The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern Africa

By Muiu, Mueni wa | African Studies Review, April 2007 | Go to article overview

The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern Africa


Muiu, Mueni wa, African Studies Review


John S. Saul. The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern Africa. Toronto: Between the Lines/Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press/New York: Monthly Review Press/London: The Merlin Press, 2005; 341 pp. Index. $21.95. Paper.

In The Next Liberation Struggle John S. Saul brings together essays written over the last forty years (some were co-written) to show that a new liberation struggle is developing in Southern Africa. The first part, "Continental Considerations," traces Africa's insertion into the global capitalist economy as a producer of raw materials. Saul shows that rather than being the solution, capitalism is part of the reason for Africa's underdevelopment. In chapter 1 (co-written with Colin Leys) the authors ask:

Is Africa a victim of exploitation or of marginalization? The short answer must be that it is both. In the popular meaning of exploitation, Africa suffers acutely from exploitation: every packet of cheap Kenyan tea sold in New York, every overpriced tractor exported to Nigeria, every dollar of interest on ill-conceived and negligently supervised loans to African governments (interest that accrues to Western banks)-not to mention every diamond illegally purchased from warlords in Sierra Leone or Angola-benefits people in the West at the expense of Africa's impoverished populations. (20-21)

According to Saul, in the short run three developments might occur. First, the AIDS crisis, mercenaries, and hunting grounds in Africa will present dangers to the rest of the world. Second, in the countries of the North, more people oppose "The Washington Consensus." Finally, global capitalism is reaching limits of growth because "within a few decades continued broad-based growth will be increasingly impossible and market logic will be in question on all sides" (28).

Why did socialism fail? Saul notes that Mozambique's leadership succumbed to Marxist-Leninism and became a "leftist developmental dictatorship" while it faced various challenges in the economy. Socialism also failed because of lack of resources. External pressures added to its woes. In Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere's economic development attempts failed to materialize because of both poor implementation and lack of resources. Saul seems very disappointed and surprised by the African National Congress's adoption of neoliberalism; for him, South Africa's industrialized economy made it a good candidate for socialism. However, Saul overestimates the ANC's ability to control the economy. He does not ask why capitalism believed the ANC was a good partner-it had done the same throughout the continent (except in Algeria and the socialist states).

Saul's subtitle, "Stigmatizing Socialism: The Market as Common Sense," is interesting. Nobody needed to "stigmatize" socialism. …

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