Nkrumahism, The Can Of Worms I Opened – Communism

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

Dabbling in the Marxist ideology referred to in the former Soviet Union and Mao’s China as communism is the first rumblings of a precocious teenage mind. In Western Europe and the rest of the world, it is euphemistically called socialism. Most thinking people grow out of it when the teenage hormonal rush that dictates such impulsive idealistic rationalisation of the world has petered out. By 1945, when the communists, have been in power for almost a generation in Russia, its inherent evils could no longer be ignored. It became clear that a more acceptable nomenclature will eliminate some of the bad odour that communism exuded in Russia, hence the post WWII ubiquitous socialism branding. The publication of Keynes’ ‘General Theory, Employment, Interest and Money’ in 1936, was a watershed in political economic thought. After the WWII, when everything came back to normalcy, socialism took over the imagination of very respectable people all over the world. The romanticism about communism was phenomenal, even an intelligent philosopher like Bertrand Russell and George Orwell, a serious writer, fell under its mesmerising spell. The thinking was that it will deliver the best opportunities for everyone. I don’t need to tell you that it failed abysmally from A to Z wherever it was tried. All the western European economies went through dangerous economic atrophy. That of Britain became a laughing stock and whispered in the corridors of European salon as the sick man of Europe. For the African and Latin American countries, the least said about them the better. However, Marxist communist ideology is still work in progress, so they now called it mixed economy.

We don’t live in caves, because people are willing to question old dogmas and consider new ideas. Communism was a new idea that Plato thought about and wrote extensively on it. The prophets of Israel ruminated on the concept, and couched their sentiments in the language of God. The disciples of Jesus Christ put them into practice with devastating consequence, which is hardly preached in churches. Many philosophers tinkered with it throughout the ages. The term Utopia is a perfect society that was coined by Sir Thomas More in the 16th century to reflect a vision of a better world. Not many people know about Etienne Cabet’s, ‘The Voyage To Icaria’, which is similar in philosophical ideology to More’s Utopia. Many are those who brooded over the idea of providing a better society. How Marx boldly proclaimed that through his analysis and studies of history his development of communism is the riddle of history solved was a belter. It was an audacious statement, and the twentieth century offered his ideas ample time to solve that illusive riddle of history.

It is important that it was given the chance to make good the riddle, though at the expense of millions of lives and those who lived and died in abject destitution. We will still be talking about the fact that communism can solve all the evils of the world. Now, wherever socialism or communism survives it is capitalism that run the show, but they are so ignorant to even know the fact and shamelessly appropriate its success. India, whose first leader Jawaharlal Nehru – a Fabian socialist, instituted socialism after independence, was kept in abject subsistence for over forty years. It was the former Finance Minister and later Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh who extricated the Indian economy from the misery of socialism. It freed the Indian economy, which has achieved phenomenal growth ever since. Sadly, the legacy of socialism – corruption, still plagues that mighty nation whose civilization engendered the concept of zero, which without it modern calculus wouldn’t have been possible. Juan Peron’s fascist socialism brought the economy of Argentina to its knees. Argentina used to be ranked higher than that of France; however since Peron’s silliness she has always engaged in a battle to stand on its feet.

I am very certain that Karl Marx would have been appalled by the atrocities and brutalities that his ideas produced in the 20th century. However, I wouldn’t give him the pass for not knowing that this is what was going to happen when people are given unbridled power. I have no doubt in my mind that the French revolution provided the blue print. And since he claimed communism is the riddle of history solved, he would have studied the French revolution in detail to have known that that butchery derived its intellectual and theoretical foundation from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract. It will be intellectually refreshing to witness the way Robespierre adored Rousseau and the impact he had on his thinking. Robespierre was virtually a monster who terrorise the French people and eventually fell under his own terror.

It is perfectly acceptable to deviate from the norm, because that is what brings progress. But we have deviated for nearly a hundred years and the results have not been very pleasant – forced famine, state sponsored mass murder, retrogression, destitution etc. Deviation always comes with it its inherent opposition. Even vaccination one of the greatest medical achievements of modern times was opposed bitterly. There were people who thought Mary Wortley Montagu was dangerous for exposing her own children and questioned her natural maternal love. However, we know the immense benefit, which her deviation from the norm has brought to human kind. Many people living today owe their lives to that simple technique of introducing live virus or bacteria with very low virulence into one’s body which automatically triggers the immune system.

It is not wrong that Marx et al deviated from 19th century accepted norms, because the conditions of workers at the time were really deplorable. A condition which was not the making of capitalism, yet it was blamed for it. Lady Montagu’s breakthrough in vaccination was phenomenal in the dynamics of European population. It was an innovation that was picked up by capitalist doctors who drastically reduced the unmitigated misery of mothers losing their children. Before then, half of all children born in London did not live to see their fifth birthday. All those children who could now survive, as a result, also added to the workforce driving down the wages of workers. Ignorant people who read what Dickens captured in his Great Expectations attribute that to capitalism and write infinite nonsense. It is a well documented fact that after the Black Death which decimated the population of Europe, those who survived had a better bargaining chip due to the short fall in the number of people available for work. Anybody who followed the British election would have seen the leader of the Ukip Party, Nigel Farage, making a lot of inroads with his argument on the influx EU migrants weakening the wages on the British labour market. Think about that.

Now, coming back to the unacceptable state of the European proletariat, it wasn’t only Marx and Engels who wrote and spoke about it, quite a few not only spoke they walk the walk. For example, Owen and Cabet, unlike Marx who just spoke and wrote, put their beliefs into practice. On the other hand, Marx and Engels, in reality, were first class hypocrites. Because Engels was a factory owner passed on by his father – the so called Patrimonial capitalism that Mr Kwarteng is against and denigrates. Marx was a scrounger who lived off the sweat of the workers of his friend Engels’ Manchester factory. Some of his contemporaries spent their own fortune to create the paradise they wanted. Of course, they found out in short order the impracticability of their beliefs; they failed and blamed the society around them. However some of the members like Josiah Warren was honest and wrote, ‘We had a world in miniature – we had enacted the French revolution over again with despairing hearts instead of corpses as a result.’ He hit the nail right on its head when he admitted that, ‘our “united interests” were directly at war with the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation ...’ The foregone quotes can be found in the Josiah Warren Papers, 1833-1868. And this is what Robert Owen’s own son chipped in to explain why his father’s experiment failed, ‘a heterogeneous collection of radicals, enthusiastic devotees to principle, honest latitudinarians and lazy theorists, with a sprinkling of unprincipled sharpers thrown in.’ This was furnished by Joseph Clayton in his ‘Robert Owen: Pioneer of Social Reforms’, 1908, A.C. Fifield, London. This is one of the most serious indictments to the principles of communism. We are all individuals; even monozygotic twins have different personalities. How can anyone or group of people think that they can impose their views of the world on the rest of society. It is only a teenager who has not experienced enough of the world, after all these examples, including what the world went through in the 20th century, who can reason like that. It is George Santayana who said, ‘those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.’ Thank you for reading; the honour is all mine.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina