Control & Crisis in Colonial Kenya: The Dialectic of Domination

By Bruce Berman | Go to book overview

same time, colonial officials feared the emergence of a permanent, class- conscious and combatative African working class completely detached from the land. This led to deliberate efforts to preserve and even resuscitate precolonial social forms as the basis for social order. The state was thus involved, paradoxically, in both sides of the dialectic of destruction and preservation of indigenous societies, both promoting and limiting capitalist developments.

The involvement of the state in the contradictions of articulation shaped the development of its forms through its steadily increasing intervention in the management of the conditions of production, labour and trade within a colony, as well as the characteristic ambiguity of its policies: it provided the conditions for external capitalist penetration, but placed limits on its operations; it partially destroyed and restructured indigenous social forms, but also moved to prop up and sustain them; it encouraged internal accumulation and a transition to capitalism, but also blocked its full development and consolidation.

With the conceptual framework outlined in this chapter to orient the analysis, we can now turn to the story of the colonial state in Kenya. We must begin right at the beginning with the turbulent events of the two decades before 1914 that established the context for much of what followed.


Notes
1.
For an analysis of the development of the concepts of mode of production and articulation in African studies and the subsequent debate they engendered see B. Jewsiewicki & J. Letourneau (eds), Mode de Production: les défis africains, Ste-Foy, Québec: Editions Safi, Ste-Foy, 1985.
2.
John Holloway & Sol Picciotto, 'Towards a materialist theory of the state', in Holloway & Picciotto (eds), State and Capital, London, 1978; Amy Beth Bridges, "'Nicos Poulantzas and the Marxist theory of the state'", Politics and Society 4( 2), 1974, p. 164; and Ian Gough, The Political Economy of the Welfare State, London: Macmillan, 1979, p. 155.
3.
Bridges, "'Nicos Poulantzas'", pp. 180-1; and also Simon Clarke, 'Marxism, sociology and Poulantzas' theory of the state', Capital and Class 2, 1977, pp. 18-20; and Koen Koch . 'The new Marxist theory of the state, or the rediscovery of the limits of a structural-functional paradigm', International Political Science Association, XIth World Congress, Moscow, 1979.
4.
Nicos Poulantzas, Political Power and Social Classes, London, 1973 and Bridges "'Nicos Poulantzas'", pp. 164-5. What Poulantzas has done here is reproduce Althusser's metaphor of three aspects of social experience as a hierarchy of levels of conceptual abstraction, thereby running the risk, characteristic of structuratist analysis, of naturalizing the metaphor and treating the concepts as equivalent to the reality they are supposed to represent. (See the comments on Althusser in Gavin Kitching,

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