Classes, class hatred and class struggle
I have heard some people accuse us socialists of inciting class hatred – that we are agitating for the poor to hate the rich. This is not right; it’s not true. We socialists are not the inventors of classes and class struggles.
We have simply analysed, studied and demonstrated the existence of classes very clearly and went deeply into this phenomenon, into historic reality. We discovered the laws that rule these struggles and the evolution of human society. We didn’t invent classes or class struggles, so those things can’t be attributed to us. If there’s anyone to accuse for this it is history, as it is mainly responsible for the problem.
We socialists are also not responsible for class hatred that exists; we don’t cause or preach class hatred. We simply say that classes and class struggle exist and that struggles give rise to hatred. It isn’t us socialists but the existence of classes and class struggles that causes hatred. What really causes hatred is exploitation, oppression, marginalisation, humiliation and social injustice. That, objectively, is what causes hatred – not socialism and socialists. For us socialists, it’s a question not of preaching class hatred but of explaining a social reality, something that has occurred throughout history. Our mission isn’t a clarion call to hatred; rather, it is an explanation of the hatred that exists when people become aware that they are being exploited, oppressed, marginalised and humiliated.
Our experience and work over the last three years of the existence of the Socialist Party shows that it is possible to preach the spirit of struggle without preaching hatred of those who have perpetrated all sorts of injustice and illegalities against us. We who are socialists don’t preach hatred as a philosophy, the philosophy of hatred. But this doesn’t mean that we have any friendly feelings for the oppressive system or that we are not struggling as hard as we can against it. I think we have one supreme test, which is we have been harassed, unfairly treated and humiliated by representatives of this oppressive system which we are struggling against, yet whenever and wherever we meet them we are considerate and treat them humanely and with respect, because we don’t hate them. What we repudiate and hate is the system. For us, it’s not a matter of hating individuals but of hating an iniquitous system of exploitation and abuse; it is not hatred of individuals.
What we are preaching is the repudiation, rejection and hatred of the system – hatred of injustice. We are not preaching hatred among human beings, because in the final analysis human beings are victims of the system. If we have to fight the system, we will fight the system. If we have to fight those who represent the system we hate, we will do so.
And I don’t think that would be against Christian teachings. I don’t think that denouncing and fighting against crime, injustice, exploitation, abuses and inequalities among human beings goes against Christian teachings. Fighting for rights wouldn’t be against Christianity either. Jesus made some very strong charges against the Pharisees and called King Herod a fox. What’s more, Jesus tells us we must love our enemies – he doesn’t say we mustn’t have enemies – and there’s no greater love for an exploiter, oppressor, abuser and humiliator than to prevent him from exploiting, oppressing, abusing and humiliating another.
We were taught that there was a constant struggle between good and evil, and evil had to be punished. We were taught that those who committed crimes and were responsible for injustice, evil, and all those other things that we are fighting against would be punished in hell. Could that be interpreted as an expression of hatred?
I have struggled a lot throughout the years, yet I can’t say that there was a feeling of hatred or revenge against individuals. I have never felt personal hatred for individuals. It’s not that I love my enemies. I don’t, I haven’t gotten that far. I understand why they are enemies and the extent to which this due to history, to the laws of history, to the social status of the individuals. I understand how many factors predetermined their becoming enemies. There may even be genetic, or biological, explanations. Some individuals are born with hereditary defects or with illnesses. That too is a fact. I believe that many criminals are psychopaths. The individual was often the result of a series of situations and circumstances and that a large proportion of his conduct was predetermined.
One of the things we debated in secondary school was whether the individual was predetermined to do certain things or whether he was fully aware of the seriousness of his actions and the harm he was doing – and consequently, was entirely responsible for his deeds. There was a lot of discussion about individual responsibility. Our teachers, the Sacred Heart Brothers, favoured the theory that nothing was predetermined in the individual and that everything was his personal responsibility. I believe that often it’s a combination of the two: an important factor predetermines people’s conduct, and there are also factors of responsibility and guilt in human beings – except for some cases of mental illness, for some people who are mentally ill kill. It’s very difficult to hold those people responsible for their actions. Some individuals are taught an ideology that makes them act in a certain way, and their attitude has been predetermined to a certain extent.
That is how I view the issue of hatred. This lies at the heart of our political thinking. We don’t hate individuals – we hate the system. We don’t preach the hatred of individuals; we preach the hatred of the system. That is what the criteria and principles of class struggle mean – and also what class hatred means: not the hatred of human beings but the hatred of a class system, which isn’t the same thing.
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali