Sunday, March 27, 2022

"Darling Kaunda (1972)

 From the March 1972 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have always been a lone voice when we have said that the struggles of subject peoples of Africa for national independence are a fruitless waste of blood and effort. The fact is that at present all peoples are subject peoples; those of England, Russia or Cuba, just as much as those of Kenya, or Zambia who were until recent times under the rule of British imperialism. And now that the hated British have gone, all that has happened is that the mass of the peoples of black Africa has changed white rulers for black ones. But it would be a bold man who would now say that the change from a foreign to a native ruling class has meant any real gain for the ruled.

The rulers of black Africa make a great hooha because the Tory government has come to terms with the Smith regime in Rhodesia before the achievement of that great desideratum — one man, one vote. Now Socialists are the last to decry the necessity of democracy even under capitalism. On the contrary, we realise that when the time comes that the working class understands the meaning of the need for Socialism, then it is by the exercise of the vote in a democracy, that the new society will be won. In the meantime, the sheer hypocrisy of the African rulers is quite mind-boggling. If any racialist doubted the equality of black with white, they must at least be convinced that a black politician can be every bit as obnoxious a liar and a humbug as his white equivalent. The leading opponent of the deal with Smith is Nyerere of Tanzania who sheds his crocodile tears over the lack of votes and other rights of democracy in Rhodesia for the black inhabitants of that unhappy land where most of the population is disfranchised and the leading spirits of would-be opposition parties are kept in detention without trial.

Yet none knows better than he (who compounds his felonies with the impudent claim to be establishing Socialism in his country — but then that specious nonsense is repeated in all the most unlikely places, Egypt, Israel, India et al) that the same lack of democracy exists in his own country. It is true that the blacks have equality of voting rights: But Nyerere has made sure that the vote is worth nothing by banning all opposition so that in practice you have a vote without a choice. Which is just as much a sordid farce in present-day Tanzania as it was in Hitlerite Germany (or as it is, of course, in Russia or China). And in Tanzania, just as much as in Rhodesia, the place for political opponents, for those who dare to suggest there should be freedom to vote for some other party than Nyerere’s is in gaol. Black political prisoners have, in fact, been languishing in gaol in Tanzania just as long as in Rhodesia.

In neighbouring Zambia, the president, “my darling Kaunda”, as a New Statesman harridan, Naomi Mitchison, once called him, has decided that the faint vestiges of democracy that were discernible (under a microscope) in his country were no longer supportable and he was graciously giving his people a new constitution. A one-party democracy. (And don’t imagine that this square circle is always recognised as such even here. The allegedly liberal Guardian, for example, has often sent its creepy-left reporters like Steele and Adeney and Gott to sing the virtues of Nyerere’s Tanzania and has used the phrase “one-party democracy” without a blush). It seems that a former comrade of Kaunda’s called Kapwepe, had the temerity to use the existing constitution to form another opposition party. Constitution is damned, said that lovable democrat Kaunda and proceeded to shove over 100 prominent supporters of the infant new party where he thinks they belong in liberated Africa. In clink. But still, he wasn’t satisfied. It’s not enough that he throws members of an opposition party into gaol. He must also make sure that they have no paper right to form an opposition party at all, which is why he wants to change the constitution. The poor devils who wish to have a little of the freedom the African nationalists were always prating about must be wondering why he bothers. They will rot in gaol either way.

Perhaps to rub in the anti-racialist lesson that white political crooks and black ones are birds of a feather, Kaunda is not satisfied with playing the role of an African Hitler, he must emulate Stalin as well. It is always difficult to form an opinion as to which particular piece of murderous villainy of Stalinist Russia was the worst, but one that was extremely gruesome was, at the time of the infamous pact with the Nazi beast, then handing over to the Nazis of German Communist leaders who had taken refuge in Russia — Stalin’s own dear comrades. We don’t know whether these victims appreciated the change of scenery as they were taken from a Communist concentration camp to be butchered in a Nazi one, but the episode was one to make a Borgia cringe. And where does our gallant Christian and “socialist” Kaunda come into this? Well, as is well known, his great enemy is the white-fascist-beast, his neighbour Smith of Rhodesia. So what does he do? He rounds up black “freedom” fighters in his own country. And does he gaol them (without trial, of course)? It seems that wouldn’t suit his book. He actually hands them over to the white-fascist murderers, the self-same villains that cause him to inveigh against our wicked Tories (they are undoubtedly wicked enough, including of course that fat cynic Lord Goodman who used to have the nerve to call himself a socialist. Presumably still does). And of course, Smithy gratefully accepts the gift and does what Kaunda expected him to do. Sentence the poor bastards to death.

No doubt you heard the screams of protest from the assembled leftists as they smashed the windows of the Zambian legation to draw attention to this monstrosity. And then you woke up. There hasn't been as much as a resounding tinkle. Exactly the same as in the good old days when Stalin was murdering Russian workers by the millions, including his own Bolshevik comrades. Some, one must say, did demur. A quarter of a century later when Khruschev came out with the news that honest people knew perfectly well at the time. The Guardian did report these grisly goings-on. But there have been no screaming leading articles denouncing Kaunda for the way he treats black men. Yet they are so ardently concerned with the freedom of black people that hardly a day is allowed to pass without a denunciation of Vorster and Co. (who are indeed grim enough in all conscience).

And what does all this add up to? Surely, all the energy that millions of people, black and white, put into reforms such as nationalism, not to mention all the heroism and sacrifice in places like the Mau Mau jungles, all this simply leaves the capitalist jungle intact. And it, therefore, follows that all the jungly things go on and the sufferings of mankind go on with them. Roll on the day when the working class of the world, black, white, brown, yellow, decide that only the cutting down of the capitalist jungle will serve. Because until that day dawns, humanity will have to live with horror.
L. E. Weidberg.

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