Zimbabwe’s Triple Crisis: Primitive Accumulation, Nation-State Formation and Democratization in the Age of Neo-Liberal Globalization

by David Moore


This paper utilizes classical and ‘modernization’ theoretical perspectives on primitive accumulation, nation-state formation and democratization to analyze the ‘conjunctural’ aspects of the current Zimbabwean crisis. Taking a structural perspective on the long-term factors, the paper provides the context to the violence-ridden and economically devastating current crisis of land reform, elections, succession, and class-stalemate. It also develops an analysis of ‘medium’ term factors such as years of structural adjustment. Written just after, and taking into account the March 2002 Presidential elections, the paper concludes that strengthening democracy is essential for the resolution of structural socio-economic problems-–even though such an assertion may appear to be a ‘voluntarist’ solution to a structural problem.

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David Moore teaches Economic History and Development Studies at the University of Natal in Durban. He has published recently on Zimbabwe in Journal of Contemporary African StudiesThird World QuarterlyArena (Australia), and Africa Insight (South Africa). His recent publications on development theory include a volume edited with G. Schmitz, Debating Development Discourse: Institutional and Popular Perspectives, (Macmillan, 1995), “Africa: The Black Hole at the Middle of Empire?” Rethinking Marxism, 13, 3/4 (Fall-Winter 2001) and “Levelling the Playing Fields and Embedding Illusions: “Post-Conflict” Discourse and Neo-liberal “Development” in War-torn Africa,’ Review of African Political Economy, 83 (March 2000).