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02.03.2007 General News

Property owning democracy lampooned

By : Public Agenda

A lecturer of the University of Cape Coast has argued that the ideology of property owning democracy is inimical to Africans since it serves the interest of the west and not the continent.

Professor Ata Britwum who made the assertion is quoted by the Public Agenda newspaper as saying that “Property Owning democracy means wanting power to serve the whites and this is pernicious to the African.”

He has therefore called on all progressive forces to fight the dominance of private ownership as means of production, calling the property owning ideology 'a monster.'

According to him Paa Grant and Obetsebi Lamptey who were timber merchants in Accra and Cape Coast were never property owners in the current usage of the word; since property at the time was largely owned by the Europeans.

Prof. Britwum expressed his views at a symposium at the University of Ghana on the 'Life and Times of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah' as he spoke on the topic 'Decolonisation as a Global Challenge.'

The symposium was organised by the African People's Platform in commemoration of Ghana's Golden Jubilee anniversary.

According to Professor Britwum, the world order and systems consist of two things: the superstructure and material base.

The superstructure, he explained as the world of ideas, state institutions, social organisations, church systems and beliefs, among others, erected on the material base which serves as the means of production.

He explained that the arrangement between the superstructure and the material base creates a property relation and classes.

He said society has known two types of means of production – communal or public property and private property.

The apostles of Property Owning Democracy always ensure that the superstructure is always in their firm grips so as to manipulate the material base to their advantage.

The New Patriotic Party identifies itself with the ideology of Property Owning Democracy.

Prof Britwum said conservatives believe that civilized society depends on the possibility of having the greatest number of people having a stake in that society. This is the “property-owning democracy.”

If property is held by the state, citizens are reduced to the level of dependents of the State. The focus is then to have in place government policies which will enable all people to acquire and accumulate property.

The philosophy underpinning the politics of the ruling party, in the words of its founding father, the late J.B. Danquah, “Is to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property-owning democracy in this land, with the right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles to which the Government and the laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen.”

Prof Britwum recalled that the above was the arrangement in the colonial era and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah tried to diversify the private means of production into public property after independence.

He observed that Dr. Nkrumah's philosophy of communal property reaped immense benefits as it boosted industrialisation in Ghana. He named examples like Komenda Sugar Factory, Twifo Oil Palm Plantation, Abosso Glass Factory and Tema Steel Works.

Others were the Tema Dry Dock, Ghana Airways, Black Star Line, Volta Cornered Beef and Pwalugu tomato Factory.

Prof. Britwum contended that from the palpable evidence of what Dr. Nkrumah achieved using public property as the means of production, the claim that 'government has no business to be in business' is a false ideology.

“Let's fight that monster chewing us up and chewing them up there.”

He also advocated the building of structures to learn and share ideas about what is wrong with the present arrangement and how to reorganise it.

He said politicians need a clear idea of what future society they want to build, else they will rush for political power and not know what to do.

Source: Public Agenda

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