31 JANUARY 1970, Page 6


Red mischief


People have always been slow to take in the news of great revolutions; being conservative by nature, they find it difficult to under- stand that a radical change might have taken place overnight. In the exuberant imagination of a patriotic American poet the shot fired at Lexington was 'heard round the world'—actually, it was quite a long time before the world even learned about it, much less gave it any thought. On 14 July 1189, Louis XVI wrote 'Nothing hap- pened' in his diary. On the night of 7 November 1917, Petrograd society was listening to Chaliapin at the Opera, the trams were running normally, and only next morning the incredulous citizenry read some odd proclamations about a seizure of power; some days later western papers began writing of an obviously ephemeral coup carried out by 'Maximalists' under a ferocious Jew called Lenine or Oulianoff or some such outlandish name.

Nothing, alas, seems to have changed. Total silence has been the response of the western press to the shattering event which took place a bare month ago: the proclamation of a dictatorship of the pro- letariat in the Congo (Brazzaville). The capitalist-imperialist press quoting with fear and rage, has attempted to conceal the facts from the masses. They cannot be allowed to get away with it. Yes, it is true. The first communist revolution has taken place in Africa, the first black- communist state has been established. Long live the Revolution! Tribesmen (sorry : read Toilers) of the- World, Unite!

Here, then, is a brief resume of the historic facts. A Congolese communist party (officially, the Congolese Party of Labour) was founded on 31 December and im- mediately proclaimed itself the country's sole and ruling party. Congo (Brazzaville) was renamed the Popular Republic of the Congo. Sweeping aside all neo-colonialist artefacts, the Popular Republic has adopted the Red Flag, with hammer and sickle, as its banner, and the 'Internationale' as the national anthem. The party has drawn up a new socialist constitution, accepted with delirious enthusiasm by the Congolese workers, peasants and toiling intelligentsia, and also by such representative bodies as the Congolese Trade Union Confederation, the Revolutionary Union of Congolese Women, the Congolese Union of Socialist Youth, and the National People's Army.

There is still some doubt (our man in Brazzaville being temporarily absent from his post) as to whether a Congolese Party of Labour actually exists, but its Central Committee and Politburo are very much in evidence. And that, as every good revolu- tionary knows, is what really matters. Comrade Lekundzu, a leading member of the Politburo, has just made a program- matic statement on Congolese radio and television (now The Voice of the Congolese Revolution): 'If we wish to carry out the socialist revolution then we must have an avant-garde party based on Marxist-Leninist theory, a party united both ideologically and organisationally, a party of the pro- letarian type'. Nor is this all: the party is to be based on the principles of 'democratic centralism' and 'proletarian international- ism', and its aim is the elimination of all forms of exploitation of man by man. The country's leading force, needless to say, is the working class.

Cynical bourgeois scoffers will say that the Popular Republic of the Congo has a population of under one million, no econ- omy, and therefore no working class. So what? Did not Engels explain that the first task of the proletariat upon seizing power would be to liquidate itself qua proletariat? The absence of a proletariat merely makes the task of the Congolese Soviet that much easier, and its transition to full communism that much smoother. As Lenin remarked in one of his last articles, 'On Our Revolu- tion', when the proletarian revolution really gets going in Asia (for some inexplicable reason he forgot to mention Africa) it would take on even stranger forms than in Russia. He never wrote a truer word. Ex Africa, as even non-Marxists know, semper aliquid novi. And what could be more novel than a fully-fledged proletarian dictatorship and a socialist revolution in a country compared to which Ghana or Gambia are models of over-development?

The Russian comrades appear to be in a bit of a quandary over this unexpected occurrence. Pravda prints the good news from the Congo almost every day—but not, as yet, in its section 'News of the Socialist Countries'. Can this be a sign of creeping revisionism? They really must brush up their Lenin. Why shouldn't the Congolese have a Soviet Republic if they want one? We cannot have racial discrimination in the field of proletarian dictatorship—blacks have just as much right to democratic centralism as whites. In fact, they are wel- come to it.

More probably, though, this initial re- serve of the Russian leadership towards their new ally (the Popular Republic has already recognised East Germany and even established 'close relations' with the SED, the East German Communist party) is ex- plained by their comparative ignorance of African affairs. To be sure, they have a special Institute of African Studies, equip- ped with a full complement of anthro- pologists, sociologists, historians, econo- mists and Marxist witch-doctors. But, be- cause of ideological prejudice, they are com- pletely unfamiliar with the works of the foremost authority on African affairs, whose writings acquire a new relevance with every passing month of African independence. I refer, of course, to the late Evelyn Waugh.

Black Mischief is regarded as Waugh's most important contribution to African-

ology. Yet it is elsewhere that one must look for a brilliant prediction of the Congol- ese dictatorship of the proletariat. While I was reading the rousing call issued by Comrade Pierre Nze, another member of the Politburo—'Everything for the people, only for the people'—something began to stir in my memory. Where had I heard this al- ready? Gradually it came back: 'Develop- ment of mineral resources of the workers by the workers for the workers . . . Soon we shall make Russian the official language of the country . . . Year One of the Soviet State of Ishmaelia . . . Workers of Ish-

maelia Unite . . Of course: Scoop. It had all happened before, thirty-five years ago, in Ishmaelia.

As students of Waugh will recall, the short-lived Soviet Republic of Ishmaelia was overthrown by a drunken Swede of immense strength, who single-handedly threw the whole Politburo off the balcony from which they were addressing the popu- lace. When the first KGB 'specialists' arrive in the Popular Republic of the Congo I would advise them to keep a close eye on Swedes. With these elementary precautions —who knows?—the Congolese Soviet may even survive for a time. The world is certainly a brighter place for it.