Class Unity in Action & Revolutionary Independence of Working People, for Democracy from Below


ISO Ghana message of Solidarity to the SWL Nigeria

We, members of the International Socialist Organisation in Ghana (ISO Ghana) are proud and excited to extend Revolutionary greetings and Solidarity to the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) on the occasion of your 7th National Convention taking place at Labour House in Abuja this weekend.

We are proud of the work you are doing to unify working people in Nigeria around independent and unifying class agendas for their own liberation and the revolutionary transformation of society this entails.

Through your activities during the recent general elections, your participation in the platform of the ‘Take It Back’ movement, taking this orientation into struggles in the workplaces and communities of workers and youth since the election, you are gaining invaluable experience in the development and application of United Front politics from Below. And you are making important contributions to the outlook and self-organisation of working people and the incremental development of their fighting capacities.

Your success in sustaining and improving the production of Socialist Worker as a consistent instrument of organizing, stands out as manifestation of your relevance to the classes of Labour in Nigeria. This month, ISO Ghana is starting production of Socialist Solidarity, which will be our organisation’s main publication. We have drawn huge inspiration from your Socialist Worker and from the efforts of the SWL – inspiration shared by working people and revolutionary socialists across Africa and beyond.

The electrifying events in Algeria and Sudan provide every justification for doubling down on all our efforts. The historic revolts unfolding in those two countries provide all the evidence needed of the potential capacities and power of ordinary people, with the organized working class at its heart, to enact change and to reconstruct society in its own interests.

As we know, because these enormous resources from below lie dormant most of the time, ‘politics as usual’ continues to wreak and multiply untold horrors on all of us in every sphere of our existence. Our challenge is to orient fully and constantly on activating and developing these latent powers, stimulating alternatives to the dormancy that normally disorients, divides and disables ordinary working people.

Only revolutionary socialist class politics, that essential, core politics of the SWL, can aspire to do this consistently and comprehensively.

Global Capitalism, with its deep and inescapable unevenness, shows itself in the acute and extreme forms of actually existing capitalism in Africa. It is this unevenness that explains how Nigeria, the biggest economy on the continent has the highest concentration of the absolute poor, overtaking India – a country with six or seven times the population of Nigeria – to become the poverty capital of the world.

It is why predatory forms of exploitation beset herders and farmers alike in Nigeria’s middle belt, pitting them against each other in murderous competitive scramble for survival. It is the basis of sectionalism of every kind – ethnic, zonal, religious, gender, generational – lending it the kind of intensity and extremism evident in phenomena like Boko Haram among others.

This creation and re-composition of highly unstable reserve armies of labour also comes with potential and actual growth of supposedly ‘surplus, cannon-fodder populations’ prey to vigilantism and other such self-defeating manipulations and counter- mobilisations.

Crucially, however, such exploitation co-exists and inter-connects with the needs of capital to continuously and systematically organize exploitation on more extensive scales, as well as its reliance including on more institutionalised and formal forms of labour exploitation in the high surplus value producing sectors such as oil & gas, that are so indispensable to global and national capital alike, and to their administrative and governmental apparatus. Herein lies both the potential unity of all sections of the classes of labour. It also highlights the strategic spine that its most organized core – which is itself composed of workers from every kind of background – can provide for this.

However, without class politics this uneven co-existence is conflictual and highly debilitating. With weak class politics, some sections of the formal and waged workers might see themselves a class apart. Their bureaucratized leaderships might all the more easily lean towards ‘social partnership’ with Nigerian capital and the State, in the hope of cleansing corruption and delivering ‘national development’.

At best, this is a nationalism that sees the dominance of foreign capital as a higher priority than class exploitation in Nigeria itself. But this is a ‘nationalist capitalism’ that is a shallow, highly inconsistent, opportunistic and ultimately fake anti-imperialism.

National (-ist) Capitalism must also sustain itself by relating to foreign investment and technology, external export markets, global capitalism. In short, it is fundamentally incapable of pursuing its own ‘nationalism from above’. Rather it must willy-nilly join in, feed off, build on and extend exploitation across the entire spectrum of the various forms of labour that yield every kind of surplus value in Nigeria. It must extend its vile tentacles into grabbing and privatizing for itself every form of collective social property and natural resources.

Given its weaker position in relation to Global Capital, national capital in Nigeria and in Africa must do so with extreme methods, by the crudest short cuts, the most shameless dishonesty and hypocrisy, and with extra voraciousness & viciousness. Hence, this is a national capitalism whose pillars of existence fundamentally include the glorification of the vilest Ogas of all types and stripes and in all areas of public life and social relations, while relying  on the infantilization of ordinary people, on their constant debasement, dehumanisation and on sowing deepest divisions amongst them.

This is the road truly available along the route of ‘more efficient and better national capitalism’ in Nigeria and in Africa. More fundamentally, this is an inevitable manifestation of a Global Capitalism that itself is only capable of producing and spreading more inequality, more exploitation, more environmental destruction, more wars and conflict of every kind, global and local, macro and micro.

At your 7th National Convention now underway, we anticipate that the perspectives and platform you develop will help distill priorities that emerge from thorough analysis and robust healthy debate of these serious challenges. We are confident that you will do so without bombast, grand standing sloganeering, narrow workerism and exaggerated claims. Rather, we are sure your revolutionary optimism will be strengthened on the firmer foundations of the sober clarity we all need, and from the strength that revolutionary socialists derive from their unique understanding of the equally inescapable Achilles Heel of capitalism: that all its apparent, and monstrously destructive, powers depend solely on the wealth created by labour and on politically disarming workers from ‘Taking It Back’.

Marxism enables revolutionary socialist workers to see like none else, and to act with deepest understanding, that all the horrors of capitalism are inevitable only on one condition: that forces dedicated to activating, mobilizing, unifying and realizing the hope that resides in the latent power of organized ordinary working people, do not exist and do not grow.

But this is your 7th National Convention. The SWL exists. We exist. Revolutionaries and socialists exist and can grow in every corner of the world – even, as we are seeing now, in the United States, the heart of the global system itself.

More than that, increasing numbers amongst the world’s peoples – migrants, racial/ethnic and religious minorities, environmentalists, human rights activists, movements for sexual freedoms and women’s liberation, students for democratizing education, public and private sector workers, farmers, artisans and traders – are commonly assaulted by a blind, murderous, cannibalistic, zombie Capitalism. The extreme efforts and enormous investments being made to divide them is also proof of the growing commonality of their lived experiences.

We believe your work in the next two days and the agenda you will determine there for going forward will be even more powerful in inspiring SWL members’ effectiveness, among others, in the ways it prioritises taking up questions of identity in Nigeria – religious, ethnic, regional, sexual, generational, sectional/occupational. It will inspire those of us trying to build the ISO in Ghana and revolutionary socialists, workers and activists everywhere.

We have full confidence your convention will yield rich additional dimensions to the project of building class power of labour in Nigeria- across informal, formal, artisanal and all spheres of economic and social reproduction that inter-connect them – across communities, colleges, working places and in social and public life. We know your agenda will improve the process of transformations of ‘class in itself’ experiences to ‘class for itself’ self-conscious politics and activism in Nigeria.

We wish the Socialist Workers League every success and eagerly await the outcomes of your 7th National Convention.

In Solidarity.

International Socialist Organisation (ISO) Ghana,
Accra, 25th May 2019



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