Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dead Socialists

First, Julius Nyerere. This is also a case of dead socialism (Prospect, July 2005,  Return to Tanzania by Jonathan Power).
Nyerere had steered the country into an economic hole, as he himself recognised before his death in 1999.
When I asked [the current president, Benjamin Mkapa] why he abandoned Nyerere's legacy to create a rather successful, if still budding, capitalist economy, he gave two reasons. First, he had watched Deng Xiaoping unleash capitalism in China and saw the country climb from rags to comparative riches. Second, it was the end of the cold war and the western aid donors, in particular the Americans, the British and even the Scandinavians, were no longer interested in propping up a declining country just because it was pro-western.
On becoming Tanzania's leader, Nyerere called on Mao Zedong. Mao told him: "I give you one piece of advice: don't create a middle class." And Nyerere never did.
Of Nyerere's well-meaning but autocratic Christian socialism there is hardly a sign left.
There's much more.

Second, Jimmy Weinstein, who died in June.
Jimmy's most lasting contributions were two books he wrote in the early '60s, after leaving the party. Most historians at the time believed that Debs's Socialist Party had been fatally co-opted in 1912 by the rise of progressivism. But, in The Decline of Socialism in America, Jimmy showed that the party had actually grown steadily afterward--only being undone by the rise of the American Communist Party. ('Socialist Evolution', Subscribers Only)


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