Monday, December 17, 2012

Time to bury the ghost of Nkrumah and abolish capitalism

The need for African Socialism and a Socialist Party of Ghana

Elections in Ghana- December 2012

'Ghana's election a close contest despite boom' -  Xan Rice writes in The Financial Times, 6th December 2012: “The presidential election in Ghana, west Africa's second-largest economy is fiercely contested; the prize is control over billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues expected to flow in the next four years, giving the victorious party the potential means not only to transform the economy but also to stay in power for a long time. With Ghana's economy booming – the International Monetary Fund predicts 8.2% growth this year, thanks to oil, cocoa and gold production and a strong building and service sector – the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) might appear to have a strong advantage.
But perhaps uniquely in Africa, Ghana has developed a recent tradition of tight elections, with power changing hands from the nominally centre-left NDC to the centre-right New Patriotic Party (NPP) and back again. The peaceful handovers have helped to attract foreign investment. “Ghanaians are divided around two main parties just like the Democrats and Republicans in the US” said Bossman Asare, a political science lecturer at the University of Ghana.
Oil production began in 2010, the fiscal deficit has been cut and the country achieved lower middle-income status last year. Incumbent president Mr Mahama is targeting 8% growth until 2016. The NPP is regarded as the more pro-business, pro-western party. The NPP presidential candidate Mr Akufo-Addo describes himself as “the man to trust with Ghana's money”

  'Ghana election: John Mahama declared winner' – BBC News Africa, 10th December 2012:
 “Ghana's presidential election has been won by incumbent John Mahama, the electoral commission has announced. It said Mr Mahama had secured 50.7% of votes, with opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo on 47.74%. However, the opposition NPP says it will contest the result, accusing the governing NDC party of conspiring with commission staff to fix Friday's poll. Ghana, one of the world's fastest-growing economies, is regarded as one of Africa's most stable democracies. Police in the capital Accra fired tear gas to disperse opposition protesters from outside the commission's offices on Sunday evening. Tanks guarded the electoral commission and roads around the offices were barricaded by police as the results were announced”.

The NDC can be seen as akin to the Labour Party, and the NPP is similar to the Tories but essentially their differences are wafer thin and both parties administer capitalism in Ghana on behalf of the capitalist class. Other political parties in Ghana are the Nkrumahist Convention People's Party (CPP) and the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP). But the NDD and NPP have a stranglehold over the electoral process in the same way as the Republicans and Democrats in the USA.

Adongo Aidan Avugma wrote in the Socialist Standard in April 2000: “The interests of the Ghanaian ruling class since independence is just the same as those of the old colonial regime; and it works with the forces of neo-colonialism and international capital to negate the consciousness of the masses, using its unlimited access to the economic surplus to attain this objective”. Like the liberal democracies in the West, Ghana has adopted a neo-liberal approach to capitalism, and has moved away from the state capitalism of the Nkrumah period;  Avugma writes of Ghana; “The worship and devotion to free enterprise is therefore total. The impression that private investment of capital is essential for economic growth relegates labour to a secondary position in industry and prepares the minds of the people to accept the dominance of capital over labour in the process both of production and distribution. It also seeks to imprint in the minds of the recipients of education the idea that the profit motive is both essential and intrinsic to increased productivity; and the belief that free-for-all competition at the market place is the only way to realise the overall interest of society”.

The Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) is a political party splintered from the CPP,  founded by the late Daniel Lartey who was described as a “Nkrumahist adherent”. The party political philosophy is Pan-Africanist but also advocates autarky known as “domestication” which is “growing Ghana from Ghana rather than depending on foreign aid and investments”.

The Convention People's Party (CPP) candidate for Ghana president in December 2012 was agronomist Dr.  Michael Abu Sakara Foster who received only 0.18% of the vote. The CPP is described as a left wing party advocating “Nkrumaism, Pan-Africanism, Socialism”, and is chaired by Samia Yaba Nkrumah. 

This paltry vote does not reflect that this party governed Ghana from 1951 to 1966. The CPP website does not mention the word 'socialism' but talks of “Self-determination, Social Justice, Pan Africanism”. On Social Justice the CPP say “The state has a moral and constitutional duty to promote equal opportunities and equitable rewards for all Ghanaians”. The CPP believe that “fundamental reforms are needed” and Ghana “needs bold and visionary leadership”. The following statement is 'socialism' but omits the word:

“The principle of social justice is derived from the CPP’s understanding and acknowledgement of the obvious inequalities and imbalances inherent in the availability of natural and institutional resources and its distribution in Ghanaian society. To this end, the CPP is resolved to the application of social justice to reduce poverty through the fair distribution of the state’s natural resources, provide basic education, provide basic health care, and provide judicial service and other social facilities to enhance the stability and cohesion of the state without discrimination regarding gender, religion, social standing or tribal origins”.

Kwame Nkrumah (1909-72) spent 1935-45 in the USA where he became a socialist, he knew CLR James and Raya Dunayevskaya.  Nkrumah's 'socialism'  is the state capitalist 'marxist-leninist' style that held sway in the USSR.  In 1963 the USSR awarded Nkrumah the Lenin Peace Prize.  The current CPP  is still in thrall to Leninist vanguardism:  “Democratic centralism:  The authority of the party is derived, sustained and emanates from the centre to all its organs, functionaries and structures”.

Nkrumah founded the CPP in 1949 and campaigned for the independence of the Gold Coast from British imperial rule. In 1951 Nkrumah became prime minister of the autonomous British colony of the Gold Coast, and from 1957-66 was prime minister/president of the independent Ghana.

In 1957 Ghana had $481 million in foreign reserves. Nkrumah wanted Ghana to escape the colonial trading system by reducing economic dependency on foreign capital, technology, and goods, and in this way Ghana could achieve real independence. The state capitalism of the Nkrumah period saw rapid industrialisation, large public investment in capital projects, a welfare system was established, and  free healthcare and education.  Production of cocoa, Ghana's chief export doubled, and bauxite and gold mining expanded.  The major achievements of Nkrumah's rule were the hydro-electric project of the Akosombo Dam on the Volta river in Eastern Ghana, and the Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO).

Nkrumah met with the US President John F. Kennedy in March 1961.  Following this meeting Ghana borrowed finance from the USA, UK, and the World Bank to fund the construction of the Akosombo Dam which was built by Kaiser Aluminium. The hydro-electric power plant would provide water for irrigation in Ghana's agricultural sector and power for the towns, and for the new Volta Aluminum Company plant. Later the aluminium exports from VALCO would be a major source of foreign exchange for Ghana. The Akosombo Dam was opened amid much publicity on 22nd January 1966.

Nkrumah and the CPP were not noted for their belief in pluralist bourgeois democracy. The 1958 Trade Union Act made industrial action (strikes) illegal, and 'preventive detention'  legislation imprisoned opposition politicians. A 1961 railway strike led to the imprisonment of strike leaders and opposition politicians. A 1964 plebiscite gave  99% approval to changing the Ghana constitution to make the CPP the only legal party in Ghana.

By 1966 with overspending on capital projects, cocoa prices falling, Ghana was in debt to the tune of $1 billion, the foreign reserves had gone, and repayments to the international capitalists were not being met. While Nkrumah was on a state visit to China and North Vietnam in February 1966, the Army and Police with CIA support  staged a bloody coup d'etat and overthrew the CPP. The CPP was banned and did not reform again until 1996.

Adongo Aidan Avugma on Ghana's state capitalism:

“The alternative to the free market policy is normally presented as the state ownership of the means of production. What is not discussed or is not known is that the state ownership of the means of production prescribed and fixed in law does not preclude the exploitation of labour by capital. Capitalism is not only characterised by the legal form that class possession of the means of production takes. That is the superficial aspect of it. The essential aspect is the social fact that those who "possess" the means of production exploit wage labour and accumulate surplus value thus obtained as capital. The immediate post-independent West African economics would suffice to illustrate this point. Workers sold their labour power to various state enterprises; and the products of their labour were sold in the market place with a view to profit. The difference between the wages of the producers and the value of what they produced was used for capital accumulation and the consumption of the privileged classes. Under the guise of socialism that state was employed by the ruling classes to appropriate economic surpluses from the masses. State ownership sought to hide the monstrosity of capitalist exploitation by confusing socialism with state property and presenting it to the producers of wealth as the best”.

Nkrumah wrote 'African Socialism Revisited' in 1967. Nkrumah's philosophical socialism has much to be recommended but its practical application in Ghana in the 1960's was Leninist political leadership, authoritarianism, and state capitalism.

Nkrumah's socialism:

“the recognition that the restoration of Africa’s humanist and egalitarian principles of society calls for socialism”.

“ We postulate each man to be an end in himself, not merely a means; and we accept the necessity of guaranteeing each man equal opportunities for his development”.

“Socialism in Africa introduces a new social synthesis in which modern technology is reconciled with human values, in which the advanced technical society is realised without the staggering social malefactions and deep schisms of capitalist industrial society. For true economic and social development cannot be promoted without the real socialisation of productive and distributive processes”.

“Socialism depends on dialectical and historical materialism, upon the view that there is only one nature, subject in all its manifestations to natural laws and that human society is, in this sense, part of nature and subject to its own laws of development”.

Ghana needs the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.  The world is a "global village". Each region may have its own particular and distinct customs, but they are part of a greater system of society that is world-wide. This system of society is capitalism and every region and nation operates within this system of society in one way or another. Socialism is not a cooperative island in the middle of capitalism, but a global system of society that will replace capitalism.

There is an immediate need for the establishment of a  Socialist Party of Ghana  to enter the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of Ghana to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.

The World Socialist Movement of which a Socialist Party of Ghana would be part is a global socialist movement that believes capitalism cannot meet the needs of the majority of the people in the world. It does not today, and it never can.

Steve Clayton

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous story there. What happened after?
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