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In Lieu of Orthodoxy: The Socialist Theories of Nkrumah and Nyerere Author(s): Steven Metz Source: The Journal of Modern

African Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 377-392 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: Accessed: 16/11/2009 05:07
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R. James has written. L. the tremendous intellectual impact which Marx and Lenin have had on all aspects of social. L. Marxist orthodoxy inevitably serves as a tool for the evaluation of socialist theory. (2) the colonial past which challenged the ethics of the pre-colonial system with those of capitalism. As C. It is thus imperative to understand African socialism both as an outcome of a specific matrix of historical conditions. and (3) the present. Baltimore. pp. But Marx and Lenin would have been the first to admit that the validity of any theory of socialism depends on the historical conditions which form the context for its promulgation and application. There are three major tenets of the intellectual context of African socialism which are most important for a full understanding of the phenomenon: (i) the ethics of pre-colonial Africa which were based on humanistic values and often on an egalitarian method of production and distribution. I977 edn. 1 C. The Johns Hopkins University. and political thought means that it is impossible to construct a theory of socialism which is totally outside their shadows. p. 3. the diversity within 'African socialism' remains astonishing. Maryland. 377-392 In Lieu of Orthodoxy: the Socialist Theories of Nkrumah and Nyerere by STEVEN METZ* A QU A R T E R-C E N T U R Y after its inception. 74. representing a stage of incomplete * Doctoral Candidate. R. and Visiting Instructor. 'Marxism is a guide to action in a specific system of social relations which takes into account the always changing relationship of forces in an always changing world situation. Although it is generally agreed that none of the forms of African socialism incorporates an 'orthodox' type of Marxism. Department of Political Science. economic. socialism in Africa has been driven beyond the parameters of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy. Towson State University.20.'1 Since the contemporary post-colonial situation is so different from early twentiethcentury Russia or nineteenth-century western Europe. Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution (London and Westport. 1982. . and as at least a distant decendent of Marxism. In effect. This category now includes development strategies which range from traditional capitalism with limited sectoral planning to collective forms of national autarky. Department of Political Science.).The Journal of Modern Afrisan Studies. James.

Black Star (London. it is first necessary to isolate. 'On Contradiction'.).and both are interrelated in such a manner that one cannot be comprehended without the other. Like a number of other African politicians. Since the implementation of the policies of Nkrumah and Nyerere have been well recorded. James. p. . African socialism is thus an attempt to blend what are perceived as the dominant ethics of pre-colonial society with the productive power of modern capitalism. Bismarck U.). 1973).the theory and the practice . Nkrumah and Nyerere attempted both to explain the need for a socialist transition and to lead this process. Goran Hyden. the category 'African socialism' is so heterogeneous. in Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung (Peking. op. In the African setting there is a sharp contrast between the useful potential of capitalism and the harmful reality ofneo-colonialism which augments human suffering. mixing elements of the colonial and pre-colonial past. 1 Mao Tse-Tung. and plans for positive action. African socialism is predicted on the belief that the resultsof the capitalist mode of production . in this case the solution does not flow with inexorable logic from the contradiction. Because of this. There are as many theories proposing the synthesis of African ethics with productive efficiency as there are theorists. Towards Socialism in Tanzania (Toronto. 1979). cit. African Socialism in Practice and (Nottingham. in order to understand socialism as it is.378 STEVEN METZ synthesis. so broad. or was.can be separated from the ethics of capitalism. But contrary to Mao's argument. every social situation entails a 'principal contradiction '. and Basil Davidson. Because of this their theories are both abstract explanations containing a social ontology and epistemology. and so diverse that it can only be thoroughly understood by an examination of the differences and similarities between the leading advocates. it is first necessary to examine the theoretical logic which imparted coherence to their strategies.2 this article will focus on the theory underlying their politics.. I977 edn. and dissect the theories which motivated these two leaders. which are based on social hierarchy and exploitation. Mwansasu and Cranford Pratt (eds. As Mao Tse-Tung pointed out. analyse. 1979). in Ghana and Tanzania. But to truly understand the programmes by which Nkrumah and Nyerere attempted to implement socialism. I980). Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: underdevelopment an uncaptured peasantry (London and Berkeley. 33I2 Among the better works on this topic are Andrew Coulson.the potential to fulfil human needs . It is thus the purpose of this study to compare the theories of two of the 'founding fathers' of African socialism: Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere. It is often impossible to separate the two sides of the issue .

Thus the essence of their theories is the process of the transition to socialism. While the degree to which Nkrumah and Nyerere deviated from Marxism will be referred to. The German Ideology (Moscow. the historical logics which they used differed radically. 237. 63. I3. the use of a particular method and not the application of a specific historical analysis. Although even a perfunctory reading of the two men's work will show that Marxism influenced Nkrumah's work to a much greater degree than that of Nyerere. p. and to place them within the larger context of the intellectual history of political and economic phenomena. 1963). Shivji makes the same arguments in ClassStruggles Tanzania(New York and London. one must begin with the 'real premises' of social conditions.). Pa.Historyand Class Consciousness: studiesin Marxistdialectics (Cambridge.2 Following this point. in Giovanni Arrighi and Saul. in order to chart a direction of change or a method of transformation. Saul refers to Nyerere's 'incomprehension of Marxism'. not because he espoused revolution and industrialisation while Nyerere focused on rural socialism. as Marx and Engels noted.).. but rather as a currency or common language for distinction between the two theories. AfricanSocialism (Chester Springs. reprinted in Ujamaa:essaysonsocialism (Oxford. the issue of orthodoxy will not be used as a tool of evaluation. p. places Nkrumah within the category of 'African Marxists' and Nyerere in 'African Pragmatic Socialists'. But. i. and they realised that socialism was a goal to be sought rather than an extant condition. Nkrumah and Nyerere each recognised the deep impact which capitalism had had on their societies. in 197 ).). 1968).1 the use of this criterion of distinction can help to clarify the differences between the two. it will be possible both to outline the distinctions between their theories more readily. see his 'Ujamaa . cit. A. classical liberalism and Fabianism have influenced Nyerere to a greater degree than Marxism. 3 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. p. I976 edn. 36-7. By this use of Marxist orthodoxy as a third variable in the comparison of these two African leaders. . Fenner Brockway. The measure of Marxist orthodoxy is. The CriticalPhasein Tanzania. but because he subjected history and political economy to an analysis based on historical materialism. op.i945-i968: Nyerere andtheemergence a socialiststrategy of (Cambridge. Essays on the PoliticalEconomy Africa (New York and London.. pp. Julius Nyerere himself of considered Marxism too much the result of specifically European events to be relevant to Africa. Mass.SOCIALIST THEORIES OF NKRUMAH AND NYERERE 379 A leitmotif of the study is Marxist orthodoxy.3 It is for this reason that the theories of both Nkrumah and Nyerere 1 For instance. 1976). it will become obvious that while the material conditions faced by Nkrumah and Nyerere were similar. and in his essay on 'Tanzania's Transition to Socialism: reflections of a democratic socialist'. in 'African Socialism in One Country: Tanzania'.. 1-12. 2 Georg Lukaics. as Georg Lukacs has pointed out. I973). Issa G. Pratt categorises Nyerere as a democratic socialist. It will be argued that Nkrumah was the 'more orthodox' of the two. pp. 1976 edn. according to Cranford Pratt. John S. p.the Basis of African Socialism'. in Mwansasu and Pratt (eds.

based on wisdom.380 STEVEN METZ concerning the transformation of post-colonial Africa to socialism stem from their evaluations of societies which mix elements of pre-capitalist and capitalist systems with visions of a post-capitalist future. and there was no social division of labour. 81-5 and o6--8. James 3 Nyerere. the pre-colonial era was far superior to the post-colonial situation. (University Park. . Tanzania's Human Revolution Pa. Both argued that. See also Julius K. (2) an analysis of the instigative factors and methods of the transition to socialism. p.were owned in common. 1 Karl Marx. as in the family. the role which this played in their theories of socialism differed.4 Hence the dominant ethic was egalitarian. Freedomand Socialism/Uhuru ua Ujamaa: a selectionfrom writings and speeches. Karioki. 29. 1979).l they disagree as to exactly what composed the most basic unit for the social organisation of production. rather than on economic or class differences. 1968). But although both would agree with Marx's contention that the 'real foundation' of society is the 'relations of production'. pp.. Nkrumah and later Nyerere made great use of traditional African society. A Contributionto the Critique of Political Economy (Moscow. For Nyerere the element of traditional African life which gave his theory what has been called its 'anthropocentric' bent.especially land . Nyerere. Both often expressed a sort of spiritual longing for a return to some sort of idyllic village life far removed from the pressures of capitalist society. I98-9. 20. 4 Ibid. Nyerere emphasised that in pre-colonial Africa the means of production . i965-i967 (Oxford and Dar es Salaam. THE CONCEPT OF SOCIETY: DIFFERING FOCI Both Nkrumah and Nyerere believe that socialism is more than simply a form of political economy. op. The division of labour is at this edn. Thus the three key elements of their theories of socialism are: (i) an understanding of the sociology of African states during the post-colonial period of partial transformation. whereby the social hierarchy was..). p. 'everybody was a worker'. age. and experience. But while both utilised this vision of a bucolic Africa to generate a variation of the Weberian ideal type.2 was the value content of production based on communalism. In their analyses of this issue. and (3) a definition of a socialist society. pp.. p. This idea is in accord with Marx's thinking when he wrote: The first form of property is tribal property. I977 2 N. cit. at least in ethical content. 4.3 In such a setting.

Nellis. for instance. a mobilising myth need not correspond exactly to 'the life experiences' of those to whom it is being addressed. . Nyerere does not use pre-colonial Africa to construct an explanatory ideology. his use of the egalitarian values of traditional Africa is important because it does not correspond to the life experience of Tanzanians. asJohn Nellis points out. since it must inevitably fall short of corresponding to the life experiences of those to whom it is being addressed. ethical Africa plays a similar role for Nyerere as the myth of the general strike in the work of Georges Sorel. but rather to generate a desire to transcend an unhappy present. pp.' Because the ethical content of pre-colonial Africa has been most heavily utilised by Nyerere. his argument that Nyerere's use of this model is doomed to failure because of its historical inaccuracy is less convincing: Whether Nyerereintended a historicalpurposeor not.). I23-9.not sufficiently emphasised by either Lofchie or Nellis . Pre-Capitalist (New between ideology-as-explanation and ideologyas-transcendental-myth.PrivateProperty the State (New York. For an elaboration of their thinking on this subject. 8. its prospects of political success are considerably lessened.4 Marx and Engels. and Friedrich Engels's more and evolutionary and mechanistic approach in The Originsof the Family. pp. see Karl Formations Economic Marx.SOCIALIST THEORIES OF NKRUMAH AND NYERERE 38I stage still very elementary and is confined to a further extension of the natural division of labour existing in the family. While extremely pessimistic about Nyerere's attempts to use the model of pre-colonial Africa to create a unifying ideology. In Nyerere's case. 1980 edn.or partially transformed . 4 See Georges Sorel. I950). Thus the image of a traditional. In effect.3 The key difference here .). especially pp. 101-2. Comparative 3 John R. Lofchie. Reflections Violence on (New York. correctly notes that the purpose of the traditional model in Nyerere's thought is the attempted substitution of moral for material incentives in the Tanzanian economy. 3 April I976. any factual shortcomings in his mythology are a matter of no small importance.2 But by definition. transcendence and unification. A Theory of Ideology: the Tanzanian example (Oxford. not explanation. these life experiences are those of colonial and post-colonial . this is a useful explanation of the mechanics of this process. 38. p. the purposes of the myth of communal Africa for Nyerere are. critics who focus on the anthropological weakness of his vision of traditional society misunderstand why this ideal type has been organisation rather than of traditional life in an unadulterated form. 488-9. The past is essentially motivational. in Politics (New York). Although Michael Lofchie. I978 edn. 'Agrarian Socialism in the Third World: the Tanzanian case'. op. For if a political myth of the sort Nyerere espouses is historically inaccurate. 1972). 2 Michael F. cit.

371. 441. But while Nkrumah sought to foster a particular image of pre-colonial Africa which emphasised 'an attitude towards man which can only be described. humanism. when he argues that Nkrumah's theory represented a . 1974 edn. and the ensuing partial transformation of the production process. pp. For this reason those who criticise Nkrumah's use of traditional images . 441. I970 edn. as being socialist .). 68.for example.). in its social manifestations.2 he also argued that 'a return to pre-colonial African society is evidently not worthy of the ingenuity and efforts of our people '. 1968 edn. p. 6 While this argument is most vividly and forcefully made by Frantz Fanon. op. Kwame Nkrumah.). 'African Socialism Revisited'. and witli related ideas about the role of traditional Africa in overcoming this condition. p.382 STEVEN METZ The use of African pre-history to generate a motivational myth is even more overt in Nkrumah's theory. i. pp.). 4 Ibid. 3 Kwame Nkrumah. had led to a dominant ideology or myth in Africa which was inconsistent and incomplete5 namely. Revolutionary Path (New York. 2 . that the continent was largely without a history. they differed in their assessments of the unit of the social organisation of 1 Imanuel Geiss.'4 Nkrumah was aware that colonialism. and communalism of the pre-colonial ethical system. pp. p. This article was first publisied in African Forum (New York). 3-9. especially in The Wretchedof the Earth (New York. 1966. and naturally subservient to European culture. Consciencism: philosophy and ideologyfor decolonization and developmentwith particular referenceto the African Revolution (New York and London. While Nyerere focused on the interconnectedness of traditional values and the structures which generated them. This was expressed when we wrote that 'what socialist thought in Africa must recapture is not the structure of "traditional African society" but its spirit.6 For Nkrumah the image of traditional African life was to be deliberately altered in order to form the embryo of a new ideology which would transcend the intellectually moribund status of post-colonial Africa. Imanuel Geiss. The bases of this new ideology would be the egalitarianism. The Pan-African Movement (New York and London. it is also advanced by James. Nkrumah totally jettisoned the institutional format of traditional Africa and concentrated on the emotive and motivational aspects of pre-colonial life. 1972 edn. 3. and thus attempted to modernise some aspects of the traditional method of social organisation. intellectually underdeveloped. 27--40. But while Nyerere and Nkrumah began with a similar analysis of the status of partially transformed African society. cit. 5 This is the major thesis of Consciencism.3 Thus Nkrumah remained aware of the fact that the true value of traditional Africa was its ability to aid in the generation of a motivational myth.also 'pronounced oscillation between modern and traditional ideas1 misunderstand the role of myth.

which was founded on the belief that traditional peasant communalism. p. 1968-i973 (Oxford and Dar es Salam. which had been sublimated but not destroyed. 203-26. For Nyerere. 1968). 1979 edn. ig80 (London. Susanne D.SOCIALIST THEORIES OF NKRUMAH AND NYERERE 383 production on which the transition to socialism would be centred. and the contradictions which accompanied them could only be alleviated dialectically. 444.). 2 1 . the basic unit of production in a modern. 4 See Kwame Nkrumah. Traditional Africa provided both a motivational myth and some institutional guidelines. 'Nyerere's commitment to socialism had at its core a concern with the moral quality of life'. While allowing for some degree of technologically derived change. Julius K. Mueller has noted the striking similarities between the ujamaa programme in Tanzania and the Narodnik movement in Russia. HandbookofRevolutionary Warfare (London. pp. I980).). But they differ on the format of production which would best encourage the renaissance of these values. extracted from Kwame Nkrumah.3 The advent of these 'modern circumstances' meant that the traditional method for the social organisation of production . Nkrumah thus argued that to recreate the ethics of traditional Africa it was not necessary (or possible) to re-establish the institutions which spawned them.was obsolete. Freedom and Development/Uhuru na Maendeleo: a selectionfrom writings and speeches. thus leaving them uncovered. The Socialist Register. see' Retarded Capitalism in Tanzania'. socialism and ujamaa were considered congruent concepts by Nyerere.l Because of the relationship between this desired ethical condition and production based on the extended family. capitalism was not simply a tide which had flowed in to swamp traditional values and could be made to ebb. Mueller argues that the 'reactionary utopianism' and economic stagnation which result from movements of this type have thwarted the transition to socialism in Tanzania. Nyerere. op. cit. in Ralph Miliband and John Saville (eds. the reason for the existence of socialism is the value system it represents. By the reorganisation of rural production into ujamaa units.2 For Nkrumah.4 Thus both Nyerere and Nkrumah begin with a common premise: the ethical values of traditional communal production. pp. but rather that it was essential to build a structure in which 'the principles underlying communalism are given expression in modern circumstances '. the ethics of socialism. The effects of colonialism could not be reversed so easily because the changes brought by capitalism were permanent. Since the ethics of socialism were inseparable from their institutional expression. would re-emerge. p. socialist Tanzania was to be the ujamaa. 3 Nkrumah. I973). modern production was class production.the village . Revolutionary Path. 6-7. Class Struggle in Africa (New York. the basic rationale for this transition is ethical. would form the basis of a truly Russian socialism. Nyerere argued that the institutions which first bred Pratt. based on the mir. As Cranford Pratt notes. 71.

194-207. op. which posits a strict morphology of historical development through stages. he felt that they would not re-emerge by copying the structures which originally produced them. Issa Shivji is convinced that the minor role which he assigns to the proletariat in the development of Tanzanian socialism can only lead to rule by a bureaucratic bourgeoisie. . cit. Although Nkrumah believed that a true socialist revolution would depend on the growth and radicalisation of the proletariat. pp. he felt that changes in the social organisation of production could be reversedthrough will and leadership. 80 he refers to the proletariat as 'comprising workers and peasants'. For Nyerere. It is the revolutionary battlefield in which the peasantry in alliance with their natural class allies . 3 Nkrumah was unclear as to whether the peasantry in Africa was. 1 Shivji. he writes that 'The countryside is the bastion of the revolution. see Cranford Pratt. Class Struggle in Africa. such as when he wrote that the creation of a socialist and unified Africa would lead to the destruction of capitalism in the core states. only 'progressive' changes were real. Nkrumah at times seems to have been influenced by Trotsky. p. on the other hand. 'Tanzani-a's Transition to Socialism'. in Class Struggle in Africa. loc. in fact. For Nkrumah. In effect. but also in ontology. part of the proletariat.1 In short. by the small degree of importance given to the class struggle. believed that change could be encouraged and channelled in a certain direction. their divergence from Marxist orthodoxy begins to appear. while on p. 64-74.the proletariat and revolutionary intelligentsia . but never reversed.3 This too deviates from the Marxist orthodoxy of Engels and the Russian Mencheviks.384 STEVEN METZ these old values must be recreated. In addition to Nyerere's failure to analyse change dialectically. For instance. Nyerere's sociology has deviated from a Marxist perspective not only in epistomology. 79. Even at this point. social contradictions could be abated by sublimation. THE TRANSITION TO SOCIALISM: REFORM REVOLUTION VERSUS Although Nkrumah and Nyerere agreed that social change was both inevitable and desirable. by his lack of dialectical analysis. cit. and the peasantry. from the perspective of dialectical materialism. For a survey of 'left' critiques of Nyerere's theory. they held different views about the necessary methods. pp. Nkrumah.are the driving force' (my emphasis). While he agreed that the ethics of African communalism remained valid. 2 Nkrumah. the radical intelligentsia. Indeed.2 he accepted the arguments of Mao that the first stage of this revolution required the establishment of a socialist state by a coalition of the embryonic proletariat.

58ff. but those of a contradictory. This idea that the common man possessed an intrinsic moral goodness. and in his definition of socialism as 'an attitude of mind . All that was needed in Tanzania was to find some way of bringing the institutions of production back into line with the spirit of socialism which had survived the period of colonialism. While the 'attitude of mind' contention 'did not mean that institutions and organisations are irrelevant'.pp. In effect. p. who argued that consciousness was determined by the social organisation of production. 5 Nkrumah. pp. Nyerere felt that the relationship between material conditions and consciousness was more bi-directional. Consciencism. on the other hand. 72-7. 1 See Nyerere.1 In other words. illustrates the impact of classical political theory on Nyerere's thought. whether the parliamentary type proposed by Eduard 2 Ibid.4 Nkrumah.2 Unlike Marx. This point is made by Pratt. 4 .the ethical matrix of egalitarian socialism . For this reason the transition to socialism would proceed along corollary institutions. That is. The very artificialness of the ethics of capitalism meant that their removal would proceed almost spontaneously once the structures which bolstered them colonialism and neo-colonialism . op. the transition to socialism was not to be a revolutionary act of creation.had been destroyed. 88-9. cit. pp. capitalism was so alien to the African psyche that it had not transformed indigenous society in any lasting way.had been damaged but not destroyed by capitalism.3 Nyerere felt that a basic incongruity can exist between institutions and ethics. 3 Ibid. neo-colonial present. I. Ujamaa. appeared to be closer to the orthodox Marxist view that material conditions alone determined consciousness.5 Any form of evolutionary socialism. The 'humanism' of traditional Africa had not been sublimated but drastically altered.SOCIALIST THEORIES OF NKRUMAH AND NYERERE 385 He considered that the desired state of events . the ethics which determined the form of traditional social relations need only be uncovered. That is. Nkrumah always believed that social evolution is a dialectical process. the structures which formed the premises of the transition to socialism were not those of the far past. The key to this line of thought is found in Nyerere's idealism. which had been dimmed but not extinguished by an unjust system. but an evolutionary renaissance of extant but sublimated values. Nyerere strongly believed that the legacy of capitalism and colonialism could not have destroyed a sense of natural socialism which had developed over centuries. and that the only solution to the contradictions of a partially transformed society was the synthetic creation of a new matrix of social values.

capitalism to socialism can only lie through revolution: it cannot lie through reform. i972 (London. 72. for p.. argued Socialism 1 Eduard Bernstein. p. 1975).4 argued that.has a long history within Marxism. and the latter in Dick Howard (ed. but only refines its methods: The passage from. o. op. for Nyerere the transition to socialism would come through adjustments to the institutions which encouraged the attitudes of capitalism.. cit. For an explanation of Bernstein's arguments and the criticisms Socialism Evolutionary AfterMarx (Boston. 77. 4 Cf.1 or the autarky approach of Nyerere. and Sidney Hook's they draw.7 he 2 Nkrumah. see David McLellan. according to the theory of dialectical materialism.. Thus. for or The example.p.3 felt that when two conditions were contradictory. Nyerere. Nkrumah.. in 5 Bernsteinfirst developed his ideas on reformand parliamentary socialism in a series of articles between 1896 and 1898 in Die neue Zeit. 73-4. who believed that African society was generally homogeneous.and the forces of the present. when two situations were contradictory.6 When Nkrumah writes that reform is never truly progressive because it does not represent the synthetic combination of contradictory elements.386 STEVEN METZ7 Bernstein. 'Class in Africa: analytical problems and perspectives'. Nkrumah believed that reform does not synthetically alleviate contradiction. in Robert C. for example. The LeninAnthology (New York. 231-56. 'A fierce class struggle has been raging in Africa'. dating at least from the publication of Bernstein's major work in I899. I 979). namely bourgeois capitalism and neo-colonialism. Nkrumah. The Tanzanian leader.). g909.2 The differing logics incorporated in the theories of Nkrumah and Nyerere become more evident at this point. introduction to Evolutionary 6 The most important and searing criticisms of Bernstein can be found in Lenin's WhatIs to Be Done?and Rosa Luxemburg's SocialReform Revolution? former has been republished. 7 See.). This debate on the method of the transition to socialism . Tucker. Nkrumah. New York. '0 -4 I. For in reform. 1977). that 'Nyerere. Evolutionary (London. 3 See. the solution was a synthesis-generating conflict. 1972). Consciencism. in Ralph Miliband and John Savile (eds. Ujamaa.the struggle between reform and revolution . which was drawn. I I. was impossible.the proletariat . example. see Robin Cohen. the solution was to remove or sublimate one. that there were no sharply differentiated economic classes in African society'.pp. fundamental principles are held constant and the details of their expression modified. ClassStruggle Africa.5 Some of the most virulent polemics of those arguing for the necessity of revolutionary change (the 'left' Marxists) have been aimed at those who favoured a non-revolutionary transition to socialism. These were expanded and published in book form in 1899 from und des under the title Die Voraussetzungen Sozialismus die AufgabederSozialdemokratie. Pratt notes. Selected Political Writings RosaLuxemburg of (New York and London. Marxism Socialism. 196I).p. For a discussion of the issues concerning the existence or absence of classes in Africa. pp. who believed that capitalism had disintegrated the basic social homogeneity of Africa. The Socialist Register. . pp. for Nkrumah it would come through a revolutionary struggle between the force of the future . republished. Consciencism.

I6I. Nkrumah. THE CONCEPT OF SOCIALISM: DIFFERING DEFINITIONS Both Nkrumah and Nyerere held the almost Platonic notion that the purpose of the state was to create a proper environment for the blossoming of a desired ethical condition. When he continues one step further and argues that the stifling exploitativeness of neo-colonialism demands violent rectification. while Cranford Pratt points out that Nyerere held a similar view: [socialism in Tanzania was] a way to utilize modern technology selectively so as to advance the welfare of her people while also building social and economic institutions which will expressin modern and national terms the socialist values of traditional African society. 243.2 Thus the difference between Nkrumah and Nyerere on this point is not as simple as that between reform and revolution. is obviously a result of incumbency.1 he becomes as much the heir of Sorel as of Rosa Luxemburg. I977). p. a way of continuing 'struggle and more specifically class struggle on many different fronts and at many different levels'. MarxismandPolitics (Oxford. p. The key remains with the method: reform for Nyerere was a way of sublimating conflict. As Ralph Miliband points out. ' But as long as violence continues to be used against in the African peoples. ClassStruggle Africa. 4 Nkrumah. i66. equally. Nkrumah's focus on revolutionary violence came after he had exhausted all other avenues for real social change.3 Different logics bred a variety of methods and. the Party cannot achieve its objectives without the use of all forms of political struggle. as was true with Lenin. and is not the diametric opposite of reform. for Nkrumah it was. including armed struggle'. Revolutionary 5 Pratt. Nkrumah wrote that the goal of the transition to socialism was to reconstruct African society 'in such a manner that the humanism of traditional African life reasserts itself in a modern technical community '.SOCIALIST THEORIES OF NKRUMAH AND NYERERE 387 is well within the mainstream of a methodologically-defined Marxist orthodoxy. violent revolution is a strategy dictated by political conditions. But. wlhether in Bernstein or in pre-g966 Nkrumah. 85. cit. p. According to 1 Cf. p. 2 Ralph Miliband. . 439. op. The emphasis on the revolutionary potential of reform. in congruence with orthodox Marxism. various definitions of exactly what socialism was to be. 3 Ibid.p. the Ghanaian leader too was much closer to a reformist than a revolutionary position.5 These two leaders also agreed on the most basic feature of the socialist state during this re-flowering of traditional values. Prior to the I966 coup d'etat. Path.

Ujamaa. 5 Nyerere. least exploitative way? Or. the first tenet of socialism was 'Common ownership of the means of production. Within Ghana this vanguard was the Convention People's Party (C. This necessary social transformation was to be accomplished by a class-conscious vanguard acting in the name of the proletariat. The primary problem in Africa during this process resembled that faced by Lenin and the Russian Social Democrats: How can the transitional. distribution. p. in other essentially an attitude of mind '.P.4 Thus. Later Nkrumah proposed the formation of an All-African Committee for Political Co-ordination and an All-African People's Revolutionary Army to play this role for the continent as a whole. hegemony. i. in what has become one of the most frequently quoted statements of his theory. Nkrumah's definition of a socialist society contained three essential elements: (i) the control of the state by a class-conscious vanguard. Production is for use and not for profit. (2) industrialisation and the ensuing growth of the proletariat. and to place the Tanzanian leader more squarely in the 2 Nyerere. How can the development of a classless society be encouraged without the long and tumultuous growth. Kwame Nkrumah.' 2 But aside from these almost tautological aspects of the two definitions of socialism. the differing logics used by Nyerere and Nkrumah led to a significant divergence of concepts. Africa Must Unite (London and New York. and promulgating industralisation and the destruction of neo-colonialism. and exchange. ch. RevolutionaryPath.388 STEVEN METZ Nkrumah. which was the most explicit codification of Nyerere's vision of socialism. 'Socialism . i. 1 democracy . See Book 2.3 Like Lenin and Trotsky.5 rather than an institutional structure. 1963). Ujamaa. pt. 4 See. as far as possible. which was seen as a tool for the final destruction of the neo-colonial world economy. i6. and (3) pan-Africanism and the destruction of neo-colonial dependency. p. 466. 3 .P. for instance. was essential. extracts of which appear in RevolutionaryPath. and eventual overthrow of the bourgeoisie? Nkrumah's answer was virtually the same as Lenin's. stated that 'The major means of production and exchange are under the control of the peasants and workers.'1 One of the four major points of the Arusha Declaration. Nkrumah's use of dialectical materialism meant that he considered socialism to be merely an historical stage that would itself be transcended once the forces of production in Africa had reached the full potential of their development. p. socialist phase of the development of society be effected in the most progressive. This might at first seem to represent a radical departure from a materialist philosophy. According to Nyerere. B of Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare. and.). Nkrumah argued that the only method by which these goals could be attained was through the spread of the revolution to other neo-colonial areas: pan-Africanism.

What delineates socialism from capitalism is not control of the means of production. So in effect. more to the 'late Marx' than the author of the Economic Philosophic and Manuscripts i844. Socialism for Nyerere was not necessary. PP. in fact. then the idealist label would be deserved. Thus although it can be argued that Nyerere placed greater emphasis on the mental aspects of socialism than Nkrumah. This emphasis on consciousness is indicative of the defining element of Nyerere's conception of socialism. this attitude was extant but dormant in Tanzania. and it is capitalist when exploitation is used to fuel personal accumulation. could be a good socialist. he did claim that socialism equalssocialist consciousness and ethics. of 3 1975). ThePoliticalEconomy Africa(New York. However. This appearance is reinforced by Nyerere's contention that even a millionaire.). it is obvious that he felt that the institutional structure of socialism played a major role in the growth of the proper consciousness. because it was the most efficacious solution to social contradications. if in possession of the ideas of socialism. see Emily Card. and if.SOCIALIST THEORIES OF NKRUMAH AND NYERERE 389 idealist school. If socialism was strictly an attitude. there is no evidence that he was oblivious to the need for this consciousness to receive institutional encouragement. his institutional prescriptions differed from those of Nkrumah. with each dependent on the other. all that would have been required for the transition to socialism would be the removal of the neo-colonial restraints on this nascent socialism.2 This focus on the attitudinal aspects of socialism again illustrates the key role which the ethical element of social relations played in Nyerere's theory. 1 Ibid.4 2 Ibid. Nyerere considered that the ethics of socialism formed the teleological foundation of the social organisation of production rather than simply a part of the social superstructure.49-92. But from Nyerere's vigorous efforts to re-organise social production in ujamaa units. he placed tremendous emphasis on industrialisation and mechanisation. 'The Political Economy of Ghana'. Although the Ghanaian leader remained painfully aware of the essential role which economic development played in the overthrow of neo-colonialism and in the creation of the proletariat. . of course. as Marx argued. in Richard Harris (ed. This reading of Marx applies. A society is socialist when its produce is distributed equitably.3 but was sought because of the ethical state which it entailed. Nyerere realised that the relationship between socialist organisation and socialist consciousness is dynamic. Because of Nyerere's emphasis on the ethical and psychological elements of socialism.1 If. but the method of social distribution. of 4 For a discussion of the economics of forced industialisation in Ghana. as Nyerere argued.

employed. p. Contradiction. The only rational strategy for social progress was that which operated within this general framework the laws of history could be quickened. makes a point similar to Nyerere's argument. 'If the pursuit of wealth clashes with things like human dignity and social equality. In an orthodox Marxist vein. but not transcended. and 'Agriculture Is the Basis of Development'. . 'Tanzania: from ujamaa to villagization'.1 Since the purpose of socialism for Nyerere was the creation of a certain ethical order rather than the alleviation of contradictions in the social organisation of production. were entitled 'We Have Put Too Much Emphasis on Industries'. according to Nyerere. focused on the improvement and growth of agricultural production. I94ff. But as Lofchie argues in 'Agrarian Socialism in the Third World'. Nkrumah felt that this stage of development was defined by the status of class conflict and the forces which this entailed. cit. He saw social development as determined not by attitudes or ethics. Economy of Tanzania (Nairobi.. For more on the economics of the ujamaa programme. Why then. (eds. His theory of history was closer to that of classical European liberals: the way forward can be controlled through effort. rationality. Goran Hyden. The strategy of the political leader entailed the discovery of the paths to this goal and the encouragement of movement 1 Two section headings of the Arusha Declaration. pp. which outlined Nyerere's strategy for the development of socialism in Tanzania. which was an inevitable result of class society. the abysmal economic performance of the ujamaa programme has led to its de-emphasis. are their paths between premises and conclusions so different? The answer lies with the interpretations of social and historical epistomology and ontology .the logics . see Jonathan Baker. For Nyerere there were no fixed stages of development. Kim et al. 2 For example. also Peter Temu. op. was alleviated synthetically.. he felt that the use of traditional methods of social organisation would foster at least an acceptable level of economic growth while preserving the humanistic elements of production. in Kwan S. I979). when he notes that a socialist strategy for development cannot be evaluated on economic performance alone. and will.). and Jannik Boesen. egalitarian society. pp.2 CONCLUSION: DIFFERING LOGICS Nkrumah and Nyerere began with similar analyses of the primary problems which their nations faced and ended with generally similar notions of what the social organisation of production in a socialist society would look like. through struggle. op. both in Mwansasu and Pratt (eds. Nkrumah utilised a form of dialectical materialism in his analysis.). Traditional African life had provided the goal of historical change: an ethical. 'The Debate on Rural Socialism in Tanzania'. 197-2'. However. Papers on the Political . Ujamaa. but by empirical changes in the organisation of production. on the other hand. then the latter will be given priority'. 92. 'The Ujamaa Experiment'.390 STEVEN METZ Nyerere. cit.

32. His emphasis on the role of pre-capitalist social organisation. 10. Nyerere argued that they could revolutionise the state. It is possible. But while Tanzania has moved further and further from the path outlined in Nyerere's theory. 'The Predicament of the Left in Tanzania'. cit. pp.). Susanne D. of course. Mazrui.. October 1972. i.SOCIALIST THEORIES OF NKRUMAH AND NYERERE 391 towards its achievement. 211. Given the former's emphasis on dialectical materialism and the transformation of society through the leadership of a state controlled by a vanguard party. 2 Bethwell A. 'Nkrumah Revisits Marx'. 14 MOA . as noted above. However. on the formation of small. op. and on 'natural' or traditional forms of social life asjustification of socialism. democratic political units. in Miliband and Savile (eds. 'The Overdeveloped evaluation'. loc. 73. 30. although he has been often called a 'populist' or 'democratic' socialist. 9. was vaguely seen as the "adaptation" of Marxism to Africa. p. 'Nkrumah and Nkrumahism'. 39-48. in East Africa Journal (Nairobi). although 'Nkrumahism. often appear closer to Rousseau than to Marx. His theory of history. 3 The parallels between Nyerere and Rousseau have been noted by Pratt.2 Nyerere is even less easy to categorise. 203. Agot. has been able to retain political power while Nkrumah was removed by a coup de'tat in I966. August I972... 3. p. Mueller. cit.3 Does the fact that Nkrumah was the 'more orthodox' of the two have more than a passing interest? Perhaps. Bethwell A. but simply removed. p. to place Nkrumah and Nyerere within the larger context of socialist thinking. January-April I976. is similar to that of the European liberals. 3. p. The contradictions faced by African states were not to be solved through internal social struggle. op. William Tordoff and Ali A. in East Africa Journal. 4 According to Pratt.1 By way of contrast. cit.June I964. and Colin Leys. 8. but by eliminating the elements which caused them. Exploitation and capitalism were not to be transcended. pp.4 Nkrumah's analysis seems vindicated 1 Jitendra Mohan.. 5. cit.. in Review of African Political Economy (London). Examples and further discussions of these 'left' critiques can be found in Shivji. according toJitendra Mohan. what the precise adaptations were remained obscure'. p. Ogot suggests that in many ways Nkrumah's adaptation of Marx was just as 'orthodox' as Lenin's was in his time. i967. 'Retarded Post-Colonial State: a reCapitalism in Tanzania'. Nkrumah undoubtedly falls somewhere within what can be called orthodox Marxism-Leninism. 'Marxist socialists have come to the conclusion that Tanzania can no longer be judged to be in transition to socialism'. at least on a tentative basis. While Nkrumah felt that the state could be changed by social relations. op. 427-45. 'The Left and the Super-Left in Tanzania' in The Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge). Nyerere. Christopher Mulei.

But the 25 years of history which encompass the experiment of African socialism is a tiny slice of time. so while Nyerere's and Nkrumah's theories of socialism can be outlined and contrasted.392 STEVEN METZ since he continually argued that the transition to socialism in Africa was impossible so long as the bonds of neo-colonialism were not broken through pan-Africanism. . a complete evaluation must be postponed for the future.