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For Kenya to survive, we must address the hidden class struggles mentality

OPINION
By Kachu Wa Sisungo | Feb 2nd 2018 | 3 min read
By Kachu Wa Sisungo | February 2nd 2018
OPINION

Class struggle, simply put is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests and desires between people of different classes.

The idea was first propagated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in designing the Communist Manifesto. The Manifesto published in February 1848, was intended as a definitive programmatic statement of the Communist League; a German revolutionary group of which Marx and Engels were the leaders. Few months after its publication, Europe was to erupt in social and political turmoil, and the Manifesto reflected the political climate of the time.

Marx and his coauthor, Friedrich Engels, began the Communist Manifesto with the famous and provocative statement that the “history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle.”

Collective struggles

They argued that all changes in the shape of society, in political institutions, in history itself, are driven by a process of collective struggle on the part of groups of people with similar economic situations in order to realise their material or economic interests.

These struggles, occurring throughout history from ancient Rome through the middle ages to the present day, have been struggles of economically subordinate classes against economically dominant classes who opposed their economic interests; slaves against masters, serfs against landlords, and so on.

The modern industrialized world has been shaped by one such subordinate class—the bourgeoisie, or merchant class—in its struggle against the aristocratic elite of feudal society. Through world exploration, the discovery of raw materials and metals, and the opening of commercial markets across the globe, the bourgeoisie, whose livelihood is accumulation, grew wealthier and politically emboldened against the feudal order, which it eventually managed to sweep away through struggle and revolution.

The bourgeoisie have risen to the status of dominant class in the modern industrial world, shaping political institutions and society according to its own interests. Far from doing away with class struggle, this once subordinate class, now dominant, has replaced one class struggle with another. A similar situation is slowly brewing up in Kenya.

Where to find it

Kenya with a population of over 40 million people prides itself in hosting a very diverse population that includes most major ethnic, racial, social and linguistic groups found in Africa. For many years, these groups have lived fairly harmoniously albeit the many challenges and differences. Nevertheless, there seems to be a growing manifestation of class struggle which if not corrected may plunge the country into the abyss.

Keeping the obvious political stand-offs between NASA and Jubilee away, the never- ending police brutality meted on innocent Kenyans, the constant workers’ strikes, the constitutional and rights demonstrations, the ills perpetrated in public institutions and so forth in sublimal, a keener social observer will even detect the realities of constant mind class struggles becoming mirrored in public institutions, on major roads, bus stations in key towns.

On the roads for instance, the struggles are constantly between the private car owners and public car owners and car owners generally and Boda Boda riders and among the Public Service Vehicles as they compete to outdo one another.

The recent sparks of bodas bodas regrouping and torching down any car involved in any sort of accident with a boda boda rider sometimes in full glare of helpless police, regardless of who was on the wrong during the accident is a clear manifestation of the hidden class struggle between these groups.

The accidents simply provide an opportunity for the riders to vent out the hatred or rivalry they harbour. Secondly, if you chance visiting the downtown of most towns, there seems to be constant mental fights either for space or a manifest of a scarcity mentality. A cart pusher, for instance, will use all manner of maneuvers to outsmart a car driver, an ordinary business person standing on his way or a passerby on the roads.

They seem to have entrenched in themselves an entitlement for space mentality as a compensation for material deprivation, their situation often latently being blamed to the “other” class.

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