Martin Spence // National #liberation and state power – An #anarchist critique of the #MPLA in #Angola

National liberation and state power – An anarchist critique of the MPLA in Angola

A text written around 1980 by Martin Spence outlining a critique of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

My intention in this paper is to examine the development of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), the most ‘left-wing’ of the three major national-liberation movements which arose in Angola during the colonial period, and the movement which was finally successful in establishing itself as the Government of an ‘independent’ Angola. I have produced this case-study of a national-liberation movement, because I am interested in the wider question of anti-imperialist struggle, and in developing a libertarian perspective upon it. By studying the ideological roots of MPLA, and the effect of these roots upon the movement’s tactics and organisational structure, I hope to clarify some central features of the whole question of national-liberation in the “Third World”.

I do not believe in the possibility of ‘objective’ or ‘value-free’ social analysis: such a notion is itself a product of, and ideological prop for, the liberal status quo. Every social analysis is, of necessity, prejudiced, and this can be constructive and refreshing so long as the writer makes clear the nature of her/his bias. In my case, I am writing as an anarchist who, while welcoming struggles against imperialism in the Third World, feel that the authoritarian character of many national-liberation movements should give us cause for reflection.

The paper is divided into three sections. In the first, the outline of MPLA’s historical development is revealed and discussed, more or less chronologically. The second section attempts to gain an analytical understanding of this development, tries to find a logic behind the mere formless sequence of events. This attempt focuses upon certain assumptions and contradictions which, from the start, were manifested in MPLA’s ideology, tactics and organisational structure. Finally, in the third section I try to suggest a few ideas towards a libertarian perspective on anti-imperialist struggle.

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