7 October 2009

Development is Class Struggle

[CU for Thursday, 8 October 2009]

David Moore’s (linked) article, “The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development” appeared in the now-defunct Johannesburg newspaper “ThisDay”, just over five years ago, in 2004, as an “op-ed” feature. At the time, at the height of the Mbeki Presidency, it was remarkable in the mainstream media for being frank about the class struggle. Most of such material one would read at that time, in the depths of the 1996 Class Project years, was of the one-eyed “Development Studies” variety.

Moore only has to say how dull and derivative all this other material had been, to win the case unarguably. The dispute between “neo-liberal GEARs and social-welfarist RDPs” is a sterile one. Like a new broom, Moore swept away the “happy synergistic tales”, while reminding people of “capitalism’s brutal genesis” and also its saving grace, the “vibrantly emerging working classes.”

So as not to forget that the National Democratic Revolution, and also the contested concept of “Development”, arose from the anti-colonial and then anti-neo-colonial struggles, it is worth reading some of the late Walter Rodney’s [Image] words. Linked below is Chapter 6 from Rodney’s 1973 book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, written while Rodney was a lecturer at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The first paragraph corresponds nicely with Moore’s article, denying

“that `after all there must be two sides to a thing'. The argument suggests that, on the one hand, there was exploitation and oppression, but, on the other hand, colonial governments did much for the benefit of Africans and they developed Africa. It is our contention that this is completely false. Colonialism had only one hand - it was a one-armed bandit.”

There is way too much reading here for a normal CU study group (but Moore’s newspaper article is suitably short and pointed). Part of the reason for including it is that this series, together with the material from the NDR series, and the State and Revolution series, are conceived of altogether as a virtual “SACP Special Congress Reader”.

Colin Leys’ book, researched in Kenya and published 2/3 years after Rodney’s, is remarkable (like Engels’ early work) for being written in the right place at the right time, by a man who was able to see what he was looking at and describe it properly. What he saw was not only post-colonial class formation, but also the beginning of the “neo-liberal” and “Washington Consensus” policies that have cursed us ever since, but now, at last, appear to be on their way out. See the linked item below.

The fourth linked item is a more deliberately scholarly essay by David Moore, also from 2004. It rehearses parts of the factual background of capitalist colonialism and reviews some of the works of then-fashionable theorists, who now, only five years later, seem curiously out-of-date in a way that Walter Rodney, for example, or Lenin, will never be.

No doubt David Moore contributed to the demise of the theories that he described and criticised, thereby doing a good service to us all.

Click on these links:

The Brutal Side of Capitalist Development, Moore (1137 words)

Colonialism as a System for Underdeveloping Africa, Walter Rodney (34211 words)

Contradictions of Neo-Colonialism, Leys (8510 words)

The Second Age of the Third World, Moore (12938 words)


Post a Comment

Post a Comment