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The paper adopted documentary method of data collection. An x-ray of the peculiar experience of the Nigerian polity reveals deep-seated discontent whether expressed or otherwise. Right from the pre to post-independence era, the manifestations of gross marginalization have formed the pivot on which class struggle and revolutionary pressures revolve in Nigeria.

Key words: Class struggle, class, revolutionary pressures Corresponding Author: ombah yahoo. More often than not, revolutionary pressures by their very nature are predicated on a penchant for change from below which embodies a revolution. An x-ray of the peculiar experience of the Nigerian polity with specific reference to the Nigeria reveals deep-seated discontent whether expressed or otherwise.

Right from the pre to post-independence era, the manifestations of gross marginalization have formed the pivot on which revolutionary pressures revolve in Nigeria. One of the most obvious implications of modern state is gradual but steady polarization of the society into two main classes; one miserably poor and the other massively rich.

Though this scenario is not limited only to Nigeria, but what perhaps makes her case particularly worse is the growing amount of resentment and hatred that the overwhelming majority poor feel towards the microscopic minority rich in the society. This polarization manifests itself in all situations. Second, the current demand in the country for genuine development as opposed to the prevailing policies of underdevelopment which the ruling group has been pursuing in active collaboration with foreign capitalists forces is manifest class struggle.

The outcome of the current struggle and its future character will determine the course of Nigeria's development. Bade, The struggle among social classes for the control of state power has been the propelling force in the development of many societies. Development here is taken to mean qualitative change in the productive forces and production relations that give rise to the production of more goods, creation of needs and ways of meeting such needs.

In the process of production, consumption and distribution of material values in the society, such as food, shelter, clothes etc, and people get polarized into major two contending classes over the ownership and control of the means of production. The basis of the struggle between the two classes is the control of the state so as to determine social policies especially, the authoritative allocation of values and scarce resources. Since the ruling class does not willingly surrender power in other words not prepared to commit class suicide , it has to be compelled to do so through intense struggle and, or violence.

Such agitations and struggles result in class conflicts. This class struggle may lead to the overthrow of the ruling class or compel it to embark on reforms such as increase in wages, welfare, bonuses, political liberties, democratic participation in industrial affairs etc. Bangura It was this class conflict that transformed Nigeria from pre-colonial to colonial and the present neo-colonial capitalist modes of production.

For instance, the resistance against the imposition of capitalist relations of production, the independence struggles, the Anglo- Nigeria defence pact imbroglio, the Ali-must episode, the Anti-Structural Adjustment Programme SAP riot, the struggle for the democratization of the state in Nigeria, the face-off between the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC cum the people of Nigeria and the Nigeria ruling class over the pump price of petroleum and other aspects of bad governance are some of the conflicts occasioned by the exploitation and subordination of one class by another.


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The conflicts and struggles generated by the various contradictory class relations over the control of state power have led to structural transformation or changes in Nigeria social system thus propel one from of development on another. For the oppressed classes to achieve victory in the no-going struggle against capital, it is required that the politics of primordialism which has been a basis of their impoverishment and underdevelopment as well as, a divisive factor amongst them has to be rejected. This depends on the level of their consciousness and mobilizational capacity to seize power from the ruling class and make it responsive to the yearnings and aspiration of the people.

The working class needs organization strength and network of solidarity if they must extricate themselves from socio-economic and political marginalization Adilieje ,Igwiro, and Adagonye, The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, and new forms of struggle in place of the old ones Marx and Engel, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, leading ideologists of communism, wrote that the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle".

Marx's notion of class has nothing to do with social class in the sociological sense of upper, middle and lower classes which are often defined in terms of quantitative income or wealth. Instead, in an age of capitalism, Marx describes an economic class. Membership in a class is defined by one's relationship to the means of production, i. Marx talks mainly about two classes that include the vast majority of the population, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Other classes such as the petty bourgeoisie share characteristics of both of these main classes.

The concept of class struggle was coined by socialist philosophers and popularized by Karl Marx. Their definition of class struggle was not based on divisions by wealth but essentially on two opposing and irreconcilable groups of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie as well as sub-classes that include aspects of both. The struggle between classes is all part of the yearning of the dominated class for freedom, equality and justice in the process of production and distribution of material well-being of people.

This struggle is a function of power and this can be understood within the context of the local situation, especially the material conditions of majority of Nigerians. The outcome of class struggle decides not only whether there is progress towards justice, equality and freedom but also how much progress.

This injustice, domination, oppression, exploitation are social in character and impede social progress, and consequently generate opposition to themselves. Such opposition results in struggle to end their existence or ameliorate their consequences Nnoli, These struggles may lead to improvement in the quality of life or otherwise Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence.

The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of the feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern labourer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class.

He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. Politically, a revolution is a social phenomenon involving fast-moving fundamental changes in the social, economic, cultural and production relations in society Nnoli, According to him, these changes are associated with the coming into a position of dominance of a new ruling class. It is political in character because it is an aspect of the class struggle for control of the state power, expressing the critical aspect of that struggle during the transitional period —the seizure of state power by one ruling class from another.

A successful revolution marks the beginning of a new and radically different pattern of politics, government, economics and, socio-economic relations Nnoli, Revolutionary pressures are the forces with which the masses press against the ruling class for better economic and political treatment. By revolutionary pressures, we mean those social and economic catalysts that have the potentials to necessitate sudden and fundamental change in any given polity.

The dynamics of social forces originate from the primary contradiction of the world economic system Ake, There are some dynamic factors that intrinsically and fundamentally trigger revolutionary pressures in Nigeria. These factors together have overbearing influence in initiating and sustaining these pressures.

Capitalism’s Crises

The first groups of Nigerians to confront it were the Nigerian peasants whose struggle and resistance were crushed by the superior power of the colonial state. In line with this was the petty bourgeois that succeeded the peasants.

They replaced the colonial power, indigenized colonial repressive, authoritarian and oppressive colonial state which continued with domination, exploitation, inequality and injustice in political and economic spheres of the state. Today, new reactions and new revolutionary pressures have emerged from the civil society organizations, representing labour unions, mass protests as well as the left wing of the petty bourgeoisie to confront the excesses of the state by demanding for remaking of the state in the form of the national question.

Today, Nigeria can be regarded as a new emergent, multi-ethnic and un-integrated state and its main problem to stable democracy and economic development is located around the problem of integration of its people and good governance. This kind of issue has led to one form of political, religious or ethnic crisis or the other. In North Africa, they appear as the Arab revolts aimed at the overthrow of non-Islamic regimes and regimes tending towards monarchies as are the cases with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Tunisia. In these countries, the crises occur as a result of national contradictions within the states which started with the state formation processes and the externally driven colonization of African States by the Europeans.

In part, colonialism provided some ethnic groups exclusive control of state power and economic benefits accruing from it. In general terms, the national question is seen as the contradictions and antagonism between the various ethnic nationalities. In a narrow sense, it is seen in terms of inter- ethnic hostilities only.

However, the national question goes beyond this for it is much more complex than imagined. The second dimension is the class relations. Here, the focus is on the tensions and contradictions that arise from class inequalities and antagonisms between the rich and the poor in the society. This is centered on similar issues of how to remove the fear of perpetual marginalization, domination, inequality, unfairness and injustice in poor and rich class relations.

However this dimension of the national question is interwoven with and indeed over shadowed by that of inter-ethnic group dimension and is inseparable from it. Indeed, many ethnic conflicts have their foundations in class conflicts but found their expression in inter ethnic group relations.

The struggles in the Niger Delta by many civil society organizations are revolutionary process that keeps on unfolding themselves. The manifestations of these upheavals are more visible in the theatres of politics and movements of change. There were societies that had evolved a hierarchical structure of political organization.

Such societies are referred to as centralized states. The centralized states included the Habe and Fulani dynasties, the Yoruba and Benin kingdoms, as well as, some Igbo chiefdoms of Onitsha and Nri Nnoli, , Nnoli, In the centralized states the ruling aristocrats generated surplus in the form of taxes, tributes and forced labour from the peasants Nzimiro, In the non-centralized state the ruling class were based on age and religion status.

The oppressed or non-ruling classes in both societies according to Nnoli were the hunters, peasants, warrior and sometimes slaves. It should be borne in mind that lineage; age and religion were the basis of class differentiation. These positions conferred certain advantages with respect to control over productive forces cited in Adilieje, Igwiro, and Adagonye, Under colonialism, the feudal chiefs or natural rulers like the Emirs, Obas, Obis became the agents of imperialism.

They served as links between the colonial government and their subjects. In areas like Igbo land where they had no chiefs, warrant chiefs were created to achieve the economic and political interest of the colonizing power. Both natural and imposed rulers became the beneficiaries of colonialism. They used their position as tax collectors to swindle part of the tax revenue and also took the best land. The coastal aristocrats acted as agents between the imperialist firms and peasant producers thus used their position to amass wealth Adilieje, Igwiro, and Adagonye, There are two interconnected strands of analysis of class struggle and revolutionary pressures in Nigeria.

The first is located around prevailing economic conditions and the struggle for better economic conditions by the masses. The second struggle, which is linked to the first, is the political struggle for democracy. The mechanism of progress within any state is the struggle between classes. The state plays important role in this struggle especially in the peripheral capitalist states. This is because the state is part and parcel of the theory of history and development of the country, be it colonial or post independence one.

The Post-colonial state in Nigeria is a capitalist type of state so is class even though to some extent it is different from the state and classes in advanced capitalist formations. The class structure in Nigeria was the creation of colonialism where British commerce in Nigeria played prominent roles in the formation. It was at this stage also that its present class formation evolved. The dependency of the development of productive forces decisively influences social organization, culture and the level of welfare.

Due to the condition, the political and economic organization styles being adopted in Nigeria ahead of the development of productive forces make mockery of development, hence street protests and rebellion that frequently turned out violent against the dominant class Ekekwe, In pre-colonial Nigeria, classes and class struggle were associated with slaves and feudal mode of production depending on the development of a particular society. Under the slave mode of production the social classes were freemen slave owners and slaves.

Some slaves gained their freedom through loyal service to their masters and were absorbed into the society as freemen Bode: However, some slaves had to fight to secure their freedom.

Class struggle in times of crisis: conceptualising agency of resistance

The primary objective of class struggle in pre- colonial Nigeria under slave mode of production was therefore freedom form bondage. The social classes under the feudal mode consisted of the landlords and the tenants, both of whom were under the political tutelage of nobility. The class struggles under this mode of production involved the desire for personal freedom and the dismantling of numerous restrictions and obligation.

The focus of the struggle was therefore principally to liquidate all forms of personal restriction and exploitative obligation Bode: This struggle was manifested by the constant inter-ethnic war and declaration of freedom by vassals in Oyo Empire and other kingdoms. This pre- colonial feudal class struggle made it easy for the imperialists to overrun the pre- colonial societies. Understanding Class Struggle and Revolutionary Pressures from Colonial Experience The history of struggle between the colonialist and the local nationalities in Nigeria goes back to the imposition and establishment of the Nigerian state by the British colonial regime.

It was through this process that it brought along with this formation of the state, domination, oppression, exploitation, and injustice. To be sure, colonialism abolished the pre-colonial states in the country and in some places subordinated them to the power of the new colonial state. Consequently, the crux of the struggles was one against colonial domination. New and alien production processes were introduced as central to this domination in subordination to the local production. Because this new production process started a new historical course and caused a sharp break with the past history of the people, resistance became an instrument to fight the new production process.

However, unilateral force was used to crush and destroy such resistances. This resistance was geared towards protecting production such as mining, Iron—smithing, leather industry and the grass, brass, copper, soap, brewing, silver, pot, mat and wood — carving industries that existed in pre-colonial Nigerian states such as Naraguta district, at Arafu, south of the Benue and at Abakaliki in the East among others Nnoli, Nnoli, 32 correctly notes that in the pre-colonial economies, iron, gold, salt and other minerals were mined locally and used directly in various manufacturing industries.

Iron manufacturing industries existed in many parts of the country, including the famous ones of Awka, Bida Ilorin and Ijebu—Ode Nnoli, However, colonial economic domination destroyed these industries and put them into extinction. Consequently, the earliest democratic struggles in Nigeria started with the peasants. This was witnessed in numerous uprisings, revolts and violent demonstrations staged by the Nigerian peasants to engage the British colonial government. According to Nnoli, 59 , the most significant of these confrontations were the Mahdi revolt of , Iseyin uprising of , Egba revolt of , Ekumeku Movement uprising of , Dancing Women Movement rampage of , Calabar Market Toll uprising of , Warri riots of and Aba Riots of These protests were caused by grievances against imposition of foreign leadership and opposition to colonial domination, oppression, exportation and injustice by the colonial administration.

Let us illustrate one of the above mentioned struggles especially that of the Ekumeku uprising of In , a rash of uprising took place in Southern Nigeria, in the South-East precisely. A movement in Asaba and its environment emerged which demanded the end of colonial rule, especially its obnoxious authoritarianism. It was named the Ekumeku Movement Nnoli, The movement mobilized the peasants to confront the British colonialists on both their presence and their policy of taxation, especially the imposition of direct taxation. In the same way, the Dancing Women Movement emerged in Igboland to protest the British Colonial presence and its currency as well as native courts.

These women marched up and down the communities stretching from the area around Okigwe to Owerri and Orlu. Some of these struggles met the stiff opposition of the colonial police which in several occasions maimed and killed protesters. The aftermath of Aba woman riot of claimed over fifty lives as many numbers were injured.

These riots and protests made the colonial government to reassess its tax policies. In April, , there was a general reduction of taxes up to 50percent in some cases. We can go even further. In Poverty and relative prosperity are connected in the household. He lives with his wife, who is a nurse, and his three children.

Description

One child is at university. He supports his brother and his sister. His brother has been unemployed for two years after the factory closed. The employed and the unemployed are integrated at the level of the household. Soweto is also an extraordinarily mixed urban space. The majority of people do not live in shacks. The table below figure 2 shows the spread of housing types across Soweto. But there is still a chronic shortage of housing in Soweto. A shocking In addition, new housing has simply not been built since in anything like the quantities required or promised.

According to the statistics below, RDP houses, as this housing shock is popularly labelled known after the Reconstruction and Development Programme introduced briefly after , account for only 4. This also reflects the fact that most RDP houses are built outside township boundaries, and not in spaces where people need them—close to family networks, work opportunities and facilities. Although the unemployed, partial workers and fill-ins are more likely to be found in the shacks and slums of Soweto, people from each group are found in all housing types with the exception of hostels.

This is not a picture of an informal proletariat living exclusively, or even mainly, in shacks and slums. Figure 2: What kind of houses do people live in? Produced by the CSR , November Put simply, and limited to Soweto, these figures tell us that the jobless and formally employed are not hermetically sealed off from each other, in terms of either the household or neighbourhood.

The graph below figure 3 shows that employed and partial workers also live in shacks, though in smaller numbers than the self-employed, while the majority of the self-employed, like the majority in all these categories, live in a brick house of some kind. Graph produced by the CSR , November There is, in addition, an important level of complexity to the concepts of unemployment and informality. This is not to deny that the effects of unemployment have had a dramatic and devastating effect on the poor. The implication from the survey is that almost all families have been shaken by the hurricane of job losses.

This has important consequences for social unrest.

Class struggle and resistance in Africa

If there is no clear divide in the world of unemployment, informal work and formal employment, the potential for a crossover of protests exists. In , for example, there were recorded protests. The public sector general strike in June was the largest strike since the end of apartheid, pulling many people into trade union action for the first time. The potential cross-fertilisation of these struggles—of community and workplace—does not live only in the mind of activists, but, as the survey suggests, expresses the real household economy of contemporary South Africa.

Soweto seems to point to a confused reality. The South African township and slum might be viewed as a meeting point for trade unionists, university students, graduates, the unemployed and informal traders. Though the spectre of unemployment affects all layers of society, these groups are not permanently cut off from each other and can be found in the same household supporting each other.

Though we can not easily generalise from the experience of Soweto, there seems a reasonable chance that the mix of the formally and informally employed at the level of the household, and their intermingling fates, in diverse urban spaces could also be found in other Southern cities. Femi Aborisade also sees an inclusive process at work.

When workers are not paid or are poorly paid the poor peasant farmers and the poor petty traders mainly women know from their own experiences that their sales suffer. The current wave of global restructuring has devastated the continent with dramatic unevenness. Davis presents Kinshasa capital of the DRC as an apocalyptic vision of the future city-slum made up of an almost entirely informalised population. But the particular circumstances in the DRC—including war waged almost without end since —will not be easily reproduced in Africa and even less so across the developing world.

While there are important areas of near complete collapse, in other parts of the continent there has been the important growth of wage labour recently, linked to the global commodity boom. The memory of the last collapse in formal employment and the reality of mass unemployment weigh heavily on the minds of those urban workers. While this insecure world of wage labour helps determine and discipline their behaviour, there is no question that the African proletariat exists.

Capitalism consigns huge numbers of the population to idleness, but it can pull many of these people back into wage labour when there is expansion. In limited, though significant, areas on the continent this has been the recent experience. The constant ebb and flow into the labour force has become one of the permanent features of wage labour under neoliberal capitalism. What this suggests is that there are many people outside of the formally employed who have some experience of a workplace, however irregularly.


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The same could also be said for those retrenched in the jobs massacres over the past decade. Though the rapid deindustrialisation of Africa is indisputable, recent countervailing tendencies have seen the development of certain industries and the creation of jobs in areas previously decimated by the economic crisis. In recent years there has been an impressive recovery of many of the jobs lost in the textiles and clothing sector discussed above. Take Lesotho, where most formal sector jobs are in the rag trade.

One notable actor in these developments is China, whose role on the continent has received substantial, if inaccurate, discussion. Chinese involvement in African mining has seen previously abandoned mines reopened. Though the Chambishi copper mine was the site of the worse mining disaster in Zambian history in , when 52 workers were killed, it also represents an area of formal sector expansion. When the mine was purchased by a Chinese state-owned enterprise in , employment was boosted to 2, from Formal jobs rarely return in the same shape, and few of the miners who are now employed in the reopened Zambian copper mines have pensionable contracts, a situation that contrasts dramatically with the previous practices.

Housing that was provided for miners does not exist on any meaningful scale, and townships, where most workers now live, are without proper services. Other jobs have been created in diverse sectors and countries from the investment of Chinese money across the continent. A private Chinese conglomerate in Nigeria involved in manufacturing, construction and other projects has 20, employees.

Monthly Review | South Africa’s Resource Curses and Growing Social Resistance

State-owned Chinese firms in Nigeria have created 1, to 2, workers making shoes and textiles, while the Urifiki Textile Mill in Tanzania, another Chinese state-owned factory, has 2, workers. The controversy surrounding the involvement of the China National Petroleum Company in Sudan does not interest us here, but its claims of job creation do.

On the contrary, the continent remains an overwhelmingly marginal recipient of the flows of Foreign Direct Investment, and many regions remain economically devastated. The effect of almost 30 years of IMF and World Bank led structural adjustment has created bomb-craters of destruction across the continent that cannot be easily filled. The continent has seen economic growth and job creation, and will continue to do so—even if the growth remains uneven and inherently parasitical. In the late s the global crisis meant that loans turned into debts and national adjustment, and restructuring became a requirement for further loans.

More and more African states saw their macroeconomic policies shaped by the conditions imposed by IMF and World Bank boffins. The result was an epoch of social unrest that Davis describes. As has been described by David Seddon and John Walton, the first wave of struggle was based on wide coalitions of the popular forces, though the working class was usually centrally involved through the trade union movement. Directed predominantly towards current economic reforms and austerity measures, they also contained elements of a critique of regime legitimacy and deployed notions of social justice.