- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Zimbabwe has fallen far short of the socialist potential that it had in 1980.

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 06, 1999 at 17:48:34:

In Reply to: Zimbabwe posted by septimus on December 06, 1999 at 11:33:51:

: I agree with many of your sentiments regarding Zimbabwe but I have trouble with the idea that the country is a socialist success story.
: Once again we see a country hijacked by its revolutionary leaders and allowed to stagnate and rot.

I agree with you that Zimbabwe has fallen far short of the socialist potential that it had in 1980. I also agree that Mugabe is a fallible man. His inability to tolerate homosexuals is a good example of that.
But do you really blame Mugabe for all of this? Isn't it largely the fault of an unjust economic system that forced him to put much of his socialist ideology on the back burner? For exam,ple, I'm sure thant he would be spending much more on education, health care, etc. and on redistributing wealth if he were not depending on rich countries and the World Bank for exports and foreign aid.

And I would disagree with you that revolutionary armies in general do not make good rulers. What about Daniel Ortega, or Thomas Sankara, or Maurice Bishop, or even Castro for that matter? What about the leaders of the American REvolution, notably GEorge Washington. What about Mandela? Most recently, what about the Eritreans?

:While Mugabe et al award themselves huge pay rises and cut themselves off from the rest of the world (he recently denounced the entire British cabinet as homosexuals), the state is falling apart. Poverty is still crippling after 20 years of ZANU-PF rule while drought and AIDS tear society apart.

Yes, but bear in mind, Zimbabwe has weathered its droughts; it hasn't experinced famine in spite of the bad weather. And AIDS is really not the doing of the government. Zimbabwe, I think, has eben very unlucky, although certainly Mugabe has not been blameless.

:Life for the majority of Zimbabweans is probably no worse than before :the revolution but it is certainly no better.

Well, isn't their literacy and economic development higher, though? Zimbabwe was the most advanced country in continental Africa, bar none, a couple of years ago. Its life expectancy and literacy were both higehr tahn SOuth AFrica, and it had begun tackling inequality while simultanoeusly industrailizing,

: More than anything this is very sad. My parents were teachers there just after the revolution while the country was rebuilding and the sense of optimism in the community was almost palpable. Last year my brother went back for a visit. While he was there he picked up a hitch-hiker who turned out to be a policeman on the way to a crime scene. An ambulance took an hour to arrive at an accident which happened in the centre of the capital city.

Corruption is a bitch. India has these problems too. But it should not obscure teh socialist dream, should it?

Out of curioisty- were your parents Zimbabweans or did they move there? Did you live there too?

: I think that this is simply proof that leaders of revolutionary armies have no idea how to run a country. If Mugabe and his cronies could be gotten rid of and land were distributed fairly (the whites still own the best stuff) then the future would look a lot better.

Yes. Mugabe, I think, is right now in the process of a redistribution campaign. The Eritrean revolutionary republic is doing similar things. I think they're the best model in Africa right now.

: The problem isn't with socialism, it's the people who end up running it.
: To declare Zimbabwe a success is, sadly, clutching at straws.

Well,I agree, it's probably not a total success. But it is better to be poor and free than to be rich in slavery.

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