For the Nigerian Left: Facing 2022 – Part 2
The reason for the first part of the position stated above — the part of not breaking with a Nigerian Marxist comrade solely on the ground of being a supporter of secession — is simple and straight forward: The Nigerian Marxist Left, including the tendency to which I belong, has not articulated or adopted a categorical position, ideological or political, on what Marxism designates as “the national question”, that issue dramatized in a bitter, but enlightening debate between Rosa Luxemburg and Vladimir Lenin over a century ago and which has littered the history of Marxist and non-Marxist revolutions ever since. The issue is prominent in the relationships between Marxists in the countries they have either led or in which they are in contention for power, and between states that are led by Marxists.
A clear position ought to have emerged on the twin-questions of “national question” and the question of “national unity” in a Manifesto of a substantial Marxist formation or Marxist-influenced Left formation since the end of the Civil War in Nigeria more than 50 years ago. But unfortunately, it has not. Once such a clear position emerges it becomes binding. Why? Because a Left movement seriously fighting for power must have clear positions on such strategic issues.
A clarification: The point about not breaking with a secessionist, but non-arms-bearing comrade will require a reconsideration if, in arguing for a “break-up”, the comrade also argues, directly or indirectly, for a revision of a foundational pillar of Marxism, such as “anti-capitalism” and “anti-imperialism” or “class struggle” being the “motive force of history” or the strategic and vanguard role of the working class in the struggle for, and construction of socialism. These are “red lines”, comparable, in a sense, for Christians and Christianity, to the belief in Christ’s death and resurrection.
A global or universal statement of the ideological and political principle articulated above can be attempted. And my attempt is this: I would not argue against a Marxist’s continued claim to be a Marxist solely on the ground that she or he argues for, or supports the “breakup” of her or his “homeland”. Again this position will call for a review if in the course of this argument this Marxist calls for a revision of a foundational pillar of Marxism, as illustrated above.
The reason for the first part of my position — the part of not breaking with a non-Nigerian Marxist comrade on the sole ground of supporting the breakup of a “homeland” — is two-fold: First, historically, for Marxists, in Nigeria and abroad what is called the national question has not been “settled” in the manner of Marxism, that is, settled by history itself. Second, for many Marxists, there is embedded in the national question what is known as “national oppression”. This, for them, exists side-by-side with class oppression. And, also for many of them, including those in Nigeria, “national oppression” is not “inferior” or “subordinate” to class oppression.
In fact in a given historical context, they argue, “national oppression” can become a “dominant” contradiction, though – many of them concede – never a “determinant” one.
Nothing in what I have said in these study notes so far will derogate from the fact that I, myself, have a clear ideological and political position on the national question in general and the question of Nigeria’s unity in particular. And that position, which I canvass, may be stated, in part, as the struggle for: national unity within the struggle for workers power, popular democracy and socialism. I must humbly admit, however, that this position is a “reduced version” of a complete statement on the national question. A complete statement must await the resolution of the National Question by Marxism globally, because it is a global question. In a lighter mood, we may recall Fermat’s Last Theorem in Number Theory which waited for almost 400 years before a globally acceptable proof emerged only recently!
Two final propositions may be used to summarise and conclude the latter segments of these study notes: One: Although we may speak of fixed pillars for Marxism, history has shown that the universe of Marxist politics or politics informed or inspired by Marxism is very wide and complex. Two: The Nigerian Left or a substantial Left political formation when it emerges – I hope very soon – should begin to engage secessionist but non-arms-carrying and non-revisionist Marxist comrades from different regions of the country in sustained debates on “Marxism, history and politics.” In these debates, conducted and engaged as Marxists and as comrades, we shall propose that only socialism, guided by revolutionary Marxism, as Science and Ideology, that can finally eliminate the National Question – not only its capitalist forms, but down to its historical roots. Politically we shall propose, for this task, a united revolutionary Marxist force in a united country.