« back
Africa: Third World Underdevelopment - a forced Condition


Third World Underdevelopment - a forced condition



Underdevelopment in Africa, Latin American and much of Asia is not a condition of being several centuries behind the various kinds of transformations experienced in the capitalist centre but a condition of satellitisation forced upon the periphery by Western European countries since 1500.

It must come to the readers' attention that each African country responded differently according to the degree of incorporation and subjugation experienced - that is according to their historical background and experiences (slavery, forced labour, administrative fiat, destruction of basic institutions), their ecology and resources, and their trade and exchange relationships during precolonial, colonial and neo-colonial times. This is what political economists call 'the chains of historical causation'.

It must be noted that any form of integration or incorporation by neo-colonial forces has a hidden agenda to control and exploit Africa’s vast resources both human and natural. Any African country that seeks to quest for economic freedom becomes an automatic threat to the economic security of neoconialists. Human rights and other humanitarian abuses are uses as bait to incriminate African government and make the indigenous Africa people lose good faith in their own leaders. If this scheme of criminalizing African indeginous leadership repeatedly fails to deliver change that favours neocolonial hegemony over African states, the slapping of harsh economic sanctions become a weapon to slow down the rate of resource exploitation up until an opportune time emerges that gives neocapital the advantage to resume resource exploitation in a targeted African country. In many scenarios and where an African government undermines these economic sanctions and goes on to extract their God-given resources they are denied the market to sell them. In Zimbabwe for example, the diamonds recently discovered in Marange have been branded 'blood diamonds'. And if per se all these attempts to either slow down or completely halt mineral resource exploitation by a particular Africa state fails, then neocapital has no other option but to demonise African states. In many such cases regime change becomes the new normal. Sometimes they humiliate your leaders either by branding them as corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical. Sponsored opposition movements that using Africans to elect leaders who when in power will not serve African but neocapital interests the first day they get into power. It's sad that in Africa we see the good in a leader only after losing him or her.

Thus it is not a matter of integration with these powerful external intrusions,but rather as I have hinted earlier, of hegemony over, and fluctuating fortunes for, non-European countries. The indeginous structures came to serve new ends as African societies were drawn into new co.mercial and political relationships which during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were controlled by an imperialist outpouring of Western European competition for raw material resources, and markets and for outlets for mecantile and, later, industrial capital. Indeginous economic structures largely lost their functions, legitimacy, and autonomy as they were incorporated into the colonial capitalist state with its primary objective of extraction of resources both physical and human. Subsistence economies were transformed into peasant or wage-labour structures. Africa's rural economy was transformed into a vast reservoir of labour to be shunted about according to the fortunes of the capitalists economies; and, as a result, there was set in motion the processes of proletarianisation dependency, and internal centre-peripbery relations, for example, the dominance of towns over the rural areas, one province/region over another, or one (African) country over another. That is why from the beginning of Russia's economic distabilisation of Europe, neocapital is once again returning to drain the reservoirs of cheap labour and exploit fossil fuels to keep Europe warm. Have you ever wandered why investment is done in Europe for resources that are extracted in Africa. At the end of the value chain, it is the neocapitalist who enjoys the benefits of the rightful owners of the indigenous resources used to create jobs for their children and military prowess to secure their futuristic neocolonial endeavours. What they leave behind for Africans is poverty, climate change and civil war.

We must not forget that during the colonial and even now, development took place only in those sectors producing for Western European export, in the import trade, and in the structures and services required to collect raw materials and distribute imports; and much of this took place in Britain between 1790 and 1945. Thus it eventually has become evident that the continued expansion of the so-called "modern sector," to the detriment of the needs of the vast majority of Africans, has led them to escape from rural poverty only to join the ranks of the unemployed in the towns and cities. Today these export-import oriented enclaves and the totally assymetrical urbanization, "overurbanization" and parasitism of the primate city force "the surbodination of the peasant communities to a trade, always induced from outside, and the subsequent deterioration of the rural sector to the benefit of the commercial and industrial capitalist sector".

Underdevelopment is thus like I said, not a condition of being several centuries behind. Integration of a peripheral power structure, which benefits from satellitisation, with corporate capital from the centre results in structures which permit, at most, a limited degree of industrialisation through import substitution. Fundamental economic transformation is thus precluded within a peripheral capitalist mode of production. Sadly, the only choice for the African masses is stagnation or socialist revolution.

That is why I always argue that it is impossible to end poverty and civil unrest in Africa for as long as we are still in a parasitic relationship with Western European countries. The world capitalist class is refusing to allow Africa to become capitalist - or indeed even to develop a wholly capitalist milieu. This is true because capitalism, and especially imperialism, combined development and underdevelopment, the rapid growth of some nations with the retarded growth of others, not by making all produce under the same capitalist conditions of production, but precisely by maintaining varying degrees of pre-capitalist or semi - capitalist relations of production in most colonial and semi-colonial countries. African societies are being kept in this condition and subjected to "violent penetration and rupture...and the subjugation of thier economic life to the profit impulse of the Western European bourgeoisie, and this constitute the fundamental reality of modern Africa".

Thus the satellite predicament of the African nations "sets limits to the evolution of social classes" for it is this condition which "ensures that no independent bourgeoisie emerges and that the working class remains as segments within the peasant subsistence economies." In current radical writing on Africa, this is ontroversial enough and as scholars we however differ in our interpretations. The term 'wage worker' in Africa embraces a large group of various semiproletarian elements. Thus,clearly, the filtering out of various strata is still taking place. This condition is the reason why military coups have been encultured into Africa's political economic struggles. The independence of most if not all African countries has "aggravated rather than resolve the class contradictions because some inheritors of the colonial state continue to further entrench the full range of colonial privileges." The privileged few are now firmly established in the cities of Africa, which have become "the focus of the accumulated contradictions of colonial capitalism and its class conflict." That is the reason why Africa.

Nationalist governments can never sincerely create a strong middle because that would be the end of their stay in power while Opposition socialist or democratic movements will bring change but that change will benefit neocapital. This is a fact and it has nothing to do with the sincerity of the leader to bring political economic change. Mandela's long walk to freedom has not black South Africans. It has however divided and entrenched them in deep valleys of poverty while the white capitalist is reaping the benefits of what black southern fought for. Thus, a weak middle class such as is common in most African states cannot act autonomously so long as its position is underwritten by foreign monopolies. Hence it turns to populism and African socialism and may even support military takeovers.

Indeed, throughout Africa, the majority has been subjected to economic injustices from their black rulers just as they did from the colonial regimes. This situation has however been concealed by the illusion of the alleged communal African spirit which makes for a preference to share with one's brethren... . That the elites can remain indifferent to such awesome inequality...indicates that, barring revolution upheavals, the prospects of change are indeed limited, even if those who stand for change assume the reigns of power! When the true spirit of African nationalism is but turned into a an predatory creature that devours its own, while changemakers are changed by the change they sought to bring...and so the people have to put the matter into their own hands and face the three monsters standing between them and their promised land - black elites, white supremacists (Western European countries) and their own indigenous black changemakers.

« back