Sunday, December 22, 2013

An Assessment of Soviet Style Socialism in Africa

The attempt to implement Soviet style socialism in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, but also in Angola and Mozambique and to a lesser extent in places like Guinea and Benin  proved to be a dismal failure just as it was in the USSR and East Central Europe. Fortunately, African scholars unlike many US scholars recognize this. Sam Mbah & I.E. Igariwey, note that Ethiopia under Mengistu was the worst of the failed states (48). An assessment with which I find myself in agreement. Their overall judgement on the socialist experiment in Africa is summed up in the quoted paragraph below.
Socialism in Africa, for all practical purposes, was based on the Soviet/Eastern European model, and it displayed all the essential features and characteristics of that model. The African experience was, perhaps, peculiar in the sense that the state inherited at political independence was neo-colonial. Expectations that socialism would alter this were never realized; if anything, socialism truncated development and reinforced neo-colonialism. The pauperization of countries like Guinea under Sekou Toure, Benin under Mathew Kerekou, Ethiopia under Menghistu Mariam, etc., went hand in hand with massive repression and authoritarian self-righteousness. Some of the most backward, most reactionary regimes that ever set foot on African soil were socialist ones, some led by military officers who shot their way to power.
The type of "progress" Mengistu brought to Ethiopia did not solve the basic problems of poverty and underdevelopment that had festered under Haile Selassie. It did, however, bring the use of state terror, forced relocations, and famine to the country. That is the type of "progress" Africa and the rest of the world can do without.

Source: Sam Mbah & I.E. Igariwey, African Anarchism: The History of a Movement, 2001, p. 48.

No comments: