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March is here

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March is a time to surge forward, to heed the call of better times, to leave the dead to bury the dead and head for the ideals of a kingdom community full of life. March can be seen as the birth-month of the New Year.

This month celebrates our Heroes and Heritage, it calls the world to prayer on the first Friday; it raises a salute to women on the 8th; it records the death of notable Patriots, like His Excellency, Chief Joseph Chatoyer; working class leader and first Chief Minister Ebenezer Joshua; political advocate, organizer and agitator, George McIntosh; and civil society activist Earlene Horne.{{more}} In the region, March signalled the birth of the revolutionary intellectual Walter Rodney in Bent Street, Guyana, and also, of the Grenada revolution. With a legacy like that, March is a summons to move forward.

Round Table begins this challenging month with a ‘manifesto’ on democracy from Rosa Luxemburg, a socialist revolutionary in the early 20th century. Here is some of what she had to say about democracy to the socialist community and to the world.

SHE WAS PASSIONATE ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM

Writing nearly 100 years ago, Luxemburg cuts right to the heart of today’s societies: “The public life of countries with limited freedom is so poverty-stricken, so miserable, so rigid, so unfruitful, precisely because through the exclusion of democracy, it cuts off the living sources of all spiritual riches and progress.” She then conjures up institutional death; “Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution…” Luxemburg is truly discerning and on point. One of her critics, Georg Lukacs, called her ‘…the unsurpassed prophet, the unforgettable teacher and leader of revolutionary Marxism.’ She certainly speaks clearly of public life in SVG today, under the social democratic ULP administration, even though her pamphlet was addressed to her Comrade Lenin and the governing party in the Soviet Union. Here is more of what this socialist revolutionary says to us and to the leaders of socialist governments like ours. “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they might be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.” This is an amazing expansion of the concept and application of freedom, and it comes from a socialist/communist woman leader. Rosa Luxemburg is defining freedom as the right of those who are not necessarily in the government. Anything less is not freedom! The way that Luxemburg opens up the freedom space to ‘the political other’, or the different one, reminds me of what Jesus of Galilee said to the people he was teaching, as laid out in Matthew 5. 46-47, and Luke 6. 32-34. If you extend yourself only to those who are in your ‘party’ circle, you are not worthy of my company. The socialism of Rosa Luxemburg is not as offbeat and errant as we may think. Many of today’s socialists have the same commitment to thoroughgoing democracy as did Luxemburg. One such activist, Clive Thomas, quotes another teacher, Nicos Poulantzas, who declares that: “One thing is certain, socialism will be democratic or it will not be at all.” Also, it is reliably reported that the leaders of the Grenada Revolution of 1979-1983 considered the advice of Walter Rodney and his colleagues that the Revo needed more consistent democratic elections to be somewhat distracting. Socialist thought and theory and practice has a rich current of democratic principle. Luxemburg certainly opens our eyes to the weaknesses and dangers in our own governance. According to Poulantzas, there is nothing socialist about the nature of our administration here in SVG. We have to march ahead beyond this obfuscation.

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