Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
This study attempts a critical reassessment of the dominant perceptions of the relationship between the structure of international politics and African development. The study proceeds from the premise that both the liberal and political economy approaches contain conceptual and analytical ambiguities in their explanation of this relationship. The building blocks of these analyses such as the concepts of the state, social classes, social movement, capitalism, socialism, and globalization, therefore, come under close scrutiny. Accordingly, the study argues that the dialectics of the contemporary structure of international politics is quite compatible with African development given the right leadership and policies. It is also argued that although the African predicament encompasses marginalization and democracy, it is more fundamentally rooted on the near total inability of the African political leaders to mobilize their people to confront the problem of development head-on.
The dawn of the 21st Century provides a vantage position for a critical reassessment of our fundamental theories and constructs for understanding the relationship between the structure of international politics and Africa’s development. The dawn of a new millennium affords the social scientist the hindsight of evaluating the scientific validity of his perception screening devices and analytical categories. The implicit and explicit tendencies to perceive the structure of international politics to be incompatible with the prospects of African development are of this mold. This view inheres from the conceptual and analytical ambiguities that bedevil the usages of the two terms in the study of international politics. Contemporary scholarship tends to exhaust intellectual energy on the polemics, methods, and structural elegance of social science explanations without bordering about the correspondence of the conceptualizations and postulations with reality.
In this light, the liberal scholarship in explaining the structure of international politics sees it in terms of a particular principle o-f rank ordering based on the distribution of the traditional elements of national power. The liberal view sustains the argument that the moral aspirations of states are thwarted by the absence of an overarching authority which regulates state behaviour. The anarchical nature of the international system is seen to homogenise state actors by socializing them into the-system of power politics, where the requirements of strategic power and security are paramount frameworks of an insecure world (Burchill, 2001:31).
According to Waltz (1979;1990) the anarchical nature of the international system has been its ordering principle for several centuries, which has withstood extraordinary changes in the internal composition of states. Waltz sees the international system as a precisely defined structure with three important characteristics namely: the ordering principles of the system, the character of the units in the system, and the distribution of the capabilities of the units in the system. In this light, Mearsheimer (1990) and Waltz (2000), profoundly disturbed by the collapse of soviet strategic power in the 1990s explained the danger of uni-polarity. They argue that if mutual nuclear deterrence between the United States and the former Soviet Union accounted for the high level of international stability in the post-war period, the end of bipolarity cast an ominous shadow over the present world order. Similarly, they argue that in a system of balanced states, the domination by one or some of them has in the past been prevented by the reaction of others acting as counterweight. Mearsheimer (1990) and Waltz (2000), thus, stress the importance of strategic capabilities in shaping the contours of international politics. The distribution and character of military power are seen as the root causes of war and peace. In line with the preceding views, it was argued that the end of bipolarity created a lopsided distribution of capabilities amount states (Waltz, 2000:7; Mearsheimer, 1990:6).
The distribution of power or balance of power is perceived to account for the fortunes of states and dictates how their national interests can be realized (Morgenthau, 1948; Carr 1939; Waltz, 1979; 1990; Bull, 1997 etc). Marxist political economists however argues, that the focus on monolithic state entities and the balance of power systems among them is static and does not capture the dynamism and the complexity of international politics. It is also argued that the arbitrary ranking of states based on power cannot provide a guide to state behaviour considering the problem of rigour in the analysis based on the concept of power. Similarly, it is argued that the liberal focus on states does not adequately account for the impact of the structure of international politics on the functioning of the international system (Asobie, 1993). Thus, it has been argued that the concepts of social forces, social movements and correlation of forces provide a basis for a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the structure of the international system (Asobie, 1993: 10).
The correlation of social forces and social movements argument, stress the diminishing role of the state, the interpenetration of capitalism and socialism and the strengthening of socialism which will give impetus to a worker’s revolution. In this regard, Marxists argue that “through revolutionary action, the international proletariat would imbibe the Enlightenment ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity in an entirely new kind of world order which would free all human beings from exploitation and domination (Marx and Engels in Mclellan, 1977). One of the major exponents of this mode of analysis, Assisi Asobie links the structure of international politics to African development prospects. He, however, disagrees with the traditional perception that the problem of African development is one of marginalization and rather argues that the problem is a lack of democracy. What is therefore, pertinent is that although the traditional and correlation of social forces arguments diverge on their perception of the real problem of African development, they both agree on the linkage between the problem and the structure of international politics (Asobie, 1993; Gambari; 1992; Babangida, 1993, Babu, 1990; Ake, 1978 etc).
The linkage argument between African development and the structure of the international system has however, been extensively discussed by KunuAtome who maintains that both liberal (see for example Hoselitz and Moore 1963; Organsky, 1973; Rostow, 1960 etc) and Marxist political economy (Ake, 1981; Amin, 1974; Baran 1973; Frank, 1966 etc) analysts insist on the capital transfer thesis for African development. Kunu, (1986) empirically and rightly argues that the capital transfer thesis has proved to be unproductive in the explanation of the linkage between the structure of the international system and the African predicament. Kunu argues that capital is produced in the first place by the tools and techniques employed by labour, and therefore that underdevelopment was the original condition of the Africans before colonialism. Kunu’s analysis illuminates the fact that despite the relations among nations, that their destiny lies in their ability to develop their technology and productive forces. The development of the society proceeds apace and in time with development in the prevailing mode of production. History has shown that states develop in spite of the contradictions in giving mode of production. The implication is that the development of any society is quite compatible with the contradictions of the mode of production. The USA, India, and the NICs all achieved commendable progress in spite of the contradictions of capitalism.
What seems to emerge from the above argument is that Kunu was able to underscore the dialectics of the link between African development and the external forces of imperialism. Kunu, however, tended to collapse the meaning of underdevelopment with underdevelopment and his perception of development in terms of improvements in technology and labour leaves a yawning gap about how to secure the desired technology and labour. It therefore, becomes necessary to take a close look at the pertinent issues involved in the analysis of the linkage between the structure of international politics and African development. This will help to clarify issues relating to the prospects of African development in the 21st Century, especially challenges precipitated by the imperative of pervasive freewheeling and aggressive capitalism. Specifically, this study seeks to answer the following questions:
- What is the nature of the relationship between the structure of international politics and African development?
- How does the concept of state, social class, social movements, capitalism and socialism impinge on our appreciation of the African condition and the prospects of transformation in the 21sl Century?
- How do we explain the African predicament and the prospects of
transformation in the 21st century’s globalization process?
Accordingly, the study proceeds from the premise that the attempts to account for African development in terms of marginalization, technology and labour or the correlation of social forces have not been sufficiently explanatory. Similarly, it is contended that the conceptual ambiguities associated with the concepts of the state, social class, social movements, capitalism and socialism as analytical categories do not adequately illuminate the understanding the structure of international politics. In line with the above, it is contended that given the dialectics of the link between external forces and development, the prospects of change in the 21st century lies in the capacity of the African leadership to internally control the production and distribution of the material benefits in human life. We proceed to examine these arguments in details.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE STATE AND THE CORRELATION OF SOCIAL FORCES FOR UNDERSTANDING THE STRUCTURE OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS
The structure of international politics has been variously conceptualized according to the different paradigms of the study of international politics. The liberal perspective seesthe structure of the international system in terms of the characteristic configurations of power which reflects the degree of decentralization or centralization of power. Emphasis is laid on the pattern of interaction among unitary homogenous and monolithic state actors or between aggregates or coalitions of them. In this regard, Morton Kaplan (1957), identifies different types of structures of the international system. At one end is the hierarchical system dominated by one state actor that sets the laws for the others to follow under a highly centralized system. This system is also seen as a unipolar structure of the international system.
At the other end is the unit-veto system made up of a countervailing alliance of powerful states possessing nuclear weapons that guarantees a situation of mutually assured destruction among them. There is also the balance of power, the bipolar, and the multipolar systems in-between the two ends. Accordingly, between 1945 and 1989 the international system has been characterized as bipolar taking the form of a polarization of power between the capitalist nations of the West and the socialist nations of the East in terms of political, ideological and military indices. There have also been the perceptions of the structure of the international system as a vertical dichotomy between the advanced industrial nations of the North and the developing nations of the South in terms of economic and cultural discrepancies.
The conceptualization of the structure of the international system in terms -of power configurations and arbitrary ranking of states, however, does not square with social reality. This view tends to characterize nation states as monolithic entities like hard impenetrable billiard balls and by so doing does not establish any linkages between internal political processes and the external environment. More importantly, the concept of power upon which the ranking is based is operationally imprecise considering “the fungibity of the traditional elements of national power” (Echezona, 1993:146) and its simultaneous use as a means and an end in analysis.
Perhaps in an attempt to improve on the views of the liberal perspective Claude Ake drawing from the Marxist political economy framework posited that the international system is a global society divided into classes. He sees the contemporary international system as capitalist in spite of the existence of socialism. Ake argues that this is so because the socialist states have not transcended the institutional characteristics and norms of capitalism such as:
- the maximization of utilities;
- socialist states defend the rights of private property by the assertion of
sovereignty over their territories and natural resources within it;
- socialist states accept such values as: national individualism, self-interested
behaviour and equality of states, which are associated with capitalism (Ake,
In view of this capitalist character of the international system, Ake argues that the relationship between states is likened to the relationship between social classes which typifies a capitalist system, Ake’s argument is that the international system may be conceptualized as a global capitalist system divided into owners and non-owners of the means of production, or two classes of states, to wit: bourgeois states and proletarian states. The bourgeois states, he sees as the industrial states of the West and East while the proletarian states, he sees as the primary producers of the developing states of Africa, Asia and Latin America, Ake, therefore, argues that the contradictions, subsequent struggles and attempts to resolve the contradictions manifest in solidaristicmovements among members of each class of states determine the structure of the international system. These solidaristic movements, he argues, are expressed in international organizations such as the E.E.C., NATO, COMECON, the Group of Seven, the Group of Fifteen, the Non-aligned Movement and the Group of Seventy-seven,
Thus, by treating nation-states as social classes, Ake’s analysis falls into the same state-centric view associated with the liberal perceptive. As Asobie, (1993:JO) argues, Ake failed to uncover the actual social forces that account for the dynamism of the international society such as transnational corporations. In reconceptualizing the structure of the international system, Asobie posits a number of hypotheses: Accordingly, he hypothesizes:
- that the concepts of social forces, social movements and correlation of forces provide a basis for a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the structure of the international system than the traditional notions of states, alliances of state and balance of power;
- that the nature of the configuration of forces is determined by the interpenetration of social forces and movements and that the nature of the configuration of social, forces and movements, in all its changingness impinges significantly on the character of the state and transforms its role in the international system;
- that it is a paradox to conceive of the world balance of social forces as
shifting decisively in favour of capitalism against socialism and at the same
time see it as moving away from the hegemony of international fascism and national authoritarian forces to the free world q£ democratization and national pro-democracy movements;
- that the key to unraveling’ the paradoxes and resolving the contradictions
embedded in the antagonistic pairs of social forces and movements outlined above lies in the drawing of distinction between the elite line, vis-à-vis the mass line of the usages of these concepts (Asobie, 1993:10-11).
Asobie (1993) argues that the above position is particularly so in an age when the retrenchment of the state, at the national levels, is proceeding side by side with the centralization of power in multilateral agencies at the international level13.Asobie’s argument, that the correlation of social forces, the paradox inherent in the interpenetration of capitalism and socialism, the; diminishing role of the, state, are better perceived by drawing a distinction between the mass line and that of the elite seems to suggest that the conclusions from a scientific argument depends on the subjective propaganda values of the liberal and Marxist political economy standpoints, and this cannot be. The validity of conclusions drawn from a scientific argument depends on their correspondence with empirical reality irrespective of whether the different schools of thought perceive it or not. We proceed to examine the implications of his argument for our understanding of the structure of international politics.
According to Asobie (1993), a social force is “a group of persons assembled for collective action” and a social class becomes a social force when it is transformed from “a class in itself to “a social class for itself. This means when a social class is organized and mobilized for action on the basis of a common consciousness. Then a social class becomes a social movement when it is transformed into a social force united by a common ideology which motivates its action. Thus, Asobie argues that while capitalists- the bourgeoisie – constitute a social force, global capitalism is a social movement. Similarly, he argues that the proletariat constitutes a social force and international proletarian movement or socialism is perceived as its corollary social movement. Against this background Asobie asserts that the structure of the international system should be seen as, basically, the patterns of interactions among social forces and movements (Asobie, 1993:11-15).
Asobie further argues that the key actors in the international system are not states but social classes who in their struggle mobilize the state apparatus to control the productive forces in the global society. He also stresses that the contending social classes in the international system struggle in order to establish monopolistic access to the lion share of the global social product. It is for this reason that he sees the nature of the balance between international capitalism and socialism to primarily define the structure of present-day international system.
Drawing from the above exposition there is no doubt that a focus on the correlation of social forces is necessary for the understanding of the propulsive force of international politics. Asobie’s effort to appreciate the underlying social currents of the global system as different from the orthodox state-centric analysis underscores the rigour of his analysis and marks out his mode of analysis from contemporary analysis of international politics. What follows is an attempt to illuminate and further clarify his position and to unravel some of the propaganda, embroidery and conceptual ambiguities implicit in his analysis.
In the first place there is usually analytical problems associated with the perception of the concepts of capitalism and socialism from strictly ideological criteria. Following Marxist dialectical materialism capitalism is a mode of production associated with the dominance of capital over labour as means of production, with the distribution of global social products rooted on the propulsive force of the market. Similarly, socialism is perceived in Marxist scholarship as a mode of production which post-dates, and is superior to capitalism in which the labour theory of value is supposed to prevail over the rule of capital as means of production. The fact that a number of states proclaim themselves as socialist states, in spite of empirical evidence to the contrary, does not mean that global society has transcended the capitalist mode of production. If the world has transcended capitalism, what is the means of production under socialism as a mode of production? The problem with traditional modes of analysis is to conflate and confuse capitalism and socialism as “ideologies” with “modes of production”. As ideologies both stress the modalities for organizing labour and the system of rewards either with emphasis on free enterprise capitalism or state monopoly capitalism. Thus, the two ideologies are really located at the superstructure of the capitalist mode of production. What is important is that both ideologies hardly produce mutually exclusive categories distinct from each other. Every economic system of the present capitalist era depicts individual and collective control over the means of production in terms of two ends of a continuum. Every society is therefore, described according to its particular emphasis.
For illustration we can cite the case where the Civil Service of capitalist states are publicly owned in spite of free enterprise. In the same way there are some elements of private property under state monopoly capitalism like ownership of shops, private cars and houses, etc. The point being made is that while both Socialism and Capitalism are ideologies, socialism as a mode of production has remained aspirational and this factstands to be contradicted. The puzzle that Asobie perceives in the interpenetration of capitalism and socialism as the world witnesses the strengthening of the forces of imperialism simultaneously with the progressive triumph of national liberation movement can be better comprehended when both capitalism and socialism are perceived as contradictions at the level of the super-structure of the capitalist mode of production. The fact that socialist and capitalist ideologies interpenetrate each other shows that neither can be a movement distinct from each other.
Another point to be noted is that Marxists tend to dwell on the conception of a social class-in-itself transforming into a social class-for-itself when it has evolved class consciousness. In this way these concepts are divested of their objective scientific content and meaning are rather heavily embroidered with Marxist revolutionary rhetoric and propaganda. In this context, the emergence of the working class as a social class is wrongly perceived in terms of the ability to evolve class consciousness instead of in terms of the dialectical relationship of man’s control or non-control over the means of production. Similarly, it is contended that the working and dominated class who do not control the means of production can evolve class consciousness over time.
Following this argument, a lot of scholars go to a great length to explain the failure or absence of socialist revolutions in Africa. For example, it is argued that Africans are either workers or peasants or both such that no class indicators can successfully and neatly separate individuals or families in Africa into exclusive categories, class index being the average value of class indicators. This perception of a lack of class difference in addition to the African communal way of life and the coincidence of socio-cultural groups with what might have been classes result in a situation whereby Africans are seen not to be class conscious and exhibit no class antagonism. So that the idea of class overthrow by class is seen to be untenable and meaningless in Africa (Kunu, 1986:57). In the first place this argument presupposes that there have been class overthrow elsewhere. It is to be noted that the transformation of former Soviet Union, China and Cuba into socialist ideology based states were not effected by any isolated working or subjugated class. The changes in these societies were oraganised on the platform of political parties with socialist ideologies with largely peasants as members. The intellectual force and resources of the regime changes were provided by the members of the dominant class who belonged to the socialist parties.
Suffice it to say that the society is not organized on the basis of mutually exclusive-social categories. Every society is made up of the dominant class that control the means of production and a subjugated class v/ho do not control the means of production, and this objective position exists irrespective of whether social groups are aware that they do or not. It is important to note that society is dialectically complementary hence the cultural mix noted by AtomeKunu with respect to African societies. The Import of the foregoing is that while class-in-itself may be an existential reality, class-for-itself exist only at the level of dogma, propaganda and gimmickry. It is on this basis that we can see the analytical potentials and weaknesses of the correlation of social forces and movements argument at the global level. Following Asobie’s definition of a social movement as the transformation of a social class into a social class-for-itself with a common consciousness which motivates its action, we can see that the prospects of democracy in Africa which he so brilliantly essays rests on a forlorn hope. That is, on the inevitability of a rather fortuitous Marxist -Leninist workers’ revolution.
In trying to underscore the contours of international politics, Asobie (1993) also argues that the analyst should be concerned with the contradiction between the state as modality of class domination and the market as the agent of globalization of social relations of production. He further argues that the interpenetration of capitalism and socialism undermines the full play of market forces and portends a diminishing role of the state as emphasis shift to multilateral agencies like the IMF. World Bank and the U.N. as the mediators of global class struggles. In pursing this argument, it is important to see the state and the market as integral parts of the socio-economic system in which the market is located at the economic base of the state. It is also important to understand that multilateral agencies derive their authority from their state members. The IMF, World Bank and the U.N. are not sovereign bodies but were created by government of states in order to mediate the aspects of socio-economic struggles that take place across state boundaries. These institutions were also created as capitalism was transforming from monopoly capitalism to multilateral capitalism after the 2nd World War. The breakdown of enclave economies of the colonial order and the triumph of national liberation movements were quintessential imperatives of the emerging order of liberalization of market forces on a global scale. These have climaxed in this 21st Century into the current wave of globalization of the market and information flows. The forces of contemporary globalization since 1989 proceeds apace with de-regulation of finance and currency markets, internationalisation of production, an overriding concern with efficiency and productivity, dominance of MNCs, relegation of welfare and social justice. The point to be made is that, the political scientist should always look through the window of history to give meaning to social currents and processes. At a time in human history, slavery was abolished not necessarily because it was inhuman but more fundamentally because of mechanization and the required mobility of labor as a spur to the rise of industrial capitalism. Similarly, the success of national liberation movements is in fact the strengthening of capitalism as it is a product of the contradictions within monopoly capitalism as it was advancing to multilateral capitalism.
In other words, if the market is strengthened, it means that the state is further strengthened. One of the problems of the Marxist political economy analysis is the tendency to see the state just as an instrument of class struggle. It is necessary to always see the state simultaneously as a product, instrument and manifestation of class struggle in order to make a comprehensive analysis. Following dialectical materialism, the state is a product of class struggle, which is a way to say that the state’s role in society can only diminish when class struggle diminish and this cannot be. The point being made is that if social change is constant in human society and class struggle is the law of the motion of social change, following dialectical maternal, then class struggle is an inevitable feature of human existence in society.
On this note, we can therefore, argue that both the state and social classes are necessary for explaining the structure of international politics. The term “international” means “inter-state” or “across state boundary”, and the term “politics” means the struggle for and exercise of state power by social classes. This means that without states and social classes we cannot have international politics, which is the struggle for, and exercise of state power which take place across state boundaries. Structures on the other hand, with respect to human behaviour refers to the concrete patterns of human relationship defined in terms of rules and institutions which sustain them (Duverger, 1972). The contemporary structure of international politics thus, depicts clusters of interactions within states mediated by municipal law and state agencies and clusters of interactions that transcend state boundaries mediated by international law and international organizations. The analyst should focus on social classes as well as states which the dynamism of the interactions of social classes give rise to.
THE EXTERNAL LINKAGE ARGUMENT AND THE PROSPECTS OF AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
In this section we look at the African condition and problem of development which scholars of both the liberal and political economy perspectives implicitly and explicitly link to the structure of international politics. Ihonvbere, drawing from the seminal works of Claude Ake has identified the following features of African development predicament.
- The creation of an unstable and unhegemonic state.
- The creation of a decadent, dependent and largely unproductive bourgeoisies.
- Dependence of African states on the production of a narrow range of cash
crops for foreign exchange earnings.
- Scientific and technological backwardness.
- Dependence of foreign aid for development projects.
- Domination of the African economies by vertically integrated and profit seeking MNCs
- An over-extended, ineffective and inefficient bureaucracy.
- The co-existence of more than one relation of production and exchange.
- The conversion of the African continent into a theatre of war by the advanced industrial capitalist nations.
- Peripheralization in the world capitalist system,
- Infinitesimal contribution to world production and near total irrelevance in world politics (Ihonvbere, 1989).
Similarly, Otobo and Obaze arguing from the liberal perspective put the question of African exploitation, domination and relegation in perspective. Otobo and Obaze see structural and discretionary marginalization of Africa in the areas of military might economic capacity, technological resilience and political capacity, as well as in the areas of emergency, humanitarian and economic assistance in conflict situations (Otobo and Obaze,1994:10). Accordingly, they argue that apart from South Africa no other African state is worthy of categorization as a Nuclear power or arms exporter. The continent also remains bereft of a security council seat and its weak economic power preclude it from having any discernible influence in major forms of international economic decision-making. This they argue is indicated by Africa’s quota and voting power in the IMF which stands at 6.654% and 7.7% and its shares and voting power in the World Bank which stands at 5.5% and 6.42% (Otobo and Obaze, 1994: 11; IMF, 1991; World Bank Annual Report1990). The same argument indicated that Africa’s share of World output fell from 2.9% in 1970 to 2.6% in 1987, while Africa’s share of world exports in dollars was 1.8% by 1990. These and the failure of the different economic sectors of the different regions to diversify translated to discernible malaise according to Otobo and Obaze (UNCTAD, 1989:12;14-17;UN, 1992:198).
The above miserable picture of African development has been explained in terms of external linkage argument anchored on the impact of the structure of international politics. The explanations have variously been perceived in terms of the capital transfer thesis, technology and labour argument and the international correlation of social forces and movements’ argument.
The capital transfer thesis is anchored on the notion that either the improper (see Baran, 1973; Frank, 1966; Ake, 1978; 1981) or insufficient (see Organski, 1973; Rostow, 1960; Hoselitz and Moore, 1963), contact with the Western nations has been responsible for lack of capital accumulation which is essential for African development. In order to solve this problem, the diagnosis and interpretation is that external transfer of capital to Africa and the restructuring of the existing pattern of linkage with the West is what is required. The validity of this argument is however, vitiated by the inability of the African societies to transform in spite of the decades of external capital transfer through foreign trade, investment, aid and loan beginning from colonialism to the contemporary era of globalization. Rather than transforming, the African nations, by the 1980s started experiencing deep economic crisis occasioned by external shocks arising from the depression in the global economy. Again, following the external linkage argument, the African nations started implementing a regime of cuts in public spending, currency devaluation, state retrenchment from economic activities and a doctrinaire motion of market mechanisms in order to turn their economies around. (Dembeie, 1996).
The fiscal and monetary austerity have translated into gradual economic widespread poverty and the disintegration of Africa’s social fabrics (Dembele, 1996; This general decline measured in terms of the UNDP Human Development Index(HDI) indicate that Africa lags behind all other regions of the world with 220 million Africans living on less than $1 per day in 1996 (UNDP, 1996: 135-137; 1997:3). Thus it has been argued that the new phase of capitalist expansion or globalization is still about exploitation, accumulation, inequality and polarization (Aina, 1996).
Table 1: Number of People Living in Poverty (Millions)
|Region People living on less than $1 a day||People living on less than $2 a day|
|East Asia and Pacific||470||261||441||094||873||354|
|Europe an Central Asia||6||20||6||31||101||48|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||48||56||46||121||136||124|
|Middle East and North Africa||5||8||4||50||72||38|
Source: World Bank ADI, 2003.
The number of people living in poverty as indicated by the World Bank African
Development indicators (&.D1) in table 1 has not improved. Based on the ADI of 2003 it is
projected that Africa will account for 50% of the World’s poor in 2015, up from 19% in
1990, with the current trends.
TABLE 2: GDP PER CAPITA GROWTH BY REGION (ANNUAL PERCENTAGE)
|East Asia and Pacific||6.23||5.98||5.5||6.7||6.1||6.7|
|Europe and Central Asia||2.53||6.57||2.2||4.6||4.3||4.5|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||1.22||2.12||0.3||1.8||1.8||3.7|
|Middle East and North Africa||1.26||2.24||3.2||3.1||3.3||3.9|
Source: World Bank ADI 2003.
As shown in table 2, economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa slowed in 2002 to 2.8% from 3.2% in 2001 as indicated in the World Bank ADI for 2003. The publication noted that Africa needs the rich nations to deliver on their promises of more generous aid and wider trade opportunities to reverse the cruelty of disease and poverty in the continent (Daily Independent 15/4/04:612). The publication shows that the World Bank has continued in contemporary globalization to propagate external capital transfer, a deleterious model that has consistently failed Africa. The entire scenario of the deteriorating economic conditions in Africa speaks for itself about the efficacy of the external capital transfer argument.
Again, measured relative to its economy, Africa is by far the most indebted of any developing region. This is why most of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (H1PC) that are expected to benefit from a new IMF debt-relief plan are in Africa. According to the IMF, Africa’s ratio of debt to GDP was above 72% in 1999. The Regional External Debt Statistics of the IMF in 1999 clearly indicates that foreign trade, investment aid and foreign loan to Africa has dovetailed to a huge excruciating external debt over-hang at the dawn of the 21s‘ Century. The implication also of current capitalist expansion in the pervasive freewheeling and aggressive globalization given this bleak scenario is that the argument that the observance of the rules of open trade, fair competition and unfettered capital movements would benefit all countries does not square with reality (Dembele, 1998:10). Thus, whether the argument is improper or insufficient contact with foreign capital as essential ingredient for African development, it collapses in the face of the harsh realities of the African condition at the dawn of the 21st Century’s globalization. The same goes for the efforts directed at the restructuring of the existing pattern of linkage with the West such as the pursuit of the NIEO, which has become stillborn.
Perhaps the sterility of the capital transfer thesis led scholars like AtomeKunu(1986:58) to posit the technology and labour argument. The argument is simply, that since it is labour that produces capital that African development rests on labour and implements fashioned and employed by labour (technology). Kunuthus, emphasis on labour and the level of technology employed by labour. Although Kunu’s argument is profound in the sense that technological advancement is the bedrock of development, it appears to gloss over the dialectical imperatives inherent in the organization of labour and the reward system in human societies. Much as this argument appears superior to the argument on capital transfer, it tends to emphasize the impersonal social forces of production, to wit, technology and labour, whereas the capital transfer argument emphasizethe reverse which is the impersonal social forces of distribution, to wit, market forces.
A similar argument is that the predicament of contemporary Africa is best conceptualized in terms of lack of democracy and that the problem has to be placed in the wider context of the international correlation of social forces and movements to be meaningfully solved (Asobie, 1993). This argument verges on the contention that alienation which impinges on the modality for organizing labour and the systems of rewards are critical to solving the problem of development in Africa. Thus, the international solidarity of working peoples will fight against the force of capitalism and imperialism to address the problem of alienation that emasculates labour in African societies ushering in democracy.
While not belabouring the conceptual ambiguities contained in the application of the correlation of social forces and social movements argument, we simply point out that it is not significantly different from the general focus on impersonal social forces, whether of the market, technology or working class movements. Social forces on their own cannot actualize development. Social forces are adapted to suit particular purposes by the political leadership in human societies. Without the political leadership using the state institutions to harness the social forces as the productive resources of the nation these impersonal forces remain redundant and unproductive.It is therefore, against this background that this study advances the capacity of the political leadership in Africa to lead their people to their destiny or to doom in the 21st Century’s globalization as an alternative framework to the arguments on marginalization, technology and labour and the correlation of social forces. It does appear, albeit implicitly, that this view is shared in contemporary African writings. For example, Otobo and Obaze maintains that the plethora of unfulfilled commitments to Africa byaid donors, paradoxically may be the continents catharsis and bring it to realization that its best hope and chances in the new era will have to be earned by Africans (Otobo and Obaze 1994). Similarly, Mkandawire and Soludo while arguing for a broader policy agenda and for a much more active role for the state in a market economy appear to toe the same line. They argue that moving African economies onto a development path will require robust state and societal institutions that will require creative mechanisms to synergistically mobilize human and physical resources to address the many contradictions of rapid change in Africa (Mkaridawira and Soludo 1999).
In this context, the political leadership while priming the state apparatus to move Africa forward should understand the implications of contemporary globalization. This is because the WTO Uruguay Rounds aimed at slashing tariffs and liberalizing trade in agriculture and services will further cause an economic freeze, as it is projected that losses of up to $3,000 million will accrue to Africa by 2002 from the changes in the Uruguay Round (Daily Champion, 18/10/95:7). The understanding of the scenario will help in planning the strategies for containing the current wave of globalization in the interest of Africa.
This study set out to examine the conceptualizations of the relation between the structure of international politics and the prospects of African development in the 21st Century’s globalization. Accordingly, it was found that the attempts to account for African development in terms of the autonomy of social forces such as marginalization, technology and labour or the correlation of social forces and movements have not been sufficiently explanatory. In the same vein it was found that the conceptual ambiguities and political propaganda associated with the concepts of the state, social class, social movements, capitalism and socialism make them unproductive and redundant for the analysts of international politics. Equally the attempts to account for the linkage between African development and the structure of international politics on the basis of these conceptualizations have been escapist and defeatist.
Accordingly, the study takes the view that development has to do with the increasing capacity of the political leadership to mobilize the human and material resources of the nation toward the internal control of the process of acquiring and utilizing the relevant scientific knowledge for solving the difficulties posed by man’s interaction with the physical environment and his fellow man. The structure of international politics has also been perceived as clusters of interaction between and among social classes within a supra-national community of states. Given these conceptions it was found that social interactions among social classes are controlled by the political leadership through their control of the state apparatus. The implication of which is that it is leadership that makes the difference in the level of development in human societies and not impersonal social forces. This means that although the structure of international politics may impose certain logic on the interaction of social forces, societies have developed in spite of them. Thus, it is contended that given the dialectical imperatives of the link between external forces and African development, prospects of change in the 21st Century’s globalization lies in the capacity of the African political leadership to internally control the production and distribution of the material benefits in human life.
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