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Man, Market, and NEoliberal Imperialism in Sub-Saharan Africa




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Man, Market, and Neoliberal Imperialism in Sub-Saharan Africa This paper draws on Karl Polanyi's (1957) The Great Transformation, to argue that the particular conjuncture of American hegemony (i.e. US-Treasury-IMF-World Bank-WTO nexus) spells a particular dilemma for the conduct of human affairs globally with debilitating social, economic and political fortunes for Sub-Saharan Africa. I argue, following Polanyi, that the reduction of man to labor to suit the dictates of what Polanyi calls the self-regulating market is bound to have unspeakable human consequences. Paradoxically, neoliberal imperialism cannot be without reducing the vast diversity of human experiences to market considerations. This consumerist-fundamentalist global culture that holds humanity hostage to its needs, far exceeding the boundaries and limits of classical liberalism, is what meant by neoliberal imperialism. The political and civil crisis in Africa in the past thirty years, this paper argues, are to be explained in part by this global reorganization of historical capitalism under American territorialist and managerial capitalism. For Sub-Saharan Africa, this has curtailed and eventually swept away the minimal gains of developmental nationalism pursued at the beginning of political independence from colonialism.

Conference Name

A Condient Third World: Facing The Multi-Dimensional Challenges of the Twenty-First Century

Conference Location

Atlanta, GA

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