I have just posted an essay exploring the prospects for African emancipation (as part of a world revolution) in the decades ahead. It's full title is Waiting for emancipation: towards an African liberal revolution. You can find it here.
The essay summarises Africans' history of relations with the rest of the world and their current situation as the prime symbol of global economic (and racial) inequality. I argue that population growth and urbanization in the last century allowed much of Middle Africa to make the transition to agrarian civilization (aka the Old Regime), while North Africa has been there for several millennia and South Africa under the ANC is converging with the rest of the continent. This reduces regional contrasts and sets up Africa for a liberal revolution.
Africa's propspects for economic development are better now than before with 7 out of the 10 fastest growing economies. But population growth in an ageing world will put Africa at 35% of the global population by 2100 (7.5% in 1900). As the Asian manufacturers know, this vastly increases Africa's weight in the world economy. But the continent is politically fragmented and so far has presneted itself as easy pickings for foreign powers.
This puts a renewed emphasis on the need for greater political and economic integration. I suggest that the revolutions of the 17th-19th centuries (England, US, France, Italy, Germany) offer more enlightening models than the socialist revolutions of the 20th century. This line points to the role of capital in popular democratic movements and of wars over trade and tax regimes lasting several decades. I make a case for an African customs union similar to the German Zollverein or the European common market as one possible way forward.
The essay is a flyer for a book I hope to produce soon called Africa in the World Revolution. Contents follow:
Africans in world history
- On world revolutions
- The idea and reality of Africa
- Waiting for emancipation: the slave trade, colonial empire and after
- Africa’s urban revolution in the 20th century
- Africa rising: the world crisis and the century ahead
Sources of economic democracy in Africa
- The human economy then: the Victorian synthesis
- How the informal economy took over the world
- Population dynamics, mobility and communications
- Generation, gender and the new diaspora
- The world market for cultural commodities
- World economy, world religion
- The human economy now: towards a more genuine democracy
What is to be done?
- The Old Regime and liberal revolution
- Regional integration and the market: an African customs union
- Panafricanism revisited: from sorrow songs to songs of freedom
Appendix Africa on my mind
All comments/suggestions welcome.