“When you make men slaves, you deprive them of half of their virtue, you set them, in your conduct, an example of fraud, rapine and cruelty, and compel them to live with you in a state of war.”
Olaudah Equiano, 1791
Further, “The real education of the masses can never be separated from their independent political, and especially revolutionary, struggle. Only struggle educates the exploited class. Only struggle discloses to it the magnitude of its power, widens its horizon, enhances its abilities, clarifies its mind, and forges its will.”- Lenin
Rise in lawlessness
Since the election of George Weah as President of Liberia, there seems a growing culture of lawlessness taking root in the homeland. This new trend, with its chaos and unrest, undermines the rule of law and threatens the gains the country has made in peace and security over the last decade.
It looks we are back to the war years with the normalization of lawlessness, leading to a swathe of rebel generals committing heinous crimes in the name of fighting a so-called revolution. Howbeit, after the conflict, these former rebel generals got trained during the DDRR process and reintegrated into the communities- in the hope, they become decent citizens. Experience shows that some have relapsed into their old habits.
Unlike in the past epoch, when the so-called generals arbitrarily did such ugly acts during the war years, it is the government now that hired them in peacetime to do hatchet jobs. Such a conclusion is palpable given how Mr Weah instructs his men to intimidate voices of dissent who refused to kowtow to his whims and caprices.
Persons such as Siaffa Norman, General Power, and DKB have reemerged on the national scene with a vengeance. The regime has given clandestine operations to these terrible men because it fears allowing the security apparatus of the state to carry out criminal operations could backfire. This awareness makes using the ex-rebel generals handy.
The cruelty of the actions coupled with the regularity that they happen, involving ex-rebel generals, leaves one to make two conclusions: the president sanctioned these attitudes; they are a sign that the entire law enforcement sector cripples or told to take the back seat as Weah merges power in the most insidious of ways. These two conclusions are profound because for these general to carry out operations are in the legal domain of the police can only be when the president sanctions it. Further, the only way the police can refrain from performing their duties is when higher-ups instruct them to take a back seat.
These acts of lawlessness are a sign dictatorship is on the horizons, a conclusion informed by the rise in hitman crimes. It cannot be alarmist when we can draw a nexus between secret deaths, disappearances, suspicious accidents to state-sponsored violence. Dangerous people with rich credentials in very horrible acts are at the forefront.
Reflect on the sequence of events to conclude. Nathaniel Mc Gill organized the generals into an organization, while LRD$16 billion and US$25 million scandals popped up, then they bumped off Matthew Innis. Adolph Lawrence would get set up in a fatal accident. Bhopal Chambers was the first to arrive on the scene even though he lives far away. Can’t you see the correlations?
Apologists for the administration will dismiss these points without giving them deep thoughts. But dictatorship doesn’t happen overnight. It is a structured process with timelines, gradual rollouts, and testing events. Liberia is not yet in full dictatorship. The pig still has lipstick, but we are close to seeing it unmasked.
We have not lost all. We can fight and defeat these menacing tendencies by organizing resistance efforts. Popular forces in alliance with all the oppressed masses must fuse for the common assault against the enemy. This requires the active participation of the people in political life. It means we should organize against economic backwardness, plunder, and social injustice.
Also, we must organize around demands such as free healthcare, education, and nutrition. We must build confidence among ourselves while discussing social problems. For instance, we must intersperse organizing and resistance with the debate on why we are poor and what we can do about it.
Rise of Piety (Pentecostalism, etc.) formations
It is foolhardy to leave class struggle and turn to piety institutions based on faith, creed, and devotion to solve social crises. But resorting to them for social salvation is the rising menace in Liberia and the global South. It is a reaction to the failure of neoliberal globalization and the rottenness of national governments. Thus, the masses see in these religious formations outlets that offer explanations for social mysteries.
This is happening because of the weakness of popular organizations- or the lack thereof. The people have drifted to spirituality, faith and devotion in search of an explanation for their material desperation. Such is the reason for the influx of people joining Pentecostalism. Our people see religious outlets as an antidote to the social collapse because the left is weak and offers no alternative, while the neo-colonial comprador is utterly rotten to do anything.
The failure of the neoliberal order, coupled with the rottenness of the state formation, the lack of proper left forces in the country to channel the anger of the masses into ideas for a new society, created the space for mushrooming churches to fill the void. Nature or politics don’t tolerate a vacuum. That is why the people in search of material prosperity have found the Pentecostal formations as their last hope.
This poses new challenges for organizing the masses around popular demands. The problem is, while the left argues that the basis for the backwardness of society is at production, the piety formations offer the spiritual realm as their answer. The piety movements vaccinate people against engaging in struggle and resistance. The immediate struggle thus becomes a clash between social and religious consciousness.
We must all reflect on these issues to find a way forward.
When worse comes to worst
The Republic is lock stock and barrel in a crisis. Never have we seen during peacetime poverty, mystery and ignorance betting against the existence of the masses in ways that have brought their survival into uncertainty. However, forces of transformation and militant organizations must put front and centre on their agendas, the building of solidarity with the people, and preparation of the Liberian people to confront the common enemies—the Weah regime, imperialist capital and imperialist governments.
It is crystal clear that the Liberian economy is suffering a landslide collapse; unemployment and inflation are on the rise. Almost everything has come to a halt, as no plan to rescue the republic from the abyss. Before this era, the economy was showing symptoms of terminal illness- but because of the plunder, avarice, and fascination for wealth by the rogue’s gallery of cavorting charlatans- the situation has careened out of control. No progress in sight! No prescription to assuage the turmoil. Chaos!
This must mobilize enlightened forces under a sacred banner-- alongside the toiling masses-- map out the schedule for the freedom struggle. This means social forces should prepare to battle. Oppose the regime and build optimism among the people, projecting a different socio-economic model for transformation void of the race to the bottom neoliberal order. Call out the greed of the regime but tied it not only to the penchant for wealth by the cast in power but also link it to the logic of the neo-colonial system.
Our country is in grave danger. Its future is in topsy-turvy. The worst group is in charge of the state and bleeding it dry. Now, most people believe those elements thrust to power is to pillage. It is like the country is unfortunate to have a batch of people who have no ideas to lead. Sadly, they are in positions of decision-making.
They are the worst ruling cast in Africa through and through. That the country has a container bourgeoisie which feasts on the national treasury- all we know too well. That they have made the country a laughingstock since the ascent of Weah is true. That the country is in crisis is a conclusion backed by our daily experiences. Not only is it blind and daft but also greedy and corrupt to the core. Just as it is reckless, so it is immune to logic. Such is the nature of the dark forces that parade themselves as leaders.
The imbalance is at the point of production. It is there we must resolve it. For instance, our economy is a monoculture. We rely on the cheap export of rubber and iron to get precious foreign exchange. Secondly, like most third world countries we have mastered the act to sell off our natural resources to multinationals for cheap ground rent and royalty in return, while the monopolies make millions from the enterprise through the super-exploitation of labour. It is the rent and royalty the regime relies on to funds its wasteful budget, while the people hang by a thread in terms of survival.
Until we solve the leadership challenge, we cannot solve the imbalances in our economy and society. In the last analysis, the success of all hitherto third world countries has been the people-class conscious leadership alliance united by a popular platform. If we cannot address this question, we will remain resign to the fate of exploitation and humiliation, while those we entrust with political leadership plunder to our disadvantage. Thus, it is this longstanding problem we must struggle to reap the fruits of struggle, or we would experience a bad harvest.
The logic of history follows the iron law whenever there is a crisis that threatens to send the people back into the Stone Age. It follows the working people and other sections of the marginalized camp- their political vanguard at the forefront- must enter resistance mode to stop the doom. This truism defeats the romanticization of the deus ex machina formulation, where one wished the problems of the era would go away through the magical strike of an invisible force outside society.
This romanticization — rooted in Greek mythology—discourages the people from taking part in the class struggle. It makes them play indifferent to their historical duties. Then the rogue government becomes ever more forceful in looting the national wealth. No great man, saviour or messiah will liberate the masses. Only the Liberian people in alliance with their political vanguard can turn history on its head.
No matter the spin put on it by pretending as nice liberals, experience shows fight counterrevolution with popular actions. It is a folly to think one fights systemic theft of the national funds by the Weah regime through moral appeal. Neither is it fought by hoping the people who rob us go undergo a Pauline conversion. None is plausible.
We ask—what worse mockery of religion anybody does than looting on a grand scale and building a church with the stolen funds? For those who looting and pillage are causing deaths on a scale not imaginable have read all the religious texts — they refuse to change.
Yet they want to send the Liberian masses to the bottom of society. This tells you people who visit pain on the poor don’t consider religion in their calculations for material wealth. Therefore, the oppressed masses should realize freedom only comes based on independent class actions. The more we wait, the more we gloss over the reality, the more we egg on Weah and his handlers to distribute mystery to us.
The fatherland or death- the choice is clear!
Kiadii writes from Accra, Ghana; you can contact him at [email protected] .