Discussion between Companyero and Chilembwe (fireworks!)

John K. Black:

We have together here Charlie Companyero, and Chilembwe. Both are important members of Liberation Movement.

Chilembwe: Hi, let me tell you: all members are important, and all members are equally important.

Companyero: Hi, John, Chilembwe, I am glad to be here.

You have different thoughts on some of the points of Liberation Movement, so with this discussion we can expect some fireworks I hope.

Chilembwe: Hahaha, we are good friends and we agree on the Big Issues of Liberation. We have some different ideas about details of the way to get there.

Companyero: I am glad to be your friend, Chilembwe. And John, too.

Black: So who wants to start outlining the different principles you follow?

Companyero: We do not follow different principles, we have different ideas on strategy and tactics. Chilembwe wants to form a political party out of Liberation Movement. I think it is fine to form a party, but I think we should keep it separate from Liberation Movement, so I can contribute to the Movement without having to get into politics.

Chilembwe: Of course the Party will be separate from the Movement. The movement is organized in a way that functions perfectly for a Movement, but not for a political party. There you need representation, inevitably you have to deal with that at the moment you enter Parliament, or maybe even the Presidency.

Companyero: Hahaha, you think big!

John: Hahaha. So here you agree, but can you tell me a bit more on the differences between your viewpoints?

Companyero: We agree on Liberation Movement. In his interview with you Chilembwe explained very well how we organize, and how everybody of good will can be Liberation Movement, simply by organizing his or her own section. A Soviet, or a club, or any other type of organization. You simply have to support the idea of horizontal organization, and you are in line with Liberation Movement. You cannot be top-down, and horizontal at the same time. So out of horizontal organization follows equality between all, and follows the whole program of Liberation Movement. And within that paradigm we can have different approaches, like between Chilembwe and me.

Chilembwe: This is an interesting answer, Companyero, and a good one. You have spoken wisely! Instead of answering the question on differences, you emphasize the similarities. And that is what we need.

There is one small difference, and that is that apart from working with Liberation Movement, I am going to form a political party along the lines of Liberation.

Companyero: The trouble with a political party is that you cannot have a party with a polit bureau, and a board, and elected representatives with car loans and housing allowances, and at the same time be egalitarian, as Liberation Movement has as its most important principle.

Chilembwe: You are a dreamer, Companyero, and we need more like you. Come u with the most beautiful ideas of how the world should be. But at some point you need to be practical. Praxis is what we need. And practicality means that you are dealing with State power. If you demonstrate peacefully, the State sends gunmen with live ammunition, and they shot 20 people dead in 2011. The same DPP party that has State power now. So you need to do something about that. If we take over government we can prevent that type of thing from happening.

Companyero: You think only in State power, in hard power in physical violence. But when you start getting involved in the systemic violence that the State imprints on its citizens, you get involved in the logic of power, and then you will be forced to do the same things yourself. You need to create an alternative with no powerful and disempowered people, but with everybody egalitarian. That is not possible in a State. And once you run the State, you get to do so by means of an organization that is built on violence, hierarchy, top down commands, and all the corruption and abuse that that type of organizing engenders. We need to be different, but when people are part of that organization, they have to follow its logic.

Chilembwe: your alternative is very good, but it does not solve the Big Issue of oppression and violence. You can do small things without irking the State powers, but when you get to be influential they will unleash their violence on you. You need to be prepared. And then it is better to be on the command side, so you can command the violence to stop.

Companyero: You cannot command the violence to stop, because a command is a form of violence. This is a contradiction, like: “This sentence is untrue.” If it is true it is untrue. But if it is untrue it is true. So if you use a command structure to order equality, you are contradicting yourself.

Chilembwe: We will never agree on this. If you want to improve the country, you need to have the power to do so. And if you do not want to grab power by violent means, you have to reform the State from within.

Companyero: You cannot reform the State from within, because the State is built on inequality. If you reform it, it ceases to be, and you lost the power, because the power apparatus is dissolved.

Chilembwe: Dissolving is better than fighting. But before we get to that point there is a lot of room for improvement, and a lot of need for improvement. Urgently.

Companyero: You cannot improve by being as evil as your opponent. Then you are the same, and you are only another player in the field of oppressors.

Chilembwe: See? We disagree.

Companyero: That we can agree on.

Black: I think the different ideas have become a bit clearer. Thank you both.

Companyero: Thank you, John.

Chilembwe: Thank you both.

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