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Socialisms and Democracy [D]riving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands and their hands alone. Frantz Fanon144 In November 1976, the Senegalese Progressive Union (l’Union Progressiste Sénégalaise, UPS), the party of Léopold Sédar Senghor, President of Senegal at the time, joined the Socialist International and changed its name to become the ‘Socialist Party’ (Parti Socialiste). The left-wing opposition quickly started calling it, mockingly, the P‘S’, putting the word ‘socialist’ in quotation marks to undermine the socialist credibility of Senghor and his party. What was the significance, in historical and in conceptual terms, of challenging the philosopher of Negritude’s socialism? Senghor’s personal history contains nothing to cast doubt on his socialist engagement, which began during his time in khâgne in the early 1930s,145 when he joined circles that identified themselves with this movement. Under the influence of his classmate and friend Georges Pompidou, it seems, he then joined the Republican and THE INK OF THE SCHOLARS 62 Socialist Students’ League of Action (Ligue d’Action Universitaire Républicaine et Socialiste, LAURS). There he met, among others, Pierre Mendès France and Edgar Faure.146 His engagement deepened when he joined the party of the Senegalese political figure Maître Lamine Guèye (1891–1968), a branch of the French Section of the Workers’International(SectionFrançaisedel’InternationaleOuvrière, SFIO), in 1946. That same year, he and Guèye became Senegalese members of the French Parliament. Two years later, he broke with his mentor to create his own party, the Senegalese Democratic Bloc (Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais, BDS), which in 1957 became the Popular Senegalese Bloc, whose fusion with the Senegalese Socialist Action Party (Parti Sénégalais d’Action Socialiste, PSAS) gave birth, in 1958, to the UPS. After the African Assembly Party (Parti du Rassemblement Africain, PRA) joined it in 1962, the UPS gave itself single party status until 1974 when, as much out of personal philosophical disposition as under the pressure of circumstances and of opposition forces, Senghor decided to return to the political pluralism that had been the tradition of the Senegal of the Four Communes.147 If the reference to socialism was a constant through all the metamorphoses of a party that finally called itself simply ‘socialist’, then what about the concept itself? It had been, Senghor explained, his search for a truly African socialism, one that would not be the sheer extension of French socialism in the colony that led him to break with Lamine Guèye’s SFIO. This also explains why on his ‘left’, among the partisans of a socialism that saw itself as scientific, which is to say ‘universal’, the ‘socialist’ character of the PS born in 1976 was held in suspicion and so rendered in quotation marks. This search for an ‘African’ socialism has made up the largest part of political philosophy in Africa. Its main theoreticians were the Tanzanian Julius Nyerere, the Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah, and, of course, the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor, all of whom were inclined towards the question of socialism’s universality in relation to its particular, concrete realizations, here and there. SOCIALISMS AND DEMOCRACY 63 The African Path to Socialism According to Nyerere In ‘Uhuru na Ujamaa’, ‘Freedom and Socialism’, Julius Nyerere declared: The universality of socialism only exists if it can take account of men’s differences, and be equally valid for all of them. And it can.... It is my contention that socialist societies in different parts of the world will differ in many respects even when they are fully developed instead of being, as now, at different stages on the road to socialism. The differences between these societies will reflect both the manner of their development, and their historical traditions.148 The theorists of African socialism were in deep agreement in their insistence that the plurality of paths to socialism were not in opposition to its universality, but were perhaps even its condition. We can hardly even speak, Nyerere insists, of an African path to socialism,sincepluralismisalsointra-African. On this point he writes: Indeed, even to talk of ‘African’ socialism is something of a misnomer. As Africa has been organized into nation states...


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