webGuinée / Histoire politique
Parti Démocratique de Guinée

R. W. Johnson
Sékou Touré and the Guinean revolution

Magdalen College, Oxford
Timothy K. Welliver, eds. Colonialism and Nationalism in Africa.
Garland Publishing. London, New York. 1993. pp. 120-136

R.W. Johnson is a Fellow in Politics and Sociology of Magdalen College, Oxford. He is working on a study of politics and social change in Guinea, where he spent six months in 1968. He is grateful to the Social Science Research Council for the research grant which made this visit possible.
See also The Parti Démocratique de Guinée and the Mamou 'deviation'.

President Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea is indisputably Africa's senior radical leader still in power. But, for a number of reasons, both the man and his ideas remain somewhat obscure, particularly in the non-francophone world. We still have no biography of the man and only a few dated and fragmentary articles considering his early idees majeurs 1. It must be admitted at once that to fill this gap is a task much larger than can be performed by this article.

The period up to independence (1958)

First, a few biographical details. Touré was born in Faranah (Haute-Guinée) in 1922 of peasant parents. He is a Malinké and is of the same clan as the great Samory Touré who for so long led pre-colonial resistance to the French 2. In the 1930s he came to Conakry to study at the Ecole Professionelle [Georges Poiret].
Academically this was to represent the summit of his career; he did not go on to receive a post-primary, secondary, or university education. He is very largely a self-made and self-taught man—something which is virtually unique among the members of the political elites which have ruled West Africa in the last decade. On leaving school he held several lowly positions in the French Administration before becoming involved in the trade union movement (the Conféderation Générale du Travail, CGT) which he, virtually alone, founded in 1945-6 and which he dominated and led for the next 12 years 3;

[Errata. (a) Actually, Sékou Touré co-founded the small postal workers union in Conakry in March 1945; it subsequently affiliated itself to the communist-led Confédération Générale des Travailleurs union of metropolitan France.
(b) In February 1956, the CGT assisted in the creation of Confédération Générale des Travailleurs d'Afrique Noire (CGTAN), in the French colonial territories.
(c) Although negotiations date back from January 1957, it was only after Guinea's independence, in January 1959, that theUnion Générale des Travailleurs d'Afrique Noire (UGTAN) was founded, with Sékou Touré as its secretary general. For details see André Lewin, Vol. 1, chapitre 5 and Vol. 2, chapter 21 and chapter 22.— Tierno S. Bah]

He also was a founder-member of the Parti Democratique de Guinée (PDG), the Guinean section of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), within which he played a second-echelon role until 1952 when he took over the Party's leadership. The PDG's period of political and electoral “take-off” really dates from his accession to power within it, and well before independence was achieved in 1958 Touré had emerged as indisputably the dominant personality in Guinea, his position bolstered by a degree of popular and organizational support perhaps unique in West Africa.
In order to understand Touré's personal and ideological development we must first examine his period of trade union leadership. As Secretary-General of the Guinean CGT, Touré was in continual contact with the French CGT (he attended a Paris Congress of the CGT as early as 1946). It is undoubtedly to this source that we must trace Touré's acquaintance with marxist theory and communist organizational practice. Moreover, his later strong rejection of all forms of racism, including theories of negritude, is probably also partially a product of the sympathy and support which he received from the French metropolitan Left in this period 4. But Touré's trade union experience was of a more general importance as well. It was in this movement that he learnt most of all that he still knows; this phase stands at the very centre of his auto-didactic career. One long quotation from the Touré of this period will have to stand for a total impression. The subject is the duties of trade union leadership:

« First of all you must thoroughly familiarize yourself with the Code du Travail and all other social legislation. Responsable, your bedside reading is the Code du Travail which you can never study enough. Its French, this beautiful language, has a finesse that will escape even those who suckled it with their maternal milk. Responsable, you have the duty of educating the masses; in order to educate them you must first educate yourself. That's why you must know all the rules and decisions which rule the world of work. You must be able at any moment to reply to the questions of comrades, even if they appear completely anodine to you … A lot of your comrades are illiterate. You must always read and explain social legislation and the trade union press to them.
You must never believe that ability resides solely in the so-called “évolué” element. In fact some of our best leaders are illiterates. Moreover, you will have noticed that they are the most able to sustain a discussion and can defend a cause or a thesis with rare aptitude. Notice too that they are seldom tricked for they often recognise a sincere man from his very first words. You must always take account of the opinions of illiterate comrades whatever their branch of professional activity. The majority of them have experienced concrete situations and their observations on them may well be highly consequential. The trade union leader who is most apt, best advised and the most ivolue in every meaning of that word, is he who puts things at the level of all, so as to make better understood the aspirations of the masses with whose guidance he is charged. He must concretise the cause which he defends in all his actions and words so as to facilitate the workers' understanding of it. We are all more or less presumptuous, more or less proud: we all believe ourselves already important. But pride and presumption are two vices that kill trust, esteem and sympathy … We must struggle against these internal enemies in order to deserve the trust of the workers … Our struggle does not consist solely in material demands, but also in raising the workers morally and professionally, in stimulating emulation and professional conscience, and in helping them struggle against their own weaknesses. The trade wlion leader is, then, a defender, a guide and an educator of the masses. He must always bear in mind the fact that one false manoeuvre, one imprudent word, one gesture in a moment of anger and, moreover, every unreasoned act, compromises the whole of the movement which he represents.
It is in order to overcome these weaknesses in himself so that he may become a fit leader of others, that the trade union leader must frequently and in a spirit of fraternal comradeship accept and even provoke criticism and selfcriticism, correcting his own weaknesses and those of his comrades 5. »

Several themes which have continued to mark Touré's thought are already present here, notably his consciousness and populist rejection of the elitist presumptions of the educated ivolue group constituting the political Establishment, Right and Left, against which he was ranged. Touré's stress on remaining in close sympathy and contact with the masses is merely the obverse side of his hatred of the group who made their possession, and his own lack, of French cultural finesse a reason for consigning him for many years to humiliatingly second-rank positions. The fact that in Guinea — uniquely in francophone West Africa — the independence “inheritance” elite was not composed of men with a secondary or higher education was due to the fact that once Touré and the petit-fonctionnaire trade union-based group around him had attained power within the PDG, they were able to exercise a number of social controls to keep it.

“Keeping power” in this context meant either preventing altogether the otherwise inevitable yeast-like rise of educated evolue elements within the movement, or making their tenancy of power depend on a fairly explicit acceptance of these social controls 6.
What were these social controls? The story of Touré's political career in the 1950s could really be summarized by saying that in the course of it he learnt, perhaps even over-learnt, two things. The first was that he could transform a political and even a social situation by the enthusiastic mobilization of large numbers of people. In particular this involved his encouragement and harnessing of the seething peasant discontent which provided the real motor of the PDG's development, eliciting mass response from the peasants to the Party's loose ideological definitions of their situation. Secondly, Touré learnt the virtues and power of organization: organization to sustain this mobilization and give direction to the movement thus created; and organization to institutionalize and bolster the power of personal leadership. In the period between 1946 and 1952 when the PDG had been led and run by evolue intellectuals, organizational coherence and discipline were at a discount. After 1952, under Touré, they were at a premium. Touré and the petit fonctionnaire group around him exploited their organizational position, not only in the normal sense of enforcing discipline on men more educated than themselves, but also in order to multiply their organizational bases. Plural office-holding, indeed, became perhaps the most striking characteristic of Touré's group 7. Thus when the “intellectuals” again became important in the PDG in the later 1950s, they did so subject to the constraints of both organizational and ideological discipline. They had not only to accept but even to enunciate a populist rhetoric which explicitly devalued their own status as intellectuals 8. By 1958 Touré had fairly thoroughly subjugated all possible rivals and established an apparently unchallengeable position of personal leadership.
Examination of Touré's role in pre-independence politics reveals a personal and ideological development of complex proportions. After an obscure early period (1945 ?-1948 ?) in which he held apparently orthodox marxist views, he moved towards a more ouvrieriste position, concentrating almost solely on trade union questions to the neglect of more overtly political ones. With his assumption of the PDG's leadership he veered towards a position that is perhaps best described as that of a radical populist-reformist, with his original marxist and even trade union background increasingly diluted and obscured. In the light of Touré's current stance — and of the PDG's re-writing of the 1950s period — it is as well to emphasize that Touré, as is clear.
In dozens of articles and hundreds of speeches, never seriously envisaged the possibility of violent revolutionary action in this period. Rather, his aim was to achieve power by whatever means were both possible and necessary, always acting within or on the margin of the institutional context provided by the French. He had, after all, no wish to see the PDG go the same way as the UPC (Union des Populations du Cameroun) in Cameroun 9. On the other hand, he clearly aimed to achieve power while preserving as radical a party and policy as the situation would allow, thus hoping to retain the option of effecting radical change by the use of the power so achieved. This classic reformist tactic which just occasionally, due to the more militant attitude of the grass roots rank and file, seemed to be based on an implicit revolutionary threat, actually succeeded in Guinea; though this was largely because of the sheer historical accident of the quite unexpected abruptness with which independence was achieved 10.

From independence to 1964

Given Touré's central personal position, the evolution of his ideas since independence conflates ineluctably with the evolution of official PDG policy in this period. Here it is important to take note of the emphasis laid officially that is, by Touré himself—on the watershed of the loi-cadre of 8 November 1964 11. Up to 1964, so runs the official view, the PDG followed an essentially reformist path, albeit a radical one, while since 1964 the Party has been transforming itself into a truly revolutionary avant-garde movement and it has become possible to speak of the “Guinean revolution”. This distinction carries with it its own implied self-criticism since the pre-1964 period was itself amply decked out in revolutionary phraseology and claims to revolutionary status and ambitions.
Nevertheless, an examination of Sékou Touré's writings — which have now reached seventeen volumes 12 — does support the view that, in the realm of ideology at least, there has been a marked change since 1964. Gradually the forms of Touré's earlier radicalism have re-emerged; some ambiguous elements, such as the “African personality”, have virtually disappeared from view; and the marxist element has become more pronounced-though, as we shall see, Touré is still some distance from any of the various marxist-leninist orthodoxies.
There was little hint of such development in the first four volumes of Touré's Works. Indeed, the fact that these are the most widely known of his writings has itself become a source of confusion since they are so unrepresentative of Touré's contemporary position. In this early period attention is focussed primarily on the meaning of independence. As early as March 1959, Touré had termed Guinea's acquisition of independence a “revolution”. Apparently sensitive to Fanonist criticism, he denies that political violence is more than one of several possible revolutionary forms: the gaining of independence has resulted in a fundamental transformation of such proportions as to place Guinea in an objectively revolutionary situation (Tome 3, pp. 209-10). On the other hand he is concerned to emphasize the continuing nature of the anti-colonial struggle, not only in the sense of the completion of Africa's liberation but also in the sense of a still ongoing struggle in Guinea itself against the “inherited structures of colonial domination”. In sharp contradistinction to those Mrican leaders who saw independence as the fruit of a completed struggle, Touré insisted that independence was a purely instrumental acquisition. So, too, were democracy and national unity; to make them ends in themselves was as barren a doctrine as “art for art's sake.” They were merely means towards social progress, towards the destruction of the old colonial “structures of domination” and, above all, towards the decolonization of the minds, habits and attitudes of the people, without which other forms of progress were impossible or illusory. A great effort of education, at once civic, moral, ideological and national, must be launched in order to accelerate the normal course of history in Guinea. Yet the object of this enormous effort is still rather vaguely conceived as “social progress”. The aim of socialism is entirely absent at this stage 13.
The extent to which Touré's earlier marxism had been diluted and compromised is clearest when the question of social class in African society is considered. This question, indeed, provides a convenient touchstone for the measurement and evaluation of radicalism in Africa particularly in the early 1960s. One may use it to place all Mrican ideologists within a four-point scale 14:

  1. the Know-Nothing stage involving an attempt to deny the existence of significant social differentiation in African societies. Attempted by some political leaders in the early 1960s, it is clearly untenable for long.
  2. a second stage in which it is acknowledged that a process of social differentiation and stratification has begun but in which it is insisted that the social conflicts thus occasioned are of a second order pressure group variety which may, indeed must, be reconciled in the interests of national unity or some other long-term goal
  3. a third stage in which it is frankly acknowledged that social classes proper with fundamentally opposed interests exist, but in which it is asserted that such conflicts, however bitter, may be due to the merely temporary strains of a particular historical period of, say, intensive “modernization”. There is, it is claimed, both the tactical possibility and the strategic necessity of a pragmatic alliance of classes. Normally it has been the trade unions that have been asked or compelled to subordinate their class interests, but they may be asked to do this under either right or left wing regimes, for technocratic, developmentalist reasons, or in the name of “scientific socialism”
  4. a fourth stage in which it is acknowledged that the social conflicts between different strata are of a fundamental nature, incapable of resolution. This necessitates the implicit or explicit taking of sides-theoretically, at least — for some groups and against others.

Briefly, the development of Touré's thought in the 1960s sees him move from (ii) through (iii) to (iv) though, to say the least, his thinking has moved a great deal faster than its political implementation. Thus when in 1959-60 Touré talked of the “internal contradictions” within Guinean society, the contradictions with which he was concerned were idealist rather than social, sins of individual behaviour — “egoism”, “individualism” and “opportunism”. It is hardly surprising that we should find that these sins are particularly liable to be committed by deracinés intellectuals with a “superiority complex” (Tome 1-2, p. 554, and Tome 3, pp. 161-8). Touré admits that social conflict is possible between the different “couches sociales”, between, for example, peasants and traders on the question of free trade in rice; he warns fonctionnaires that resources are scarce; and he speaks of the danger that the fruits of independence will be confiscated by the few. But greed and selfishness, not class interests, are the true villains of the piece, and cultural and intellectual decolonisation is the remedy.
It is, naturally, on the delicate subject of trade unionism that Touré makes his assumptions and position most explicit:

« In Africa, where class antagonism does not exist, where an identity of interest dominates merely occupational-functional diversity … the labouring masses must accordingly quickly comprehend the particularities of their situation as against that of the European working class. For them trade unionism must not be an instrument of class struggle but an instrument for harmonious evolution and rapid emancipation » (Tome 1-2, pp. 419-20).


« … while marxism is applied in its doctrinal integrity by the international working class insofar as the class struggle is concerned, so we have amputated that element of it so that all the African ‘couches sociales’ may work together in the general anti-colonialist struggle » (Ibid., p. 420).

On the other side of the coin he is equally clear, even to a trade unionist audience:

« The financial support of capitalism for which we appeal does not in any way compromise the mastery of the situation which we have acquired politically … We launch this appeal to Capital so that those who possess it may also, with complete solidarity, enter into collaboration with us. » (Ibid., p. 426).

Even at this stage, however, the marxist origins of Touré's basic ideas are always evident. Indeed, there is always the suggestion that it is with a pragmatic reluctance that he abandons a more purely marxist approach. In time such an approach may become more clearly relevant, but in a sense the task is to prevent it from becoming relevant by halting social differentiation. At other times Touré appears to doubt whether such preventive action can be successful. And ultimately this more historicist view is dominant :

« Certainly, as our society develops, so it has a tendency to fragment itself into a more and more differentiated hierarchy. The scale runs from the plebeian element to the elite and the result is the dissociation of each element from that which precedes it and that which follows it, on the basis of the more or less accentuated contradiction between their interests. In the face of this hierarchical deployment there is a great temptation for each distinct ‘couche sociale’ to act in a “cellular” manner —pursuing its own narrow interests rather than the common interest. Already (1959) one must observe—and one must deplore—that a very clear tendency towards crystallisation is manifesting itself among the various layers of society. This egocentric phenomenon will of necessity continue, accentuating itself so that at least the most urgent of these (particularist) demands may be met, for it is undeniable that the man who is himself deprived is deaf and blind to the misery of others. There is in this tendency a social aspect which threatens to condition the political situation. Thus one may fear, with justification, that this social mutation will have as its corollary the formation of a bourgeoisie, of a sort of aristocratic feudalism, the danger of which it is unnecessary to underline. As we have said, we reject the principle of class struggle, less through philosophical conviction than through the desire to save African solidarity at any price. For this [African solidarity] alone can lead us along our destined path, this alone is capable of preserving our originality and of imposing on the world a respect for African Man. » (Ibid., pp. 411-12).

The “Teachers' Plot” and subsequent strikes of 1961 served to confirm Touré's ideas on these points even to the point of claiming that:

« Should the class struggle appear in the Republic of Guinea—if we were to give leeway to egoistic interest groups, even trade union ones, they would form a reactionary class of a bourgeois sort. » (Tome 8, p. 296).

Indeed, he went even further, insisting that it was only counter-revolutionaries and the “anti-Party group” who tried to substitute the notion of social classes for that of social differentiation endemic in all societies (Ibid., p. 309). Only anarcho-syndicalists, he claimed, could believe that the principal contradictions facing Guinea were internal rather than those of the external struggle against imperialism (Ibid., pp. 318-19). The fact was that colonialism had prevented the growth of a national capitalism or a national bourgeoisie in Guinea, and accordingly there could be no class struggle (Ibid., p. 326).
At this point it appeared that Touré was moving clearly to the Right — there is little to separate the statements quoted above from positions later adopted by Mboya or Senghor. But in fact the long-term effect of the “plot” was rather to dissipate the euphoria of the early independence period. As other real or imagined plots followed, the Guinean political climate tautened considerably, and the foundations of a formidable police and intelligence apparat were laid in place. Meanwhile Guinea's isolation within Africa and internationally deepened at the same time that the economy, labouring under an over-valued currency, hasty nationalizations 15, inefficiency, corruption and smuggling on a massive scale, plunged into ever more desperate straits. In the face of the first real signs of political disaffection and mounting apathy Touré's position hardened noticeably. He had always insisted, from independence on, that “bourgeois democracy” was not applicable in Guinea, which was a “république populaire” (People's Republic), a democratic dictatorship. He now began to lay greater stress on the specifically revolutionary role of the PDG; disaffection must be expected and fought since “every revolution creates its own counter-revolution.” The time for sentimentalism was gone—now was the time for “la fermeté révolutionnaire”. “L'ennemi de la fermeté révolutionnaire, c'est le libéralisme qui, de compromis en compromis, fait tomber un parti dans la compromission et l'anarchie.” (Tome 9, pp. 144-7 and p. 151).
In some ways the period from 1961 to 1963 saw disaffection reach its height, particularly among intellectuals. Many French progressistes and foreign Africans who had come to Guinea after independence, full of enthusiasm for the new state and its regime, left in this period, disgruntled and despairing 16. Many Guineans left as well, not only intellectuals but many thousands of peasants too, flooding into Abidjan and Dakar. Touré appeared to be building a regime of iron—and of smuggled cigarettes; an inefficient dictatorship in which austerity and corruption combined to provide the worst of both worlds.
Such a view is, of course, still held by many 17.
The loi-cadre of November 8, 1964 was essentially an attempt by Touré to halt this political and economic slide. Draconian new measures were introduced to curb corruption and to regulate commerce; in Conakry licences to deal in commerce were to be cut back by 80 per cent; all state and Party officials were to be submitted to examination of the sources of their income and possessions; all private import and export trade was outlawed; the PDG was entirely re-organized with work-place organization and a slimmed-down membership. Excluded from all Party responsibilities were all merchants and all those convicted since 1958 of theft, corruption, fraud, subversion or racism. There followed a whole series of further decrees aimed at corruption among civil servants. Henceforth even the most senior Minister would have to prove his revolutionary militancy and vigilance in word and deed under pain of the most severe sanctions 18.
This sharp turn to the Left is reflected in Tome 13, L'Afrique et la Révolution. Using the same analytic base that he had earlier employed in his attack on the “Teachers' Plot”, Touré claimed that the measures were necessary to prevent a Guinean compradore bourgeoisie from becoming a full-blown national bourgeoisie:

« In Africa colonial intervention occurred during a feudal period which was still profoundly marked by a “communocratic” spirit. The organization of the modes of production was still neither of the slave-based type, nor assimilable to the so-called “Asiatic” mode. The despotism which characterizes feudalism only appeared after the colonial intervention and at its behest. A fortiori there was no bourgeoisie at all. In the absence of a national bourgeoisie one could not have a capitalist society. Moreoever, colonialism, by its take-over of both land and men as means of production, hindered the formation of a bourgeois class. While a privileged social category (feudal chiefs, civil servants and merchants) did appear under this omnipotent reign, it did so only very late and still possessed none of the means necessary for primitive capital accumulation, for these means were in the hands of colonialism or, at least, under its direct control. It is quite evident that this privileged national category was using our independence as a cover for transforming itself into a national bourgeoisie. » (Tome 13, pp. 110-11).

Guinea had moved from the stage of People's Democracy to that of National Democracy, by which was meant a regime intent upon preventing the emergence of antagonistic social classes by crushing the national bourgeoisie at the moment of its emergence (Ibid., pp. 115-16).
For the first time Guinea's socialist option was affirmed, though Touré made it clear that he had doubts as to the applicability of the term. And, although Tome 13 concludes with an academic discussion of dialectical materialism, Touré's conception of socialism remained essentially idealist.

« Since the creation of the PDG we have always made clear, without hesitation or complexes, the aims of our actions. But we have always used the words “socialist” and “socialism” as little as possible. Often at (PDG) Congresses comrades have brought up the question and we have always replied that our basic philosophy of history did not allow us to consider capitalism or socialism as finalities. This being so, our revolutionary option has aimed only at the well-being of the people … The question of our socialist perspectives is poorly framed. In every country there are capitalist and socialist perspectives which develop conjointly or separately … One may well ask whether it is possible to “build socialism” in the conditions of an agricultural economy issuing from colonial mercantilism … We opt for the socialist system, that is to say that we devoutly desire the continued progress of social justice … The socialist Revolution is first and foremost a heightened consciousness, a willing determination to see the good of all, a firm courage. » (Ibid., pp. 171-3).

Here it may be as well to note that Touré's writings on semi-philosophical subjects such as this descend all too easily into self-repetitious generality and outright mystification. One must always remember that his printed word is merely transcribed platform oratory. He is at his best and clearest when he defines his positions in contradistinction to those of others; as when he analyses and condemns the concept of négritude as racist mystification 19, or when he is analysing the incomplete and satellitic nature of “independence” in so many African states. His often scathing clarity frequently deserts him when faced with the problem of conceptualizing or analysing original or purely Guinean phenomena.

The period since 1964

The major swing to the Left of 1964 has been followed in succeeding years less by important original ideological departures than by a process of continuous expansion, elucidation and intensification of the 1964 theses. [The year] 1964 also marks a landmark, however, in the use of ideology as a form of social control. Hitherto, as we have seen, the dominant position of Touré's ideology had been used to disadvantage members of certain social groups in their public and political activities. Since 1964 ideology has increasingly become an instrument of control over individuals rather than groups. This has happened for several reasons.
The loi-cadre reforms of 1964 have never been fully or properly carried out, as Touré himself acknowledges. Since 1964 the disjuncture between what Touré says and what actually happens in Guinea has grown increasingly radical and severe — indeed, one has the impression that Touré has long ago run up against the outside limits of all that organisation and exhortation to mass mobilisation can achieve. At the same time Guinea's isolation within Africa has increased enormously with the fall of the friendly Sierra Leonean, Malian, Ghanaian, and Algerian regimes and the weakened position of the UAR (Egypt) since the war with Israel. This isolation has, in turn, predictably intensified the domestic climate of tension and suspicion in Guinea 20. This climate and the fact that Touré's ideology has far outrun both popular understanding and concrete every-day Guinean realities produce a situation in which hardly anyone in any position can feel safe from denunciation for ideological crimes such as the harbouring of counter-revolutionary sentiments. This is particularly so since Touré has continued to coin new watch-words so that “what was progressive in 1964 may cease to be so in 1965” (Tome 13, p. 127). The need for vigilance is absolute since subversion is literally everywhere:

« … subversion is not a material fact that one can show people. It is not an objective thing, it only has objective results. Subversion is part of one and it is in all of us, beginning with the Secretary General of the PDG down to the last militant who joins the Party as he strolls out of a meeting. Subversion inhabits every heart … » (Tome 15, p. 39).

Naturally, the enemy has the sense to stay hidden:

« Embourgeoisement continues to make progress. Of course, a cadre will never say that he has become a bourgeois. But it is easy to detect it in his manner of speaking, in the way he discusses future possibilities, in the way he interprets facts, in the way he takes on a job, in the way he behaves himself in regard to the people. Of course, all this denounces him without his realising. » (Ibid., pp. 46-7).

If this sounds like a “conspiracy theory of history” one ought to add that there are, indeed, many real enough conspiracies.
Implicitly, though not explicitly, the 1964 tournant revoked all Touré's earlier denials of the existence of social classes and of class struggle; the Party was summoned to revolutionary struggle against the bourgeois class. Since 1964 the principle of class struggle has been increasingly emphasized, particularly since the 8th PDG Congress in 1967. Moreover, Touré has made it clear that he views the problem of class struggle in both a national and an international context.
Domestically the lines of division have been somewhat clarified:

« The interest of the labouring masses … demands that the working class, the peasantry and sincerely progressive elements effectively direct and control all the vital sectors of the national life and that the reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie, of the bureaucracy and of capitalism, even national capitalism, be thrown from all positions of influence, decision and control … The class struggle hereby becomes the political form of practical explanation … The class struggle is a universal reality and a historic necessity … Political organization, political and ideological education of the people, are the principal weapons in the struggle against the class enemy. » 21

Touré characterises the “class enemy” in several ways :

« Undoubtedly in these last few years a bureaucratic bourgeoisie has installed itself within the Party and in public administration and the State enterprises. It has spawned about itself a “clientele” of merchants, transporteurs and rural land proprietors—an embryonic national bourgeoisie—all as its dependants. » (Tome 13, p. 115).

But the real problem is a cultural one, of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois aspirations:

« … there are some who, victims of colonial petit-bourgeois ideology, owing to their training as servants of colonialism, have never been able to regain their self-possession but have retained their old expectations, waiting for new masters able to provide them with the neo-colonialist crumbs to which they aspired during the colonial period and of which they have since been deprived … It is a petite-bourgeoisie with an aberrant mentality, incapable of any creative or serious effort, while the European bourgeoisie, for example, was and still is tough-minded and ready for work. It is a petite-bourgeoisie which has resigned itself, which is slothful, which is ready to sell the Nation to any imperialist power that presents itself, which is hypocritical and treacherous … it is a corrupted petite-bourgeoisie … in fact a lumpen-bourgeoisie. » 22

[Nota bene. — Sékou Touré borrows here from Fanon's analysis in the “Mésaventures de la conscience nationale” chapter of The Wretched of the Earth. — T.S. Bah]

Internationally Touré has moved towards a more “Cuban” position. In several diplomatically explosive passages of his Rapport Politique to the 8th PDG Congress he declared that tiers monde [Third World] countries were now in the forefront of the struggle against imperialism. Not only could one no longer believe that imperialism and capitalism would fall of themselves, but one could not rely either upon the Socialist great powers. It was, for example, not true that “the British worker can wait upon the USSR or China to see the end of the exploitation to which he is submitted.” 23. Moreover, the Socialist powers were guilty of helping to uphold an international primary products price-system which merely institutionalized tiers-monde exploitation 24. The doctrine of peaceful coexistence was a reactionary and unacceptable compromise for it helped to freeze a world situation in which imperialism was still rampant 25. Fruitful relationships between tiers-monde countries and capitalist-imperialist ones were simply impossible — and, consistently, Touré gives a list of extremely restrictive conditions under which Guinea will be prepared to accept foreign aid 26.
Although Touré's continuing exhortations to “wage the class struggle to the death” and to “deepen and radicalize the Revolution” — the general currency of his speeches since 1967—amount to little more than appeals for the execution of long-declared policy aims, there have been several ideological and organizational innovations in this latter period. Most notably these have included the declaration of a Socialist Cultural Revolution, the creation of a Popular Militia, the greater role given to the PDG Youth, the JRDA (Jeunesse de Ia Revolution Democratique Africaine), and the institution of Local Revolutionary Power (PRL-Pouvoir Revolutionnaire Locale).
These innovations should not be allowed to obscure the continuities in Touré's thought. The counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie is still continually depicted in terms of armchair intellectuals with superiority complexes: “The counter-revolution has installed itself in armchairs. It no longer lives in the (chiefs') huts from which it has fled. Now it lives in villas and civil service apartments … ” (Tome 15, p. 45). Touré's marxism also still contains a strong voluntaristic element, only partially derived from occasional imitation of Chinese models 27. The counter-revolution is counter-revolutionary for the same old “raisons de comportement individuel” — “egoism”, “individualism”, and so on.
The Cultural Revolution, a massive campaign of orchestrated education and indoctrination, aims at changing the hearts and minds of the people in an entirely voluntaristic fashion. It is the same combination of education and organization, and continual re-organization, on which Touré has always relied. These factors were enough to bring him political success in the 1950s and to achieve independence in 1958—when an aroused and militant population, impressively organized and disciplined within the PDG, voted “Non”— and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. One may legitimately doubt whether the barriers of poverty and corruption will fall in the same way.
Touré is doubtless aware of these considerations and there is an element of despair in these recent innovations. The Cultural Revolution is aimed particularly at the young through sweeping changes in the educational system which stress — to borrow the obvious Chinese analogy — the qualities of being “red rather than expert”. It may well be that Touré has written off the present generation of office-holders and civil servants as irredeemably corrupted by colonialist ideology; hope lies with the younger generation who have come to maturity in the twelve years since independence 28. Touré has certainly laid increasing stress on the role of youth in the revolutionary bloc of peasants and workers though of late there has been increasing stress on the vanguard nature of the working class—and the JRDA is now more in evidence in the streets of Conakry (performing police functions, for example) than is the Party proper. Similarly, the creation of the Milice Populaire (restricted to 20-30 years-olds) tends to assume that the Army is ultimately unreliable too. The PRL program, aimed at transferring a whole range of administrative functions from the State to local village Party committees, would, if successful, greatly reduce the power of the civil service bureaucracy which Touré has quite patently in large part written off 29.
It is to be expected that, as with so many other of Touré's plans, projects and slogans, these latest innovations will be at best partially fulfilled, particularly since enormous vested interests are at stake. It is difficult, however, to see what other course Touré could follow within the ideological limits he has set himself. The only obvious alternative would be to use openly Stalinist means to attain his objectives: the heightened and systematized use of discriminatory rationing, police and intelligence repression, and forced mobilization of labour. And he can rely neither on sufficient personal popularity nor an efficient enough repressive apparat to make this work for long.
At the moment he does seem to remain popular—impressionistically one feels he could probably win a free election easily enough, though not without significant opposition. This is no inconsiderable achievement for a radical leader in Africa who has already been in power for 13 years and who—it should be remembered—is still only 48. Provided that Touré retains his formidable health and physical strength, and his agility in thwarting both intra- and extra Party challenges, it is conceivable—despite his currently critical situation—that he could remain in power for many years yet. But he has already taught us a good deal about the limits of the radical and the possible in contemporary Africa.

Bibliography of the works of Sékou Touré to 1969

Unless otherwise indicated all of the Works referred to were published in Conakry at the Imprimerie Patrice Lumumba.

Other major sources for the study of Touré's thought include:

1. The best of which is I. Wallerstein, “The Political Ideology of the PDG”, Présence Africaine, 12, (First Quarter 1962), pp. 30-41.
2. The belief that Touré is a direct descendant of Samory, widely current outside Guinea, is believed by nobody within the country.
[Nota bene. For more or less recent biographies of Sékou Touré written after this article — which was first published in 1963 —, see Ibrahima Kaké (1985) and André Lewin (2010) — T.S. Bah]
3. The best general background study of Guinean political history in this period is to be found in R. S. Morgenthau, Political Parties in French-Speaking West Africa (Oxford, 1964). The best existing biographical sketch of Touré — though it does contain some errors-is in J. Lacouture, Cinq hommes et la France (Paris, 1961).
4. It is important to stress that the French Left which Touré has known is that which resides in Saint-Denis rather than on the Boulevard Saint-Michel. Interestingly, some of Touré's earliest major articles for the RDA paper, Réveil, consisted of primitive but bitter attacks on Sartre and the doctrines of existentialism—then a reigning mode of the intellectual Left and the bête-noire of the French Communist Party.
5. L'Ouvrier (a Guinean CGT paper edited by Touré), No. 37, July 17, 1953
6. For an account of how Touré exerted control in a critical situation see R. W. Johnson, “The PDG and the Mamou ‘Deviation’” in C. H. Allen and R. W. Johnson (eds.), African Perspectives (Cambridge, 1970).
7. On the political importance of this plural office-holding see ibid., pp. 368-9.
8. Since independence Touré's use of ideology as an agency of social control has taken on an entirely new dimension with his stress on the rediscovery of the Mrican past. The continual public exaltation of Alfa Yaya and Samory Touré rather than, say, sophisticated cafe-society theories of negritude, or a technocratic stress on modernity and efficiency, allocates value to the heroic militancy of a popular past for which intellectuals feel the least affinity. The (by and large historically accurate) aspersions cast on these past heroes by contemporary Guinean intellectuals are not academic quibbles; they are a questioning of the hegemonic PDG ideology which has outflanked and displaced them.
9. Here a radical popular movement adopted armed guerilla tactics and was bloodily crushed by the French. See “Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) in Cameroun Politics, 1948-55”, R. A. Jospeh, unpublished B. Phil. thesis, Oxford, 1969.
10. See G. Chaffard, Les Carnets Secrets de la Décolonisation, Vol. II, (Paris 1967), pp. 165-268, esp. pp. 179- 216.
11. A. S. Touré, 8 Novembre 1964, Imprimerie Patrice Lumumba, Conakry, 1965. The texts of the declarations on the loi-cadre are also reprinted in Tome 14 of Touré's Works.
12. See the bibliography at the end of this article. Further references, as given in the text and in footnotes, will be simply to the volwne number of each of the Works, which may be checked against the specific titles in the bibliography.
13. See p. 359.
14. The scale is conceived for heuristic rather than historical purposes and the stages are set out more discretely than they may ever be in fact. In particular, stages (ii) and (iii) are frequently conflated, as they are for example in much Western contemporary pluralist ideology.
15. Nationalization, which was always justified in radical-democrat rather than socialist terms, was in almost all cases followed by a steep fall in output. The great bauxite mining complex at Fria has not been nationalised and its continuing economic success remains crucial to the regime's solvency and, probably, its stability as well.
16. This mood of despair is best expressed in B. Ameillon's Guinée, bilan d'une indépendance (Paris, 1963), a Fanonist-Maoist critique—which Touré has doubtless read.
17. There are several anti-Touré front movements based in Senegal and the Ivory Coast and a significant Guinean intellectual emigre group in Paris. These opposition groups are generally badly split—the Parisian group has a Maoist splinter. Perspectives Nouvelles, the organ of the main Paris-based group, is a source of interesting though unverifiable information on contemporary Guinea.
18. See Tome 14, pp. 331-408 for the relevant tests and the supplementary reform decrees of later weeks. A comparison of 8 November 1964 and other sudden turns to the Left in Africa-Nkrumah's “Dawn Broadcast”, and the Arusha and Mulungushi Declarations would be a worthwhile subject for future research.
19. Tome 13, pp. 191-3. One of the declared aims of the 8 November tournant was a relentless struggle against all forms of mystification—which included sorcery, witchcraft, maraboutism and racial versions of pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism. “Technocratisme” has been more recently added. This campaign was coupled with a massive literacy campaign, with a stress on literacy in the mother tongue (Soussou, Pular, Guerze, Malinke, etc.) The de-mystification campaign has been more successful than most, the literacy drive less so.
20. The impact of the Ghanaian and Malian coups was particularly great. Much of Tome 15 is taken up with considerations issuing from these coups. The attempted coup in Guinea in April 1969 saw the first official death sentences for political crimes meted out in Guinea since independence.

[Note. Unofficially and prior to that date, however, Sékou Touré had carried out successive mass killings and political purges, secret trials, in absentia sentencing and assassinations of foes and friends, for example, the “Ibrahima Diallo Plot” (1960), the “Teachers Plot” (1961) and the “Kaman-Fodeba Plot” (1965). — T.S. Bah]

21. A. S. Touré, “Rapport politique et de doctrine”, 8ème Congrès National du PDG, Conakry 25 septembre-2 octobre 1967, pp. 22-3.
22. Touré, “Rapport politique et de doctrine”, loc. cit. p. 85.
23. Ibid., p . 44. Touré's “Rapport politique” was, as originally published, a diplomatically explosive document which led to protests from both the USSR and China. The official account of the 8th Congress was accordingly withdrawn from circulation and the account of it provided in Tome 16 omits all the more controversial passages.
24. Ibid., p. 57.
25. Ibid., pp. 45-48. Touré also denounces the Sino-Soviet split as a near-criminal irrelevance. Guinea sides with the Vietnamese against the USA and the Algerian NLF is normally cited as a paradigm model for anti-imperialist struggle. Characteristically and in company with China and Cuba, Guinea has refused to sign the Test-ban Treaty.
26. Ibid. , pp. 55-6.
27. The extent to which imitation is conscious is a matter for debate, but one might list as possible subjects for such comparison investissement humain, the de-mystification and literacy campaigns, Touré's conceptions of National Democracy and the compradore bourgeoisie and the Cultural Revolution. (One might also instance, more frivolously, Touré's budding ambition as a poet—most of the later Tomes include a number of his poems and some of them have been collected and published under the title Poèmes Militants (Conakry, 1969). Unlike Mao's poetry, however, Touré's is exclusively political in content.) The regime has tolerated but not encouraged conscious popular imitation of Chinese models-Mao Jackets, Mao buttons and so forth. Touré has refused an initiative to have a little Red Book of his quotations published.
28. The first graduates of the Conakry Institut Polytechnique—the Promotion Lenine— were all made deputy-directors of State enterprises on graduation. Only students in advanced technical subjects such as engineering are now allowed to study abroad and even they must compulsorily work for one year in a factory as part of their course. Guinea is likely to have the first home-grown intelligentsia in Africa.
29. On PRL see Tome 16, esp. pp. 46-109. On the Cultural Revolution see Tome 17, esp. pp. 210-309.

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