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Great coincidences exist between Christianity and socialism – a reflection by Dr Fred M’membe

Great coincidences exist between Christianity and socialism – a reflection by Dr Fred M’membe Featured

There are thousands more coincidences between Christianity and socialism than between Christianity and capitalism.

Responding probably to different motivations, they both advocate attitudes and behaviours that are quite similar.

There’s great coincidence between Christianity’s objectives and the ones we socialists seek, between the Christian teachings of humility, austerity, selfishness and loving thy neighbour and what we might call the content of a revolutionary’s life and behaviour. For, what is the Socialist Party teaching its members and the Zambian people? To kill? To be selfish? To exploit others? Just the opposite. We are teaching them unwavering commitment to honest, equity, humility and solidarity.

We are telling them that our country right now may be too poor to give our people great material wealth, but it can give them a sense of equity and of human dignity.

We socialists believe that Christ was a revolutionary par excellence. His entire doctrine was devoted to the humble, the poor; his doctrine was devoted to fighting against abuse, injustice and the degradation of human beings.

There’s a lot in common between the spirit and essence of Christ’s teachings and socialism.
And the Bible has very revolutionary content. The teachings of Christ are very revolutionary and completely coincide with our aims as socialists.

That is why we believe and openly say that we socialists are not the only revolutionaries. All those who truly follow Christ’s doctrine and devote themselves to the cause of the humble, the poor; and devote themselves to fighting against injustice, abuse and the degradation of human beings and to helping them liberate themselves are all revolutionaries.

Like we socialists, the Catholic social teaching does advocate the protection of property rights, but only when strongly situated within what is called the universal destination of goods. That is, “Christian tradition has never recognised the right to private property as absolute and untouchable: ‘On the contrary, it has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole of creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone.”
(Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 177, quoting St. John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens). And because God intends the world to provide for the needs of every person, the distribution of resources must allow every human person with what is needed for a full life. Isn’t this what we socialists are advocating for?

In his encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” St. John XXIII explained: “Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood” (No. 11). Isn’t this what the Socialist Party’s manifesto is advocating for?

A defense of property, absent that context, functions to absolve those who own property from responsibility to those in desperate need. But Catholic teaching treats the withholding of resources from those in need as a failure of justice, and so private property always comes with a “social mortgage.”

Pope Leo XIII explained in his encyclical “Rerum Novarum”: “[W]hen there is a question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State” (No. 37). Isn’t this what we socialists are seeking?

And what is being advocated by the Catholic social teaching is not consistent with the capitalist social order.

Even on religious liberty, the Catholic social teaching is saying that it must also respect the common good.

As capitalists, with their religious agents, seek to accord special recognition to Christianity or section of it, the “Compendium” says, “Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” (No. 423). The church’s witness to the Gospel always requires (and Catholics must acknowledge that it often has failed in this) the defense of the well-being of persons who do not accept the Gospel, in keeping with the commands to love both neighbour and enemy. The purpose of the right to religious liberty within Catholic thought is both to make room for the church’s freedom to give witness to the Gospel and also to honour the call of God for every person to freely enter into communion with the divine life. These two purposes are not at odds.
The church’s witness to the Gospel always requires the defense of the well-being of persons who do not accept the Gospel.

The document “Dignitatis Humanae,” promulgated at the Second Vatican Council, explains it thus: “It is…completely in accord with the nature of faith that in matters religious every manner of coercion on the part of men should be excluded. In consequence, the principle of religious freedom makes no small contribution to the creation of an environment in which men can without hindrance be invited to the Christian faith, embrace it of their own free will, and profess it effectively in their whole manner of life” (No. 10).

This makes it important to remember that Catholic teaching says the right to religious liberty “is not of itself an unlimited right. The just limits of the exercise of religious freedom must be determined in each social situation with political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority through legal norms consistent with the objective moral order” (No. 422).

And speaking for myself, I can say that the ethical values that are propelling my revolutionary, socialist work came from my Catholic upbringing and education, from my teachers – the Capuchin Fathers, the Irish Christian Brothers and Sacred Heart Brothers. I would even say from my Christian family, home.

I was taught very early in my life that I should not lie. I was taught what was right and wrong, things that should and should not be done. I remember being punished by my Form 1 mathematics teacher at St John’s Secondary School to write 3,000 times, “Oh what a web we weave for ourselves when we first practice to deceive.” I had not done my homework and when asked about it, I lied that I had left it in the dormitory. I was told to go and get it. And immediately after I left classroom, the teacher told the class I was not going to come with any homework. He asked for a bet on it. When I came back empty-handed, the whole class burst into laughter. I have carried these words and memories of that day with me wherever I am and in whatever I do. And I remind my classmates of this incident whenever we meet. That was my baptism out of lying.

Later on, my revolutionary and political involvement began to create in me a feeling of what was wrong, the violation of an ethical standard, an injustice, abuse or fraud. I began to have an idea of what was fair and unfair. I began to have a concept of personal dignity. I think I have always had a sense of justice – from very early on – because of what I saw and experienced.

Undoubtedly, my Catholic upbringing and education influenced me a lot. The Capuchin Fathers, the Irish Christian Brothers and Sacred Heart Brothers inculcated a very strong sense of personal dignity in me, regardless of their political ideas which quite often I didn’t agree with. They valued character, rectitude, honesty, courage and ability to make sacrifices.

The Irish Christian Brothers definitely influenced me with their strict organisation, their discipline and their values. They contributed to my development and sense of justice. Following that path, I came to view abuse, injustice as unacceptable.

If you mix ethical values with a spirit of rebellion and rejection of injustice you begin to appreciate and place a high value on a number of things that other people don’t value at all. A sense of personal dignity, honour and duty form the main foundation that enables people to acquire political consciousness and a revolutionary spirit.

Date: August 9, 2020
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali.

Statement of the Socialist Party to mark the International Day of Peace

Statement of the Socialist Party to mark the International Day of Peace

Each year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

This year, it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.

In March, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and focus on the battle against this unprecedented global pandemic. While the message was intended for armed parties, solidarity and cooperation across borders, sectors and generations are also needed to win this new fight against the worst public health crisis of our time.

In these difficult times of physical distancing, even though we may not be able to stand next to each other, we can still dream together about a world full of justice, equity and peace.

The 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together”. Let’s celebrate this day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the pandemic. Let’s stand together against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred.

There’s need to preserve human existence and world peace in the face of complexities, dangers and challenges.

Peace has been the golden dream of humanity, and the peoples’ aspiration, at every moment in history. Thousands of nuclear weapons are hanging over humanity’s head. Preventing the most brutal war that could be unleashed has undoubtedly been the fundamental objective of efforts by religious leaders of churches directed by men such as Pope Francis, Pontiff of the Catholic Church, and His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

To struggle for peace should be the most sacred duty of all human beings, whatever their religion, country of origin, skin colour, advanced or youthful age may be.

Issued by Fred M’membe on behalf of the Politburo of the Socialist Party

Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

We have over the past weeks received reports from our structures in Eastern Province, namely: Chipangali, Lundazi, Chansefu, Sinda, Nyimba and Chipata Central, that the UPND claims we have signed an agreement to work together in the 2021 general elections.

This is a lie. We are not in any alliance or pact with any political party.

There’s no alliance or pact between the Socialist Party and the UPND.

Rehoboth Kafwabulula
National Spokesperson of the Socialist Party

RE: Call for solidarity with the victims of state repression

RE: Call for solidarity with the victims of state repression

The Socialist Party expresses its extreme discontentment at the growing wave of repression against the Anti- Racist Movement in the United States of America. We earnestly beseech the International Community to raise its collective voice to denounce the racially inspired attacks that today define the order of events across the US. We are aware of the fact that, in part and to a large extent, the escalating racial crackdowns are direct spin-offs from the deeply fractured capitalist system. We call upon the United States government to without delay address all forms of structural aggression against the anti-racist protesters.

The Socialist Party calls for solidarity with the victims of systemic violence and implores all organizations of good will to unify and concretise the struggles against racial injustice and physical attacks especially on individuals and civil organizations that seek to defend justice, promote equity and peaceful coexistence. We deplore the senseless assault by the US establishment on those agitating for a more humane and fair society for all. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the Party of Socialism and Liberation activists and many others from incarceration across the US.

Yours in solidarity

THE SOCIALIST PARTY – ZAMBIA

Dr M’membe urges Zambians to invest in research

Dr M’membe urges Zambians to invest in research

The Socialist Party says it shall prioritise agriculture among other key sectors once it forms government following the 2021 general elections.

Speaking on Let The People Talk programme on Radio Phoenix Tuesday this week, party president Dr Fred M’membe said the Socialist Party once voted into office will pay a lot of attention to agriculture as it was one of the three key pillars to its developmental agenda.

“The biggest priority comes from the biggest challenge that we face, what is the biggest challenge today? I told you we are the fourth hungriest country in the world today, whatever we want to do if we are not able to feed our people we will have challenges, we will not even have the type of human beings that we want to have, a health human being is what we need to have, so we will pay a lot of attention to agriculture,” said Dr M’membe.

Dr M’membe explained that apart from agriculture the party shall put development premium on health and education as they were complimentary to each other.

He expressed concern that Zambia today had an agriculture sector that was not been informed by research.

“We don’t have research that is going on in agriculture seriously. Take for instance, rice production; I have heard people talking about how nice Mongu rice is, how nice Nakonde rice is, but that rice you can’t sale it anywhere in the world, it’s of a very inferior quality, its substandard rice. We have not spent money to research on rice. The last serious research on rice was in Sefula in Mongu, Western Province by JICA in the early 80s and since then nothing has happened,” he said.

Dr M’membe added that the country needed to invest in research for agriculture.

“If you go to Thailand today, a leading country in rice production, you go to the University of Bangkok, there is a Faculty just dealing with rice from Bachelor’s Degree to PHD, just dealing with rice production, you can’t compete with Thai rice. Our rice can’t compete with that rice. There is investment in it and Thailand is ripping huge benefits from rice globally, just look whenever you go, you find Thai rice. Bangkok alone has more than 200 varieties of rice,” said Dr M’membe.

And Dr M’membe said it a was a joke to hear a lot of Zambian leaders talking about fish farming. He noted that while a lot of money has been wasted in aquaculture industry no meaningful research had been done to justify or support such investments. He further noted that the research on fisheries being conduct at Zambia’s universities was not adequate.

“I have been to all institutions of higher learning, my doctorate research is in fish farming and I have moved from Chiyawa to Kalulushi looking at all the fish ponds that are around as a researcher, I have moved to all the producers of stock feed for fish, I have moved to all the institution that have something to do with fisheries, we are not there and am a fish farmer, I had 11 fish ponds but they were a disaster under the guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture. There is very little, which we can get from fish farming unless we invest in fish farming research,” charged Dr M’membe.

He said there was a lot the country was not doing well and urged Zambians to invest a lot in researching.

“We have been growing beans in Mbala, Nakonde, Isoka, Mafinga and other parts of Northern and Muchinga provinces. What research has gone into beans production? The quality of beans is diminishing, we have grown it for a very long time without any research, our beans cannot compete with Brazilian beans,” he said.

He said the country was not even producing enough beans to feed the nation.

“we don’t even have enough beans to feed our own people and beans is not needed just for human consumption, it is also needed for livestock as you can produce stock feed from beans, there is a lot of things which you can do from beans,” Dr M’membe.

As long as I live, I shall be with music

As long as I live, I shall be with music

I love music. I started listening to music at an early age on radio and a record player. And I made my own musical instruments – a banjo from tin and nylon strings, a drum set from tins and plastic covers.

When I was in Form 1 at St John’s Secondary School in Mongu in 1972 I joined the school band. There I was taught to play the Connet, Trumpet and French Horn. Then I moved to St Francis Secondary School, Malole, Kasama for Form 4 and 5. I joined the school band there which was more advanced than the one at St John’s. I continued playing the Trumpet and French Horn. But I also added the Mellow Phone and Baritone Horn. At St Francis in addition to the brass band we had a pop group called The Comets. It was great fun. We played all sorts of music – songs of The Witch, Musi-O-Tunya, The Tinkles, Five Revolution, Rikki Ililonga, Paul Ngozi, Grand Funk, Deep Purple, Dobbie Brothers, James Brown, the Jackson 5, Osibisa, etc.

I also play the Harmonica, also known as a French harp or mouth organ. This is a free reed wind instrument used worldwide in many musical genres, notably in blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, and rock. Bo Rikki has creatively used it in his music. And this brother of mine borrowed my Harmonica and I don’t know if I will ever get it back.

We wrote music exams with the London School of Music and Drama.
I am not playing musical instruments but I have stayed with the music.
I have a Trumpet which my daughters bought me for my fiftieth birthday.
I love music. I can’t imagine life without music. As long as I live, I shall be with music.

As Bob Marley aptly put it in a reggae rhythm, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

Choosing to play an instrument is the beginning of a journey. One that is exciting, but often filled with struggle and hard work. It will require you to take in new information and master new skills.

Playing a musical instrument is really worthwhile. I find playing music relaxing. It thus reduces stress. If you are like me and find it easy to get stressed out, listing to music could help lower your stress levels. Listening to your own instrument gives the benefit of taking your mind off of your day.

Playing a musical instrument helps you develop patience and perseverance.
The process of learning to play an instrument is not always easy. It involves not only your mind but also your body. You will have to learn fingerings and/or chord shapes, develop technique, and memorize new information.

Slowly, with consistent practice, you will find yourself getting better. With each new milestone, you gain a small reward for your efforts and this will keep you motivated. Making music requires patience. Instead of getting immediate results, you will have to persevere. Keep at it! you will achieve the results you desire.
You don’t have to become a virtuoso to reap the benefits of music. You can gain many of these benefits by just learning the basics. You will develop a taste for the different composers, styles, and genres of music. Not only does this cause you to be more well-versed in music, but it also leads to a higher appreciation of the skill.

According to Aristotle in his Politics Book 8, unless you have taken part in music education, or in learning an instrument, you have no real basis for assessing the quality of a piece of music. Interestingly, he also says that you should not dedicate yourself to learning a difficult instrument because it is a waste of time. Just learn enough to enjoy playing a bit, and to judge the quality of music.
Playing a musical instrument cultivates creativity. At its core, music is art.

Music is a language, and the more “words” you learn the more you will be able to say. You will soon find yourself wanting to apply the information you’ve learned to create music of your own and express your own voice. Music is not just about knowing how to play specific songs; it is about expressing emotion through sound. Whether it is just playing your own version of a song, or creating an entirely new one, learning how to play an instrument enables you to use your creativity to say something original.

Playing a musical instrument uses almost every part of the brain.
And it increases memory capability and also helps to better detect vocal emotions. This makes sense because there are many emotions conveyed through music. Apparently, being exposed to this tonal variance in music can help you to not just detect the emotions of music, but the emotions behind people’s words.

No one – unless you are insanely gifted – can effectively learn to play an instrument overnight. Making music requires work and a consistent investment of time and effort. As they say, practice makes perfect. Discipline is necessary to go through the process of consistent, focused practice, especially when you would rather watch that new movie or a soccer match. This discipline can carry over into other aspects of your life, elevating the quality of the life you live.

Playing a musical instrument breeds confidence. The process of learning music leads to you playing in front of other people. This fosters the valuable expertise and grit necessary to confidently hold it together when other people are watching.