Friday, June 15, 2007

Another Book Review

By John Papworth

K. Mulenga demolishes the book which is much loved and read by especially the left-wing in Zambia.

This well written and inspiring book was intended as an essay to support and expand upon the philosophy of Humanism introduced in Gambia by the then President Kenneth Kaunda in 1973. John Papworth was a close friend of President Kaunda and he was later appointed as professor of Human Relations at the union city of Zambia in 1979.

John Papworth, like every disciple of Humanism believes that the dilemma of capitalism can only be resolved through correcting mans moral and spiritual short-comings. He accepts the logic of class conflict in his analysis of capitalism thus he writes, "Giantism is leading to the loss of social control and what is needed is a widespread attempt to create new forms of power on a local basis to be controlled by communities". But he leaves in the dark as to how communities shall in the first place come about this power. Society is warned about the ecological and moral dangers which the dominant and abstract social forces are generating and man is called upon to think in humanism terms.

But humanism, perceived through autonomous village and "Semi-Primitive" Communities, shall remain a mere dream in as much as humanity cannot purchase humanism at the sacrifice of its scientific and intellectual accomplishments. Capitalism depicts social and economic progress but in conditions where wealth and income are distributed and allocated in an arbitrary manner. It is out right nonsense to expect that modern civilized society can revert to primitive forms of economic and social relation.

What we know is that the redundant features of village communalism are everywhere being eroded by capitalistic economic relations. Capitalism entails the tyranny of private capital through concentrating economic and social privileges in the hands of the capitalist class. But what seems amazing is the stubborn impudence of John Papworth in expounding such vain ideas in a country like Zambia in which the peasants live in constant anticipation of economic and intellectual development. Indeed it was not a coincidence to find that the appointment of John Papworth as professor of Human Relations led to student demonstrations at the University of Zambia in 1980. It is economic decisions made by firms or corporation that give rise to economic and monetary fluctuation – market forces conceived under whatever name have come to reflect the antagonistic economic priorities pursued by firms.

Social control can only be achieved after the working class have done away with commodity production and wage employment. But this can only begin to happen when the peasants and workers can plan and organize for the eventual overthrow of private property.

The transition from capitalism to socialism can only be realized through accepting socialist views on class struggle. John Papworth does not come anywhere near analyzing how humanism shall be achieved. Humanism devoid of a political programme ends up in an intellectual dream.
Thus we may infer that a humanist society can not exist under the sun – neither did humanism exist in Zambia during the leadership of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda from 1964 to 1990.

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