The revolutionary freedom fighter and theoretician, Amilcah Cabral, taught us that no matter how effective a theory may be in one context, that does not necessarily make it suitable for all occasions and in all contexts.
He further encouraged us to always be critical, and to aim to adapt what we learn from other revolutions so that it fits with our realities. Most importantly, we ought to aim to create our own methodology and theory if we are to be effective in our struggle.
Frantz Fanon, writing in more or less the same period, was more specific and addressed the question of the proletariat, the labour federations and unions of African countries in their struggle against imperialism. He describes the attitudes and political consciousness prevalent in unions and exposes it for its legalism, reformism and outright lack of revolutionary content. Two paragraphs, in particular, express his thought aptly.
“The national political parties never lay stress upon the necessity of a trial of armed strength, for the good reason that their objective is not the radical overthrowing of the system. Pacifists and legalists, they are in fact partisans of order, the new order—but to the colonialist bourgeoisie they put bluntly enough the demand which to them is the main one: “Give us more power.”…”
“The peasantry is systematically disregarded for the most part by the propaganda put out by the nationalist parties. And it is clear that in the colonial countries the peasants alone are revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The starving peasant, outside the class system, is the first among the exploited to discover that only violence pays.”…
The essence of Fanon’s discourse, therefore, is that the working man and woman in a country such as ours is a pampered slave, an uncle Tom if you will. His relative position to the rest of the population is one of material advantage. His actions and ambitions are therefore inhibited. He is hesitant. This contrasts the behaviour of the rural masses, and the unemployed shack dwellers who live in squalor around the cities. These are the wretched of the earth upon whom the revolution should be centered because they have nothing to lose from the present system, and yet everything to gain.
It is futile, therefore comrades, to entertain the notion that Trade Unions, those legalists, will be at the forefront of a revolution. Our efforts, the very nature of our work, must be geared to mobilize the unemployed poor rural peasants to whom legalism is just a mere word, which just as well could mean nothing.