Written by Ian Ortega
I happen to have two askaris where I stay. One time, one of the tenants was robbed by a ‘girlfriend.’ As such, the askaris were asked to take extra caution with female visitors.
Now it does happen that I usually have female friends coming around. The usual visitors were surprised when they came around and were stopped by the askari. Majority always reacted in a demeaning way towards the askaris.
I would always stand watching from the top as most were being bounced. I saw it as a simple lesson in humility. Most had to call me after they were bounced. Some finally pleaded with the askari and came to an agreement.
Yesterday, an enterprising young man was shot dead at a shopping mall. It is a regrettable incident. Nothing warranted his death. But that doesn’t matter anymore, a life was lost. It got me reflecting as I read the comments that day. On the same say there was another accident on the express highway and the comments were not any different.
Now, a number of people have been quick to analyse this incident through the lenses of “tribalism, arrogance, gun-trigger happiness, gun violence” name it all. Unfortunately I find all this too simplistic. That’s where we often lose it as a country. We are so engrossed in the moment that we can’t zoom out and see the bigger picture.
To the students of Karl Marx, Hegel and Engel, this is not how the system fails, it is how it works. What we see are the inevitable consequences of capitalism aka Class struggle and Class conflict.
Years ago, Marx had seen that all history is a history of class struggles. In other words, class struggle is the engine that runs society. Right now, what we are witnessing is a class warfare in the country between the have and have nots, the privileged and the non-privileged, the connected and the unconnected, the know-whos and the know-nones, the Nansana and the Kiwatule, the muntu wawagulu and the muntu wawansi, the mupakasi and the nanyini kibanja, the musenze and the kasangwawo etc
Or as Marx put it, the Bourgeoisie (those who own the means of production, the machinery, the factories), the land owners and the proletariat (those who sell their labour).
Marx observed that classes arose out of interests. And that people of homogenized interests over time started to aggregate together and because of this difference between class interests, there was always bound to be class warfare.
Right now, what we see as violence, what we see as crime, it is a certain class trying to assert itself and saying; “look here, we matter, we have a voice.” As I noted in the past; “all violence is essentially a quest for identity.”
The elites have captured society. They own the means of production but also own the means of mental production. So there is this subtle systemic domination of the elite forces over the lower classes. You make the rules, you debate them among yourselves, the courts work only for you, you have policemen on speed dial, you know a doctor in every hospital, your kids go to the best schools. You basically live in your own world. Then there is a cross section of citizens without a voice. The only way left for them to express themselves is through violence. When that guy grabs your phone in traffic jam, he is actually saying; “hear me out.” The kids you refused to educate will make life hard for the kids you’ve educated.
And by the way, this inequality is a consequence of rapid growth in capitalism. It is actually unavoidable. Marx knew that; “the necessary result of competition aka capitalism is the accumulation of capital in a few hands.” But it is to recognize that this simply fans the fires of class conflict.
The problem is, a certain tribe has become the poster child of the bourgeoisie by virtue of their proximity to power and the privileges many associate this with… So it all looks like an attack on this tribe but in actual sense it is an attack on that class of the elites.
Fredrick Douglas writes; “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
But look here, where there is no struggle, there is no progress. Class struggle is the humble price we pay for the progress of society. As women struggle against men, you make gains on the equality path. As Blacks struggle againsy whites, you make gains. As the poor rise up against the rich, again, you make strides.”
That is how society works not how it fails. So embrace the violence in all its forms. It is all nothing but the consequences ushered in by the revolution.
Rest in Peace Arnold!