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Crawford- the afterlife of the african colonial state.docx

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 324
Khalid Medani

The Afterlife of the African Colonial State: Concluding Reflections Crawford Young Image of Crisis:  Ambiguous hopes suggested by the proverbial promise that “no condition is permanent” stirred at the beginning of the 1990s. – Could democratization bring deliverance?  1980- displacement of incumbents too long in office and obsessed with a statecraft deploying dwindling resources to sustain their grip on a weakening center, however indispensible is far from sufficient.  Author metaphor: “A genetic code for the new states of Africa was already imprinted on its embryo within the womb of the African colonial state.” Bula Matari embedded  In certain ways the colonial state during its phase of constuction in most cases created entirely novel institutions of domination and rule. Although we commonly described the independent polities as “new states,” in reality they were successors to the colonial regime, inheriting its structures, its quotidian routines and practices, and its more hidden normative theories of governance  Everyday reason of state incorporated subliminal codes of operation bearing the imprint of their colonial predecessors. o Similarities mostly superficial: currency, chief executive officers in military uniforms, lavish presidential palaces, language… o The elites’ rule was justified by a schooled vision denied to the unlettered masses. The schoolroom however was the colonial state.  Legacy of colonial state not the only determinant of political system and process in era of independence.  Security: newly won independence faced a sensed threat of subversion by the former colonial powered and broader forces of imperialism. Also emergence of ideological divisions within the African community of states over concepts of pan-Africanism, philosophies of development, etc.  Less social division than in west therefore single-party regime as the authentic embodiment of the aspirations of nationalism- argument that achieved wide currency.  Embracement of socialism: five year plans with ambitious goals and tracing captivating pathways to prosperity- this initially redoubled the pace of social infrastructure: schools and medical facilities.  However some argue that this process of development is still a subtext of continuity.  Revenue requirements of the post-colonial state was sharply higher- size of bureaucracies rose rapidly- heavy borrowing, with repayment obligations soon weigning heavily on the state budget.  The most vulnerable target for state fiscal action was the peasantry- target: export crops, which are taxable in every way. The postcolonial state did follow in the footsteps of its predecessors by collecting relatively little revenue from state-based dominant class and the mercantile sector, and half or more of peasant income. The Integral State  In 1970s- new visions of state began to emerge, even more far-reaching than Bula Matari, the concept of “integral state.” The state, with enlarged ambitions of transforming
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