struggle takes the form of a discourse to organise society in the interests of the ruling class – the bourgeoisie. While the dispossessed classes, the workers and peasants ands their traditional allies, the petty bourgeoisie or educated elites, are weakened through strategies of cooptation, repression and subjugation. The discrediting of a socialist alternative was rationalised with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the East European socialist bloc. But socialism need not follow the approach used followed by the Soviet Union or former socialist bloc. Perhaps, its failure in those countries had partly to do with an authoritarian imposition and absence of internal criticism and counter-criticism. Thus it atrophied and lacked internal dynamics, giving way to its negation. There is no doubt that the closedness and denialism of traditional socialist countries has worked to create forces of reaction which have eventually discredited the system altogether and led to its collapse.
Towards the beginning of the last decade most countries in Africa overwhelmed by the historical demise of world socialism lost a frame of reference and thus a credible ideological alternative. Thus this lack of an alternative has helped entrench the neoliberal paradigm as the only panacea of economic development in Africa. The existence of no alternatives goes against our understanding of Marxist dialectics. To everything there is an opposite. Thus, with the discrediting of world socialism, a ala Soviet style, there exists an alternative to the market economy. The absence of alternative discourse to neoliberalism will only help entrench capitalist exploitation of African economies, as the example, of Zambia has shown, the adoption of neo-liberal economic policies have only compounded class inequalities, increased poverty and the pauperisation of the population.
There is no meaningful debate on alternatives to the neoliberal economies paradigm in Zambia, as is the case in many other African countries. The trade unions have coniued to complain of the impact of structural adjustment on their members in terms of job security and declining incomes, but have not been able to articulate an alternative to the present economic programme. It is this paralysis in being fixed within one paradigm – the neoliberal paradigm – which is responsible for the implementation of pernicious economic policies that not hurt the poorest of our people, but challenge the social contract between the state and the citizens, i.e. to provide them with security and social welfare. The Zambian state, as many other African countries has failed to deliver as a result of implementing neoliberal policies.
This paper has tried to show that the discourse of the African development crisis is dominated by the neoliberalism. We examined the arrogance and the ideological triumphalism among proponents of neo-liberalism who, in a manner reminiscent of the discredited modernization policies of the past, believe that the only way in which African countries can develop is to cast themselves along capitalist lines.
But the overwhelming evidence from Africa shows that neoliberal economic policies have not only succeeded in worsening the continent’s development crisis, but are in fact helping to further entrench imperialist control of African economies. In view of the acute contradictions, limitations, and the debilitating nature of the development crisis, there is no doubt that urgent and radical solutions are needed. But the neo-liberal paradigm cannot provide appropriate solutions to the crisis.
Marxism provides an alternative ideological discourse to neo-liberalism and posits the creation of an alternative society, which is more equitable. How such a society is created and the nature it takes cannot be based on dogma, but on concrete realities prevailing in specific countries. In the case of Zambia, dominant class forces, including the working class formed an alliance which endorsed the neo-liberal paradigm as the most relevant economic strategy to economic development. This maximum coalition has complicated the resolution of the national question and is responsible for the absence of a real debate on alternatives to neo-liberalism. Whether an alternative inspired by the socialist tradition can yet re-emerge will depend on whether socialists are willing to pay more attention both to political strategies that go beyond protest and to the study of the conditions of viability of alternative modes of organising economic life.
9 III Conferencia Internacional La obra de Carlos Marx y los desafíos del Siglo XXI – Neo Simutanyi