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International Socialism, Summer 1967


Martin Chanock

African Futures


From International Socialism (1st series), No.29, Summer 1967, p.37.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Communism in Africa
Fritz Schatten
Allen & Unwin, 32s

This is not a book about Communism in Africa. It is about what are alleged to be the foreign policies of the Soviet Union, some Eastern European countries and China towards the new African countries. To Schatten the simple Africans, recently emerged ‘from historical darkness and political formlessness,’ are unaware of the true nature of Communism – ‘a highly developed compound of promises, of dogmatic interpretation of the past and the present, and the incarnation of Machiavellianism: a gigantic power political compound that subordinates all its measures, pronouncements, and plans to the one aim of securing total dominance of the whole world.’ Schatten is a West German broadcaster and his book is based entirely on unconnected newspaper reports, lurid quotations from World Marxist Review et al. where necessary, and authoritative conclusions from the American handout Problems of Communism. His knowledge of Africa, furthermore is scanty and inaccurate – Swaziland is called Barotseland; Swahili cries are on the lips of the Congo mobs.

For IS readers interested in the reactions of a Western conservative to a situation in which the former colonial powers are no longer the exclusive influence in Africa, this book might have some interest. Perhaps it is too much to expect the right to produce an analysis of what communism means in African society. And we will have to wait too until the left has ceased to be’ enamoured with the verbal offerings to ‘African Socialism’ made by the present ruling elite.’ A Congolese Army mutineer wrote:

‘There will be two branches of Congolese Independence. First there will be ... the class of the great Congolese leaders and their white counsellors. These will benefit from all the advantages of the new independent state.

‘A second dishonoured wing, which will include the inferiors, the criers of “Vive Independence” on 30 June 1960 will be and remain the servants of the first branch.’

A book which analyses the continuing African revolution in terms of the resolution of this basic conflict will have something to say about Communism in Africa.

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