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Riots, Protests and Global Adjustment: an interview with David Seddon

Continuing our series of interviews with scholar-activists from around the world, David Seddon reflects on popular struggles, politics and global adjustment in Africa and the world. Reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the North African revolutions, he argues that struggle takes place when the structural contradictions and inadequacies of the prevailing economic, social and political system are starkly revealed – the current period is one of these junctures.

Washington Bullets

David Seddon reviews Washington Bullets: a History of the CIA, Coups and Assassinations, by Vijay Prashad. This is a book about how political leaders and other activists considered to pose a threat to US and more broadly Western interests have been assassinated, removed in coups and eliminated.

Truth in a world of lies: the life of Nawal El-Saadawi

On 21 March 2021, Nawal El-Saadawi, Egyptian-born Marxist and long-time activist for women’s rights, died at the age of 89. Described as a feminist, author, activist, physician and psychiatrist, she was also known as Egypt's most radical feminist. David Seddon celebrates her life.

Libya at a Turning Point

The situation is moving quickly in Libya with serious implications for the region as a whole. David Seddon argues that the forces of General Haftar have now been effectively defeated. However, the country remains a battle ground between competing imperialist forces seeking control of Libya’s resources and its location as a gateway to the continent.  

North Africa Confronts Covid-19

David Seddon looks in detail at the reported impact of Covid-19 in North Africa. The region has currently experienced some of the largest numbers of reported cases and the greatest number of deaths on the continent. Seddon also asks how we can understand the response of international and national financial institutions to the outbreak on the continent.

On the Shoulders of Giants

In a celebration of Andre Gunder Frank and Walter Rodney, David Seddon looks at two men who have had a profound influence on generations of activists and researchers. Gunder Frank regarded underdevelopment in the Third World as a direct consequence of the development of Western capitalism. While Rodney followed some of the arguments of Gunder Frank and described how Africa had been exploited by European imperialism leading directly to the underdevelopment of most of the continent.

Fighting from Below

In this review of R.W. Johnson’s latest book on South Africa, Fighting for the Dream, David Seddon commends an analysis that criticises the ANC as having learned little or nothing from the experience of African nationalism elsewhere on the continent. Although Johnson adopts an approach that explicitly draws on the Marxist tradition, Seddon argues that the ‘top-down’ perspective he adopts does not allow him to see the ordinary people of South Africa as actors and agents in contemporary politics.

Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same

David Seddon examines the events leading up to the elections held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the end of December 2018. The election of the new government headed by President Felix Tshisekedi, the son of the veteran leader of the UDPS, Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in 2017, has been challenged across the country. The circumstances of the alleged ‘deal’ between the old regime and the new one, leave many asking what has really changed in the Congo.

Transition – an iconic, incendiary African magazine

David Seddon celebrates Transition a publication that was established in Uganda in the early 1960s and became a forum for debate and controversy, precisely because it was run by and written by ‘amateurs’ – people who loved and were passionate about what they thought, what they said and what they read, and linked this passion not only to a concern to understand the world but also to change it. Seddon draws the lessons from the experience of Transitions for a radical publication on Africa today.

Elections, Violence and Repression in Burundi

In the latest installment of the protest and social movement project on roape.net, David Seddon writes about recent developments in Burundi. He argues that President Pierre Nkurunziza’s brutal efforts to extend his rule have temporarily swept aside internal dissent and unrest. Across the continent the effectiveness of those struggling against such anti-democratic moves has varied considerably.