October 2018 - ROAPE
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October 2018

Examining the likely outcome of Brexit for Africa, Dirk Kohnert exposes the myths of a rosy new dawn for the continent’s relationship with the UK. Behind the ‘altruistic’ Post-Brexit rhetoric of the British government about assisting pro-poor growth in Africa, the fact is that the UK is a major champion of a wide network of notorious tax havens in UK’s overseas territories, crown dependencies, and island economies of its former empire. The prospects do not look good. By Dirk Kohnert The controversial discussion on the potential impact of the Brexit, that is, the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on Africa by the end of March 2019, has been characterized by high-flying illusions on the part of the proponents and grim predictions on the part of the sceptics. The British government’s vision of a ‘Global Britain’ relies heavily on its reinforced cooperation with...

Ahead of the third ROAPE workshop in the series on radical political economy, to be held in Johannesburg in November, Peter Lawrence looks at the debate on the legacy of Julius Nyerere and socialism at the second meeting in Dar es Salaam. The Dar workshop, as was the case with the first one in Accra, was distinguished by the serious analysis by both scholars and activists and those who are both, of the prospects for a radical shift in political economic strategy. The gathering in Tanzania faced head on the issue of imperialism in its contemporary form and what radical forces of the socialist left are up against. The conversation will continue in South Africa. By Peter Lawrence In my interview with Issa Shivji at the Dar workshop he referred to the proceedings as a ‘conversation’ and urged that the conversation be continued. Although I started this...

Conference on Capitalism, Imperialism and Revolutions Volume 1 of Karl Marx’s Capital was published in 1867. In that volume, Marx’s major preoccupation was the analysis of the capitalist process of production where he elaborated his version of the labor theory value, surplus value and exploitation which would ultimately lead to a falling rate of profit and the collapse of industrial capitalism. Volumes II and III were published posthumously by Frederick Engels. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism was written by Lenin in 1916 and published in 1917. It was in Zurich that Lenin wrote this important theoretical work. He argued that the merging of banks and industrial cartels gave rise to finance capital. According to him, in the last stage of capitalism, the pursuit of greater profits led to the export of capital. Capital export also led to the division of the world between international monopoly firms and amongst European...

Jörg Wiegratz asks why there is such silence in much of African Studies on capitalism. He wonders why capitalism does not feature more prominently in titles of major Western conferences on Africa, and articles of main African Studies journals. In this blogpost he asks why does this analytical lacuna exist? Wiegratz calls for a discussion and explanation of this state of affairs. On the central question of capitalism, the African Studies community, he argues, in Western Europe, and across the Global North, is largely inactive and silent? When it comes to an explicit, focused and sustained collective exploration, about the many, multifaceted features of contemporary capitalism on the continent, and about the characteristics of African society as a capitalist society, there is a gaping silence. ...

International Research Workshop: The Moral Dimensions of Economic Life in Africa  Global South Studies Center, University of Cologne (November 8-9, 2018) co-funded by: Thyssen Foundation (Germany), University of Cologne (Global South Study Centre), and University of Leeds (POLIS).  For decades, mainstream economic analysis has tended to exclude morality from the investigation and understanding of economic life. Yet in reality there are always various moral dimensions at play when it comes to people’s economic thinking, practices and relationships, on one hand, and the structures in which they operate, on the other. In this workshop - organised by Tijo Salverda (Cologne), Cristiano Lanzano (Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala), and Jörg Wiegratz (Leeds) - we will look more closely at this morality-economy nexus, with a particular focus on Africa. Due to their economic and socio-cultural diversity and complexity, African countries are privileged sites to discuss the moral dimensions of economic life. Many economies on...

Ray Bush reports on an extraordinary tour of Tunisia organised by an innovative and exciting NGO focused on promoting food sovereignty and positive environmental transformation. The ‘food sovereignty days’ involved a journey into the breadth and range of small farmer struggles for autonomy and improved livelihoods throughout the country, focusing on the areas between the capital and the South East.  By Ray Bush The Observatoire de la Souveraineté Alimentaire et de l’Environnement (OSAE) is a new innovative and exciting NGO focused on promoting food sovereignty, positive environmental transformation and they do this with ideas and actions of small-scale family farmers.  Based in Tunis, the brainchild of Habib Ayeb, it has a small staff of engaged activists who in September organised food sovereignty days.  This was an amazing journey into the breadth and range of small farmer struggles for autonomy and improved livelihoods throughout Tunisia focusing on...

In the second part of Matt Swagler’s blogpost on the Russian Revolution, he focuses on how Marxist ideas became central to African political organizing from the late 1940s through the 1970s—a development which took place at the same time that the Soviet Union emerged as a new global superpower. In the first part of Swagler’s article posted on roape.net last year he argued that the 1917 Russian Revolution had important repercussions in Africa, notably in the new connections formed between Black Marxists from the Americas and trade unionists and anti-colonial figures on the African continent. In the second part of the post he looks at how the USSR (and Soviet doctrines of Communism) began to exert the most profound influence in Africa precisely at the time when the incredible emancipatory potential of the 1917 Russian Revolution had been obliterated by Joseph Stalin’s campaigns of mass...

In South Africa ten members of a militant shack dwellers organisation have been assassinated in the past six years. Yet many progressive organisations have distanced themselves from these militants. Jared Sacks exposes the complicity of a mainstream NGO that could have played an important role defending the movement against these political assassinations. Sacks argues that when movements refuse co-optation, repression, including assassination, become necessary to maintain power. By Jared Sacks On 12 June this year, at an Executive Committee meeting of the eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa), the Mayor and Chief Whip made a number of veiled threats against the South African shack dweller movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM). The threats included references to a conspiratorial ‘third hand’ controlling the movement, harkening back to apartheid intelligence services patronage of the right-wing nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party in what effectively turned KwaZulu Natal (KZN) into a war zone. After...

David Seddon examines a largely unknown chapter in Che Guevara’s involvement in the revolutionary anti-imperialist movements in Africa. He focuses on the question of how far Guevara was involved in promoting and encouraging the liberation struggle in what was to become Western Sahara. Did he contribute to the development of the POLISARIO Front which even today continues its struggle for Western Saharan independence? By David Seddon In my piece on Che Guevara in the Congo on roape.net and Jacobin, I observed that ‘the earliest Cuban aid effort went to the 1961 Algerian liberation movement when Castro sent a large consignment of American weapons captured during the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion. After the Algerians won independence in July 1962, they reciprocated by helping train a group of Argentinian guerrillas, even sending two agents with the guerrillas from Algiers to Bolivia in June 1963’. I also mentioned, in passing,...