Debate from ROAPE Volume 7 Number 19
In Defence of the Angolan Masses

In Defence of the Angolan Masses
Vol.7 No.19 (Winter 1980), pp69-74
I read with interest the comment by Paul Fauvet on my book ‘Angola, le tournant Africain?’ (see Review No 15-16, pp.148-52). In the first place Fauvet concerns himself with my analysis of the MPLA as a petty bourgeois nationalist leadership. To do this he pretends not to understand me and makes play with the petty bourgeois ‘origins’ of Lenin and Trotsky. There are more than 50 pages in my book on this question. Fauvet should have been more careful in his reading of these. Precisely what is explained there is that the complex history of the national liberation struggles in Angola did not allow this particular leadership to break with its social origins and to adopt a revolutionary socialist programme. The conditions which permitted a leadership like that of Castro in Cuba to become a working class communist one did not exist in Angola: (and Paul Fauvet would have a hard task to show us that the Neto leadership was an authentic revolutionary communist one). I have taken great care to argue this partly on the basis of the MPLA's programme and partly around the relationships of this leadership with the mass movement. I have specifically detailed some of the similarities between this leadership and those of the neo-colonial African states. But whilst Fauvet criticizes my point of view, he fails to tell us what is the actual political and social nature of this leadership ... proletarian ... ? He asks ‘How have MPLA leaders ... enriched themselves?’ (p.148). But he doesn't answer this question. He seems to argue that by their origins as intellectuals Agostino Neto or Lucio Lara are no more petit bourgeois than Lenin or Trotsky. But Fauvet neglects two key factors here. In the first place Lenin and Trotsky were committed in theory and practice to the conquest of power by the working class and to the setting up of a workers state founded on the power of its councils (Soviets). In addition these figures were the leaders of a revolutionary state that abolished private property in the means of production, broke the stranglehold of the imperialist world market and internally extinguished all possibility for private capital accumulation that could lead to the re-establishment of the old ruling class.