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|Critical thinking and the crisis of Sudanese left||By Elfatih Osman|
|Sudan Online List Version One||Compiled by Elfatih Osman|
|Girls' Songs- A measure of freedom. Part 2||By Abd El-Maniem Hamaza|
Critical thinking and the Crisis of the Sudanese Left
Following the collapse of the Soviet systems, Marxists or socialist worldwide entered into a phase, and not yet snapped out of it, characterized by the prevalence of pessimism, a growing sense of futility, strong temptation to succumb to the tenaciously western propaganda of the ďdeath of socialismĒ, ďcapitalism triumphsĒ, ďend of historyĒ, and to abandon what have been for a long time established as a set of scared beliefs gained in the course of the harsh struggle for a better humanity freed from the evils of capitalism.
Nevertheless the war is far from over. The capitalist triumph did go unchallenged. Signs of a new strategy of defense slowly start to surface. Many communist parties and socialist movements begin to introduce radical changes to the universal fundamental principles of militant Marxism which for decade have determined their structures , ideologies and political behaviors.
Reviewing and evaluating these attempts of survival and revival is beyond the scope of this articles. What is important to the issue of this article is the message that these attempts seem to suggest: If Marxism has any future, a fundamental rethinking of its main ideas and exercises is necessary.
In this article I will review how the forces of the left in Sudan react to the challenges imposed by the demise of the soviet system and its orthodox ideology: Marxism- Leninism.
In Sudan the "Left" is an analogous term for "Sudanese Communist Party" (SCP). This is attributed to the fact that the SCP has been the largest effective marxist party with insignificant competition from other leftist factions throughout the modern history of Sudanese politics. Many attempts from different small factions to challenge the dominance of the SCP of the leftist movement in Sudan were doomed to failure. It worth mentioning in this context that all the significant attempts to challenge this hegemony were initiated and lead by some of those who defected from the SCP. Whether this dominance would be challenged by the new wave of new democratic factions, which suggest themselves as alternative to the SCP, is something remained to be seen.
In the first part of this essay I would confine myself to the question of how the issue of renovation is perceived by the SCP . In the second part I will examine some of the programs and strategies posed by some of the new established leftist groups as alternative to the SCP which they believe have become an antiquated old party.
Traditionally communist party members were brought up and trained on how to handle hostile propaganda. This time the issue was more than a regular exercise in refuting diatribes and distortions manipulated by capitalist countries and their local alliance against socialists countries and the ideology they represent. It is a question of survival. The system they had supported for so long has gone.
The year 1989 marked two major momentous incidents for the SCP that will change it for ever. First The end of the social model ( Socialist block) and the rejection of its ideology, supposedly the ideology of the working mass, by the same working mass during the course of the 1989 revolutions in the socialist block.
Secondly the abortion of democratic period and the overthrown of the last elected government in Sudan in which the SCP had a minister in its cabinet. These stormy developments seem to have removed the lid from a range of problems simmering for quite a long time inside the SCP.
By the end of june1989 the SCP was left with a legacy of a bleak and uninspiring political performance during the democratic period from 1985 to 1985 , a rapidly fading charm and appeal, number of broken promises and postponed actions , a reputation of a bureaucratic highly centralized old party dominated by old leadership, demoralized membership, lack of vision, and a growing feeling of resentment if not dissidence. For many the SCP political agenda and performance during this period was not that different from those of the traditional parties of the Right. This lack of a distinctive discourse , imagination, aspiration, renovation and new blood drove many party members and its traditional supporters from the educated professional populations to state of apathy and disenchantment long before the coup of 1989 .(A case in point is the failure of the Partyís daily newspaper to sustain a popular status at among its potential supporters :i.e. the educated and trade-unionists groups.
The rise of the extreme right to the political power led to the creation of a new reality in Sudan.This new reality necessitate the emergence of new perspectives questioning the whole political setup in the country.
People in the streets as well as the bulk of the educated professional strata lost confidence in the ability of the old political parties (now in the opposition), of solving the country's problems. The majority of the groups comprising the educated professional populations (loosely named in the political rhetoric as the modern forces) i.e. those who once constituted the backbone of civic disobedience and political urban uprisings retreat into a state of pessimism and hopelessness in the face of grave and mounting hardships. Hundreds of political activists and trade-unionists fled the country marking a phenomena never experienced in the history of Sudan. Traditions of civic political struggle once established and celebrated as a unique reliable style to overthrow military governments by popular revolts and civic disobedience become obsolete if not a laughing stock.
SCP is an urban secular party that draw its membership and political support from urban educated and professional populations in major towns. Members of the SCP find themselves in a strange complex situation : As members of the social strata of educated professional strata they share the same disappointment and pessimism and faced with the same new questions imposed by the new reality. On the other hand as members of SCP and vanguards of change they have to find answers not only to the questions suggested by the new political situation but to the basic question of their identity as communists believing in an ideology in a state of continuous decay, and a party once again is forced to work underground as defacto enemy of the new military regime.
In these exceptional circumstances characterized by widespread sense of disenchantment, a new threatening surge of dissidence , demoralized membership growing tendency of withdrawal , ideological void, underground and exile opposition against unprecedented repressive regime, organizational chaos, the question of renovation can not be shelved under any pretext. It becomes a matter of survival.
Though overwhelmingly burdened with difficulties that threatening its mere existence, the SCP is historically known of its stubbornness and capabilities to live up to challenges of survival.In response to the needs of change the SCP inaugurates a dialogue on the future of the party and the necessity of renovating its apparatus to meet the challenges of a new area. The dialogue is taking place on SCP secret internal magazines inside the country and on public party magazines and forums in exiles on themes related to Marxism-Leninism, organizational structures and critical evaluation of the partyís history and experience. It worth mentioning that the opening of such a dialogue constitute a radical departure from the traditions of the SCP in belittling intellectual dialogues and suspicion of intellectuals.
The discussion is dominated by two main trend :
The two groups support their ideas by conclusions derived from their analysis of the former political experience of the SCP and their analysis of the failure of the socialism. The general analytical framework for the dominant understanding of the latter among the two sides oscillated around the following points:
(a) marxism-leninism is not a dogma or a religion. Marxism-Lennism is still
relevant. It is a guide of work and action. As a guide it is flexible enough
for any change and adaptation. The transformation of this theory to an ideological
rigid dogma was a factor that loomed high in the failure what was known as
the socialist countries.
(b) within a new broadminded understanding marxism has a lot to offer
(c) a theory of Sudanese Revolution based on the general principles of marxism-lennism , other socialist thought as well as Sudanese national political thinking, relevant to the new realities and the historical condition of Sudan is still a valid option to be developed and enriched through creative application .
(d) the collapse of soviet system does not signify the death of the socialist enterprise. The Russian revolution was an epoch-making historical achievement; a turning point not only in Russian but in world history. As a result of it, Russia emerged out of the chaos and disintegration of Czarism. Despite civil war and a devastating world war, it has developed from semi-feudal backwardness, into an industrial nation and a world power. In the process, the health, education and material well-being of the Russian people have improved very greatly. Positives aspects and achievements these systems should not be overlooked.
(e) failure of the socialist systems was the result of accumulation of mistakes and perpetuation of central bureaucracy, lack of democracy and police state and rigid central planning or development from above. Mistakes in overlooking mistakes and atrocities of the socialist experience. these are lessons that any communist party should learn.
(g) We are open to any ideas and proposals. However, everything should be discussed and proposed within the structures of the party.
(h) A revaluation of our past political practices is a must. Mistakes should be admitted and lessons should be learned. ( Gadaia Sudania)
Like any discussion or debate on issues of critical concerns this one has its limitations, silences, points of strength and points of weakness. Admittance of mistakes, resentment of centralized bureaucracy, demanding of more democratic party structures, questioning of some fundamentals of marxism or party's traditions , rethinking established perspectives and questioning the feasibility of socialism and its vanguard party are without doubts some of the areas of strength that produced during this debate which could definitely be fruitful if properly articulated in a more broad critical vision and translated into methods and practical structures.
However the point of weakness, together with the range of silence on many areas of pivotal importance risk to render the debate into mere exercise in ideological repentance or to a way save the face and existence of the party.
In the following points I will shed some lights on what I believe serious shortcomings of a dialogue expected to lay out the correct and right path for a new party with new revolutionary vision and strategy:
* Technically-speaking the discussion is dominated by random and immature contributions. It is also poorly administered and apparently lack in focus, plan and coordination. The debate which mostly taking place on Sudanese Issues is administered by the same old leadership who are to answer for the present situation. It is the leadership that responsible for laying the ideological and political foundations of the SCP . These foundations, together with the political experience of the SCP is the subject of controversy.
Without discrediting the significance of such dialogues, it is legitimate to ask whether the current leadership, irrespective of its good intentions would let the dialogue for change get out of their hand. It is obvious that there is a new thinking inside the SCP which is exponentially growing. This is new thinking is incompatible or one might say does not go along very well with the ways the current leadership have run the party. It is fair to ask whether a biased leadership, that naturally not expected to break radically with the traditions it has established, would not be biased in manipulating the direction of the dialogue. It is also not clear whether the public dialogue on newspapers would have any bearing in the future given the fact that the party Congress is the only constitutional body capable of making any structural changes.
Moreover the current leadership is the one that can decide the time and place for holding this conference . Since the internal circumstance in Sudan and the hardships of the Diaspora are not favorable for holding this conference, one is tempted again to ask about the future of this debate and if there is any strategy to pursue it.
* With few exceptions most of the contributions presented so far on " Gadaia Sudania" are journalistic in the sense of being too general , hasty and impetuous contributions. Many articles could fairly be described as booklets where self-evident symptoms and diagnosis of the lennist-marxist model of party or state were randomly and recklesslly amalgamated . Some of them were the products of the traditional routine of apologetic exercise that usually practiced by ideologists on the defensive. To avoid falling into debates for periodic consumption the discussion must be situated on the terrain of serious research that require strategy , focus and hard homework rather than carelessly importing second-hand criticisms.
* There exists a tendency to concentrate on the problems of the international communism and criticize them on a universal abstract level with the purpose that this criticism would shed light on problems of the same nature within the SCP. It is true that SCP have much in common with other sister Communist parties worldwide. But for any critical evaluation to be useful the subjects of discussions should be looked at and examined within the historical specific context of the historical experience of the SCP. It is one thing to criticize the lennist model of the communist party and its central democracy . But it is a totally different thing to examine how this model was executed and functioned in a radically different context , responding and serving different goals in different time and place. Levels of analysis should be distinguished and emphasized. These basic tasks of any methodology worth of its name were strikingly neglected in most of the discussion.
* Not surprisingly the discussion of the marxist ideology or theory was one of the weakest aspects of the debate. In the SCP's traditions there has been a disastrous tendency to belittle theoretical dialogue and intellectual activities. "Intellectual" was not a good term or description for a party member. It connate a lazy petty bourgeois who is more fond of contemplating the world than actively engaged in the practical process of transforming it.
The SCP's repertoire is scandalously poor in respect of studies and discussions related to issues of theory and ideologies. Articulated discourses on questions of marxist theory are not usually encouraged. Political studies dealing with analyzing the statuesque , agenda and tasks of strategies of struggle, political forecasts and predictions are all done somewhere in the center . General party cadres are invited to voice their comments when the working papers are in its final forms. With the charismatic power of the center, the dominant sweeping culture of uniformity , the restricted channels for feedback , the second step in the central democracy to communicate the opinions of the cadres in the bottom to the top would hardly have any chances of seriously challenging the proposals that come from the top.
In such a period of intellectual and ideological distress one would expect that much attention should be given to these points. After all this a party that claim to draw on its programs and visions through the creative application of a theory believed to be capable of doing the job of correctly explaining and transforming any given historical circumstances. The first step in the process of renovation is the rethinking of this theory on its philosophical domain and applications worldwide as well as its particular interpretation and applications by the party within its boundaries as an entity and the historical boundaries of the society the party striving to change.
This indispensable task of rethinking should even go further to trace the ideological and psychological effects of this theory as it was interpreted , adjusted , exercised and lived not only by the authorized priests on the top of the hierarchy but also by the average party members. In other word a sociological study of the party culture : how the identity of being communist is constructed, rituals of inclusion and exclusion, mechanism of conflicts resolution, world-view, system of division of labor, traditions and method of indoctrination. .etc.
The real challenge which face the former communist parties in the process of transforming their old parties into new ones with new names, new ideologies and new strategies ; is the ability to resist the powerful influence of the old party culture. It is futile and absurd to move into a new environment with the same mental structures, perspectives and habits of thinking.
One can hardly encounter any attempt within the SCP to submit marxim or its version of it to the test of criticism. The ideal answer that the SCP discourse would provide, when challenged by counter arguments that question the validity of marxism , is that they (SCP) view marxism as a flexible guide of action not as a dogma or religion. The situation get terribly messed up when the party, working within a society where Islamic beliefs and sentiment are extremely strong, have to continuously exonerate itself from the accusation of atheism or of being an imported align body.
Sudanese communists has to realize that the version of marxism that their party has cherished and nourished for almost half a century is the marxism of a system once was in power i.e. the marxism of soviet establishment or the marxim of the " Soviet Progress Press". A marxism no longer exists. And that since the October revolution in 1917, marxism in the Soviet Union has been transformed from a means for liberation and subversion of the established reality into an instrument of domination and justification for the new social order.
It deserves mentioning here that the high unquestionable regard given by the party ideologists to Lenin and the story of the October revolution prevent many communists to critically evaluate the Soviet socialist revolutionary experience . They might have realized if such exercises were conducted that the despotic orthodox tendency of soviet marxism go way back beyond Stalin to Lenin. In fact the success of the SCP to immune its intellectual environment and locked it away from the infuence of criticism mounted against lennism and soviet marxism since the 1960s, was a terrible example of the dominace of orthodox one-sided mentality. (Michael Albert)
The challenges facing communists around the globe and the SCP in particular could not be confronted with a new revised elective version of marxism that they have to defend every now and then . Or a party with a new name and old mental structures. But by freeing themselves from the strong tendency of transforming historical theoretical categories ( marxist or whatever) and methods into a totalitarian orthodoxy that act as a scientific grand theory capable of scientifically discovering the laws of history. That any theory is not a natural transparent face of a reality. it is a construct of hypnosis limited by time and history. That no text is capable of providing answers to situation that it does not experience and understand . And the process of human knowledge know no limits to how far it would go.
It is high time for communists to understand and appreciate the simple idea that the roads to socialism are different and many and that " there is no doctrine of social change fixed for the present and future, nor even, necessarily, a specific and unchanging concept of the goals towards which social change should tend. surely our understanding of the nature of man or of the range of viable social forms is so rudimentary that any far-reaching doctrine must be treated with great skepticism, just as skepticism is in order when we hear that ``human natureíí or ``the demands of efficiencyíí or ``the complexity of modern lifeíí requires this or that form of oppression and autocratic rule." (chomsky)
What unites the various categories of orthodox marxism is the construction of marxism as a science capable of discovering the laws of history. Orthodox marxism suppress the fact that marxim is the product of history and that social existence can not be reduced to the model made of it.(George) Toward critical Marxism.
Pierre Bourdiew explain this point further that " If there is on thing that marxist philosophy should make necessary, it is close attention to history ( and the historicity ) of the concepts that we use to think about history. But the feeling that philosophy is somehow aristocratic leads one to forget to submit to historical criticism concepts that are visibly marked by the historical circumstances of their production and use. Marxism, in the reality of its social use, ends up by being a mode of thought completely immune to historical criticism, which is a paradox, given the potentialities and indeed the demands inherent in Marx's thought." (Pierre Bourdiew)
But orthodox marxism transform the work of Marx which are historically structured and limited into a " scientific universal logic" composed of a rigid transhistorical categories . Since marxism as a science is transparent then it claims to truth is a absolute. The dialectical method of Marx is transformed into a universally applicable system . Reality " is poured into a bottle of static ďscientificĒ propositions, reducing knowledge from a living human praxis to a dead conformity with the dictates of the formalistic model.Ē ( Geroge Katsiaficus) Economic reductionism, standardization of thought, monopoly of the ideological apparatus by an authorized Marxism scientists or priests, intolerance to different opinions and interpretations, preference for conformity, skepticism, dreadful abhorrence to dissidents, paranoia and the suppression of different political trends within the party under the pretext of preserving its unity are some of the features of orthodox marxism.
Without critically examining the ideological construct of the party along some of these lines that I tried above to sketch them out, one can hardly expects the ongoing dialogue inside the SCP or on the public domain to produce any valuable results.
* Bakinin was abosolutely right along time ago, when he wrote that " every
state, even the pseudo-Peopleís State concocted by Mr. Marx, is in essence
only a machine ruling the masses from above, from a privileged minority of
conceited intellectuals, who imagine that they know what the people need and
want better than do the people themselves......But the people will feel no
better if the stick with which they are being beaten is labeled `the peopleís
stickí (Bakunin) back
Sudan Online List is a collection of sites related to Sudan on the Internet. It was compiled using different Internet research tools. Sudan Online List does not claim to be a comprehensive list about Sudan on the Internet. As the Internet is changing rapidly many sites and documents are to be searched and included.
Compiling list of this kind requires a lot of time and effort. Searching Sudan by using the Internet search engines could be misleading and time consuming as they may point to any document that contain the name SUDAN . You have to wade through hundreds of insignificant doucments and sites to find the subject of your interest. I spent a lot of time looking up sites to find out they are sites for a software named Soudan, homepages for some guys from Turkey with the last name Sudan, gifs for family's vacation in the red sea.. etc.!!
I tried , in this list, to regroup sites or documents of relatively similar nature under certain categories defined by topic. By this I hope surfing the Internet for Sudan- related sites would be a lot easier and cost you less time online
Sudan Online List is a list under construction. It would be updated and maintained regulary. As many other sites are yet to be added, the current enteries will be modified to further improve seaching.
This is Sudan Online List Version One (SOL). Errors and shortcomings are inevitable. I would appreciate any corrections , comments or reference to any relevant sites not included in this list.You may mail your comment or URL by using this form.
This is the introducion of the Sudan Online List. To you can access by directing
your browser to this URL: ftp://ftp.sevrtech.com/public/users/fatih or click
here to go the SOL.
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" Oh my ! Oh my ! " " I met him near the ditch " " I have inquired about him " " They told me he is a doctor " " I don't like him ! " " I met him near the roadside " " I've asked my heart " " It told me that he is an expatriate " " That is the one ! That is the one ! "
I don't think you missed the irony of the ditch-roadside contrast. The newely - obtained freedom the girls are including in their songs, though transient, is highly expressive of their will to choose.
" What I want I have done " " Lower the higher I have made, " and: " He thinks he is the only man " " Eve has delivered to the world " " If he proceeds in his nasty ways " " I really have my spare-part "
What is funny about the last line is the mechanical way the girl, or rather, the composer, views the would- be husband. Girls songs are usually sung on happy occasions, to the accompaniment of dulloka's ( a local drum ). The girls sing in congregation. However, a solo may be performed by one girl, while the others act as a chorus. This collectivity ensures some sense of freedom and responsiblity-sharing. Dancing may sometimes accompany singing.
Assessed by the strict poetry standards, the structure of these songs will mostly fail to be included in a particular category in terms of poetic meter, rhymes and other rules characterstic of Arabic poetry - a fact consistent with the argument are developing here. Unlike poetry proper, these songs are just tools of direct expression. The lines are open-ended, that is, there is an open key sentence that can be adapted to changing circumstance.
Recently Girl's Songs, specially those rich in double-enterdes, have their
image been tranished by their sexual connotations. But, taken in their totality,
they are a signal to draw our attention to the cause rather than a dirty remark
to divert attention from seeing the stark nakedness of an effect that is caught
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Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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