The center of bmd disintegration is elitism!
The deepening BMD leadership crisis which has led into the degeneration and disintegration of BMD itself brings about an important need of its analogy and by extension of the UDC. The political hostilities and suspicions going – on, call for the BMD organizational scrutiny and ruthless criticism of its mistakes. My arguments should not be interpreted as trying to be right against the opposition but rather as the need to engage in political appraisal of opposition politics for their concerted and cohesive action. The detonation of my arguments takes guidance from Leon Trotsky`s statement when he said “I know that one must not be right against the party. One can only be right with the party and through the party, for history has no other road being in the right.”
The basis of the animosity within the BMD derives from its very nature, structure and ideology. As a liberal party, much of BMD thinking proceeds from general ideas about the evils of authoritarianism, without much effort to investigate the actual course of events. The essence of the BMD position is ‘universal’ generalization of a few ‘universal truths’ without serious theoretical equipment. The danger about this political world outlook is that it directs attention away from contemporary problems, and leads to an extreme systematic false consciousness of an ideology termed elitism. Elitism is the assertion that in practice the minority always exercise effective power, and that the dominant minority can never be controlled by the majority, no matter what so – called democratic institutions are employed. This is a system designed to safeguard the interests and principles of the selected few. One of the negative features and betrayal syndrome of elitism is the assumption that the answers to all problems are granted to individuals than to general membership. This kind of a political approach always leads to what Vladimir Lenin described as ‘the organization substituting itself for the party as a whole; then the central committee substituting itself for the party; and finally, the ‘dictator’ substituting himself for the central committee.’
As a BDP splinter group, BMD has been founded on bourgeoisie experience, and has henceforth carried with itself the Domkrag tendency of the rule of ‘officialdom’, where ordinary members are coerced to defend the interests of the party leadership without making independent evaluations. The authoritarianism that the founders of BMD were trying to run away from at BDP still hovers in their thought process. This tragic political belief has inevitably resulted to the most absurd and reactionary grandiose situation of ‘leadership wrestling’, ‘autocratic populism’, and ‘personal adventurism’. While it is of no undisputable fact that politics by its very nature lives and thrives on controversy, the anarcho– syndicalist created situation at the Bobonong BMD Congress deserves to be condemned with the heaviest and highest pitch of voice! The failure by BMD leadership to solve their actual contradictions amicably, is a reflection of the objective conditions of elitism i.e. passive abstentionist attitude of members’ consciousness. Because the masses do not exercise any measure of indirect power within BMD, the rival extremism of BMD executive committee ended – up in a tragedy, where some members sustained injuries. This ludicrous situation is sufficient indication of the bankruptcy of ultra – liberalism.
The greatest danger about elitism is that it reduces the authenticity of alternative politics and inevitably breeds within its structure, the embryo of a group of ‘meritocrats’ and will, if successful in attaining a ‘regime – change’, create a new exploitative society and thereby cause a change effect which can be described as ‘changing things to remain the same.’ What this means is that such a political approach poses the risk of holding back the struggle of the masses and of turning the revolution into a bureaucratic counter–revolution. Such is elitism, an ideology described by Kwame Nkrumah as “tailor made to fit capitalism and bourgeoisie de facto domination in the capitalist society.” All in all, elitism is a recipe for disaster as it derives from the myth of superiority and inferiority. As Thomas Paine put it, like monarchy elitism is a “plaything for the rich and a menace for the poor.”
The sad thing is, since elitism is an ideology that flavours all aspects of life at present and is perpetuated by all media as a widespread proposition, all opposition parties in Botswana without exception have resolved to adopt its habits. The obscenity of bowing to the increasing sclerosis and ritualism of elitism by opposition block is its possibility to improve the conditions of life of the oppressed and exploited is highly questionable because it suffers revolutionary amnesia.
The crux of the matter is a moralistic view of a class struggle and the absence of a working – class tradition and activism in Botswana politics. The immense majority of Batswana have always been ready and eager for ‘regime change’ but they are always betrayed by purchasable and reactionary opposition leadership. In examining the significance of the opposition betrayals and its defeat as from 1965 general elections, Botswana`s political grandmaster, Dr Kenneth Koma explains in Pamphlet N0. 1 that “the genesis in petty quarrels about leadership, petty concerns, reciprocal bickerings and mutual character assassinations are a real indication of the fact that the leaders had not gone into the struggle with the dedication and seriousness which the problems of the liberation movement demanded.” The current unfolding tragic moments on the side of opposition politics, is not only a fulfillment of Dr Koma`s sentiments but is also a clear sign that the opposition leadership is not seriously concerned about the future of Botswana and the destiny of its citizens. Rather, their concern is how they can excel at hurling insults at whom they perceive to be their rival.
The current situation of sterile orthodoxy within the UDC has to some degree facilitated an atmosphere of quasi – fanaticism and the heresy witch – hunting character assassination of certain leadership within BMD. The artificial unanimity of UDC endorsed by edits and prescriptions has also led to delusions of grandeur and evasions of the real problems. It is pernicious for the UDC leadership to imagine that all that is necessary is to ‘unite all opposition forces’ around some radical phraseology concealed in a fixed determination so as to offer it as an alternative to the immense majority of the masses. The belief that pressing local struggles can be evaded by repeating the slogan ‘moono’ is self – defeating.
A party that sees itself as the alternative must not have a common outlook, tradition and loyalty which resembles that of the ruling party. UDC should provide a practical guide for action. The alternative must be more than a mere collection of individual groups giving general adherence to a platform. Such a party must also be a centre for mutual training and debate and it must do this without cutting off its leadership from its fellow members. The UDC as a coalition party must encourage the habit of political debate to allow vigorous controversy and meaningful agitation amongst the various tendencies and shades of opinions represented in the UDC. It must cultivate a culture where differences are freely and openly argued. The masses should take part in the discussion of emerging issues, put pressure on the party and leadership. This is very important to accomplish what Karl Marx described as ‘going through a struggle to alter the revolutionaries in making them fit to take political power.’
The need to produce a blue – print that can be followed mechanically by UDC is long overdue. Without a real current of political programme and action, all talk of ‘regime change’ is self – deception. In the process of recreating a considerable alternative movement, the job of UDC leadership should be to connect UDC goals with the problems and experiences of the immense majority of the exploited and oppressed under the BDP rule. Such a synthesis is meaningful to the extent that it actually guides the activism of UDC group members and serves as a springboard for further action. This can help avoid the nonsensical idiotic over – concentration battles for leadership positions. To do so is the most credible and real meaning of the struggle for ‘regime-change’, otherwise the UDC project poses the risk of it being interpreted by the general populace and its sympathizers as something of a betrayal, a slander against the struggles of the majority of Batswana.