BOOK REVIEWS: WALLERSTEIN’S AFRICAN UNITY

Similarly, some of Wallerstein’s analytical concepts are difficult to understand. The whole of Chapter X is devoted to a discussion of the “avant-garde,” by his definition the trade unions, student organizations, women’s organizations, and similar groups, which from the label given them one would assume to be the most militant exponents of African unity. Yet their leaders are expressly categorized as “second-level Leaders” (p. 177). Why then are the top-level leaders not the “avant-garde,” the Nkrumabs, Nyereres and Nassers who, if anything, are shown in this chapter to be manipulating these groups, rather than being pushed by them. Another example of this kind of uncertain categorization occurs on page 63, where we are asked to accept a distinction between those who are not in power and those who are “not quite” in power.

The other major failing of this book is its weakness in putting the movement for African Unity into context. Throughout the narrative we gather that African unity has powerful enemies- of feels itself to have them. However, the concept of “neo-colonialism,” though often mentioned, is nowhere given detailed and systematic treatment, not even in the chapter entitled “The Political Implications of Economic Analysis,” which is particularly disappointing. There is no discussion of foreign investment in Africa, of the role of agencies such as the C.I.A. or A.I.D. or the Peace Corps, or of the lobbies maintained in Britain and the U.S.A. by opponents of African unity like the South African government or Ian Smith. Yet it is only if we really understand what men like Kwame Nkrumah or Julius Nyerere are up against that we will understand the failure of the movement for African unity.

Professor Wallerstein’s attempt in his final chapter to set the movement in the context of world politics since the Second World War is also inadequate. The detailed interplay between African and world events is not shown in a way which establishes causality, and it is particularly misleading (even if convenient for his exposition) to lump all the colonial powers together, as he seems to do. The crucial times for the re-evaluation of policy were different for all these Powers, and cannot be neatly shown as a response to developments in world politics. If anything, other developments in their own empires were more influential for Britain and France than the relations between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. which Wallerstein regards as decisive.

All in all, this is an unsatisfying book, of limited worth.