By COL SHABAN BANTARIZA.
Today, there is an emerging trend in Uganda, where some traditional and cultural Leaders, and sections of their supporters seem to think, or even aspire to equate these cultural leaders with the Feudal Kings of the pre-capitalist system of yester millennia like King George V or King Henry V111 of England! Whatever emotional or any other attachments we may have or feel about our traditions, customs and cultures, and our traditionally hereditary leaders, today, in this era of Capitalist Republicanism and democracy, with the attendant demands for elections, accountability and popular governance, wishing to be, and live like the Feudal Kings of the 12th or 15th Century, just because our 1995 Constitution allows such Institutions to co-exist within modern democracies, would be to Live in Political History at best, or to commit “Political Trespass” at worst!
Whether you believe in the story of creation or the evolution of man, at least we all agree that society has developed from the lower to the higher forms and levels of being, and higher socio-economic and political organization. Even the Christian doctrine no longer disputes that! The story of coming down from trees, into caves, from hunting and gathering to domestication of crops and animals, and fast-forward, to today’s veterinary and agricultural production and productivity; from the invention of fire, to the turbines that now give us electricity, which is the prime engine for industrial production. From travel on foot, to the marathon, and today’s electric trains, the “invincible titans” on the high seas, phantoms and drones in air!
From communication by shouting across the hills, to the drums and horns, into today’s telephone, e-mail and social media! That’s where we have technologically moved from, where we are now, into the next millennia of the unknown! Organizationally, families evolved into simple communes (known as primitive communes in Marxist Political Economy) then the conscious effort by man to tame and harness nature for his own betterment, with several discoveries and inventions of different tools of labor already made, came in specialization of labour. At this point, the equalitarian method of sharing came to an end! Socially, Communes then evolved into clans, tribes and Nationalities. Organizationally, these societies stratified into laborers, Chiefs, armed Guards, and servants, giving rise to a social Superstructure that we now know as government. Here society became structurally organized in hierarchies! The cause of this metamorphosis at that stage was the fact that tools of production had been invented and refined, resulting in specialization of labour, production was no longer for only survival, but there arose what is known as “surplus product”, beyond the individual consumption for survival, which was turned into commodity product, creating need for exchange hence the development of market, demand and supply. Meantime, those who did not engage in direct production because they were now part of the social Superstructure, became entitled to part of the surplus product for their own welfare.
Progressively, the Slave owning mode of production emerged, characterized by private property and slave labour. At this point in time, land was the main source of Wealth, hence land became a source of wealth and power, leading to forceful evictions, fencing, alienation of individuals and families. The powerful landed chiefs , in collaboration with the now specialized armed servicemen, relatives and allies of the landed(call them landlords now) evolved into a socio-economic and political force, that later evolved into the Aristocracy of Kings, Soldiers, and other private property owners who formed similar socio-economic and political power interests.
This social formation at this stage is what is known as the FEUDAL era, where the politically powerful rulers are known as Kings, and whose politico-economic system is to date, in history, known as FEUDALISM. So, Kings were feudal rulers, with political, economic and judicial powers, by natural socio-economic and political evolution of society over centuries till the 16th-17th century, when, again, evolutionary forces from within the socio-economic dynamics of Feudalism, gave birth to another social formation, called CAPTALISM. Of course, the evolutionary processes were not as simple as abridged on this single page of this newspaper. But the fundamentals of necessary change and necessary conformity, are clear enough to elaborate the point that society has not always been the same through past centuries, can never go back and operate in history, and this trend always will be through future millennia.
Fast forward, that is how the industrial and social revolutions of Europe, particularly England and France negated and overthrew the feudal system, and gave birth to what is today known as the CAPITALIST system; a class society whose driving force is capital and profit. Under Capitalism, a new form of governance known as Republicanism, with democracy being the “modus operandi” of ensuring everyone’s interests and stakes are catered for, emerged.
It is this “Republican and Democrats” system that Uganda, at Independence, inherited, which is inherently Antithetical to any form of governance that imitates, or tries to operate in Dualism with the antiquated Feudal system of the 16th Century, backwards. We can only move forward, but can never profitably live incongruently in the past, or in competition against the present.