Liberalism: The Only Credible Alternative For Africa

By Mamadou Koulibaly*

We often hear Intellectuals speak of the problem of poverty which continues to haunt Africa after more than half a century of independence. Discussions are passionate and more and more Africans are speaking out and rebelling, while others are proposing solutions. As concerns problems, everybody is unanimous: Africa is still suffering today from a great domination by the former colonial powers and in the French speaking zones comprising former French colonies, the domination is even more glaring with the currency (cfa franc) ,military bases, the so called French-African networks which include protected multi-national corporations .Domination accepted and even supported by easily manipulated or gullible African leaders. Consequently, Africans are held in captivity both by a system of world domination as well as by their own leaders. This is a well established fact.Generally; capitalism, globalization, and neo-liberalism are mostly responsible for this.

Opinions differ as concerns the solutions most frequently proposed. Some people think that it would be necessary that the rich countries should finance Africa in order to enable her come out of poverty, while others say that solutions should rather come from Africa herself. Leaders this school of thought believes should be less corrupt and more responsible in supporting the development of their countries through assistance and investments and support programmes which could create jobs and resist big multi-national corporations. In addition to these proposals, there are numerous local and international associations, international institutions specialized ministeries, writers, and scholars fighting for human rights and freedom through fiery written works, passionate seminars, and various support programs with huge budgets. The background thus set requires that some contradictions be pointed out and new proposals for solutions made.

First ambiguity, some people expect assistance from the international community whereas since independence, these assistance programmes have not brought progress and worse of all there have proven to be part of the domination strategy of the great powers of the African continent. The solution proposed is aimed at making the problem worse rather than solving it. In addition, this humanistic vision of the world is totally at odds with imperialistic realities which control the world since the mist of time. A country or group of countries does not have the inclination of helping the development of another.

Second ambiguity, many are those who expect African countries to effectively take control of the development of the continent through a well planned pattern. However, the corruption of these leaders is part of the problems identified as being the cause of the poverty of the people. Since it is known that a monopoly cannot exist when it is not protected by the elite in power, we can understand the perversity of their implication, since for the most part; they support and maintain foreign domination. This is either for financial interest, the fear of being overthrown, or still for the most zealous, for the pleasure and admiration or simply due to inferiority complex which makes them try to make amends to the other without attempting to position themselves. Fifty years in power that led African countries to the top of the list of failed states(Fund for peace report) is a sign of the inability of these leaders to surpass themselves and it seems quite unwise to continue to look up to them for solutions for a better future. The question is simple: since the state is part of the problem, why use it as a solution?

Finally, the other striking ambiguity is that which consists in defending freedoms while referring to them as been responsible for the problems destroying the continent. Are there good and bad freedoms? Professor Pascal Salin a distinguished liberal reminds us in his book “Liberalism” that” the liberal ideology is in favor of individual freedom in all areas ,precisely because a person cannot cut himself or herself into pieces ,with one part economic, another social  or one part family”.

Prof Koulibaly has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of President Ouattara in Ivory Coast
Prof Koulibaly has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of President Ouattara in Ivory Coast

The rejection of liberalism is a great misunderstanding that must certainly be cleared up. Infact, it is the only thing that can tackle in a therapeutic way the problems that the continent is facing. It alone enables the consolidation of a of a prosperous economy because it frees and stimulates the creative power of human beings. Further more in many respects, liberalism would enable a return to the African roots since traditions depended on spontaneous organization of societies with wise mediators. As for free trade which frightens so much, it existed in the past and was nothing more than caravans which crossed the desert to exchange products with a currency free of state regulations and depended only on human activity, on sale of products whose degree of scarcity created value.

Given that property is the base of progress throughout the world, we should be aiming at a society where people can easily become owners and where they are thus responsible and no longer subjected to authoritarian decisions of the state. Liberalism is the most efficient system to enable people to use their property rights whether they are rich or poor.

The globalization defended by the liberals is the international aspect of freedom. Far from being the shapeless dominating monster, it is the fruit of exchange for millions of people among themselves. This big competitive market enables quality improvement ,price reduction and innovation incentive for producers .As for monopoly ,it is not the fruit of globalization ,rather, it is a product purely created and protected by the states that share the benefits of these friendly companies . He who pays the bills is the consumer, prisoner of choices of a powerful state. Powerful in the sense that it takes the liberty of doing everything. Liberal policies, on the contrary, would enable all Africans to develop their personal projects, save and invest. A poor country cannot afford to waste its resources whereas, in Africa, it can be seen that numerous obstacles delay the people and choke them. That is the case with excessive and complex taxes and also heavy and complicated regulations which block development. There are expensive, waste precious time and encourage corruption for, one ends up slipping a bill under the table in order to unblock a file. This does not mean that the liberal refuses all regulations. Liberalism is the exercise of freedom within a legal framework that enables the protection of people’s property as well as their relations amongst themselves.

Every African should have their chance. Powerful states, those where the political leaders have too much power, forget the poor who would be able to develop themselves if they were freed. Everybody should have the right to participate in development. It is this humanistic vision that is important. The leaders of powerful states are immoral, for they refuse this from their people. If they are incapable now, it is simply because there are too many laws and constraints on them. Consequently, in order to be logical in the process, in order to effectively solve the various problems of Africa, it is absolutely urgent to liberalize the economies. The continent is the youngest in the world. Imagine for one moment the impact that this liberated youth would have in the continent!

Today in their international relations, the states are limited to a few people and often, one only in the first place, a hyper President. The domination by foreign powers is facilitated by this personal configuration of power. What would happen if power were not exclusively in the hands of these people? External sovereignty can be obtained only through the freedom of the people. The African should first of all obtain his sovereignty from his own state. It is at the second level that the sovereignty of the state shall precede to the international stage. Africans should therefore understand that liberalism is the only worthy and credible alternative for Africa.


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