POLS 3000 September 19, 2013.
POLS 3000: Politics of Africa September 19 2013
Week 3: Perspectives on Africa II
Africa in the “Critical Tradition”
***Know authors names (for essays, exams, tests etc.)
There are three broad themes, which are important in the critical traditions
1) FIRST: the critical tradition tended to locate sources of Africa’s challenges
outside Africa’s borders. The critical tradition says that there is little that is
dysfunctional about Africa; the problem is in the way in which is had been
exploited by those outside Africa.
a. Operate for the determent of African development
b. “Rather than being the solution to Africa’s plight, westerners are very
substantial part of the problem and have been for centuries.”- Caplan
2) SECOND: the critical tradition tends to be critical of existing power
structures which, it maintains, are counter to the interests of many if not
most Africans/ there is a need to rethink, and hopefully restructure, these
power relations for the betterment of everybody.
a. Market economies do not serve and benefit everyone equally
b. “Whatever steps Africa takes, unless the West radically changes its
role few positive results can be expected”- Caplan.
i. Critical approach says that existing power structures are not
beneficial to all if not most Africans.
3) THIRD: the critical perspective tends to focus on issues of justice,
particularly economic injustice. That is, this perspective concerns itself with
questions of why some groups, classes, states, are wealthier than others.
a. “In a same world, commerce yields to justice”- Caplan page 8
Any state should be democratic, everything else is just “nutty”= Western arrogance
Liberals aren’t always concerned with democracy but are definitely not in the
Modernization Theory (the idea that states develop based on this line [below])
Modernization Theory and the Dependency Challenge
- Africa’s lack of development, dependency theorists claimed, did not result
from an inability to achieve a certain stage of development or because of
some sort of internal defect.
o Dependency theory: in response to and in criticism of modernization
Thus Africa’s lack of development: did not result from inability
but instead Africa was doing just fine before imperialists/
colonialists “screwed it up”.
- “Until the coming of the imperialists in relatively recent times we did govern
ourselves, and the partition of Africa was not prompted by any desire on the
part of the colonial powers to save us from our failure to do so!”—Julius
1 POLS 3000 September 19, 2013.
The Dependency Challenge
- Africa’s inability to develop was a result of the fact that colonialism