Writing on roape.net in December 2019, I discuss what a radical website and review on African political economy can do. 

“ROAPE’s Leo Zeilig looks at a year that has seen two astonishing uprisings in Africa, and protest movements that have rippled across the globe. The first, in Sudan, started in the small city of Atbara in December last year. The second major event of the year was the climate strikes around the world. Though these protests were smaller in Africa, the continent remains deeply affected by the consequences of human-made climate change. Zeilig asks what a radical journal and website like ROAPE can do?

Two major events stand out in 2019. The first has been the almost frenzied protests and uprisings we have seen – linked, in one way or another, to a rejection of the existing order. Inchoate, unfocused, frequently ‘unorganised’, these protests have yet again highlighted the inherently unstable nature of our period. Spreading like a great arch from Sudan in December 2018, to Algeria in February 2019, and then to a series of astonishing protests in Hong Kong and later in the year rippling across South America, Columbia, Chile, Lebanon and Iraq.

By any measure, the balance sheet has already been extraordinary. By April in Sudan an entire government and National Legislature had been dissolved, and the president ‘removed’; in Algeria, ruled since independence from France in 1962 by a one-party state, the National Liberation Front or FLN,  saw the president replaced, and then, under pressure from the streets, the arrest of Algeria’s richest businessman and three billionaires on the grounds of corruption. Protestors in the streets rallied under the slogan, ‘The system must go.’

Inevitably the dynamics vary enormously, but these complexities should not prevent us from seeing some striking commonalities – the ties of national exhaustion at the variations and forms of austerity, corruption and adjustment. These are common features – to which no appeal to complexity, careful analysis and ‘national factors’ – should be allowed to blind us …”

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