DSM Holds Socialist School
The Democratic Socialist Movement held a two-day Socialist School on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September, 2023. The school, was organized essentially to arm our members (both old and new) as well as supporters theoretically and help them deepen their understanding of the rudiments of our Marxist ideas as well as discuss the current developments in the class struggle in Nigeria and internationally. The school, which was held in-person in Lagos and online, had about 40 participants.
By Gideon Adeyeni
The first session of the school, which was introduced by H.T Soweto discussed “What is Marxism?” The introduction was dedicated to examining and explaining the philosophy of Marxism – dialectical materialism, stressing that Marxism is a philosophy that allows us to correctly interpret world events and the stages of the class struggles, thus helping to channel anger into action especially in the direction of the ultimate overthrow of capitalism. According to Soweto, dialectics defines the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought, while materialism refers to the explanation that an understanding of the world has to start from the real, material conditions in which ideas arise. He also talked about surplus value as the basis for the exploitation of labour and the source of capitalist profits.
The lead off for the second session, which was taken by Abbey Trotsky, highlighted the unending crisis of capitalism globally and responses of working masses. Capitalism continues to give rise to numerous crises across the world. It was also revealed that the global economy is no doubt in crisis, with about one-third of countries experiencing slowdown. Abbey Trotsky stressed how the global economic slowdown isn’t showing any sign of significant improvement anytime soon. Rising national debts, even in industrialized countries, was also noted as another evidence of the economic crisis that we face globally. Wars and armed conflicts in different parts of the world as well as climate crises are also a product of an ailing system that has become a fetter on the further development of productive forces.
The support the recent resurgence of military coups in a few African countries has enjoyed is a reflection of the failure of capitalism, declined confidence in bourgeois democracy as well as the absence of mass working people’s party which could pose socialist alternative.
While the anti-western imperialist sentiment an element of the growing anger in Africa, Abbey stressed the point that the working people and youth must refuse to embrace another imperialist master such as Russia in the name of fighting one.
The contribution of comrade Odun from the Socialist Party, Leicester Branch, UK reveals that more advanced capitalist countries in Europe and the US are seriously impacted by the global crises of capitalism and how the social crises have developed over the past period with features of the third world co-existing with the latest inventions of Science and technology in these centres of global capitalism. Among other things, he talked about how in the UK the ‘the un-affordability of dental healthcare which is not supported by the NHS is forcing young people to remove their own teeth by themselves instead of visiting a dentist”.
The first session on Sunday September 10 was led by Chinedu Bosah on “State and Revolution”. Chinedu emphasized that the state is an organ of class rule. The state, using the media, the education system, police, military, judiciary, religion, among others, refers to ‘the paraphernalia through which the people are controlled’. The essence of the state, which developed historically from the division of society into classes, accordingly is to ensure that the exploitation of the working people continues unhindered. The bourgeois state is presented as an arbiter that helps harmonize class interests. However, in reality the interests of the ruling and the oppressed cannot be harmonized. It is essentially in place to enshrine an order to sustain the exploitative and oppressive system of capitalism. The courts, as an arm of the state, only upholds the law which is a creation of the capitalist class. The police and military, as an instrument of coercion, also enforce the rule of the capitalists. The case of Lekki massacre, when soldiers were sent to repress the #EndSARS protest, was cited as a typical case of the police and military performing its original role.
History however shows that breaking the ranks of the military is possible. Mass struggles can also force the capitalist ruling elite to grant concession such as wage increase, something which may be soonest eroded by inflation or rendered useless by anti-poor policies. Also, sometimes, we have seen the court rule in favour of activists in cases of victimisation. However, at periods when struggle threatens the interest of capitalism, the state will bare its fangs demonstrating its true role.
The state, therefore, isn’t instituted to defend the interests of the working masses. With the victory of Socialism, however, the state becomes an instrument for defending the interest of the working people and poor majority against the tyranny of the few oligarchs, profiteers and socialism. But Socialism is simply the road working people must take towards realising a communist society i.e. a classless society. Under a communist society, the state will wither away as contradiction and inequality which are essential feature of class society no longer obtain.
Comrade Temiloluwa who gave the lead-off for the session on “Marxism and the Liberation of Women” stressed how Marxist perspective in the fight for women’s liberation makes for the recognition that the struggle for women’s liberation is part of the class struggle against capitalism which doubly oppresses women.
Comrade Duro’orike, while leading the discussion on “Our Role in the Unfolding Struggle against Fee Hike, Student Loan and Other Attacks on Public Education”, noted that there is an attempt by the present Tinubu government to price public education out of the reach of the children of the working masses.
The discussion reviewed the critical role that the ERC as a campaign organ of the DSM on campuses in Nigeria is playing and must continue to play with respect to the ongoing struggle against the attack on public education – and particularly at the University of Lagos, where our organization has been at the frontline of the campaign against the 600% increase in school fees along with some leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and other student bodies. Our comprehensive analysis of the student loan which was widely published in the media contributed immensely to arming working people and youth against the scheme. Ultimately, our struggle, it was stressed, as we continue to defend the right to public education is to build the revolutionary organisation and mobilize to defeat the iniquitous capitalist system.
Participants also made contributions which enriched different discussions. Marxist literature and CWI articles on different subjects such as global crisis of capitalism, Marxist philosophy, Russian revolution, women, climate crisis etc were printed as pamphlets and shared with branches and new comrades. A total sum of N70, 000 both in cash and pledges was collected as fighting fund.