What lessons can we draw from 1960s and 1970s anticolonialism and pan-Africanism to rethink the nation state today?
With the re-emergence of global right-wing nationalism, predatory racialized capitalism, and the realities of what Kwame Nkrumah termed “neocolonialism,” a strong state is often presented on the left as a remedy. The state is seductive.
In development terms, a weak state makes it vulnerable to foreign influence, structural adjustment, lack of public expenditures, and foreign capture, all of which limit sovereignty and development. A strong state, on the other hand, is thought better able to centralize resources and citizens to protect economic interests yet is often is criticized as monopolizing violence undemocratically and is responsible for repression, elitism, and reproducing what some term coloniality. The state and development are simultaneously necessary and something to be avoided, or at best decentralized and democratized.
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