Karl Marx?! … Well, the next likely thing that comes to mind is volumes upon volumes of neck breaking, mind scorching and poverty inducing theoretical communist books. Who cares? His ‘book long’ rants might as well fester on the termite ravaged shelves of a decrepit library stuck somewhere in Political Siberia. The world is moving on. The image above is not a conjecture, but the typical attitude with which most across the stratum of Ghana’s educated are likely to treat sociological and other developmental theories or frameworks of thinking. We have become very averse to organized thought and processes to an immoral extent. It is this infatuation with the mediocre, and an almost bitter detest for that which is critical, that has led to our inability to employ basic laid down thought processes in our day to day living; not to talk of governance. The next time you hear them rant the new fad “Ideology is not important”, right there, you have them – an excuse to jump from left to right and land in the centre; once it is convenient. There currently exists a strong covert anarchist thinking in our body politic; which has resulted in an overt resistance to the need to account for an organized approach to governance. One thing our people are refusing to recognize is that, to refuse to adopt any currently existing ideological framework as a tool for governance is in itself an Ideology! And if this is not done in a coherent manner, we will continue to be all over the place till thy kingdom come. Sadly, we are more inclined to make a joke of serious matters such as this; and we’d sooner die than take them under advice. Notwithstanding the preceding unfertile background, I seek to touch on a fundamental sociological concept in its very basic form in this piece. Fact is, it most likely will end with a few readers. However, with the remotest of luck, it might just inspire sociopolitical organization and social consciousness in a new direction. Contrary to the widespread phobia for scholarly established frames of thought, these concepts are actually not extraneous but rather observations or attempts at rendering explanations of our everyday lives. The underlying principles are so simple that you don’t need to have seen a chalk board in your entire life to comprehend them. Anyone, right from the Provost of the College of Philosophy – University of Cloud Cuckoo Land; right down to the lorry tire peddler at Kokompe; or the hawker at Kejetia, will be able to identify with these basic truths about human life – if conveyed to them in a language or manner they are familiar with. The concept discussed here is Karl Marx’s Theory of Class Consciousness and False Consciousness. Here, Marx exhorts us to look at life in terms of Social Classes – in everyday language, that is to say; the ‘haves and have nots’. He contends that, the working class and the marginalized can only fight for what is due them if they perceive themselves as belonging to one class – This he called Class Consciousness. With False consciousness, Marx explains that, if a worker perceives him or herself as an individual that is suffering or being exploited; and ignores the fact that there are several others like him or her; either in the same company, country or elsewhere, then the person has a False Consciousness. This is because, once the working class of people are aware that they are all in the same boat; and that it is in their collective interest to band together, they will be able to demand what is duly theirs of the national cake. In so doing, Marx explains that they can then successfully go on to organize and elect into office a government in which their interests are vested. Interestingly in Ghana, marginalization is so rampant and the working class is exploited to the bone. They bear the brunt of all the hard work and at the same time are the ones saddled with extortionate tariffs and a barrage of indirect taxes. They suffer all these against a background of measly wages and very poor delivery of utility services. However, there are two great deceptions in the Ghanaian socioeconomic makeup that is utilized to conveniently veil the existing pervasive class system. One; that because most of the people who are in the elite class today used to be of working class backgrounds, there couldn’t possibly be a class system. Secondly, the elite class, who are also the ruling class, are quick to develop a sort of loose alliance with the working class; whenever their section of the elite block finds itself out of political office. At such torrid political times, they latch onto the working class bandwagon just for the purposes of securing the numbers for electoral victory. After their agenda to secure power is met, well, I leave the rest to your imagination. Despite the afore stated facade, the contrast between the amenities in the elite occupied areas; and the lack of these amenities in the dwelling places of most Ghanaians is stark. Worst still, the villages between the commodious living of our few cities, and the intolerable wretchedness of the peasants’ lifestyle, brings the meaning of our class system home. The issue of social inequity in Ghana is rising to rather sinful proportions. As a result, observers find it difficult to understand why the very down trodden still queue to vote the class of exploiters into office. It is simple. The marginalized in Ghana and the average worker class look at circumstances in individual terms; and hope by individual effort, it will be possible to eventually escape the trap of poverty. The ambition is always pegged at joining the class that exploits; and most at times there is exhibition of disdain among members of the working class towards each other. False consciousness thus, does not allow a thinking which seeks collective effort to curb the subject of subservience, exploitation and undue suffering; but rather, it fuels the selfish quest to escape from the economic trap alone. A classic expression of false consciousness is in the saying “Each one for himself, God for us all” which has found a sort of permanent abode in the mindset of Ghanaians. Another instance of false consciousness being exhibited is with regard to the case of the retired Ghanaian woman who took the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to court. Her issue was that she got paid just a little over GHC. 3,700 of pension money after 41 years of service. As much as she has the absolute right to do this, it must be noted that several thousands of Ghanaian workers suffer the same fate. So instead of one vigilante retiree fighting this alone against the colossus called SSNIT; the matter would have been of more gravitas if several aggrieved retirees band together and sue the National Insurer in the form of a class action. Certainly, SSNIT would have been more compelled to do something to rectify the situation. This could have ended the sort of pittance handed out to workers who have slaved all their lives working to contribute, not only to national development, but also directly to the national insurance trust. However, false consciousness keeps the working class from seeing the natural essence for coming together as an organized group to assert their rights or even still, to secure power. The power of the working people has been usurped and milked for eons by the greedy few. We hear it said time and again that power actually belongs to the people. But once the people continue to view themselves in that individualistic perspective – the ruling class will continue to ‘eat into their beards.’ From the expose above, one will contend that the working class; that is, the mechanics, hawkers, cobblers, petty traders, market women, the pen pushers of the civil service, the unemployed graduates, the peasant farmers, low to middle income workers of the private sector; and all the struggling groups in Ghana would come together to demand and install in place a government representative of their needs. However, this cannot happen by default. It requires organization. The organization required is one that must first break the sense of false consciousness and the individualistic day dreams of most members of the working class. In this direction, two critical groups come to mind – the socialist political groupings in the country and the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The TUC, which should be the natural galvanizing centre for the working class has till lately performed far less than a pale shadow of its original self. After it was initially constituted with mainly civil servants in the first republic, it has since been as moribund as the rate of Ghana’s development. It is time the TUC gets dynamic and begin to re-invent itself. They cannot sit and limit themselves to a handful of government workers. They must wean themselves of the status of a quasi-government institution (if that is the case) and become that truly representative mouth piece of the working class in its entirety. The TUC must shove paper pushing to the backgrounds and hit the field. It must begin to champion the organization of artisan groups and private sector workers that can be accommodated under its wings. This way, their bargaining power will become truly representative of Modern day Ghana’s workforce – not that of the early post Gold Coast mould. The second group that has to take up the mantle of salvaging the working class, from the wretchedness they have been subjected to by the ruling plutocrats of our time, is the political parties of the socialist adherent. Curiously, instead of mobilizing along worker groups and trade lines, they seem to be caught up in the frenzied approach adopted by the current ruling class – Where mobilization is miscellaneous; without pervasive vested interests of worker groups. Hence, the political process is reduced to the level of commodity sales – where lavish mass media advertising and crude propaganda is the tool. The sales pitches are mostly far removed from the needs of the electorates – with a few occasional smatterings of deliverables here and there – but the main objective being to woo votes; to hell with the bread and butter issues. Therefore, if the socialist entities are to return to power, they must return to the first principle of their ideals and not be lured by the trappings of the plutocrats; since the numbers required to attain power are actually found within the working class. In this respect, the socialist entities, like the CPP, PNC, GCPP, to some extent the PPP, and their likes are better served mobilizing the working class into organized unions; in collaboration with the TUC – if that is feasible. This will avail the working class strong socioeconomic bargaining powers and the ability to either instate or unseat a government based on performance.
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