On behalf of the people (some divergence between Patrick and me)

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at SPAMarnet.com.ar
Sun Jan 21 10:01:36 MST 2001

I have read Patrick's remarks to my naive and avowedly uninformed short posting
re: Kabila's murder, which is actually very informative. Many of the details he
comments there are absolutely unknown for us in B.A., which would be no
surprise if we take into account that Patrick Bond himself explains that
misinformation is a rule in Africa proper. All this goes on behalf of my 16
year old Martin, who -seemingly- made one conclusion too far on slimy evidence.
As for my own blunders, that is a different tune. But a Dad is a Dad.

Now, on to what I perceive as a potential difference between the point of view
of Patrick and my own way to see things. I venture on this terrain because this
potential difference has little to do with internal and complex issues in
Africa, or, for that matter, in the Third World in general. There must
certainly be some more "scientific" way to call it, but as you know I do not
stick to proper terminology, so that I will term it the "on behalf of the
people" controversy.

One of the remarks that Patrick made me re: the late Kabila's political
attitudes towards imperialism and domestic lords was that while the lines on
_Clarín_ of Buenos Aires pointing out that LK had been friendly to some
Congolese while not so friendly to some foreign firms did not mean that those
Congolese belonged to the people.

I understand what he means, and this is certainly a serious qualification to
any attempt to probe the complexities of Congolese politics from afar and with
blinkers. So that, first of all, and sincerely, I thank him for the comment.
But -and on to what I feel as a divergence (Patrick may be already thinking
"spite it out, old man!")-, the DRC, IMHO, has never recovered from the
frustrated Lumumba experience and, in more senses than one, it is still
struggling against colonialism at the most primary level, which I feel to be
slightly above that of Namibia before independence.

If this is taken into account, then the "on behalf of the people" phrase may be
understood in many ways.

To begin with, let us watch this "the people" notion a little bit more closely.
Is it a "socialist" notion? Well, in my own view it is definitely NOT. The
notion of "the people", which largely overlaps with that of the "tiers état",
includes the whole complex of classes, embryos of classes, social groups,
brethrens, sororities, technical associations (such as the officers of a
standing army) who, in a given country and at a given moment, struggle together
against the rule of the privileged by an unjust or obsolete social regime.

The French Revolution, a paradigm of _bourgeois_ revolution if such paradigms
exist, was made in the name of the people and for the people. Abraham Lincoln,
who actively defined himself as non-socialist on letter to Marx (BTW: it would
be interesting to know what would Dubbya do with Lincoln if he were now
exchanging letters with, say, Fidel...), defined democracy -obviously he was
speaking of bourgeois democracy- as "government of the people, for the people,
and by the people". The Marxist notion of "national-popular" and many Gramscian
ways to pose the issue _always_ think of "the people" as an alliance of classes
where the bourgeoisie is a part, and an important part more times than not. The
Chinese Revolution, a socialist revolution as it was, did not deny the
existence of a bourgeoisie in China which had to be included in the notion of
"Chinese people", in whose name the revolution had been made _even with the
opposition of the largest fractions of that bourgeoisie to which the fig leaf
was being offered_!

So that, then, this brings me to a second analytical step, which -
characteristically enough, I know, but also because I don't want to establish a
conclusive remark before I hear Patrick's comments on this- I will pose as a
question. Does Patrick think that the fact that many (or even most) of Kabila's
friends had been, as he wrote, Congolese military who were greedy for personal
enrichment make them less members of "the people" as defined above? Does
Patrick equate those persons (on whose personal and political morality I hasten
to indicate that I know nothing, and I am more prone to believe the worst than
the best) with the imperialist concerns? And, last but not least, if we agree
(and this of course is still to be put in clear) in that the DRC is still in
the throes of one of the most protracted anti-colonial wars in African history,
does this have no incidence on the definition we make of "the people" against
the imperialist bourgeoisie?

Just asking, among others reasons, because I do not know enough on African
politics. Honest and wishing to learn.


Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar

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