Moses Uneh Yahmia
Our teacher Karl Marx was right when he postulated that it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but on the contrary men’s social existence is that which determines their consciousness. He further taught us that the existence of a social reality which will lead to man’s progressive consciousness (a consciousness that enables men to develop art, science, culture, religion or philosophy) is dependent on how the socioeconomic system of a society develops its productive forces and organizes its means of production.
For men to develop arts, science, culture, religion or philosophy, they must have food to eat, clothes to wear, and house to live in. Food, clothes and housings are produced by someone, somehow. And the availability of these essential elements upon which society, civilization and culture are built is determined by the viability of the socioeconomic system which is responsible for developing the productive forces.
Liberia, my country, has a horrible social existence and it is due to the fact that consciousness as a commodity is in low supply; thus vast majority of the masses of Liberians parade the corridors of the society without any iota of progressive consciousness. Statistics have not only indicated that, but also personal life experience and observation can corroborate such claim. This is largely due to the fact that many Liberians lack access to basic essentials such as food, shelter, and clothing. As a result, other aspects of social development in this West African third world nation remain not only stagnated, but also producing the manpower to develop Liberian arts, science, culture, religion, or philosophy has been challenging and problematic. Obviously, this challenge is meted against us because of the decadence of our socioeconomic system, which has not being organized to improve our productive forces since the formation of this space in 1822 and the attainment of its so-called political independence on July 26, 1847.
When a socioeconomic system organizes a society’s productive forces to benefit a privileged few and deprive the majority of the people, one does not need to be good at rocket science to discern that such society will have men and women whose social existence cannot permit them to develop the level of consciousness which can be utilized to advance civilization, culture and society on an industrial scale. Tell me which society ever in the history of mankind has advanced by mortgaging its land (the commanding height of its means of production) to monopoly capitals (predominantly foreign owned) that give back little in taxes and rents to government and paltry wages as reward for labor.
The people, in their horrific social existence, think that to resolve quantity of contradictions created by this wretched economic structure, it only requires changing those who preside over the socioeconomic system which has failed to develop the productive forces needed to engender social transformation and egalitarianism. Sadly, they think it is appropriate to leave the socioeconomic structure in place for another breed of people to occupy. As Ghanaians would say: “Na the same old taxi oo, but na just new driver.”
The capitalist bourgeoisies did not think that way when thought to shatter Feudalism to give birth to capitalism. In their quest to deal with the objective social reality created by such fouled social system that promoted land tenure in exchange for cheap labor and service, the capitalist bourgeoisies opted to efface the entire Feudal social system, and not a reform within the system. After the capitalist bourgeoisies’ victory over the Feudal lords, barons, and knights, a social system that espouses the private ownership of the means of productive was put in place.
It is important to state, however, that the apologists of capitalism intimated that this system would have deliver economic prosperity to the people, reduce inequality, and provide liberty and fraternity. Unfortunately, since the roll out of this system, economic genocide of colonialism was ignited in countries of the Third world in order for this system to flourish in Europe and America. Although slavery ended, African people have suffered the brunt and burst of this system, as their natural resources have been sold at a cheap cost to feed the industries in Europe and America.
So until Liberians can realize that there is an urgent need to overthrow this orthodox capitalist socioeconomic system, vast majority of them will continue to be victims of economic deprivation and inevitable poverty. Unit they can rise up to the occasion to fight for their liberation, they will continue to not only exist as exploited and oppressed masses but also as playthings living at the mercy of their oppressors (the agents of capitalism).
Until they can realize that the way in which their country’s productive forces are organize cannot enable the mobilization of enormous capital to independently fund capital intensive projects which will provide the necessary elements to improve other aspects of social development, they will continue to look to the Bretton Woods Institutions, controlled by imperialist nations for funding to build roads, hospitals, schools, and electric dams. Thus their country’s internal, external, and popular sovereignties will be placed in the hands of foreign interest. And the adverse effect is that the political leadership is more loyal to these institutions as opposed to the people in whose hands popular power rests. Conversely, this is why for us, we were not shaken nor taken aback when the American Embassy, in wanton disregard to our democratic institutions, issued a statement contrary to our Supreme Court’s opinion to place a prohibition on the runoff election until the complaint of the Liberty Party and Unity Party can be looked into by the National Elections Commission.
The Liberian people must consider going the way of the left side of the political spectrum in order to attain collective actualization. Unlike this present socioeconomic system which has robbed them of the rights to full humanization, Socialism espoused to under the framework of democracy will place them at the centerfold of development in the 2lst century. Instead of being used as expendable cannon fodders, they will be subjects of their existence. Socialism, within the context of going outside the trappings of the Soviet Union’s mishaps, will take into consideration the African culture and norms of economic activities and organize the country’s productive forces in other to resolve the quantity of contradiction created by the prevailing economic order. With this, our people’s social existence will breed a progressive consciousness upon which they can build a wholesome functioning society, civilization, and culture by all and for all.
How we intend to organize our productive forces for the benefit of the suffering people of Liberia instead of grooming the political and economic interests of foreign monopoly capitals and the indigenous bourgeoisie political class will be outlined in our next edition!
The author is a student of Political Science at the University of Liberia.