LETTERS

CAPITALISM VERSUS SOCIALISM
Joan Wicken (TA No. 55) complains about the price (£25) of Joel Barkan’ s ‘Beyond Capitalism vs Socialism in Kenya and Tanzania’. Readers might like to know that there is a paperback edition published by East African Educational Publishers (Brick Court, Mpaka Road, Westlands, P 0 Box 45314 Nairobi) at Shs 490, less than a fifth of the UK price. None of the authors forewent royalties to bring out this edition; there was never any question of receiving royalties in the first place. There are limits to market rationality! concerning Joan Wicken’s thoughtful review, probably all the authors would endorse our statement that ‘pluralistic politics and market economics are the two most important factors’ offering hope for ‘further (educational) decline being arrested.’ What alternative is there? The question is: how much hope is there? One problem is that supporting a market economy is taken by many on the left to mean supporting the Reagan-Thatcher ‘neo-liberal’ view of the market economy. I imagine few readers of Tanzanian Affairs would prefer dictatorship or one-party rule to ‘pluralism’, however defined. Functioning democracies are supposed to constrain the negative effects of unfettered markets. The fact that they do so less and less effectively is a cause of much concern. I believe, for example, that it is the responsibility of the state to provide basic education for all. Support for ‘the market’ does not mean that schools should be taken over by the private sector, as some neo-liberals argue. The market generates the wealth which the state taxes in order to run schools.

In the case of Tanzania, there is strong resistance from the ujamaa old guard in the government and ruling party to both market economics and democratic politics. To date, there is little evidence that there is a basis for the emergence of either effective markets or meaningful pluralism which would bring about the hoped for progress within the available time frame. If Tanzania’s new government has an alternative to ‘some kind of capitalist economy and society’ as Ms Wicken hints in her review, President Mkapa had better come out with it sooner rather than later. otherwise the country will end up as another convivial economic and social basket case, with the market represented by an influx of laundered drug money, and pluralism represented by politicians funded via donations from the same corrupted ‘private’ sector. If economic and cultural globalisation are unstoppable forces, then it is time Tanzanians started thinking what that means for them as we all career towards the 20th century.
Brian Cooksey

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