Sunday, August 19, 2007

African Anarchism

This online book , Archive for African Anarchism: The History of A Movement by Sam Mbah and I.E. Igariwey , makes interesting reading for those who wish to go beyond the state-capitalist and reformist alternatives being offered to the African people . The history of African precursers to anarcho-communism society in chapter 3 is particularly pertinent .

"..the most important features of African communalism are the absence of classes, that is, social stratification; the absence of exploitative or antagonistic social relations; the existence of equal access to land and other elements of production; equality at the level of distribution of social produce; and the fact that strong family and kinship ties formed the basis of social life in African communal societies. Within this framework, each household was able to meet its own basic needs. Under communalism, by virtue of being a member of a family or community, every African was assured of sufficient land to meet his or her own needs."

"Political organization under communalism was horizontal in structure, characterized by a high level of diffusion of functions and power. Political leadership, not authority, prevailed, and leadership was not founded on imposition, coercion, or centralization; it arose out of a common consensus or a mutually felt need.
Leadership developed on the basis of family and kinship ties woven around the elders; it was conferred only by age, a factor which, as we shall see, runs deep in communalism."

Then there were the stateless societies that existed in Africa's past .

"...peoples who had no machinery of government coercion and no concept of a political unit wider than the family or the village. After all, if there is no class stratification in a society, it follows that there is no state because the state arose as an instrument to be used by a particular class to control the rest of society in its own interests . . . One can consider the stateless societies as among the older forms of sociopolitical organization in Africa...Among the stateless societies that existed on the continent were the Igbo, the Birom, Angas, Idoma, Ekoi, Nbembe, the Niger Delta peoples, the Tiv (Nigeria), the Shona (Zimbabwe), Lodogea, the Lowihi, the Bobo, the Dogon, the Konkomba, the Birifor (Burkina Faso, Niger), the Bate, the Kissi, the Dan, the Logoli, the Gagu and Kru peoples, the Mano, Bassa Grebo and Kwanko (Ivory Coast, Guinea, Togo), the Tallensi, Mamprusi, Kusaasi (Ghana), the Nuer (Southern Sudan), etc.-numbering today nearly two hundred million individuals in all."

The book goes on to describe Africa’s incorporation into the world capitalist economy

"The ultimate result of Africa’s incorporation into the world capitalist economy was the destruction of the traditional pre-colonial com-munal mode of production. As the capitalist mode developed, it confronted the noncapitalist mode, violently transforming various communities, turning their lands, resources, and products into commodities. Countless thousands of able-bodied young men were uprooted from their homes to work in capitalist enterprises, and the remaining population was compelled to grow only those crops that possessed exchange value-cash crops."

And then the post-colonialism developments

"The quest to create indigenous industry by African capitalists gives them a nationalist image, but they stop short at the demand for expropriation of foreign capital, upon which they remain dependent. The nationalism of this indigenous capitalist class is the outcome of its desire to appropriate resources (at least for itself) back from the foreign expropriator; and at the same time its commitment to freedom for foreign capital is necessitated, indeed dictated, by its dependence on neo-colonial economic structures. In any event, the conflicts of interest between indigenous capitalists and foreign capitalists often resolve themselves in accommodations that border on delineation of spheres of influence."

The book describes how the proponents of African nationalist liberation movements were using the idea of socialism as mere sloganising but :-

"... had neither a firm grasp of the socialist world view, nor the foggiest mental construct of what a socialist society would look like in the aftermath of the abolition or overthrow of capitalism. This shallow, confused concept of socialism-and the circumstances under which socialist ideas first came to Africa-would later have a decidedly negative impact on the growth and development of the socialist movement in Africa...Despite socialist rhetoric, capitalist relations of production remained dominant for the most part in “African socialist” societies. Corruption and primitive accumulation through use of state powers and resources characterized the dominant political class. Labor repression was pronounced; in fact, the earlier lot of the worker under colonial and post-colonial capitalism often was better than under the very underdeveloped state socialist structures spawned by self-serving “socialists” and, sometimes, gun-toting soldiers and military officers as well..."

Chapter 4 has much to recommend it in its review of the development of workers organisations and struggles in Nigeria , South Africa , Guinea .

A book from an anarchist perspective that is a well -worth read on the whole .

1 comment:

blackstone said...

I'm definately going to check this out!