reluctance of Hichilema to accept the results of the 11 August presidential election gave vent to heightened feelings of ethnic and political marginalization among UPND supporters throughout Zambia.
Because Zambia is officially a Christian nation, the extent to which Christianity is helping to restrain ethnic and tribal prejudice needs to be appreciated. The moral and ethnic value of Christianity blends well with the PF slogan of ‘One Zambia One Nation’ which is visible among the street vendors who congest Chisokone Avenue in Kitwe town centre and who seem little affected by the hike of fuel and mealie meal prices.
The Labour movement in Zambia seems to be a long way from awakening class political struggle in that the trade unions play a minor role in the day-to-day social problems facing the working class. Because the social and economic problems Zambia is experiencing originate from capitalism, they cannot be resolved from within the social and economic programme implemented by government. Social poverty is here to stay.