African states are not, in any real sense, capitalist states. Elsewhere, the state has played a crucial role in facilitating capitalist expansion, but in postcolonial Africa one finds a form of neopatrimonialism - personal rule - that introduces a variety of economic irrationalities. Productive economic activities are impeded by the political instability, systemic corruption and maladminstration associated with personal rule. In extreme cases, a downward spiral of political-economic decline is set in motion that is difficult to halt and reverse. Is personal rule simply a euphemism for ineptitude and mismanagement? The authors argue that it is not; it operates according to a particular political rationality that shapes a ruler's actions when, in the absence of legitimate authority, he is confronted with the challenge of governing an unintegrated peasant society. Neopatrimonialism is essentially an adaptation of colonial-inspired political institutions to peculiar historical and social conditions. This book focuses on the political factor as an important cause of Africa's economic ills. It analyses the social conditions impelling political adaptation and the consequences of personal rule for economic life, and surveys creative responses to the predicament African people now face.
List of tables; Acknowledgements; Glossary; Map; 1. Disappointments of independence; 2. Why capitalism fails; 3. Colonial roots of the contemporary crisis; 4. Class, tribe and politics; 5. Anatomy of personal rule; 6. The downward spiral; 7. Survival strategies; Notes; Index.