By Alaric Tokpa
Advancing the Ideology and Philosophy of Massescracy: A Call for a National Revolutionary Vanguard Party; May History Not Despise Our Generation.
I want to begin by recalling that last night, I received a call from Chairman Momo Peters who instructed me to come to Veterans Homecoming Day and deliver the keynote address. I hesitated for a moment and later accepted because it was a legitimate Party mandate.
I then reflected that when we unbanned the student movement and returned from Belle Yella jail in late 1985, we ensured that democratic elections were held throughout the secondary schools and universities in Liberia. During the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU) congress in 1987 where we turned over leadership, I delivered a speech under the topic “Sweat, Tears and Blood are Forming Rivers of Freedom in Liberia”. This was done inconsultation with Conmany B. Wesseh. Wesseh, former President of LINSU who was serving then as Deputy Secretary at the All Africa Students Union (AASU) in Accra, Ghana, representing LINSU. Imagine that we are in the year 2020 today. My dearest comrades, looking back at 33 years of hard days of struggle since then, it is a sad admission that sweat, tears and blood are still forming rivers of freedom in Liberia. Yet, the enemy is making frantic and all efforts to diminish and erase our contribution to the history of the building of our democratic culture and a just economic system that will also serve the interest of the poor.
But all thanks belong to Almighty God; for history as actuality is the real history.
Comrade Chairman and members of the All-Powerful Central Committee; members of the Politburo; Comrade Chairlady and members of the Women Presidium; militants of the All-Powerful Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP); distinguished Veterans of SUP; men and women of the University of Liberia; dear friends and well-wishers; ladies and gentlemen, I bring you militant, progressive and revolutionary greetings from the Veteran Community in Liberia and the Diaspora.
Today is Veterans’ Homecoming Day. The main reasons for this day include critical reflections on the origin, history, purpose, state, and direction of the All-Powerful Student Unification Party. This is also the time for exchange of notes between the Veteran community and the Vanguard Party.
Unlike the university student movement in other countries or the other higher institutions of learning in Liberia, SUP is not an ordinary student political party. SUP was born in October 1970 for the purposes of confronting the excesses of the one-party state of the settler-colonial powers; and to fight for academic freedom, social justice and the democratization of Liberia. SUP defiantly appeared at a time when there was no other national political party in Liberia besides the ruling True Whig Party (TWP).
Between then and now, what has been some of the key contributions of the Veterans of SUP? The contributions of the Veterans of SUP are tangible and intangible.
- We studied Liberian society and took side in the struggle between the rich and the poor (that is, the haves and the have-nots); the exploiters and the exploited; the oppressors and the oppressed. We took our side with the poor, exploited, oppressed, and disadvantaged people.
- We fought for progressive social change.
- We constructed and raised the rallying battle cries of democratic struggle and economic justice in Liberia.
- We accommodated, supported, and promoted the progressive mass organizations
(i.e. the Movement for Justice in Africa – MOJA; the All Peoples Freedom Alliance –
APFA; the Progressive Alliance of Liberia – PAL) that emerged to fight the exploitation and oppression of the working people of Liberia.
- We defeated the one-party state of settler colonialism.
- We defeated the military dictatorship.
- We made critical contribution to the peace movement during the civil war years.
- We opposed and defeated the military-bureaucratic state of Charles Taylor, the widely feared tyrant.
- We relentlessly fought for multiparty democracy.
- We demanded democracy and gave Liberia electoral democracy. That, of course, is a limited form of democracy which was an unintended consequence of our struggle; because our call for democracy was political and economic.
- We have supplied personnel for all the political parties in Liberia – you name them
one by one, our labor is in all the political parties that exist in Liberia today.
- Together, we are confronting the one-party dominant state under George Weah, the corrupt and wicked dictator. Yet, as in the words of Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, the progressive community in Liberia has work to do.
The struggle for the democratization of Liberia
So we gave the battle cries in the history of the struggle for the democratization of Liberia. Interestingly, even though they have stolen our battle cries, for George Weah and his surrogates, the struggle has ended. On the complete contrary, for us, the struggle continues most decisively. So our first demand after SUP at 50 is this: Let the criminals leave our battle cries so that we can continue with the prosecution of the struggle for social and economic justice. After all, as our great leader and teacher, Amilcar Cabral warned: “Tell no lies and claim no easy victory.”
Anyway, we are clear in our minds that this Veteran Community that has done so much still needs to improve organization and promote the activities of the Vanguard Student Unification Party. The Veterans of SUP need to strengthen solidarity in Liberia and around the world. The Veterans of SUP need to collectively rise with fury and resist the killing of democracy by the George Weah administration. The Veterans of SUP need to resist the temptation of self-enrichment and firmly embrace the time tested principles of SUP. The Veterans of SUP need to be re-buried in the ideology and philosophy of Massecracy (rulership of the people, for the people, and by the people). To be committed to the struggle of the poor and suffering masses in the larger Liberian society, to remain committed to the philosophy and ideology of Massescracy and Pan-Africanism, to be selfless in the struggle for progressive social change -that is what it means to be a Veteran of SUP. With this understanding and genuine commitment to the democratization struggle, the Veteran Community will know that it has power, and the Veteran Community will claim its power in Liberia through “Advancing the Ideology and Philosophy of Massescracy” and through the building of a “National Revolutionary Vanguard Party.” That will be the way to escape the condemnation of history.
On the other hand or, in fact, on the same hand, what has the Vanguard Party done in contemporary times? You have inherited and you are continuing a tradition of combativity. In your humility, you are celebrating Veterans day at your 50th Anniversary under the well thought out and eloquently carved theme: “Advancing the Ideology and Philosophy of Massescracy: A Call for a National Revolutionary Vanguard Party; May History Not Despise Our Generation.”In contemporary times, you the young militants of the Vanguard Party have amazingly raised our battle cries of old and confronted the greedy and corrupt dictatorship. With courage and fortitude, you have demonstrated that you are guerrilla intellectuals, ever ready to advance and wage the peoples’ struggle even with your bare hands. In your humility, you have appealed to history for consideration. You have asked history to be kind to you in judgment. Dear comrades, on behalf of the Veteran Community at home and abroad, I bear testimony that your generation will never be despised by history.
I see you comrades, I see you. I see you in the Pan African Movement. I see you in frantic search for revolutionary knowledge.
I see you eager to serve our people. I see you standing up against a dangerous dictatorship. I see you opposing and confronting the criminals and scums who have hijacked state power. I see your hunger for revolutionary knowledge and your unquenchable thirst for change.Where politics has been monetized, I see you eating your books and rejecting money. I see you combating the incomplete stories of Liberia that are attempting to distort reality.
That said, what is to be done by the Vanguard Party going forward?
- As the struggle continues, the vanguard party is obliged to defend the gains of the democratic struggle.
- Then the vanguard party must concentrate the focus on the quest for economic democracy. As I have continued to say, when the economy is good, the politics is good;
and when the economy is bad, the politics is bad. Comrades, elections in Liberia are usually held to create the impression that there is democracy in which there is popular participation by the people. Eventually, it is more or less a scam intended to justify the power of the corrupt elite. But in additional to the right of the people to choose their own leaders, we know that democracy means economic justice; we know that democracy means distributive justice. Today is a day of sorrow for democracy in Liberia. But comrades, do not lament. Mobilize! Your comrades have been killed in the struggle for democracy in Liberia. But comrades, do not mourn. Mobilize!
- The next thing is identification with a correct ideological line in the larger society. This will require alignment with well-meaning national structures or political forces. This means that the Vanguard Party will need to identify and provide support for a broad-based progressive formation that is consistently in line with the poor peoples’struggle.
- We can talk about the contribution of SUP and the responsibility of SUP. But what is the responsibility of SUP in addition to the liberation of the suffering masses? Dear comrades, your responsibility will also include the liberation of the oppressors who have imprisoned themselves by the false consciousness that they are better human beings than those living in the communities in which they themselves were born. As Paulo Freire teaches us in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the present day oppressors have inherited the habits and ways of the former state administrators who they opposed in the name of fighting for the poor. What a shame?
- However, in order to make a positive impact on the progressive march of society, the militant of SUP, who is undoubtedly a refine element among the growing revolutionary intelligentsia in a society like Liberia that is pregnant with change, must be a good party cadre. The good party cadre is a reliable cadre who is really very disciplined and loyal to party principles and commands. He or she is respectful and obeys orders from the party leadership and other superiors. He or she subordinates his or her personal interest to the party interest and the party line. The good party cadre is an agent of change who does not compromise the interest of the poor people. As a loyal and committed comrade, the good party cadre also takes initiative in the interest of the party and diligently executes other duties that are assigned.
- Also, the duty of the good party cadre is to study, excel in the academy, and attain proficiency (excellence) in his or her discipline. So the good party cadre may attend the same school and sit in the same classroom with the potential enemies of the poor, potential service workers for the system that exploits and oppresses the poor. However, the revolutionary party cadre should never allow such classmates of theirs to be their brain mates. This, of course, is a distinction that is achieved through hard study.
- As a discipline academic who does not subscribe to intellectual laziness, the good party cadre is a teacher, a mobilizer and an organizer. As a teacher and a mobilizer, the good party cadre succeeds to organize the children of the people and the people themselves through the combination of theory and practice. Incidentally, it is in fact through that process that the good party cadre becomes an agent of changes; in that he or she changes in the process of working for change. It becomes a symbiotic relationship in which the good party cadre experiences transformation as an agent of change while going through the process of bringing change to society. To achieve one without the other is never advisable because it is nearly impossible.
- Essentially then, the digestion of these great qualities makes it possible for the good party cadre to blend the academic with the politician. In turn, this combination, buried in a correct political ideology, makes the good party cadre a great political leader in the university student movement and society at large.
- My dear comrades and friends, take note: There is no tension between your particular field of study and your involvement in in in the struggle for the progressive social transformation of Liberia. When you bring them together, mutual respect for each other, selfless support for each other, unwavering solidarity, undying commitment to the struggle for building the progressive democratic state, and unmatched respect for women are the ways forward and the requirements on the path to victory. The good party cadre is trained not to be dogmatic. That is, the cadre should learn to apply theories to local and national contexts. In so doing, the cadre may change form in alignment with the nature of the environment, but his or her essence, focus, mission, commitment, and goal remain unchanged.
- The good cadre should learn how to write well. Writing is a very powerful and strong way of propagating correct ideas and prosecuting progressive struggles. As a writer, the good cadre is a great advocate of the cause of the people and the bearer of history. Usually, efforts are made by the enemies of the people to distort history and disfigure reality. This criminal way of reconstructing the past by the enemy can be countered by the progressive writer.
- The good cadre is the link. He or she is the link between the leadership of the progressive organization or community (so to speak) and the suffering masses. The good cadre takes the thinking of the progressive community or leadership to the people; and also takes, through listening survey and other means, the views, feelings, hurts, thoughts, fears, desires, interests, and issues of the popular masses to the progressive leadership for processing and action.
- The good cadre is the pillar of national revolution. He or she is a progressive advocate who sees politics as an art and a science. He or she is the defender of the gains of peace and democracy. The good cadre is part of a student and youth community that is very important for keeping the flames of struggle alive. The progressive leaders of the student and youth communities are the critical mass, the catalyst or, say, the critical yeast. They stimulate the struggle for progressive social change.
- Lastly, from the Liberian experience, I should say with emphasis that eventually, these are the training processes, functions and qualities that make the good party cadre an outstanding leader and not just a mere follower. When the party cadre acquires good training, carries out assignments with outmost seriousness, he or she effortlessly executes leadership functions and responsibilities when the time comes. That is why even when there are challenges that seem insurmountable, the good party cadre usually triumphs over affliction and adversity. Comrades and friends, as stakeholders and owners of Liberia, we have never hesitated to place our thoughts, leadership training approaches, and methods of struggle in the public domain so that young leaders who aspire to public service can take advantage of ideas that we make available about the right way to govern society. That is why many people who drink the academic water and taste the academic salt in the Vanguard Student Unification Party of the University of Liberia are easily absorbed by each and/or any national political party with which they associate. That is how the teachings of SUP and the progressive community have spread throughout the political field in Liberia. This, indeed, constitutes part of our contribution to the struggle for democratic change and social-economic justice in Liberia.
To be sure comrades, there are genuine progressive cadres who associate with liberal or (so to say) non-radical national political parties. I am aware that some of these tactical alignments are with the knowledge of some key leaders in the progressive community. Others are merely opportunistic. Incidentally, even the half-cooked cadres who opportunistically jump into non-progressive parties are able to partly influence the direction of such parties. In both cases, most of them are well respected and well placed in these non-radical institutions. In view of this reality, is it not correct to say that the influence of the Vanguard Party is widespread throughout Liberian society?
Considering the above, what are the duties of the national progressive leadership and community? The traditional progressive community has worked very hard to execute the struggle for democratic change in Liberia. The sacrifices and the suffering have been enormous. Nevertheless, the progressive community still has so much work to do. It will be the responsibility of the growing revolutionary intelligentsia to encourage the progressive leadership and collective to rethink, recalibrate, reorganize and decisively reengaged in what will be the decisive battle for the democratization of Liberia. This means that the progressive community will need to take into consideration several factors. Among others, five will be critical.
- We will need to question our own assumptions, study the unanswered questions, turn over a new leaf, and move forward as a united and serious force.
- We will need to avoid situational radicalism, the tendency for some to present themselves as progressives only when is in their personal interest to do so.
- We will need to dismiss sectarianism and ethnocentrism.
- We will need to combat fifth-columnists without compromise. The fifth-columnists are those who pretend to be with the progressive movement while at the same time working against the community. Among other traits, fifth-columnists are sometimes impressionistic, loudmouth, and arrogant.
- And we will need to demand ideological clarity, clarity of thought on the way of struggle in the progressive movement.
Comrades, it is important to understand that the progressive community is not necessarily a homogeneous gathering of actors. Ideally, fractions and different tendencies should not be encouraged in the progressive community. But the reality is that different trends have emerged in the course of the struggle for democracy in Liberia. The reasons are irrelevant here. Usually however, there are different tendencies in the progressive community everywhere in the world. Thus, in order to give strength to the national progressive forces in Liberia, it will be important for the growing revolutionary intelligentsia to identify with the tendency that is observed to have a correct ideology. Such a tendency will need to be consistently committed to the poor people’s struggle. If that tendency is sincerely committed to the struggle for progressive social change, it will emerge as the main trend in the progressive community. You must bear in mind that history is revolutionary. Should opportunists continue to masquerade as progressives, they will expose themselves sooner or later by their utterances, actions, or failure to carry out assignments as required in the people’s struggle. So you need to swell the ranks of the progressive movement, bearing in mind that, however enlightened the opportunists and petty bourgeoise radicals may be, history will eventually ignored and therefore negate them.
Dear comrades, as you work hard to encourage the progressive leadership to intensify the struggle for progressive democratic change, understand that our struggle is a struggle against the system. Therefore, do not limit your attack on the system to the executive branch of government. Take your struggle to the legislature. Engage your legislators and compel them to comply with the wishes of your people. Take your struggle to the judiciary. Highlight the uselessness of the judiciary as the protector of the system that is killing democracy and our people. The three branches of government (the legislature, executive and judiciary) are invariable part of the same power structure and jurisdiction and will always reinforce and protect each other.
As guerilla intellectuals who infiltrate the institutions of the enemy and use the very structures that they have erected to advance the peoples struggle, study hard and take over the judiciary. I want you take away the understanding that the Judiciary exists in order to create the impression that there is justice. But, there is no justice for the poor people of Liberia in the oldest Black African Republic south of the Sahara. So as you choose your battles in the coming days, I urge you to give the dictator, George Weah the Red Ballot. In both the senatorial race of 2020 as well as the general and presidential elections of 2023, I want you to give George Weah and his blind loyalists the red ballot. Vote against all the candidates of the ruling CDC party. Teach our people about the need to vote against all the candidates of the ruling CDC party. We must work together to deny George Weah the presidency of Liberia. The man is a
dictator and he is unable to Lead Liberia. Hence, if Weah should survive in the presidency up to 2023, we will have to make him a one term president. You are all witnesses to how he has continued to violate the constitution of our country. You are witnesses to how he has destroyed all the integrity institutions. You are witnesses to the destruction of the economy and the killing of democracy under George Weah, the wicked dictator. You are witnesses to the shameless stealing of government monies (by Weah and his loyalists) and the killing of innocent government workers (i.e. auditors) who are suspected of intention to expose the stealing.
Yes, I am profoundly honored and exceedingly pleased to note that you have fought the corrupt Weah administration without compromise. Historical statements have been made about the nature of the struggles of the
Vanguard Party. Some of these narratives have distorted history. There is therefore the need for scientific inquiry and the writing of the true story of SUP so that detractors do not continue to disfigure reality. Comrades and friends, if I take you on a tour of imagination for a moment, imagine how all hearts will be set ablaze on that day when the progressive democratic state is erected in Liberia. That day will be possible as long as the Vanguard Party and the Veteran Community continue to hold together. Indeed, we are stronger together and there is no force in Liberia, however powerful, that can defeat the vanguard party and the veteran community together. As the founders of the All-Powerful SUP intended it to be, SUP is unconquerable when the Veteran Community backs the Vanguard Party. And the Veteran Community becomes invincible when the solidarity of the Vanguard Party is present. With that bond, it was possible to heroically fight and defeat political Covid-19 in an unprovoked battle with the dictatorship. That is why one (like the Vanguard Party) without the other (like the Veteran Community) is unimaginable.
What is the present task at hand? Dear comrades, you are celebrating the 50th
Anniversary of the Vanguard Party at a time when there are no good roads in Liberia. There are no good schools. There are no good health centers. Midwives and health workers are under attack from government all over the country. The economy has been recklessly mismanaged by the Weah administration. Meanwhile, the killing of innocent human beings is common place. So we need a national solidarity brigade to deal with the critical issues of our time. The seed of that brigade is in the Vanguard Party.When the truth is told, we cannot for a moment afford to ignore the presence of the radical student movement in the Liberian revolutionary process. Hence, the question arises: Are students the qualify leaders of the revolutionary process? Only history has the answer to that question. Your history is revolutionary and, no doubt, history is a weapon. There is need to reconstruct Liberian history. Whenever that is achieved, the chapter on the struggles and achievements of the Vanguard Party will be exceptional. I ask again, are students the qualified leaders of the revolutionary process? That answer will come when you enter the struggle for democracy in the larger society. When you join the veteran community, I urge you to fight to give Liberia a progressive democratic state.
Overall, one thing is certain. After the celebration of the 50th Anniversary, SUP will amazingly grow stronger and Liberia will never be the same again.
Long Live the Vanguard Party!
Keynote Address Delivered by Alaric K. Tokpa on Veterans Homecoming Day during the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the All-Powerful Vanguard Student Unification Party of the University of Liberia, Republic of Liberia, West Africa)University of Liberia Main Campus: Monday, November 23, 2020.