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Neoliberal Liberalism → African Authoritarianism → Disorganized Dissent

Class History and Class Practices in the Periphery of Capitalism

ISBN: 978-1-78973-592-5, eISBN: 978-1-78973-591-8

Publication date: 3 September 2019


Neoliberalism’s global scale crisis has been most acute in Africa, in terms of economic welfare, human suffering, ecological damage, and policy sovereignty. Social opposition to the first rounds of dissent was quelled during the 1980s, and export-led growth strategies finally appeared to pay off when, during 2002–2011, commodity prices soared and “Africa Rising” became the watchword. However, as commodity prices plateaued during 2011–2014 and then crashed, authoritarianism has revived. The reimposition of neoliberal policies, a new round of unrepayable foreign debt (in part associated with Chinese-funded infrastructure), and renewed austerity are all bearing down. From internal elite circuits, this threatens to unleash a well-known combination of neoliberalism, neopatrimonialism, and repression by authoritarian leaders. New rounds of protests, often arising as a direct result of these economic catalysts, were witnessed in some of the most famous sites of struggle such as Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, Nigeria in 2012, and South Africa at various points in recent years. Ongoing strife has also brought intense pressure on governing regimes in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, leading to major political reforms and even changes in regimes. This chapter examines the dynamics of this process to expose the neoliberal foundations of rising authoritarianism accompanied by repression – and resistance – across the African landscape.



Bond, P. (2019), "Neoliberal Liberalism → African Authoritarianism → Disorganized Dissent", Class History and Class Practices in the Periphery of Capitalism (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 34), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 89-116.



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