According to Brazilian educator and liberation theologian, Paulo Freire, man unlike animals, is not locked into or imprisoned in a permanent today. Animals have no historicity and are totally locked into a one dimensional “today” of which they have no consciousness. Man relates to the world in a critical, apprehending the objective reality of their existence through reflection and not by reflex as animals do.
Further, according to Freire, in the act of critical perception, men (including women) discover their temporality transcend a single dimension, reach back to yesterday, recognize today and come upon today. And men unlike animals are not limited to the biological sphere. They can intervene in reality in order to change it.
The recent spate of electoral defeats suffered by the CDC since coming to power is strongly testamentary of the fact that CDCians, like all humans, are not imprisoned in a permanent today. And rather than adapting as animals do, they are integrating into the reality of their existence and they are acting to change it as now seen reflected in the emerging results of the just concluded by-election.
And integration, as Freire notes, is a distinctively human activity. The mindset of “you carry the monkey, you carry the tail” appears increasingly to belong to yesterday to the extent that people are now deciding for themselves their own political future rather than having the leader decide for them.
Holding the hand of a candidate favored by the leader is no longer a guarantee of that candidate’s success at the polls. The result of the vote count does indeed suggest that people are responding to the challenges of their political environment and are acting in non-violent ways to change it.
For the ruling elite, digesting the full import of this development, which obviously threatens its grip on power, can be quite a discomfiting undertaking. And they are behaving in ways that suggest they are indeed genuinely and tragically frightened by the spectre of losing power at the polls in 2023, if these elections results are anything to go by.
The tragedy is that both the ruling elite and the masses lack integration with the objective reality of the Liberian situation. The ruling elite, it would appear, is superimposed on it while the masses appear deeply submerged beneath a false reality.
Liberia’s ruling elite over the years, have appeared clothed with an inordinate desire for everything foreign, music, food, lifestyle, etc; while the masses simply followed whatever prescriptions are handed out by the ruling elite. This recent development at the polls tend to suggest that people are emerging from beneath the waves of a false reality and are now demanding participation and, beyond that, accountability to which the ruling elite appear to be very apprehensive.
Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee, demonstrated such apprehension recently when he publicly declared that “they”, meaning the ruling CDC, will not stand idly by in the face of threats to their “Democracy”. In his perception and that of his class, “democracy” is synonymous to popular inaction and silence and, therefore, they have a felt need to preserve at all costs their perks, privileges and, above all, their dominance of the social order. And they would rather die than accept changes which undermine their absolute control over decision making. In other words they reject the presence and participation of the people in their own historical process.
During the 1970s, for example, the Liberian masses, hungry and clamoring for change, caught the attention of the most reactionary members of the ruling elite who saw it as a challenge to their century-plus domination of the political order. And to solve this problem, they resorted to a military coup d’etat with the active assistance of the US government.
What the ruling elite perhaps did not realize was that in such a polarized environment, the possibility of very strong emotions being unleashed cannot be overlooked. And such was the case of former officials whose public execution by drunken soldiers was greeted with roaring applause from a teeming crowd.
As it appears, the current ruling elite is caught in a state of shock at unfolding events, never ever having imagined that the CDC would have suffered defeat at the polls. As Paulo Freire puts it, it is “shock between a yesterday which is losing relevance but still seeking to survive and a tomorrow which is gaining substance.”
Just how can they effectively manage such a transition remains to be seen. They should however remain mindful of the possibility of either being immersed in or being swept away by that change.