Many assume that civil society is a neutral term, meaning the realm of human activity outside the state and outside the economy. However, the term is far from neutral. The original term is burgerliche Geselleschaft, or bourgeois society.
So what civil society really means is bourgeois civil society and it is inseparably tied up with the advancement of capitalism and the seizure of power by the bourgeoisie. So the question arises: is a socialist civil society possible? To answer this question, we must first analyse Hegel’s work on the phenomenon.
According to Hegel this bourgeoisie civil society organizations encourages individuals alienation. The individual is torn between being an individual in association with other individuals in bourgeois civil society and an individual subject to the state. Thus, for Hegel bourgeois civil society is not the space for freedom of expression and association, instead, he reminds us that civil society is not only the distinct product of a modern social formation ( middle class and capitalism) but also an alienated reality, torn between the demand of private individual and the state. My political lord Marx appreciated Hegel’s insight that bourgeois civil society is alienated,but developed a sharper analysis of this alienation Marx focused not on the state, but on the dynamics of this civil society. The root cause of alienation lies with economics, which Marx examined in careful detail in capital. Alienation is due to exploitation and the production of surplus value, and to the class conflict that ensues. In short, Marx emphasized Hegel’s insight that this type of civil society is inescapably capitalist and bourgeois. Marx also argued that religion was transformed into a mode of individual expression that suited the new situation, if not being constitutive of it. What the Catholic Bishop at Obuasi said about the Gitmo 2 and his interpretation of compassion confirms Marx’s assertion. After Marx, the definition of bourgeois civil society made a profound shift by distinguishing between economics and civil society. This enabled civil society to gain the appearance of neutrality and universality. The truth is that liberalism and repression are two sides of the same coin; bourgeois freedom and democracy are inseparable from exclusion and dispossession.
#OccupyNigeria# was formed in 2012 by a group of middle class citizens in Nigeria to protest against removal of fuel subsidy by the Jonathan’s administration. Several governments attempted to remove the subsidy but met strong resistance from the public. OccupyNigeria took advantage of this long held public position on the issue to push their agenda against the Jonathan regime. A replica of this group were formed in other African countries by elements opposed to incumbent administrations. In Ghana, the occupy Ghana group was formed and became the conduit for the opposition Npp in articulating their interest and supported them in inciting the public against the administration. Other pro- Npp middle class civil society groups were formed to augment activities of occupyGhana and the opposition. The Occupy Nigeria protests also occurred in other countries to show solidarity with the opposition under the guise of showing solidarity with the masses in Nigeria. In Ghana, occupyGhana adopted same modus operandi, they sponsored Ghanaians in diaspora to hold demonstrations against the former president wherever he went, sponsored individuals and groups to chastise the administration in the media, organised demonstrations, distributed leaflets etc across the country all to make the Mahama administration unpopular. The difference between the Nigerian situation and what we witnessing here is that unlike Ghana where the OccupyGhana elements have metamorphosed into spokespersons, prophets, policy analysts, legal advisors etc for the Akufo-Addo Administration, their counterparts in Nigeria are pursuing same agenda ( they pursued under Jonathan) against the Buhari administration. Remarkably, elements of the occupyNigeria group joined hands with other groups to denounce fuel price increase in Nigeria. It also organised a protest in the city of Port Harcourt against the federal government’s inability to address the burning perennial fuel scarcity, zero megawatts and total lack of electricity amidst increased tariff and economic hardship unleashed on Nigerians by the Buhari administration. The group also issued a strong statement protesting vehemently against bad economic policies of the Buhari administration and corruption which have brought untold hardship on Nigerians which has resulted in incalculable losses, shutting down of businesses, increased in crime and criminality etc.
Who is occupying Ghana this time? The Akufo-Addo government since 7th January 2017, has exhibited gross ineptitude, incompetence and incapacity in all its dealings. Corruption and impunity have become accepted convention in the administration, nepotism is eating the administration up yet, some members of OccupyGhana and other civil society organisations are helping the administration to play the blame game on the past Mahama administration as a coverup for the administration’s failure which is betrayal of what these groups and their mother organization the Npp promised Ghanaians during the campaign. The phenomenon of using mass protest, holding lanterns in the streets, wearing of red bands to creatively challenge and engage the government on what Ghanaians want and how they want their future, is now considered a 13th century approach by the occupyGhana group and their allies. According to OccupyGhana and its affiliates, the time to protest against
– the mass killings
-taking over of the oil industry by relatives of the president
– the $2.25 billion bond saga
– the Bost issue
– Hawa Koomson’s figure manipulation
-the vigilante groups activities
-the deputy chiefs of staff allegation
– the famous $15 million digital addressing system
– A-plus allegations
-Ken Agyepong’s revelation that over 800 oil marketing companies were formed by elements in the flagstaff house with five months
– that people pay between $20,000 and $30,000 to see the President
– the Cash for seat saga
– removal of the governor of bank of Ghana against provisions in our constitution
– sacking of government worked
– attack on a judge by vigilante groups
– Beating of a security personnel at the flagstaff house
– beating of a regional security coordinator by the vigilante groups
– buying of mansions at expensive locations by relatives of the president
– appointment of 56 close relatives of the President including his daughter into his administration is not due. They are waiting to see Ghanaians shed tears of blood before they issue their love letters to the President.
The NDC and other pro-left political organisations in the country must always remind themselves of what Marx said about civil society. The conspiracy to clear the NDC and its pro left policies was consummated long ago by these groups in collaboration with their imperialist organisations to advance capitalism and weed out the NDC in particular. Interestingly, some members and sympathisers accord these organisations respect and dignity and see whatever they put out as sacred facts to be interrogated. We must at this point know that the Ghanaian condition is a reflection of the conspiracy between the administration and these civil society organisation. Inferiority complex is one phenomenon all parties must delete from their equations. That conscious or unconscious feeling that one is not as good as others is dangerous. Apart from the normal party organisation, the pro left institutions should focus on getting on board all their natural allies and get their message strongly trumpeted. Using the capitalists standard to measure your performance is not only defeatist, it always makes you more dangerous than the capitalists.