Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ideology and our politics
By Editor
Wed 28 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

DR Francis Chigunta, who was political advisor to Rupiah Banda, says in Zambia, we need to promote a culture of principled politics and to do this, our politicians need ideological orientation, which should define their political principles and stance.

And Dr Chigunta warns that as long as there is no clearly identified ideological orientation, politics of insults will continue to take centre stage in Zambia. He observes that time has come for Zambia to engage in civilised politics, and that politicians should be pre-occupied with one sole aim of serving citizens in a credible manner.

Forget what Dr Chigunta said or did when he was political advisor to Rupiah. If one follows what Dr Chigunta and his boss Rupiah said and did, one would be lost. It's really a question of do as I say not as I do. We should simply pay attention to what Dr Chigunta is saying today because it makes a lot of sense, and it is correct.

It is true that principles, standards, values and common aims are needed if we are to see a reversal of fortunes, economic, social, political and otherwise, in our country. This is so because the individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards and common aims and values.

Today's politics is about searching for the wellbeing of our people in a changing world. And we must build the strong and active society which can provide that.

It is important for our politicians and their political parties to change their ways. Change is important and political parties that do not change in a changing world die. This is so because if the world changes, and we don't, then we become of no use to the world. Our principles cease being principles and ossify into dogma.

However, we shouldn't change to forget our principles, but to fulfil them. And we shouldn't change to lose our identity but to keep our relevance. Change is an important part of gaining the nation's trust.
Today, our people are divided into petty political parties that bring no guidance to the nation; political parties that divide the ignorant and mislead people into factions, supporting unscrupulous and greedy politicians, setting one humble section of our people against another.

Ethics are needed in our politics because if you mix ethical values with a rejection of injustice, you begin to appreciate and place a high value on a number of things that other people don't value at all. A sense of personal dignity, honour and duty form the main foundation that enables people to acquire political consciousness, principles and values.

The ability to reason, think, analyse, meditate and develop feelings is what makes it possible to acquire good and progressive political ideas, principles, values.

Political ideas are worthless if they are not inspired by noble, selfless sentiments. Likewise, noble sentiments are worthless if they are not based on correct, fair ideas.

We agree with Dr Chigunta that our politicians need ideological orientation which should define their political principles and stance. But, of course, we today live in a world where 'ideologies' are despised because they are outdated, out of fashion and not useful.

If there is anything that is an affront to human intelligence, it is the pretention that ideologies are on the way out. For some, ideologies - patched up and on the defensive - have been condemned to extinction, and they talk your ear off about de-ideologisation.
This is one of those words that should be thrown out, with a hope that not even a bad poet will include them in one of their works. Without making any great effort, we can imagine de-ideologisation as something amorphous, sticky and lacking content; first cousin to brimstone.

Some people want us to de-ideologise everything: economic discussions, political proposals and international relations. That is, they want to ideologise everything in another way. And, to that end, they invite us with supreme courtesy to pay fealty to the new order.

We already know that de-ideologisation isn't the end of ideologies; rather, it is the illegible sign of the attempted burial of all other ideologies that are opposed to or are in competition with the capitalist ideology, neoliberalism.

So it is interesting when one hears someone advocating a return to ideologies as Dr Chigunta is doing. Of course, in this country, we have a ruling political party that has been courageous enough to identify itself with socialism and apply for the membership of the Socialist International. Others are scared to define themselves ideologically. They would rather continue to be or pretend to be omnibuses.

The world is more ideologised than ever, now, because they are trying to impose the ideology of capitalism, imperialism and neoliberalism and wipe off the political map any ideology that does not coincide with it. We are convinced that it's all a great farce, an enormous lie. And we all know that neoliberalism is the ideology of imperialism in its phase of world hegemony - it seeks to impose its ideas on other countries.

Dr Chigunta is truly right, new ideas to prepare our people for the future are needed and we must start struggling for those ideas right now. We must start building awareness - a new awareness. It is not that our country totally lacks awareness today; but such a new and complex era as this one requires principles more than ever. It requires a lot more awareness, and that awareness will be built, by adding together the awareness of what is happening and the awareness of what is going to happen. It has to be built by adding together more than just one revolutionary thought and the best ethical and humane ideas of more than one religion, of all authentic religions, the sum total of the preaching of many political thinkers, of many schools and of many religions. There has to be an elaborate forethought for this.

What Dr Chigunta is saying is for us a matter of profound interest, a source of reflection, encouragement and reaffirmation of convictions. We have lived through the day of uncertainty and witnessed the loss of faith of many progressive men and women. Now, we can see that the truth is gaining ground and some people are now beginning to think more profoundly. And those who claimed the end of history and the final victory of their anachronistic and selfish concepts are now in decline and undoubtedly demoralised. Those who thought they had created a system that would last centuries are beginning to realise that the bases of that system are falling apart.

The experiences of the last two decades have taught us something very valuable: never to exchange principles for interest or convenience.

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