By David Mafabi
Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold to a single paradigm or set of assumptions to explain the development of society, but draws upon multiple ideas to do so. In consistently revolutionary philosophy, eclecticism is narrowed down further to describe a hotchpotch (katogo) of often conflicting ideas, mechanically and anti-scientifically put together.
The public statements made by senior Compatriot Amama Mbabazi over the last two weeks, most unfortunately and disturbingly point in the direction of eclecticism. If the ideas enunciated in those statements were actually implemented, it would be tantamount to a roll-back of what Rt. Hon. Mbabazi himself describes as the FRONASA and NRM revolution. It would be counter-revolution.
When Compatriot Mbabazi speaks of a “need to look not the quantity but quality of the product”, what precisely does he mean? Does he mean enough has been done in terms of “quantity” – in this emergent Ugandan and African society? So, do we mechanically counter-pose “quantity” to “quality”? Are they diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive? Are the two not inherently bound together? Before water becomes vapour, does it not accumulate quantitative increments of heat up to 100 degrees Celsius before the qualitative transformation into something else – vapour? I submit that we still have a lot of fundamental work to build “quantities” all round.
Senior Compatriot Mbabazi asserts: “Uganda is now stuck between old and new and between very different development stages. What concretely and specifically are the “old and new”? What are these “very different development stages”? In political and socio-economic terms, what precisely are we talking about? Be that as it may, why must we create breaks and jerks when life, nature and society give us processes? Why are we looking to single events for salvation, instead of a continuum of policy?
The unfolding Mbabazi “discourse” has thrown my mind back to a long discussion several years ago with a young Compatriot very dear to me, and one of Uganda’s formidable intellectuals. Then, she took strong exception to an article I had written regarding lessons we could draw from the life and work of the late Chinese revolutionary and leader, Mao Zedong. She told me that Mao had committed many mistakes and there had been too many excesses and that in Uganda we needed to be looking to a Deng Xiaoping, a modernizer. She argued that the older generation of Uganda revolutionaries were the epitome of Chairman Mao, and were therefore necessarily delimited in advancing transformation.
My response was that without Mao, there would have been no Deng. That without the ideological clarity and the revolutionary leadership and charisma of Mao, the new power and state proclaimed in 1949 would not have been possible. That Deng had been nurtured in the womb of both the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army. That Deng, over several decades, had been given many sensitive assignments by Mao. That yes, he had been purged once or twice, whenever Mao felt there was a dangerous shift to the ideological right which would threaten the cohesion of the party and stability of the state. I told her in a word, that for Uganda, Yoweri Museveni is Mao and Deng rolled into one.
I drew my young sister’s attention to Mao Zedong’s “On New Democracy”, written in January 1940. Instructively, Mao had titled the first part of “On New Democracy”, “Whither China?” – echoing Lenin’s “What is to be Done?” forty years earlier. To paraphrase Mao in “On New Democracy”, in the colonies and former colonies, revolutions of a new type – new democratic revolutions – were going to take place. These were neither consciously in favour of the construction of capitalism, nor of socialism.
Mao talked about new democratic government being established by a joint democratic dictatorship of all revolutionary classes. He remarked, “The present task of the revolution in China is to fight imperialism and feudalism, and socialism is out of the question until this task is completed. The Chinese revolution cannot avoid taking the two steps, first of New Democracy and then of socialism. Moreover, the first step will need quite a long time”.
The point is that subsequently Deng “the modernizer” never repudiated Maoist thought and political economy. He built upon it, and developed it. There was change, but with continuity.
Today, Rt. Hon. Mbabazi amazingly proposes that faced with “our being stuck between old and new and very different development stages”, a break with Yoweri Museveni and leap into his (Mbabazi’s) leadership and “modernization”, for salvation! Moreover, there is no discussion of the precise vehicles and motive forces for “modernization” a la Mbabazi!
Next week, we conclude with an overview of the defining parameters of national economic management.
The writer is Private Secretary/Political Affairs