Guinea, People’s Revolutionary Republic Of

   After colonial rule by France ended in 1958, revolutionary leader Ahmed Sékou Touré oversaw the transition of Guinea to socialism and frequently propounded a Marxist course for the country. The experiment with socialism formally ended with Touré’s death in 1984, making the government of the People’s Revolutionary Republic of Guinea one of the longest serving socialist administrations in Africa.
   Touré became general secretary of the pro-independence Democratic Party of Guinea (Parti Démocratique de Guinée—PDG) in 1952, and his first discernible achievement was steering the party to an overwhelming victory in territorial elections staged five years later. With momentum gathered, in 1958 the electorate again bolstered the PDG cause by rejecting French Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle’s “community” constitution in a referendum, making Guinea the only colony to do so. This enraged de Gaulle who demanded the withdrawal of French personnel and aid from the West African country with immediate effect. Consequently, on 2 October 1958 Guinean independence was proclaimed with Touré the inaugural president of the sovereign state.
   Touré began his reign with a number of socialist-style measures including a colossal nationalization push, but it was not until 1967 that he announced the adoption of MarxismLeninism as the official bedrock of the revolution. The PDG government accordingly heralded a program to move power away from the bureaucratic and cautious center, and toward radical regional groups named the Pouvoir Révolutionnaire Local (PRL). Further moves were made to push the PRRG toward Touré’s interpretation of Marxism in 1975, with the state criminalizing private trading and launching a collectivization initiative to bring rural areas into communalized state ownership. Reality, though, bore little resemblance to this constitutional and theoretical framework. Touré became increasingly dictatorial as time progressed, with an already existing paranoia of French plots to overthrow him augmented by perceived domestic threats to his hegemony. The PDG government rapidly deteriorated into a centralized and despotic organ, with the village cell groups of the PRL merely disseminators of the iron will that emanated from the capital Conakry, and systematic terror meted out on scores of “enemies” of Touré.
   Inevitably, the Touré administration’s popularity plummeted, and with a mounting economic crisis resulting from the continued foreign ownership of the country’s most lucrative natural resources, the PDG had little choice but to discard its rigid and essentially Stalinist doctrine. In 1978 Marxism was formally dropped as the guiding light of the revolution, a move that enhanced efforts earlier on in the decade to improve relations with the capitalist West, as did the furtive steps taken toward implementing a free market system. When Touré passed away in March 1984, with him went PDG rule, as a military junta led by Lieutenant Lansana Conté bloodlessly took power in April of the same year.
   While Touré and the PDG had initially subscribed to the relationship between party and state as espoused by Vladimir Ilich Lenin, where a proletarian vanguard party would lead an urban proletariat class towards a revolution that was then to be extended outwards, their Marxism became one of the all-encompassing “mass party.” The PDG was initially and fundamentally a catchall rather than a classbased organization. It worked for the collective interest of the peasantry, the working class, trade unionists and the petty bourgeoisie; namely an end to colonial rule and the survival of an independent Guinean state. This explains both the early reluctance to openly adopt Marxism and the lack of hesitation in abandoning it. When coupled with Touré’s insistence that the inherently atheistic philosophy of Marxism was compatible with Islam, it becomes clear that genuine commitment to the application of scientific socialism was, like the leader’s ideological persuasions in general, fleeting and aimed only at maintaining power.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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