The political economy of civilization : peasant-workers in Zimbabwe and the neo-colonial world
This thesis provides a global political economy of the postwar period, with special reference to Zimbabwe. The conceptual aim is to connect the agrarian question with contemporary democratic theory, by inquiring into the global sources of 'civil society' and relating it to the phenomenon of semi-proletarianisation. There are three basic arguments. First, civil society cannot be understood in isolation from imperialism. The onset of the Cold War produced an ultra-imperial order under US leadership, with a 'global development' project crafted to its needs and a mode of rule preoccupied with the definition and enforcement of 'civil society'. Second, capital accumulation in the postwar period has continued to operate in accordance with the laws of motion of the centre-periphery relationship; the main alteration has consisted in the closer integration of central-state economies with each other, along with a small number of industrial satellites. The periphery has remained in a disarticulated pattern of accumulation, whose corollary is the reproduction of semi-proletarianisation on a grand scale. Third, under ultra-imperialism, 'civil society' has been defined in accordance with the requirements of disarticulated accumulation, while semi-proletarian politics have all too often been relegated to the 'uncivil' domain. The thesis focuses on the relationship between the civil and uncivil politics of the semi-proletariat. During 'nation-building', which dovetailed with the Cold War, uncivil politics comprised of 'property unfriendly' forces, the radical nationalist and socialist seeking to nationalise industry and redistribute land (i.e., to alter the pattern of accumulation). With the onset of 'structural adjustment' and the end of the Cold War, the uncivil net was cast wider to the 'market unfriendly', including radical trade unionisms and land occupation movements. It is argued that in the postwar period uncivil politics have occasionally obtained social revolution; or extensive agrarian reforms and capitalist development; or, most commonly, limited agrarian reforms within a persisting pattern of disarticulated accumulation (Zimbabwe being the case in point). The latter outcome owes to the systematic 'civilisation' of oppositional politics by means of cooptation tactics - not least within international trade unionism - and outright repression. The thesis demonstrates these arguments with a detailed account of Zimbabwe's experience, and concludes with reflections on the prospects of a post-liberal civilisation.