Socialism Archives - ROAPE
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The revolutionary left in Sub-Saharan Africa (1960’s-1970’s): a political and social history to be written   Background The reason for this symposium stems from the following observation: while the revolutionary left movements of the 1960s and 1970s in Europe, the United States, Latin America and elsewhere have been the subject of abundant literature, similar movements that emerged during this period in Africa are still unknown. There are two main reasons for this ignorance: firstly, it was often an underground history with actors operating in hiding, and secondly, it is also a long-concealed history, either because of defeat (political and sometimes military), or of a certain form of self-censorship due to the subsequent reconversion of former revolutionary actors within the ruling elite or other reasons of ‘disavowal’ of this left-wing activist past. The symposium is therefore meant to help reveal the invisible, forgotten and retrospectively compressed history of these...

In an interview with roape.net Helen Batubo, an activist and worker in Nigeria, describes her experiences at the ROAPE workshop in Dar es Salaam in 2018. She argues that there are possibilities of influencing many other activists through these activities.  Such events are crucial, she says, in ‘calling us to revolt.’ Can you please introduce yourself for readers of roape.net? I was born in 1962, in Okrika, an island in the Niger Delta. I was the only daughter and became somewhat of a Tom boy to survive with my many brothers.  My dad was my mum’s second husband, but we generally depended on my mum for our upbringing due to his drinking.  My primary schooling was delayed by the Nigerian civil war and I later also saw the violence of the Niger Delta militants/gangs first hand. I have suffered my share of sexism and was nearly...

Marking the 60th anniversary of the All African People’s Conference in Accra in 1958 December 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the All African People’s Conference (AAPC), which was held in Accra, Ghana, between 5 and 13 December 1958. Under the slogan ‘Hands off Africa!!’, the AAPC was a watershed moment in the history of Africa’s liberation from colonial rule and white supremacy. To mark its significance, a major one day conference was held on 6 December 2018 at the University of London by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICWS), School of Advanced Study, and Westminster United Nations Association, under the title of ‘Hands Off Africa!!’ The 1958 All African People’s Conference: Its Impact Then and Now’. By Mandy Banton, David Wardrop and Susan Williams The AAPC was inspired by Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister of newly-independent Ghana, and George Padmore, Nkrumah’s Adviser on African Affairs, to advance...

Walter Rodney’s posthumous book The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World  sought to understand the significance of the Revolution in order to the strengthen liberation movements that Rodney was directly involved in. As Martin Empson explains in this review, these movements took place in the context of historical colonial exploitation or in underdeveloped economies, economies that Rodney argues had been depleted of their wealth, resources and population by Western capitalism. What emerges is a fascinating study of 1917 from a different perspective from the one that emerges from the debates and histories written in Europe and North America. By Martin Empson Walter Rodney was a leading revolutionary intellectual of anti-colonial and revolutionary movements in Africa and the Caribbean. Born in 1942, by the 1960s he was a leading radical voice in the emerging Black Power movements. His academic work in Jamaica's University of the West Indies...

In a powerful defence of Marxist political economy John Saul argues that ‘facing down the hulk of capital that presently bestrides the world was never going to be easy.’ Though as ‘powerful and ill-intentioned as capitalists’ might be ‘as they destroy the world, environmentally and morally’, everything, in Africa and elsewhere, continues to depend on the struggle of the oppressed. In this contribution he blends his on-going work on Africa with a more general analytical and theoretical consideration on progressive political economy. The fruitfulness of this approach is exemplified in his forthcoming book, Revolutionary Hope vs Free-Market Fantasies: Towards the Revival of Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa (to appear in 2019). There readers can see a more elaborated model of the method of both learning and communicating – in exploring the juxtaposition between theory on the one hand and ‘practice’, in the chapters 'southern Africa...

Tamás Szentes, Professor Emeritus of the Corvinus University of Budapest (the former Karl Marx University), elected full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is ‘one of the grand old men of development economics.’[1] His first celebrated book in English, The Political Economy of Underdevelopment (published first in 1971, republished in nine languages and ten different countries, totalling altogether 16 editions in the first fifteen years of publication) was praised in ROAPE in 1974 as ‘a serious and comprehensive attempt at providing a true political economy of underdevelopment.’ For a while he was one of the contributing editors of ROAPE, and between 1967 and 1971 worked together with ROAPE activists and researchers such as Lionel Cliffe, Peter Lawrence, John Saul, and Issa Shivji, at the University of Dar es Salaam. In an interview for roape.net Tamás Gerőcs asks Tamás Szentes about the years he spent...

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...

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...