- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Case Studies in Communism, Part Two

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on July 22, 1999 at 17:32:44:

3. Burkina Faso. In 1983 Captain Thomas Sankara, a 34-year-old captain, seized control of Upper Volta in West Africa, in a bloodless coup d'etat. He set up a broad-based coalition government of farmers, workers, "petit-bourgeois" and intellectuals, and renamed his country Burkina Faso, roughly "the people's democratic state of honest men", orienting it along a broadly socialist path to development. As an example, in 1984 he declared a one-year moratorium on rent, i.e. everyone could stay in their homes for free. From then onwards, rents would be paid to the government, not to landowners.

Under Sankara, education of school-age kids jumped 33% in 3 years. In one two-week marathon, 60% of children were vaccinated against three major diseases, in what UNICEF called "one of teh year's biggest successes in Africa." The economy grew consistently at about 3% per capita, in contrast to most African counrties whose economies shrank or stagnated. Life expectancy rose, as every village built a medical dispensary. Corruption almost vanished. Farms and industries were run along traditional African, collectivist lines. The country moved towards participatory democracy, with a generally good human rights record and a high level of popular input into decisions (people's tribunals, etc.). The rural and urban areas began to become more equal in terms of income and standard of living. Sankara campaigned strongly for environmental issues, womens' rights, and in favor of the revolutions in Nicaragua and Grenada.

Unfortunately, Sankara alienated traditional elites an the upper classes, and was overthrown and murdered by his close friend in 1987. The country continues on an officially "Sankarist" path, however.

4. Zimbabwe. In 1980, the colonial white regime of Ian Smith was overthrown by an African socialist revolution. White farms and property were nationalized with compensation. A multiparty democratic system of one-man, one-vote was set up, and teh country began building socialist democracy. As a result, the counrty achieved the highest life-expectancy and literacy rates in Africa, not including small island countries (see below).It also became the only industrialized country outside South Africa, while being self-sufficient in food. Zimbabwean troops were sent into both Mozambique and teh Congo to defend tehri governments against foreign subversion. Their neighbor Namibia was also liberated by a socialist revolution in 1990, and teh new governmnet has nationalized industries and sworn to fight against capitalism and imperialism.

5. The Seychelles. In 1977 the Seychelles was taken over by a Communist regime of France-Albert Rene, aided by tanzanian troops. They achieved the highest litercay rates in Africa, a life expectncy of almsot 70 years, population stability, excellent environmental conservation, near-First World infant mortality rates, and eventually multiparty democracy, all under the socialist regime of Rene.

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