Page images

alists come to power, they are faced with a situation that they have helped to create. They must bend every effort to produce opportunities for mobility. These are satisfied only in part by ridding the country of expatriate officials and providing patronage jobs. More basically social mobility strivings put a heavy burden of economic development on nationalist leaders.

Equal opportunity. In most areas traditional eligibility for recruitment to important positions was on relatively ascriptive bases. Both social welfare colonialists and nationalists have had to provide alternatives in the form of expanded educational opportunities, and recruitment on the basis of talent and skill. The idea of equal opportunity has been one of the most compelling bases for nationalism. Social inequity has been a deep-rooted source of antagonism between emerging African classes as well as between expatriates and Africans. Although a sense of deprivation and lost opportunity has been expressed in demands for equal opportunity for all, the content of equal opportunity has been expressed primarily in political terms and only secondly in educational terms. It is being expressed increasingly in economic terms. Indeed, colonial and nationalist governments are engaging more and more in the business of providing loans for African enterprises and expanding African trade.

Racial tolerance. In relations with missionaries, traders, and administrators, Africans have suffered from presumed inferiority. The missionaries stressed moral weakness and inadequacy; the traders stressed the low level of crafts and civilization; and the administrators, governing large populations and territories with limited personnel, created something of a mystique about white and Western leadership. Sometimes expressed in separatist church movements, sometimes in revivalist traditional organizations, sometimes in art and drama, and in current nationalism, the consequences of racial intolerance have been profound. Indeed, the fact that Christianity is essentially a white European affair has greatly aided the growth of Islam.

Responsibility of the individual to the group. National leaders have placed great emphasis on group solidarity, which is often difficult to maintain, in the hope that prevailing and new social groupings can serve as mediators of cultural and social conflict. Through the reorganization of traditional groupings and the development of new ones, the corporate strength of national societies has begun to emerge.

Technological development. Material standards of life, especially those of the West, have increasingly served as guideposts for contem

porary populations in Africa, by whom economic development is most desperately sought.

Government enterprise. In order to make assaults on economic backwardness, colonial and nationalist governments have sought first to initiate and improve health, education, and other welfare operations and, second, to undertake primary economic development, such as building of roads, port facilities, and the like. Because of obstacles to private economic entrepreneurship and particularly because of difficulties in the creation of large-scale industry, government has also served as a financial and planning base for economic growth. Nationalists increasingly look to government enterprise as the form in which economic growth most probably can be stimulated, with private enterprise as either an expatriate or relatively small-scale complementary effort.

A satisfactory explanation of imperialism. There is an effort to explain how Africans came to be dominated by the West and also to demonstrate the immorality of colonialism. Exploitation and plunder are the explanations most used.

Political puritanism. There is a search for beliefs that transform individual opportunism into socially necessary and valuable forms of activity and that favor the emergence of new forms of social discipline as older, and particularly tribal, forms alter.

These ten goals are among the most important on the African scene, where they are influential on many levels. To achieve these goals political leaders have been determined to create all-embracing organizations with great power. They seek to concentrate control over the several aspects of social change. Expression of the goals varies a great deal, but they are pervasive objects of considerable passion.1

Nationalism and the Economy

If we classify predominant forms of economic activity in Africa in three major types, subsistence, commercial, and industrial, of which the last may be considered the desired end, we find that nationalist goals are most widespread in the commercial societies. It is there that social dissatisfaction and grievance are most intense. The particular "solution" of the attendant problems, which is seized upon with increas

1 The organizational consequences of these goals are those of mobilization leading to industrialization. For a discussion of mobilization systems see David E. Apter, The Political Kingdom: An Inquiry into the Political Sociology of Uganda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, in press), Chapter 1.

ing frequency, is the "industrial" solution. In other words, industrialization has become the most generalized end because political leaders see it as capable of achieving the goals enumerated above.

The ultimate goal that seems to allow the solution of all intermediate but significant goals is industrialization. This particular form of economic growth is increasingly a measure of progress. It also is the symbol of success in modern life. The ideology of contemporary politics in underdeveloped areas, then, is an ideology of development. Scarcely a country in Africa does not have its five- or ten-year development scheme. Hardly a political leader does not envisage his role as creating opportunities that only industrial wealth can make possible. And barriers to industrial progress are identified with the slow and apparently halting measures of colonial governments. Political leaders are not necessarily concerned about the profitability of a particular enterprise; they may actually prefer to use protective tariffs in order to stimulate basic industries, even when their comparative advantage lies in continuing to import. Often, too, there is a belief that an industry not now profitable will become so later, as effective demand increases, and that further growth can be stimulated and enterprise made more profitable by a combination of inhibiting imports and raising income levels through domestic development. The question is: by what means can this be achieved?


Implicit in this discussion so far has been the idea that economic development depends in large measure on government enterprise. Political leaders want to control as much of the process of change as they can and to make it as efficient as they can. Once organized, an effective nationalist body overshadows all other organizations. It allows political leaders to form a self-perpetuating oligarchy, even when the form of government is representative, and gives them means of affecting more people in the population than any other organization can. The pattern of successful political opposition, for example, is relatively rare. The political party with an effective leadership is for a time relatively impregnable, particularly in formerly colonial states where nationalism takes over an established machinery of government. There is a natural propensity for nationalism-the logical outcome of which is antonomous power-to use government as its main mechanism for the achievement of goals. Indeed, a governmental framework that

inhibits this achievement is likely to be replaced by another that is more congenial to nationalist purposes.

Most of the goals of nationalism are wrapped up in a wide range of social strivings, which are made more acute because the standards set by those who represented Western culture-missionaries, traders, administrators, and more recently settlers-are not normally attainable by the means originally available in the West, at least not attainable in the same degree. Even if such means were available, the urgency of change makes economic development through the Western pattern of private entrepreneurship seem gradual and slow. If it was the bureaucratic and stifling control over enterprise, characteristic of mercantilism, that was vulnerable in early Western experience, it is development through private means that is similarly vulnerable in new nations.

The difficulty is not that Africans are not enterprising or entrepreneurs.2 Few of them are in a position to assemble capital, talent, and technological components on a large enough scale to begin an appreciable industrial process, by contemporary standards. The competitive position in any colonial country is bad from the point of view of economic entrepreneurs seeking industrial opportunities. With few exceptions, what can be produced by large-scale industry is more cheaply imported.

Since this is the case, the alternative approach to development is through political entrepreneurship. Here the emphasis is on establishing multifunctional organizations which can be directed at a number of targets. One target may be independence; another may be economic growth. The same organization attempts to achieve both by creating a following that gives it power. Thus political entrepreneurship uses public resources in order to achieve economic growth; economic entrepreneurship uses private resources.

Types of Economic System and Political Entrepreneurship

Our concern is with the political entrepreneurship of Africans. We shall make only passing comments about political entrepreneurship in multiracial systems as a special case of compartmentalized commercial system. We are interested mainly in two other types of commercial economy: a bazaar economy and a participant commercial economy. Africans participate in both, but in the first there is "horizontal"

2 See, for example, Peter Bauer, West African Trade (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1954), passim.

participation, i.e., in this single form of trading relationship there is wide participation; in other forms-large-scale commercial enterprise, for example there is not. In the second type of commercial enterprise Africans participate on all levels. Differences between the participants in the bazaar and in the compartmentalized economies are determined by the basis of entry. If it is necessary to belong to a certain race, e.g., to be a European, although all other qualifications such as necessary capital and skill are available to a potential entrant, then the system is compartmentalized. A practical monopoly of certain forms of trade is normally supported by a host of discriminatory factors and is usually found where there are multiracial or "plural" societies—as in parts of East, Central, and South Africa.

Subsistence economies. There is an inherent difficulty in discussing pure subsistence economies because they are rare. Even in Karamoja in Uganda, where tribal warfare sporadically erupts and people are not overburdened with clothes, people sell their cattle in a market and have a well-defined sense of the things that money can buy.3 Subsistence economies have meaning in one sense. Barring unexpected intervention, they provide for most of the basic wants of their members and are distinguished by a very limited division of labor. Subsistence economies do not produce political entrepreneurs, but do constitute a problem for them. Subsistence economies are poverty economies in the sense that poverty is a function of wealth, and wealth is normally reckoned in terms of real income, or readily transferable title to real income. However, subsistence economies are neither poor nor wealthy; their income simply is not usually reckoned in monetary terms.1

It is the culture of such economies that makes them important; traditional elements of their social life are strongly maintained. Neither exchange nor social relations have been altered drastically. Such systems show considerable resistance to both Islam and Christianity. Political entrepreneurs tend to ignore subsistence systems, since their participation in political and economic life is minimal. Where people living in a subsistence economy are able to vote, however, they rarely 8 See Alan Moorehead, "A Reporter at Large: A Drop into the Stone Age," The New Yorker, September 6, 1958, pp. 39-87.

♦ However, in some areas the overwhelming preponderance of the population can remain primarily in the subsistence sector. Until World War II 90 percent of French West Africa's population was within that sector, and it is still estimated at 80 percent in spite of the rapid economic development taking place there. See Elliot J. Berg, "The Economic Basis of Political Choice in French West Africa," American Political Science Review, 54:392 (June 1960).

« PreviousContinue »