Socialism: Ideals, Ideologies, and Local Practice

By C. M. Hann | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

Socialism from above in Tanzania

The view from below

Pat Caplan


THE PROBLEM OF SOCIALISM IN TANZANIA

It has been frequently pointed out that Tanzania has suffered from many shortages, but the study of its political economy is not one of them. 1 This introduction outlines a few of the themes and debates with which observers-both Tanzanian and Western-have concerned themselves.

First, there is a debate around the meaning of socialism, and whether or not Tanzania is, or ever was or intended to be, a truly socialist country. Prominent in this discussion is Nyerere's vision of African socialism (ujamaa) and its relationship to other forms of socialism (see also Grillo, this volume). One facet of this debate is the extent to which the reality has lived up to the rhetoric.

Secondly, there has been much discussion concerning ends and means. The Arusha Declaration in 1967 was designed to prevent the formation of a capitalist class in Tanzania-to eliminate the 'wabenzi' (those who ride in Mercedes Benz cars). Yet some have claimed to identify capitalist farmers, indeed an emerging class of kulaks as well as growing differences between men and women 2 and between rural and urban dwellers. More recently, the debate has turned on the extent to which market forces should be allowed to guide the economy, and the degree to which the government should accommodate its policies to fit in with the International Monetary Fund.

While Nyerere's own writings emphasize equality, they have also shown concern with raising production in order to improve living standards. It has been argued that the expanding 'bureaucratic bourgeoisie' of the state was obliged to concur in this process, since its very existence as a class was threatened by the mounting economic disasters of the 1970s and 1980s. Many have suggested that as a result of the apparent failure of the peasants to grow more crops for sale, the state and its officials had increasing recourse to the methods formerly utilized by the colonial regime-threats and force.

Since Nyerere's departure from the Presidency in 1985, there has been further discussion about a number of major policies which characterized

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