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In Defense of “Illiterate” Liberians (part II)

By Chorphie Charlie (April 6th 2005)  

“It is still one of the tragedies of human history that the ‘children of darkness’ are frequently more determined and zealous than the ‘children of light.” (KING).

"... Illiterate Liberians are not mentally deranged, they understands their own social predicament and have resolved not to place their destiny in a failed ‘old political class’. These politicians are unprincipled, anti-democratic, politically delinquent, only pretending to believe in democratic governance...."

Concerning Power and Authority

The force and organization which attaches objection to citizen’s rule whenever an election result is announced in Liberia demonstrates that our political elites (Rice Politicians), Sawyer’s, Ellen’s, Fahnbulleh’s ECT does not believe in democracy. Instead they always proffer an already tested and failed political theory urging a power sharing “national conference” to remedy our quest for a legitimate state. The facts opposing this tyrannical proposition reminds us that any authority the power of the state possesses must derive, not from a miseducated gabfest of political hackers but the collective will of the people, which is express in an electoral process. Election then, which represents citizens’ self-determination, remains the only possible course to realizing the democratic project in Liberia . We must undertake this venture unhindered.

To determine the instruments for a democratic society, the content of its philosophy, and its structuring methodology, we must examine the concept of the state and how it operates. Beginning with the latter, the state operate thorough the influence of politics or what Max Weber describes as “imperative co-ordination.” In Defense of “Illiterate” Liberians ~ By Chorphie Charlie (Part 1)

This means that the state is comprised of personalities authorized to wield power over a specify population or territory. A monarchy or king fits this definition, for no single individual can ever run the state. In so doing, the state possesses a “supreme authority” or as philosophers would say “sovereignty.” But sovereignty in past times reflected concentrated power and authority in a king or monarchy. Therefore, in modern democracies, speaking of sovereignty is the doctrine that the people are the state, the “popular sovereignty.” And so, a legitimate state’s authority regulates the affairs of citizens , and holds such right to compel obedience to laws, which was promulgated for the public good, in as much as it was done thorough a “social contract.” The social contract consist of a police power, which is the threat of force, this is the authority of the state.

Authority then, is the right to command, and correspondingly the right to be obeyed. Therefore, the governors, through the instruments of state apparatus can demand citizens to submit to it’s will , if any/such citizen stand in violation i.e. the commission of crime or citizen/s failure to meet state’s obligations i.e. the payment of taxes. This is the responsibility, which the power, evolving from the people has issued to the state. Note the source of power is the people, not their government.

In contrast, power by itself, is the ability to compel compliance either through the instruments of force. It does not recognize citizens’ right/s or obligation. For example, a common Liberian adage teaches us that “power passes strength.” Look at it this way, the power of two gun totting butt-naked rebels passes the strength of twenty (20) unarmed men. Our experience of the bloody and senseless Liberian wars witnessed this phenomenon. During the halcyon days of the bloody Liberian carnage, a ‘grown man’ could easily surrender his belongings to a member of the “Small Boy Unit (SBU)” at a “God Bless You” checkpoint, because the fate, which threatens the grown man far outweighs the loss of this belongings. At that moment, the grown man concedes to the SBU soldier’s power over him due to the threat of either an AK-47 rifle or Beretta rifle in the boy’s possession. The grown man’s submission did not grant any prior authority to the boy, which means the boy lacked any right to demand the grown man’s belongings. Moreover, the grown man was not obligated to obey the SBU’s soldier. There existed no social contract between the two parties, in the sense of the state and it subjects.

Similarly, a national conference, so-called peace talks or power sharing government by elites, although appears noble for positive national healing, cannot substitute the power of the people to organized their government, especially so when such designs-national conference-are simply a steamroll of personalities, not direct representatives of the people but clusters of undemocratic characters, to showcase their so-called education achievement as a criteria for prescriptive power. Using the power of degrees, which advantages understanding regarding the operations of the modern world, to compel illiterates to submit to a political arrangement without prior consultation, understanding, and freewill is treacherous. Some have even declared a national conference as the “only means to fix the country” otherwise, they threatened, “ Liberia will degenerate into renew gun-battles.”

This is pure educated tyranny, forcing and threatening the people’s peace by the power of education achievements. One may wonder why I am hammering on a national conference when elections schedule seems to be in progress. But let’s not be quick to forget, remember the pre-Taylor election warnings from our politicians that were Taylor to win, Liberia would return to warfare. They proved themselves right by organizing, supporting, and sponsoring two rebel factions, LURD and MODEL, after they lost the election to ex-President, Charles Taylor. Already before our very eyes, we are witnessing dubious “All Liberian National Conferences” by elitist Liberian groups without reference and consultation to ordinary Liberians in the United States . Considering the public statements made by some of the godfathers of these conferences it becomes important that we address this false political consciousness. We must reject this ugly behavior by our elites, lets forget about these failed conferences and energize the election process, which remains the only foundation for our national progress.

Illiterates’ right to self-determination

Before proceeding further, invoking the concept of democracy will help ground a proper defense of illiterate Liberians. Webster defines democracy as a political arrangement:

In which the supreme power is vested in the people,

and are exercised by them directly through a system

of representation, usually involving periodically held

free elections.”

Nowhere does this meaning mandate the elites to assemble in a conference to decide the destiny of the people. Rather, this profound meaning orders society as, I repeat, a social contract, which maintain the inalienable rights of the people, to remain free to choose their own government and rule themselves, not by means of armed struggles, the barrel of the gun or miseducated elites. But Liberia ’s traditional political class’ political dialectic sharply opposes this humanistic possibility. Instead they insist that we should fix Liberia first before holding elections. How is this possible in the absent of legitimacy? The unbearable Gyude Bryant’s government activities are enough to ditch this failed concept.

This provoke yet another investigation, not so much into the broader functioning of our political elites’ undemocratic behavior i.e. their role in the death the destruction of our nation or the basic for their political opposition-supposingly to champion constitutional rule. But taking a cue from Dr. Sawyer’s own words, the defense shall also attempt to investigate “to what degree ‘bad leaders’ are responsible for our woes (Sawyer, 2004 @ The perspective).” I cannot hesitate adamantly that including Dr. Amos Sawyer, traditional Liberian politicians are bad leaders and are “responsible for our woes” due to a psychological crises of self-identity. Crisis is the “hidden decision not to decide,” this is Lewis Gordon’s definition. And so, the cautioning of the masses, we the people, by these failed politicians, to examine our “bad leaders” attempt to excuse themselves as neutral persons in the “woes” of Liberia . The facts opposes this kind of political deception and cannot isolate or separate the Sawyer’s, Ellen’s, Fahnbulleh’s, Bishop’s, and so-called Human and Civil Rights advocates from Liberia’s bad political leadership. These RICE politicians are bad Liberian leaders who have failed the people but, again are trying to manipulate the people to excuse themselves from taking responsibility for Liberia ’s fail state. This is a criminal behavior-blaming the victims.

While it is true political leaders in any society holds moral authority to direct the people’s wisdom, such right to command is less than absolute. Because, the moral condition of humanity teaches us through reasoning, to acknowledge our responsibility and achieve autonomy wherever, argued John Locke. The human natural constitution cannot accent to Plato’s doctrine of elitist rule. Even Rousseau himself recognizes a ‘General Will” of utilitarianism, which favors illiterate Liberians to decide our political fate since they are the greatest number. Thus illiterate Liberians, although lacking in institutional framework of western learning, is not capricious or anarchic as continued to be insinuated by miseducated Liberian politicians. Prof. K. Moses Nagbe makes an excellent case, in this regard, on behalf of illiterate Liberians.

In dissecting the problem of “‘So-Good’ Liberians and ‘No-Good’ Liberians (,” Prof. Nagbe, one of Liberia brightest minds states: “ The echoes from many ordinary Liberian that may sound as if ordinary Liberians are contemptuous of commendable values and high quality service should be understood in the broad context.” Prof. Nagbe continues, “Their echoes are refraction. The echoes are the ordinary Liberians’ ways of repelling statements of those who, though capable of discussing issues and principles, seek the easy way out by deprecating other Liberians who they feel are below their dignity.” The learned professor further instructs us, “When we make conscious and consistent attempt to publicly put other Liberians and groups down, we face the unintended consequences of creating inevitable rebuff.” For examples, “native woman born soldier, Congo woman born rogues,” “monkey monkey come down or fine shot will take you down,” “you kill my ma, you kill my pa, I will vote for you,” and more recently “ you know book , you don’t know book we will vote for you.”

The “illiterate Liberian” through their cultural adaptation acknowledges themselves bound my moral constraints. This is why in a village there is a traditional government comprising of various agencies responsible to regulate the affairs of villagers. The illiterates conduct their own legal system, established their own learning center (Poro and Sande societies), and are capable of reflecting depraved motives, predicting their outcome, and formulating social responses. Thus, the contours of illiterate Liberians’ socialization present us a disturbing realization, the revelation of conceals decision making on the part of our politicians, especially the Rice opposition. That is, their opposition to illiterates’ wisdom in political decision in Fanonian term is a strike of “bad faith,” which must be considered as a major aspect of our politicians’ state of mind, a bad faith in their own leadership capabilities. Our politicians’ bad faith then must be understood as multiple personality’s perspectives constituted by their hedonistic political experience, corruption and political exploitation being the foremost.

We are all testaments to these politicians amoeba-like character, shifting from one political spectrum to another (Fahnbulleh recently rejoined LPP), from peace to war, from warring factions to warring factions, from peace conference to peace conference, from interim government to interim government, from political party to political party, always riding the wagon of those seeking more power outside legal and constitutional framework, but never shifting from election to election. Liberia witnessed this patented political behavior against presidents Tolbert, Doe, and Taylor. That while preaching the gospel of democracy, these politicians purposely misled Liberians to change their government through violent and undemocratic means.

Illiterate Liberians have realized this bad leadership on the part of our politicians, and rejected them in the last election. Recently, our people have again signaled their rejection by “you know book, you don’t know book, we will vote for you.” Illiterate Liberians are not mentally deranged, they understands their own social predicament and have resolved not to place their destiny in a failed ‘old political class’. These politicians are unprincipled, anti-democratic, politically delinquent, only pretending to believe in democratic governance. It’s time for the people to decide Liberia ’s leadership. On the altar of God I pledge undying resistance to political delinquents and anti-democrats. “Excuse me while I throw out.”

Articles by Chorpie Charlie>>>>

About the author:

Chorphie Charlie is a social and political commentator who resides in Philadelphia. He can be reached at

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