Thursday, 5 June 1997
The Editors, Daily News, P.O. Box 4200, Woodland Hills, CA 91365 74511.2472@CompuServe.com
re: Opinions, "War-rocked Congo could be wealthy leader for Africa," Kevin Danaher, Thursday, June 5, 1997
Perhaps the most revealing statement in Kevin Danaher's foolish article on the Congo is that Mobutu Sese Seko "played a key role in destabilizing socialist experiments in neighboring countries such as Angola." This implies that a "socialist experiment" in a place like Angola might or would have been successful if not for foreign intervention. (I guess all those Cuban soldiers didn't compensate for Western hostility.)
Danaher doesn't seem to notice, however, that there were plenty of other "socialist experiments" in Africa, in countries like Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Somalia, some of which faced no international opposition (e.g. Zambia and Tanzania), but that not a single one of them could be counted as anything like a success. Tanzania especially was driven into poverty and tyranny, despite vast international aid, by policies that Mr. Danaher evidently would still recommend.
Danaher's characterizing of Patrice Lumumba as an "economic nationalist" is a way of saying that Lumumba believed in the state ownership of the means of production and the exclusion of foreign investment (i.e. corporations merely seeking profit). It is thus not surprising that Moscow contained a "Patrice Lumumba University" since such "economic nationalism" turns out to be indistinguishable from Soviet communism. It didn't work there either, but perhaps Mr. Danaher has missed that bit of history.
The sad truth about Africa is that the standard of living was often higher under colonialism than after several decades of independence. This outcome has been achieved both by socialists who nationalized their economies and by less ideological dictators, like Mobutu, who simply wanted to steal. The only hope of Africa is the rule of law and the protection of private property in the free market. This is no more likely to be achieved with the advice of enemies of profit and capital, like Kevin Danaher, than it is under non-socialist kleptocracies.
Kelley L. Ross
Department of Philosophy
Los Angeles Valley College