What went wrong with the socialist project? Read a headline to an opinion article by Uaripi Tjihenuna in the New Era last Wednesday.
What a screaming headline, Yours Truly Ideologically could not but observe. Only that it was an opinion article, and tucked and/or hidden away for that matter on the eighth page of the edition, while to my mind it warranted the front page, to give more visibility and essence to its scream in view of the relevance and pertinence the author is raising in the article.
This is a question that is long overdue if not belated 31 years after Namibia’s freedom, independence, peace, stability and democracy. These being the only values, political for that matter, that Namibia, or Namibia’s political principals of all hues, seem to hold in high regard and putting high premium on. Ignoring and disregarding other values such us inequality, poverty, squalor and destituteness, under which the wretched of the Namibian society area heavily burdening.
The question is belated as by the author’s own admission, socialism or the social project, as he is putting it, was something that many liberation leaders of the world toyed with, without necessary believing in it for some. This also goes for Namibian liberation leaders, notably those in the then Swapo and Swanu. Thus the question is also very much pertinent to Namibia, 31 years after independence. But as much as one agrees with the author about the relevance and pertinence of the question, especially in an independent and free Namibia, one cannot but have a little reservation as to the choice of the word project. Denoting that socialism could and may have been just a project, or an experiment, to at one or the other point be discarded with and relegated to the dustbin of history.
Also Yours Truly Ideologically cannot but have reservation that Socialism was and may have been but just an ideal. Denoting no more than just a figment of the imagination of its beholders. Also one get from the article, certainly without denying that the author is well versed and vested in the ideology of Marxist-Leninism, that Socialism was and is intrinsic to itself as an ideal. Once again which Yours Truly Ideologically differ with such, if only an inference by then author and may not have been an intended conviction.
But coming to the essence of the question, which for that matter the author himself thinks the answer thereto and thereof is open-ended, one cannot but point out that Socialism was only a derivative of a class analysis of society, as expounded by Karl Marx. Meaning that Socialism, which in Marxist-Leninism was developed as an alternative to Capitalism, where the relations within that system was based on relations of production between the various factors of production. And based on the dominant class within these relations of production, all classes in the chain of production were not equal, and thus the products of this common endeavour, were not apportioned equally on an egalitarian basis among all who contributed to their production. Hence the reference to a class society.
This is the essence of historical materialism or materialist conception of history ala Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and others. Which essentially asserts that material conditions of a society’s mode of production, or in Marxist terms the union of a society’s productive forces and relations of production, fundamentally determine society’s organisation and development.
Thus, before we go on to debate whether Socialism is still on as project or not, it is pertinent, first and foremost, to determine what kind of society is any, and even Namibia herself today. What material conditions prevail and what relations of production exist and driven by what productive forces. And are such relations exploitative and/or harmonious or disharmonious. Do we have an unequal society and why?
Marxist-Leninism was first a tool of analysis as to what, how and why the various classes or productive forces in any given society operate, and relate to one another. Yours Truly Ideologically as a matter of undogmatic conviction, subscribes to Marxist-Leninism as a tool of analysis, and as an ideology. Thus postulating that as a tool of analysis of the exploitative nature of a Capitalist society, which Namibia’s still is, it has never been disproven and discredited as much as it has been challenged by various scholars. In the final analysis the reality is that Namibia today is predominantly, if not exclusively, a Capitalist society. Whether Socialism is the answer to the beginning of the end of the exploitation of the working people and their allies, broadly speaking the working class, the author’s, Comrade Tjihenuna’s guess is as good as any adherent of Marxist-Leninism.