One has to lean on books to understand the conceptualization of communism and communists as a dominant social theory and how they appear to be a healing medicine for realities. I found that this material is limitless and some of the ideas raised by different highbrows are contradictory to reality. Historically ideology is comparatively short—approximately two hundred years old: It dates back to the French revolution era of the 1790s.
An ideology started by the positivist as a neologism, that can be broken-down to the Greek terms eidos and logos, can be defined as a ‘science idea’. However, the developer, (Antoine Destutt de Tracy) of an ideology, wanted a new term for science hence the term ideology emerged which he described as a bunch of zoologies.
Notwithstanding genealogy of the ideology, the popular ideas end up being manufactured in the premise of different political formations and lead to distortion of classical ideology. For instance, in the festival of independence during the 1960s, different African countries attempted to craft an ideological basis seek to decolonize Africa but it was doomed within a decade: Marxism-Nkwuramism of Ghana, African Socialism (Ujamaa) Tanzania and African authenticism from Zaire (Now the Democratic Republic of Congo). All of those ideological conceptions failed to ascend and manifest to a structural power of the society which Marx called it ‘base and the superstructure’. Karl Marx referred to the former as economic forces and the latter education, culture, state, and religion.
Prince Mashele the former SASCO leader at the University of Venda and currently liberal commentator clearly conceded that an ideology is not different from fantasy: the two (ideology and fantasy) are both contrary to reality. I read the myriad of Marxist tradition material and concluded to call and consider myself as Marxist-Leninist without practical means. But I later understood that my ideological introspection was going to fail due to a structural dictatorship in my agency and the nature of our capitalist state. Karl Marx, the ideologue of communism himself, greatly contributed to the phenomenon of materialism as the protagonist of human history – the reality is that all have to eat and drink before we can do anything else.
Consequently, I came to learn that understanding ideology can be a healing process Such as finding myself in SASCO the student movement existing with the tag of Marxism-Leninism, which astutely affirmed that people can find healing through forming part of student movement guided by ideological perspective. Because it will evolve the ideological perspective that directly linked to our society, for example, the fight against the commodification of education which is a nature of capitalism mode of production to sell education as an investment good that has no economic return for most buyers—this is simply a corruption. For example, 40per cent of Spanish University graduate a year find themselves in low skilled jobs that do not match their qualification.
Finding healing, within reading and virtually by forming part of student movement guided by the Marxism-Leninism theory, I found that as amazing and attached to the reality due to SASCO’s radical approach in dealing with societal issues. Ever since I started engaging with different comrades in the organisation that shook my experience, I found that revolutionary theories and SASCO were changing my view of the society. But I have realised that inasmuch as the society and religion I hailed from, have different ways of viewing nature, as mysterious and natural static—due to the lack of materialism. Although, I found that as unscientific and disconnected from dialectics—meaning that does not hold scientific meaning so an organisation such as SASCO with ideological grounds tend to be salvation of unscientific ways of viewing SASCO.
One of the scholars, and University of Witwatersrand researcher at SWOP (Society, Work and Development Institute), professor Karl von Holdt, an outstanding sociologist, once helped me to sharpen the ideas about the “the life of ideology”. Typically, I went to him when I was failing to differentiate between classical ideology and political ideology. At the heart of it all, the conversations I had with Professor Karl made me take a U-turn around my ideological perspective. I dashed to read Antonia Gramsci and use his ideology of hegemony as supposedly the classical ideology. I have taken Gramsci though he sounds complex, I flouted mostly in his secondary material taken from prison notes book. Importantly, I picked Gramsci mainly because his ideology is neatly applicable to politics and student movement.
Essentially, I started to lean and yawn my time in reading Gramsci, however, I started to understand that ideology manifest itself without consciousness and reality of every day’s living. This view was cemented by Andrew Vincent in his book “Modern Political Ideology” that consciousness not only constitutes much of what we call reality; it does so slowly changing historical process. He also reminds us that sometimes consciousness changes and forms a reality differently over historically times.
In fact, through reading Gramsci was ideological turning-point of my life and understanding of ideology since I have read Marx several times and enormously engaged with Marxist tradition. I found Gramsci on Class, State, and Hegemony as a useful starting point to discuss how Gramsci sharpened my understanding of reading an ideology as significant as a person who is involved in politics via Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA). There is the different version of understanding classical either political ideology. Using hegemony itself as a different version of understanding ideology, for example, we have counter/intellectualism-hegemony and organic-hegemony. The former is the one derived from classical ideology and the latter from popular ideas.
However, this is to show that comrades must incline themselves with a revolutionary theory in order to dissect the societal issues in a scientific way. SASCO as the biggest student movement in Africa must be the primary motive force that drives students issues in our society. Thus, it is important that we understand the ideology of our movement and for the leadership of the branches to install revolutionary consciousness in their mass base students.
Ideological blackmailing: What is Marxism about comrades
The struggle of the working class and the ‘Left’ at the PYA has come to be completely associated with the SASCO and Young Communists League of South Africa (YCLSA) and to the lesser extent, the PYA itself. The fact is that this left/Marxism is entirely associated with the class analysis. However, I have argued with several comrades that Class analysis is not Marxist analysis per say. Psychologists and Sociologists in the congruent of psych-sociologist can provide class analyses without embedding their analysis into Marxism theory.
Communist the term itself only came to have a substantive meaning and location in the historical context of different oppositional struggles borne out of, and ethnically parallel to, the rise and development of capitalism mode of production and its accompanying ideology. I came to a conclusion that it is axiomatic that there is an array of tactical, organisational and more precisely defined intra-ideological differences amongst the ‘left/communist’ whether with different political parties or within the party itself.
Learning from “Contending of ideologies in South Africa” it is purely clear that most comrades are ‘ideological confused’ because their self-assertion of labelling themselves as Marxist/Communist. They use big-terminology or jargon, that is very confusing and that have no substantive meaning that cannot be linked to Marxism ideology. Through “Contending of ideologies in South Africa”, it became explicit that by virtue of ethnonationalism, one can be Marxist/Left as a person without being so pragmatically since he/she will have structural – dictate to be living under the capitalist means of production.
Uncovering this basic anti-capitalist circumstantial and practical foundation, the costume of self-proclamation of being communist/left mostly becomes a crudely convenient and vacuous political and ideological label or self-anointed attribute that is difficult to understand. Any critical understanding and analysis of the character and content of what is to be a communist/left are omitted. Given the fact that, if something is repeated often enough and without any serious response/appraisal, it usually becomes accepted ‘truth and/ or reality. The so-called self-proclaimed communists/left like to talk about revolution. Whereas the world and they as individuals could do with social and political revolution, “it is left that is in dire need of its own revolution. If not, there might not be much left/communist of Marxism.
Finally, I am learning more every day from SASCO, and YCLSA. I cannot allow my ideological position to be questioned or to be confused by a void of Marxists comrades. Therefore, this paper serves as the experience I am gaining on a daily basis mixed with lived experience and political subjectivity and the activities that take place at student movement.
Ashley Nyiko Mabasa
SASCO member at Wits University and YCLSA Shimi Matlala Wits Co-ordinator