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<nettime> a liberal revolution in 21st century Africa?
Keith Hart on Wed, 3 Jul 2013 14:55:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> a liberal revolution in 21st century Africa?

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*

   1. On world revolutions
   2. The idea and reality of Africa
   3. Waiting for emancipation: the slave trade, colonial empire and after
   4. Africa?s urban revolution in the 20th century
   5. Africa rising: the world crisis and the century ahead

*Sources of economic democracy in Africa*

   1. The human economy then: the Victorian synthesis
   2. How the informal economy took over the world
   3. Population dynamics, mobility and communications
   4. Generation, gender and the new diaspora
   5. The world market for cultural commodities
   6. World economy, world religion
   7. The human economy now: towards a more genuine democracy

*What is to be done?*

   1. The Old Regime and liberal revolution
   2. Regional integration and the market: an African customs union
   3. Panafricanism revisited: from sorrow songs to songs of freedom

* Appendix  *Africa on my mind
PS Mark S. Things digital do make an appearance in the book, but not in the

PPS Suggestions, public or prviate, much welcomed.

Prof. Keith Hart
135 rue du Faubourg Poissonniere
75009 Paris, France
Cell: +33684797365

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