The Amilcar Cabral School

Date: 01 August 2023

Author: Guest

Tags: Africa, Internationalism

This article was written by Comrade Walter Ogillo Nyaluogo, Communist Party of Kenya (CPK)
The Mount Tai Edition of his original report is being jointly published here, as well as in the latest issue of the Communist Party of Kenya's Itikadi magazine. Their website can be found here.

Amilcar Cabral in Algiers, February 1967 | Ben Martin/Getty Images


I was extremely fortunate to be invited to the Amilcar Cabral School in Accra, Ghana, from the 19th of May to the 11th of June this year, 2023. I was the first Kenyan to participate in the school, and it was an honor. 

The Amilcar Cabral school is a political theory school that brings together working class activists from progressive social movements from across the globe. The school aims to connect with individual activists and their organizations, to understand their struggles, broaden their perspectives, and build greater international solidarity. 

In total, we were 32 activists from 16 countries including: Saharawi Arab Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Nepal, Nigeria, United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Liberia, People’s Republic of China, Tanzania and Kenya.

The first thing I reflect upon when I remember my experience at the school was the introduction lesson, where we talked about the collective agreement responsibilities and the code of conduct for our stay at the school. We were made aware that we would work as a collective, have each other’s back and be respectful to every single person. A quote that still lingers around my mind is “The only thing the enemy cannot take away from us is our discipline”. It set the stage for the high discipline and high morale that I observed throughout the course. In general, every comrade was responsible with their allotted time during meetings, and was highly respectful of other comrades. I have to admit; I have never been part of such a comradely team ever in my whole life. It was the best living and learning experience in my life so far.

One way the school engaged us in the concept of democratic centralism was by further dividing the group into collectives of 5 to 6 comrades. Each collective had a name that varied, from important dates in working class history, to the names of revolutionaries. I was a member of the Titina Sila collective—named after the freedom fighter from Guinea Bisau. She joined the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) at the age of 18 and fought to the end. She was assassinated a few days after the killing of Amilcar Cabral, while traveling to his funeral, by the Portuguese. 

The collectives were a good opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the daily lessons while also acting as a medium of communication to and from the organizers. We also performed physical labor activities, like cleaning and serving meals during communal meal times. I felt that this was important to correct the backward attitudes that lead to disdain of physical labor among some revolutionaries.


I have always loved participating in misticas, however, it was at the Amilcar Cabral School that I actually got to understand their essence. Mistica has a very broad meaning. In essence, it is a cultural representation of reality that we use to express ourselves. It can be through music, theater, dance, poetry, etc. We participated in our first mistica during our first class and I quickly understood how they build collective unity and strengthen our ideological commitment. The sense of belonging I felt while singing and chanting reinforced my commitment to the struggle and to the collective. We had a very interactive session where we talked about the different forms of mistica from the regions we came from, and it broadened the meaning of misticas for me. For example, I realized that in Kenya, when motorcycle taxis (boda boda/Nduthi) protest, they honk their horns and decorate their motorcycles with plants, and that that is actually a mistica. In China, to commemorate the lives lost during the gruesome Nanjing Massacre, bells ring and the whole city becomes silent.

The Internationale and the Paris Commune

Now I can say I am able to sing the first three stanzas of the Internationale. I now understand why we sing it and its context. The song was composed by Eugene Pottier following the collapse of the Paris Commune of 1872 after only 72 days. The Paris Commune was the first worker-led revolutionary government. It is a very important milestone for Socialists. Despite lasting for a short time, we still enjoy some of the benefits of the revolution, like the 8-hour work day, which was first experimented in the Paris Commune. 

The Life and Works of Amilcar Cabral

A very educational class about the Life and Works of Amilcar Cabral led by Comrade Blaise shed light upon the little known revolutionary. By the end of my stay at the school, I vowed to walk in his path. Amilcar Cabral was a Guinea Bissau agronomist who dedicated his life to the liberation of the Guineans from Portuguese colonialism. He was a thorough Marxist who loved the people. He applied Marxism to the conditions of his nation so successfully that it led them to independence, even though he was assassinated just seven months before he could finally see the liberation of his people. He was an internationalist who connected with other Marxists all over the globe, from Fidel Castro in Cuba to Agostinho Neto in Angola. His contributions to Marxist theoretical work are invaluable, especially now, at a time of great capitalist contradictions and struggles.

Materialist Philosophy

One of my favorite highlights from my time at the school was when I deepened my understanding of Historical and Dialectical Materialism. The class was guided by a resource person from South Africa, Comrade Vashna Jagarnath. We started by reflecting on a document written by Mao Zedong, “Where do Correct Ideas Come from?” in our collectives. The most important thing I gained from it is that knowledge comes from the real world, and not from our heads, or from a higher being or deity. It starts as perceptual knowledge, this is knowledge perceived through the five sense organs (touch, sight, taste, hearing, smell). 

When enough perceptual knowledge is accumulated, we develop cognition, or conceptual knowledge. In this first step, we realize knowledge comes from physical objects that can be perceived, and then we reflect upon it. But at this point, we don’t know if the concepts or ideas we have developed are true or not. So we have to take conceptual knowledge—the knowledge in our consciousness—and test it in the real world. This is called practice. If the knowledge succeeds then it is correct, and if it fails then it is false. 

Repeating this process several times until we develop the correct understanding is what is called praxis. The final understanding is rational knowledge, and it is the correct idea. And that is the nature of dialectics. With this understanding we were able to trace the history of mankind through Communalism, Slavery, Feudalism, Capitalism and Socialism. We came to the same conclusion that Marx and Engel’s came to in the 1800s in the Manifesto, that “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle”.

Class, Race and Identity

Comrade Kyeretwle Opoku discussed with us the reactionary nature of identity politics. It was in that class that I developed my most advanced comprehension yet of the Base and Superstructure. All societies are looked at from the way they organize production. The base is made up of the mode of production. It is composed of two components, the forces of production, i.e., the means of production (raw materials, tools) and labor power, and the second is property relations. The base is what gives societies their identity. The current dominant economic system is capitalism, that is, the private ownership of the means of production. It is the base of most societies in the world. The superstructure is informed by the base. It is the reflection of the mode of production. It consists of the state, family, education, legal structures, religion etc. The superstructure serves the base. 

Identity politics is a tool used by the base to divide us. When we are divided along race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, we are distracted from the real issue which is class struggle, and the ruling class wins. Their existence depends upon these divisions. It is important to understand that all exploited societies across the world have one thing in common: the exploitation that arises from the current economic system, capitalism. Identity politics is thus futile because it turns the oppressed against each other, appeals to middle class dominance and empowers the state as the arbiter of these divisions. 

This is not to say however that the identities are not important. They are in fact very important. They are what makes us who we are. These characteristics are what make us a collective whole and to dismiss them entirely would impede socialism as a whole. It has been observed that even after the revolution, if the nuances of identities are not acknowledged, then they later manifest themselves as a function of opportunistic attitudes by the reactionaries and counterrevolutionaries. Case-in-point is how ethnic or religious divisions have been used to sabotage communities or even nations in Africa and the world at large. In the colonial Global South and Jim Crow United States, race played a bigger role than even social class. That being said, it is still important to note that all these divisions still arose from the base—that is to say, the racism was so because of the exploitative and oppressive nature of the base, and not in spite of it. 

Base and Superstructure

The State and Bourgeoisie Democracy

In the discussion about The State and Bourgeoisie Democracy, we were guided by Comrade Rowland Fode Diagne, a resource person from Senegal. In this lesson we learned about the origin of the state and the current nature of bourgeois democracy. We understood that human beings first organized themselves in families, which grew into bigger and bigger groups, which then developed into communities. The social classes arose from the means of production and property relations. There were people who developed status within their communities, and thought that they could make others work for them—creating a society based on slavery. The ruling class invoked divine right from deities to rule and appropriate land and other natural resources. Slave revolts led to the decline of this mode of production, which then turned into feudalism. Here, the serfs who worked the land were granted newer rights by the kings and lords, who guaranteed them a portion of the product of their labor. 

In this mode, surplus developed, and was then traded in markets, leading to a new class of merchants and craftsmen. In Europe, a technological revolution was triggered by the increase in production and a need for new trade routes and navigational equipment—leading to specialization of labor, and the development of industry. This led to the rise of the bourgeoisie, who overthrew the feudal system in order to establish capitalism. From this history, we came to the conclusion that the state is an organization of society by those who own the economic power. 

We also realized that to exercise power on the people, they needed institutions of the superstructure, which are either coercive or consensual. For example, the army and the police are coercive institutions of the superstructure, and the parliament and electoral system are consensual institutions of the superstructure. We were also able to look at a form of government Comrade Diagne termed as “the terrorist form of capitalism”, that is, fascism. As the contradictions of capitalism develop, the masses will begin to protest and demand a fairer system. In order to stop the dismantling of capitalism and the transition to socialism, the ruling class will suspend the consensual institutions of the superstructure and establish an authoritarian, fascist government. They normally do this by purging communists and trade unions. This has been observed in several countries before, including Spain with Francesco Franco, Benito Mussolini in Italy, Adolf Hitler in Germany, etc. 

Production Process and Political Economy

Profit is unpaid labor; this is the most memorable concept I learnt from my two lessons on Production Process and Political Economy by Comrade Daniel Goodwill and Comrade Kafui Senaya. Both comrades grounded their discussions on the Labor Theory of Value; that it is the amount of labor that determines the value of something. They emphasized that labor is supreme and central to both the production process and political economy. Since every society is determined by the way it organizes material production—that is, the things that are required for human existence, such as food, shelter, clothing, and reproduction—the production process simply consists of what is required for the material productions to be met. We established that two things are required: the means of production, and the productive forces. 

The means of production are the tools, machines, and raw materials needed to make commodities. This is also known as constant capital. Labor-power exists in the shape of a living worker who needs a definite amount of means of subsistence for themselves, their family, and ensures the continuance of labor even after their death (children). Hence, the labor time necessary for producing these means of subsistence represents the value of labor power. The labor power thus is also known as variable capital. Since the capitalist cannot reduce the constant capital without jeopardizing the quality of the product, the only way to create surplus value or profit is by taking it from the variable capital (labor power). 

To create profit, the capitalist has to work the laborer longer than the time required for the worker to acquire their means of subsistence. This extra time is called surplus labor time or surplus product. This is what the capitalist steals to make profit. Every capitalist is always in a race to increase this unearned income for themselves. We also understood that the capitalist loves unemployment. The existence of a reserve army of unemployed people drives down wages, which increases the profit margin for the capitalist. This is the contradiction that has to be resolved for change to happen. Under socialism, the worker will own the means of production, and thus will have a say on how to distribute the goods created and how to spend the surplus value.

Marxism and Feminism

One of the most important insights into the superstructure came from our analysis of Marxism and Feminism facilitated by Comrade Akua Opokua Britwum. In this analysis she instigated a very interesting debate on the concept of gender, Marxist feminism, and the origin of patriarchy. We were able to investigate the distinction between sex which is a biological attribute, and gender, which are identities associated to sex that are determined by society. And thus we discovered that the concept is not neutral, because just like every other institution in the superstructure, it is influenced by the base. 

Armed with this knowledge, we dissected the concept of patriarchy. We learned that patriarchy predates capitalism, and it arose from property relations—the law of inheritance. The patriarchy established the institution of monogamous marriage. Monogamy, however, was only limited to women, as they were the only people who could know the father of the children with certainty. The conclusion therefore was that private property was the foundation of patriarchy. It was also acknowledged that it is patriarchy that determines the sexual division of labor. 

Comrade Akua stressed that women don’t experience patriarchy the same way. Things like race, social status (class), ethnicity, etc., influences women’s positions. This actually also contributes to the two types of feminism: the liberal feminism, which focuses on reforms, and thus actually reinforces capitalism, and Marxist feminism, which acknowledges the class struggle. 

Women are the biggest victims of capitalism, because they are doubly oppressed by both patriarchy and capitalism. A debate thus arose that if the child is necessary for the continuity of society, then why are women not compensated for playing the major role in the reproduction of the society? It was universally accepted in the class that domestic labor is a cornerstone of society, and truly, there can be no freedom without the liberation of women.

Imperialism, Neocolonialism and African Underdevelopment

On the subject of Imperialism, Neocolonialism and African Underdevelopment, Comrade Diagne, Comrade Nasser Adam, and Comrade Mamane Sani Adamou guided us. These were very interactive classes because they encouraged us to give input on our experiences from the different regions of the world. We first understood that the history of Africa did not start from slavery or colonialism, but that these things merely interrupted our history. Nevertheless, these events shaped the current situation in Africa. Slavery for example depleted the youngest, strongest, and most agile part of the African population. 

We discussed how colonialism came from the expansion of capitalism. Capitalism needed new markets and more natural resources; thus it expanded out of its sphere in Europe. This explains why the earliest colonizing entities were companies, such as the Dutch East India Company, the Imperial British East African Company, Cecil Rhodes’ British South African Company, etc. It was quickly established that Imperialism thus was the highest stage of capitalism, and the source of Africa’s underdevelopment. 

The new form of colonialism is the debt burden that benefits the imperialist states. Institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are used for this modern form of (neo)colonialism. Thomas Sankara described modern day colonialism in his “United Front Against Debt” speech at the OAU summit in Addis Ababa as “a skillfully managed reconquest of Africa”. Every time capitalism is hit with its cyclic economic crises (recessions), Africa bears the brunt through the infamous Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) despite being the least responsible for the crisis. 

This can all be done by co-opting so-called “intellectual leaders” in Africa—the fifth column. Comrade Nasser used a famous quote from the Asante (a community in West Africa) to describe this phenomena: “When you see a witch or a wizard has entered your house, somebody must have opened the door for him/her”. This describes how just like in the 1700s and 1800s—when local African chiefs participated in slavery—the fifth column today are participating in the exploitation, oppression and underdevelopment of Africa. Imperialism is intolerant of visionary or imaginative African leaders. Such leaders are either bribed, sanctioned or killed. Africa is not short of revolutionary leaders who have been killed; the Amilcar Cabral school is literally named after one.

The enemy has to keep Africa underdeveloped and not industrialized in order to continue exploiting the continent’s natural resources, and taking them to the West. It is therefore very obvious that the West is only rich and capable of affording its welfare states by exploiting third world countries. Neoclassical economists, NGOs, and think tanks are used by the imperialists to justify imperialism using vague and reductive concepts like GDP statistics and “comparative advantage”. So, when an African state needs to industrialize and process its own resources within its own borders, they will claim that said country does not have enough skilled manpower, or the proper infrastructure, to engage in such industrialization. They say that the country does not have a comparative advantage with Western counterparts. And so, African countries will always have to export their cocoa, cobalt, crude oil, etc., abroad, and buy back the processed goods. A skillfully managed plundering of Africa.

Patrice Lumumba after being captured by Mobutu Sese Seko’s forces in January 1961

Digital Age of Imperialism and Surveillance Capitalism

The class on Digital Age of Imperialism and Surveillance Capitalism by Comrade Khambale Masavuli really got the participants on the edge of their seats. I personally never really understood the depth of surveillance that the ruling class had over the entire population until I experienced that class. The internet as an institution of the superstructure is neither neutral nor objective. The internet serves the interests of the ruling class. The ruling class not only uses the internet as a tool for surveillance, but also to expand their markets, commodifying us and alienating us from the real world. With the advancements in the field of technology, such as artificial intelligence and advanced semiconductor manufacturing, the level of control has likewise advanced. 

Digital and technological advancements connect to the increasing militarization of Africa. The existence of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), created in 2007 to fight the “war on terror”, protect US interests, and contain China, is one of the biggest indications of modern colonialism. AFRICOM bases, apart from hosting military bases, drones, and air force bases and naval bases, also host data centers which collect data on African states and their citizens. The United States’ justification for having these bases is to fight the “war on terror”, however, there is considerable evidence that most terror groups currently in Africa, such as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and Al Shabaab, were created or funded by these same western imperialist powers. 

Socialists, however, should not be afraid of technology, because it can also be a tool for our liberation. We need to engage in further training of the masses to help us navigate the internet and use it to advance our cause. We have to democratize technology and the internet. “The internet and technology is built by workers,” said Comrade Khambale.

AFRICOM military base in Manda Bay, Kenya | CGTN Africa

A trip to the Elmina Slave Dungeons

During our stay in Ghana, we had an opportunity to visit the Elmina Slave Dungeon in Elmina, Cape Coast. The town was originally known as Anumansah, and it was a trading post for the Fante and Akan that connected them to the rest of the world. The Portuguese built the fort in 1482. It was the first trading post built in the region, and was also the first European building south of the Sahara. The Portuguese used the fort as a slave depot where they held as many as 1,000 Africans—captured from inland—in very terrible conditions. Most would die in the fort, and would be thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. We learned, however, that Africans taken from their families did not only die at the fort. Many died during the raids inland to capture them, many died during the trip to Elmina, and many more died in the three-month trip to the Americas and the West Indies. Estimates of the deaths caused by this barbaric venture of slavery indicate that in excess of 40 million Africans died.

The fort also highlighted the role religion played in the enslaving of Africans. At the center of the fort, the Portuguese built a large chapel. From here, they would bless the ships carrying “cargo” back to Europe. Something we were asked not to forget is that some of the companies that participated in this slave trade still exist to this day. A good example is the banking company Barclays.

The visit to Elmina elicited a lot of emotions among the comrades. It was this excursion that influenced the name of one of the collectives, which was “Haiti 1804”. Their name is a remembrance of the heroic action and revolution of the slaves in Haiti.

Chapel in the middle of the former Elmina Slave Dungeons in Elmina, Ghana

Internationalism and Pan-Africanism

Comrade Kyeretwie Opoku and Comrade Kwesi Pratt Jr. led the discussions on Internationalism (Socialism) and Pan-Africanism (Socialist). Since capitalism is globalist in nature, then socialism should also be international. Workers in one country have more in common with workers on the other side of the globe than with the ruling class of their own country. Karl Marx says, “Workers (and exploited people) of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains”. The transition from capitalism to socialism must be global. 

During the discussions, we were able to develop a more advanced understanding of Pan-Africanism; defined as those who fight for socialism and against injustice and exploitation. It is inclusive of everyone around the world who seeks liberation from exploitation and oppression. It is scientific in nature and it seeks the unification of Africa under socialism. Comrade Kwesi Pratt summarized it as; “Every weapon pointed against capitalism and imperialism is our weapon.”

Paths to Power and Theory and Revolutionary Practice

Comrade Shanti Singham and Comrade Adamou Sani Mamane took us through Paths to Power and Theory and Revolutionary Practice. By tracing the history of revolutionary struggle, all the way from the Haitian Revolution of 1804 to the latest socialist revolution in Venezuela by Hugo Chavez, we develop an understanding of the nature of revolutions. We understood that there were three types of revolutions; the bourgeois revolutions, like that of the French that established capitalism in France, the national liberation revolutions, like the independence movements in the Third World Countries, and the socialist revolutions. It is important to note that on several occasions, national liberation and socialist revolutions occur at the same time. We have seen this across the world. Here in Africa, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique had socialist revolutions while attaining independence from Portugal. We understood why revolutions fail or succeed: while it is one thing to have a revolution, it is another thing to defend it. We also understood that revolutions also occur when certain contradictions within the base develop. 

Also, an opportunity for a path to power always arises when the ruling class is split and is fighting amongst themselves. There are different paths to power, such as through a workers’ movement like in the Soviet Union, a peasant movement like in China, Vietnam, Guinea Bissau etc.; an armed insurrection complemented with popular resistance like in Cuba, through elections like in Chile and Venezuela, or a military coup like in Burkina Faso. All socialist revolutions are highly dependent on the prevailing material conditions at the particular time: a successful revolution cannot be exported to another region, it has to be tailored to fit with the conditions of that region. 

The greatest hindrance to most revolutions is normally an attack from external sources who do not wish for socialism to succeed, internal revisionism within the new socialist authority, and—most importantly—disconnection from the grassroots or the masses. It is quite clear that a revolution must start from the grassroots. The popular movement must never lose connection with the masses. It is basically the essence of Mao Zedong’s Mass Line: the revolution happens by the masses, and for the masses

Comrade Adamou insisted we take note of the fact that even after the revolution, the only way to defend the revolution is to continue or intensify grassroots works, because the revolution is not complete until we can be able to defend it successfully. “Revolutionaries and Revolutionary movements should always side with the oppressed. When demonstrations, protests, riots and revolts occur, the movement must side with the oppressed and use the opportunity to learn and to teach the masses. We should be close to those struggling, not those doing nothing,” said Cde. Adamou. 

When Cde. Adamou was asked, “Why do revolutions like in Burkina Faso collapse after the revolutionary leader is killed?” he responded that “it is because the grassroots movements are not strong enough. The aim of the grassroots movement is to create 1,000 Thomas Sankaras, 1,000 Amilcar Cabrals, and 1,000 Chris Hanis.”

Revolutionary Arts and Culture

In Revolutionary Arts and Culture, we realized that these fields are not neutral. The superstructure bears its characteristics from the base. The state is an institution of the base, which uses arts and culture as an instrument of socialization that ensures soft compliance. Under capitalism, art is used to produce entertainment. This entertainment hides its indoctrinating quality. The art is used to ingrain ideas of capitalism and liberalism in the people in order to ensure compliance with the system. 

In the 38th Newsletter (2022) titled “Without Culture, Freedom is Impossible” of the Tricontinental Magazine by Cde. Vijay Prashad, we deliberated on how bourgeois art has diverted art away from any substantial discussions of real problems by stretching from verisimilitude (an effort to achieve the truth), and pushing further towards the fantastic (disconnected from reality). They depict a “you can have it too” attitude, and fill art with increasingly individualistic themes. 

Socialism, thus, is not just about ending capitalism: it must go further into creating reflections and deeper consciousness through arts and culture. Revolutionary art and culture therefore undermines capitalism. Revolutionary art and culture criticize and educate; they reinforce collective effort, and decommodify art and culture, making them accessible to all. We need to ground revolutionary art and culture in Marxist analysis. 

Cuban Ballet dancers | The Guardian

Conjunctural Analysis

For our Conjunctural Analysis class, Comrade Angelo Garcia discussed with us how to make a Marxist analysis of a situation. To analyze a situation, we first have to understand the events that led to that juncture. He stressed on the importance of knowing our strengths and weaknesses, and knowing our enemy, because that is the information we will use to select the theater of battle. We have to analyze the events of the past as well as the present in order to understand how we are going to insert ourselves actively and help shape the future events toward socialism. Therefore, a conjunctural analysis is a report that describes the current situation honestly. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy, as well as the protagonist. It highlights the overall strategy, as well as recommending the objective tactics that will be needed to achieve the desired outcome. 

A quote by Comrade Ernesto “Che” Guevara hung on the wall behind Comrade Angelo while he was leading the discussion. It read: “The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” Cde. Angelo insisted that we cannot passively insert ourselves into current events, lest we miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to take down capitalism once and for all. We talked about how the Third World countries are currently being driven to bankruptcy by the neoliberal institutions of imperialism, such as the IMF and World Bank, and how such policies could lead to spontaneous protests and demonstrations akin to that of the Arab Spring in 2010-2012. However, without ideological guidance, spontaneous protests always fizzle out, or decay into fascism.

Geopolitics and Emergence of the Multipolar World

In the vibrant discussion on Geopolitics and Emergence of the Multipolar World, the debate on how current events in Ukraine, COVID 19, and the financial crisis, are causing instability in the world was widely discussed. It was clear from the onset of the discussion that the main antagonists in the world right now, and historically—at least in the last 500 years—have been the western powers. 

In the last 100 years, the USA has become the primary dominant power, thanks to years of imperialism: through the financial expansion of their markets, and very cruel wars. However, in recent years, the rise of China has challenged this supremacy. The war in Ukraine, and the subsequent sanctioning of Russia by Western financial institutions, has also caused a massive dedollarization campaign that is also weakening the United States’ economic supremacy. This challenge could lead to a new, multipolar world, with different countries pursuing independent foreign policies. It is also an opportunity for socialists all over the world to actively insert themselves.

Strategy and Tactics

To insert ourselves actively into the fray of these geopolitical events, and in our own communities, we require strategy and tactics. The strategy is the “what”, and tactics are the “how”. Because capitalists own and control both the institutions of coercion (army, police) and the institutions of consent (electoral processes), the nature of the struggle between the exploited people and the ruling class is highly asymmetrical—the capitalists have an advantage. Therefore, the working class struggle must be very informed in strategy and tactics in order to have a chance at establishing socialism. The most strategic path, therefore, was widely agreed to be through grassroots work and political education.

Grassroot movement education program in Kenya | Communist Party of Kenya

Popular Grassroots Work

Comrade Oboe Baiden led the discussion on Popular Grassroots Work. We established that grassroots work targets the people who are not in the movement yet—those who are dispersed and without an organization that will link them to a strategy to overcome their difficulties. Grassroots work, therefore, is for activism and education to accumulate strength for the mass movement. Socialists must mobilize creatively by using every opportunity presented to them. In grassroots work, every opportunity must be used to educate and politicize issues. Successes and failures are both opportunities to learn. 

Political education must be guided by an ideology, and the ideology must be solidified with practice, because it is only through practice that we test the ideology and improve it. Political education exists in order to create an ability to “read” reality in as many people as possible, so that they can use it to create real change.


For a revolution to happen, the objective and subjective conditions must mature enough to create a revolutionary moment. Currently, it is fair to say that the objective conditions, or material conditions, have matured. However, the subjective conditions—the consciousness of the masses or, the conditions of reflection—still require agitation and the guidance of collective revolutionary movements.

July 7th protests in Kenya, known as Saba Saba movement | Nation Media Group

Imagining Socialism (Again)

For our final lesson at L’Ecole Amilcar Cabral, we imagined socialism with Comrade Angelo. I summarized my thoughts on the class as follows:

“If capitalism is the constant commodification of life,

then socialism must aim at decommodification

If capitalism privatizes the means of production,

socialism must socialize the means of production

If capitalism is based on maximization of profit,

socialism must be based on the satisfaction of needs

If capitalism is undemocratic,

socialism must be democratic

If capitalism is about the exchange value,

socialism must be about the use value.

If capitalism offers individual solutions for common problems,

socialism must offer common/collective solutions.”