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In Lieu of Orthodoxy: The Socialist Theories of Nkrumah and Nyerere • by Steven Metz

In Lieu of Orthodoxy: The Socialist Theories of Nkrumah and Nyerere • by Steven Metz

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The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 377-392. Published by: Cambridge University Press
The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 377-392. Published by: Cambridge University Press

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In Lieu of Orthodoxy: The Socialist Theories of Nkrumah and NyerereAuthor(s): Steven MetzSource:
The Journal of Modern African Studies,
Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 377-392Published by: Cambridge University PressStable URL:
Accessed: 16/11/2009 05:07
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The
Journal
ofModern
Afrisan
Studies,
0,
3,
1982,
pp.377-392
InLieuofOrthodoxy:theSocialistTheoriesofNkrumahandNyerere
bySTEVEN METZ*
A
QUAR T E R-CEN TURY
afteritsinception,the
diversity
within'Africansocialism'remainsastonishing.Thiscategorynow includesdevelopmentstrategieswhichrangefrom traditionalcapitalismwith limitedsectoralplanningto collective formsof nationalautarky. Althoughit isgenerallyagreedthat none ofthe forms of Africansocialismincorporatesan'orthodox'typeofMarxism,thetremendous intellectualimpactwhichMarxand Leninhavehad on allaspectsofsocial, economic,andpoliticalthoughtmeans thatitisimpossibleto constructatheoryofsocialism which istotallyoutside their shadows.Ineffect,Marxistorthodoxyinevitablyservesas a tool for the evaluation ofsocialisttheory.ButMarx and Lenin wouldhavebeenthe first toadmit thatthevalidityofanytheoryofsocialismdependson the historical conditionswhich form thecontextfor itspromulgationandapplication.AsC. L. R.Jameshaswritten,'Marxismisaguideto actionin aspecificsystemof social relations which takesinto account thealwayschangingrelationshipofforcesinanalwayschangingworldsituation.'1 Sincethecontemporarypost-colonialsituation is sodifferentfromearlytwentieth-centuryRussiaornineteenth-centurywesternEurope,socialisminAfricahas been drivenbeyondtheparametersof Marxist-Leninistorthodoxy.Itis thusimperativetounderstandAfrican socialismboth asanoutcome ofaspecificmatrixof historicalconditions,and asatleast adistant decendent of Marxism. There arethreemajortenets of theintellectualcontextof Africansocialism whichare mostimportantforafullunderstandingofthephenomenon:(i)the ethics ofpre-colonialAfrica whichwerebased onhumanisticvalues and oftenonanegalitarianmethod ofproductionanddistribution;(2)the colonialpastwhichchallengedthe ethics ofthepre-colonialsystemwith thoseofcapitalism;and(3)thepresent,representingastageofincomplete
*DoctoralCandidate,DepartmentofPoliticalScience,TheJohns HopkinsUniversity,Baltimore,andVisitingInstructor,Departmentof PoliticalScience,TowsonStateUniversity,Maryland.1C. L. R.James,Nkrumahand the Ghana Revolution(LondonandWestport,
I977
edn.),p.74.
 
STEVEN METZ
synthesis,mixingelements of the colonial andpre-colonial past.Africansocialismispredictedonthebeliefthat the resultsof thecapitalistmodeofproduction- thepotentialto fulfilhuman needs-can beseparatedfrom theethics ofcapitalism,which arebased on socialhierarchyandexploitation.African socialism is thus anattemptto blendwhatareperceivedasthe dominant ethicsofpre-colonialsocietywith theproductive powerof moderncapitalism.As MaoTse-Tungpointedout,everysocialsituation entailsa'principalcontradiction'.In theAfricansettingthereis asharpcontrastbetween the usefulpotentialofcapitalismand theharmfulrealityofneo-colonialism whichaugmentshumansuffering.Butcontraryto Mao'sargument,inthiscase the solution doesnotflow withinexorablelogicfrom the contradiction. There are asmanytheoriesproposingthesynthesisof African ethics withproductiveefficiencyasthere are theorists. Becauseofthis,thecategory'Africansocialism' issoheterogeneous,sobroad,and sodiversethat itcanonlybethoroughlyunderstoodbyanexaminationofthe differencesandsimilaritiesbetween theleadingadvocates. It is thusthepurposeof thisstudytocomparethetheoriesof twoofthe'foundingfathers' of Africansocialism: Kwame Nkrumah andJulius Nyerere.Like a numberofother Africanpoliticians,NkrumahandNyerereattemptedboth toexplaintheneed forasocialisttransition and to leadthisprocess.Becauseof this their theories are both abstractexplanationscontaininga socialontologyandepistemology,andplansforpositiveaction. It is oftenimpossibletoseparatethe two sides of the issue-thetheoryandthepractice-and both are interrelatedin such a mannerthatonecannot becomprehendedwithouttheother. But totrulyunderstand theprogrammesbywhich Nkrumah andNyerere attemptedtoimplementsocialism,it is firstnecessaryto examinethe theoreticallogicwhichimpartedcoherence to theirstrategies;inorder to understandsocialismas itis,orwas,inGhanaandTanzania,it is firstnecessarytoisolate,analyse,and dissectthetheories which motivatedthese twoleaders. Sincetheimplementationof thepoliciesof NkrumahandNyererehave beenwellrecorded,2this articlewill focus onthetheoryunderlyingtheirpolitics.
1MaoTse-Tung,'OnContradiction',inSelectedWorksofMaoTse-Tung(Peking,
I977
edn.),p.
33I-
2
Amongthe better workson thistopicareAndrewCoulson,AfricanSocialisminPractice(Nottingham,1979);GoranHyden,BeyondUjamaainTanzania:underdevelopmentndanuncapturedpeasantry(LondonandBerkeley,
I980);
BismarckU.Mwansasu and CranfordPratt(eds.),Towards SocialisminTanzania(Toronto, 1979);James,op.cit.;and BasilDavidson,BlackStar(London, 1973).
378

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