An upcoming public and policy engagement non-profit consultancy focusing on Social, Political and Ecological Justice issues in Afrika. We work and stand in solidarity with communities in mineral rich areas in Afrika and other global south environments.
The relationship between globalisation and the State is in turmoil. The tag-of-war is resulting, directly from the economic and political impositions on the state apparatus by the proponents of the globalisation.
Such impositions make undercuts the State’s ability to make sovereign decision for the greater good of the citizenry. In the previous discursions, the vagueness of the State’s role in directing economic and political affairs was quite evident. The conclusion made was that the State’s role favoured globalisation and capitalistic society’s furtherance. Perhaps you ask ‘is this the right conclusion’?
At this juncture, it is important to revisit some of the aspects of this discussion previously touched on, albeit in passing. When we discussed theories of State instrumentalisation, the State appeared as the representor and the organiser “of long term political interest of a power bloc” – the ruling class.
In recollection, Nicos Poulantzas (1980) points out that, state actors have freedom of action against economic and political structural strictures imposed by globalisation and capitalist discourses, policies and practice. But there was another aspect, not explored. That is, the struggle between autonomy and monopoly between globalisation and State.
The image presented is that of dualistic role played by the government. On the one hand, the State’s desire to follow the biddings of globalisation by implementing its ‘own’ policies, and on the other hand: to claim autonomy of even a fraction “of the of monopoly capital”, Poulantzas (1980)
At least this is what is seen to be synonymous with the State in the ‘postcolonial’ environments, and perhaps in the entire global south, in their pursuit for social, political and economic democracy. These are described as “dim echoes from a distant past”, Social Register (2011)
In the developed world – the global north, the story is told differently. In their environment, it is claimed that the ‘tripartite’ democracies have “morphed from representing working-class interests to becoming the guardian of business profits”, Social Register (2011).
Embarking to where we started, and after the forgoing discussion, it is prompting to ask the question: ‘why are most ‘postcolonial’ environments not breaking the cycle of poverty’? The answer to this could be as simple as to say, the state in the ‘postcolonial’ environments are torn between several factors.
One, the State in the ‘postcolonial’ environments wanting to claim sovereignty, implement their own policies and fail to attract instruments of globalised economic structures and erupt the livelihoods of the citizenry. One clear example is that of the United Republic of Tanzania during Mwalimu Nyerere’s time. The latter, will be discussed in detail in the near future.
Two, the State in the ‘postcolonial’ environments seeing how many strictures are imposed on it from colonial structures, capitalism and globalisation: and deciding to go with flow. At least there would be ‘some’ services accorded to the citizenry.
In the third place, the State in the ‘postcolonial’ environments decides to go into being full time bed-fellows with globalised and capitalist economic structures at the expense of the citizenry. In this scenario, state actors will steal and kill in broad day light to please movers of global capitalist market-led economies.
You can have your pick as to which of the three best describes your region! It is sad, though, to unequivocally say that in most ‘postcolonial’ environments in Afrika, the third category is true of almost all nation-states.
The ‘postcolonial’ environments in Afrika and elsewhere, in the still struggling economies in the global south, failed to make the most of opportunities presented to them. Opportunities to tap into the vast indigenous knowledge, integrate it with the ‘new’ knowledge to develop and establish political and economic systems that would break that vicious cycle of poverty.
There are examples of tapping useful foreign knowledge for the benefit of a nation-state context. A great example and perhaps a leading example is China. Even though China served as a production field as well as a fuel for the US’ economy, it claimed the knowledge, made it its own. Through industry, China is now risen and challenging the capital empire the US claimed for decades. China has become an economic force to recon with, at a global scale.
But as for the State in the ‘postcolonial’ environments, especially in Afrika, remains confused as to which path to take to start making small yet steady steps to become a global competitor globally. Such struggle as seen in the ‘postcolonial’ environments is a kin to a cry for a second, if not a proper first, social, political and economic renaissance.