Dr Ngarikutuke Tjirjiange
There are people who confuse party schools with academic institutions such as universities and colleges where people go to study and receive general skills. A party school is not a general academic institution but an institution where people are exposed to the philosophical and ideological beliefs and aims and objectives of a particular party. It is an institution were members are told what the party wants to achieve for the country and its people.
Also, what is expected of the party members to propel the party into the successful future is taught. Above all, members have to know philosophically what ideology is driving the party in order for it to achieve its intended aims and objectives. Philosophical inquiry is a central element in the intellectual analysis of the issue of party ideology.
What is ideology and its importance?
I have noticed that there is confusion in understanding the distinction between the ideology and aims and objectives of Swapo Party. The aims and objectives are a purpose of doing something which one wants to achieve. The ideology, on the other hand, is a system of ideas and ideals forming the bases of an economic or political theory of the party. It is a set of beliefs characteristic of that particular party. These sets of beliefs influence the way the party behaves. Ideological thought presents a more comprehensive theory of society. Ideology thus implicitly requires leadership thoughts that are characterised by clear understanding of social values and challenges facing the particular historical reality of society and its people.
These challenges that are facing the particular historical reality of society have the potential of linking ideology with revolution both of the left forces and right in the society. The ideological thought establishes a political programme, it foresees struggle for implementation of that programme and requires therefore followers who commit to it. If the ideological thoughts are dearly and fully articulated in the programme of the party it will successfully attract the support of masses of people.
Therefore, the ideological clarity is very important because it will enable the leadership to critically examine the fundamental political and socio-economic status of the country and its people and bring about positive change. A progressive ideology of the people’s party must be based on material ideas which are aimed at achieving systematic evolution towards equitable social socio-economic justice for all and sundry.
What are the present challenges?
The biggest challenge we are facing now is whether we can ever have a clear ideology in a situation where we have a conglomeration of different classes with different economic and social status. We have proletariats, bourgeoisie, peasants etc. who economically have conflicting interests. These economic factors are, indeed, the ultimate decisive elements in explaining other developments. The class conflict is the critical motor of historical change and it is ignited by economic exploitation and selfishness of capitalist ownership of means of production and economic wealth.
The reality is that the alienation of poverty stricken masses in the society where economic wealth is in the hands of a few is based on the economic and labour exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie. The worker produces commodities for the market, but in effect becomes a commodity himself, selling his labour-power and creating surplus value on behalf of owners of the economic wealth and capital for minimal wages. The ideas of the members of the bourgeois class, reflect their own class interest rather than an objective true picture of the society.
In the situation where there is no clear ideology in the party the likelihood of the preaching of liberty, economic prosperity, social welfare, unity of classes being a myth is high and it might be intended to pacify the negative reaction of the masses of the people and to attract the blind acceptance of the economic status quo by the proletariat and thus solidify the ideological dominance of the capitalist class. This situation has the potential of increasing interclass conflict, deepening discontent, and relationship crisis which can lead to class consciousness and class struggle. The inevitable consequences are unending strikes, unending class consciousness leading to negative economic development.
When there is no clear ruling ideology there will be always central contradiction and irreconcilable conflict between various classes which will ultimately cause the collapse of the economic systematic instability.
To avoid this, the ideology should be used as a tool to enable the party to take into considerations the past experience, explain it and link it to the present to the extent that it influences the present and a clear future for the party, the country and its people for future economic stability and social justice.
I must conclude by saying that I admit, it is a difficult task, if not impossible to accomplish altogether. The question is: Is Namibia today a Social Democratic State, a Socialist State, a Capitalist State? I do not know! We are, indeed, in ideological wilderness, constitutionally speaking.