The State as Lame Leviathan: The Patrimonial Administrative State in Africa

  • Thomas M. Callaghy


Recent discontent with the notions of the state and state formation in the African context and an accompanying preoccupation with the ‘decline of the state’ has much to do with the way that the state and state formation have been conceptualized. There has been much discussion of late of the ‘overdeveloped’, ‘underdeveloped’, or ‘soft’ state, plus ‘uncaptured’ populations and ‘exit options’. These notions were a reaction to the shattered illusions of a post-colonial voluntarist view of the state that was held by many analysts and actors alike. It had various modernization, democratic, neo-colonial, socialist and revolutionary versions. There was an assumption of malleability of both state and society, of linear success and increasing strength that has been increasingly belied by evidence of uneven (and even diminishing) control, resilience of traditional authority patterns, poor economic performance, debt and infrastructure crises, the emergence of magendo or second economies, reductions in administrative performance, curtailment of capacities, political instability and resistance and withdrawal. Underlying these new discussions is often a tone of surprise and bewilderment. Believing that a broader historical, comparative and analytic perspective is useful, this chapter will present and delineate the notion of the patrimonial administrative state as the underlying form of domination in Africa today, above which floats a host of varying and changing ‘regime types’.


International Monetary Fund African State Military Regime Colonial State Exit Option 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    For the full exposition and documentation of the argument in this section, see Thomas M. Callaghy, The State—Society Struggle: Zaire in Comparative Perspective ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1984 ) pp. 7–79.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    On the role of the IMF in Africa, see Thomas M. Callaghy, ‘The Political Economy of African Debt: The Case of Zaire’ in John Ravenhill (ed.), Africa in Economic Crisis (London: Macmillan, 1986), pp. 307–46Google Scholar
  3. Thomas M. Callaghy. ‘Between Scylla and Charybdis: The Foreign Economic Relations of Sub-Saharan African States’ in Gerald J. Bender (ed.) The Annals, ‘International Affairs in Africa’ (January 1987);Google Scholar
  4. also see Henry F. Jackson, ‘The African Crisis: Drought and Debt’, Foreign Affairs 63, 5 (Summer 1985): 1081–94;Google Scholar
  5. and G. K. Helleiner, ed., Africa and the International Monetary Fund ( Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1986 ).Google Scholar
  6. On the World Bank, see Winsome Leslie, ‘The World Bank and Zaire’ in Nzongola-Ntalaja (ed.) The Crisis in Zaire: Myths and Realities, ( Trenton: Africa World Press, 1986 ), pp. 245–63.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    Max Weber, Economy and Society ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978 ) p. 1099.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    On statecraft in Africa, see Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg, Personal Rule in Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); also see Lemarchand (Chapter 6), Rothchild (Chapter 5), and Kasfir (Chapter 2) in this volume.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    Frederick Cooper, ‘Africa and the World Economy’, African Studies Review 24, 2–3 (June—September 1981): 46.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    Cooper, ‘Africa and the World Economy’: 20–1. Also see Sara Berry, Fathers Work for Their Sons ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985 );Google Scholar
  11. Michael G. Schatzberg, Politics and Class in Zaire ( New York: Africana Publishing, 1980 );Google Scholar
  12. and Crawford Young and Thomas Turner, The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State ( Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985 ) Chapter 4.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Adam Przeworski, ‘Proletariat into a Class’, Politics and Society 7, 4 (1977): 372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 10.
    Colin Leys, ‘African Economic Development in Theory and Practice’, Daedalus III, 2 (Spring 1982): 113;Google Scholar
  15. Cooper, ‘Africa and the World Economy’,: 70n.168. Also see Sayre Schatz, ‘Pirate Capitalism and the Inert Economy of Nigeria’, Journal of Modern African Studies 22, 1 (1984): 45–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 11.
    On the useful distinction between the status and role elements of administrative positions, see Robert Price, Society and Bureaucracy in Contemporary Ghana ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975 ).Google Scholar
  17. 12.
    See Thomas M. Callaghy, ‘External Actors and the Relative Autonomy of the Political Aristocracy in Zaire’, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 21, 3 (November 1983): 61–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Thomas M. Callaghy ‘Absolutism, Bonapartism, and the Formation of Ruling Classes: Zaire in Comparative Perspective’, in Irving L. Markovitz (ed.), Studies in Power and Class in Africa ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1987 );Google Scholar
  19. Crawford Young, Ideology and Development in Africa (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982) chapter 4.Google Scholar
  20. 14.
    See Nicola Swainson, The Development of Corporate Capitalism in Kenya 1918–77 ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980 );Google Scholar
  21. Gavin Kitching, Class and Economic Change in Kenya: The Making of African Bourgeoisie ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980 );Google Scholar
  22. and Thomas J. Biersteker, Multinationals, the State, and the Control of the Economy: The Political Economy of Indigenization in Nigeria ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987 ) forthcoming.Google Scholar
  23. 15.
    Of particular interest is the operation of the magendo or black-market economy; see note 13 above and Nelson Kasfir, ‘State, Magendo and Class Formation in Zaire’, in Nelson Kasfir (ed.) State and Class in Africa (London: Frank Cass, 1984) pp. 84–103; and Janet MacGaffey, ‘Fending-for-Yourself: The Organization of the Second Economy in Zaire’ in Nzongola-Ntalaja (ed.), The Crisis in Zaire pp. 141–56.Google Scholar
  24. 16.
    Juan Linz, ‘Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes’, in Fred I. Greenstein and Nelson Polsby (eds), Handbook of Political Science ( Reading, Ma.: Addison-Wesley, 1975 ) p. 280.Google Scholar
  25. For an assessment of the possibilities for democracy in Africa, see Thomas M. Callaghy, ‘Politics and Vision in Africa: The Interplay of Domination, Equality and Liberty’, in Patrick Chabal (ed.), Political Domination in Africa ( London and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986 ), pp. 30–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 17.
    Nelson Kasfir, The Shrinking Political Arena ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976 ) p. 278.Google Scholar
  27. 18.
    Aristide Zolberg, Creating Political Order ( Chicago: Rand McNally, 1966 ) p. 126.Google Scholar
  28. 19.
    Aristide R. Zolberg, ‘Military Intervention in the New States of Tropical Africa’, in Henry Bienen (ed.), The Military Intervenes ( New York: Sage, 1968 ) p. 94.Google Scholar
  29. 20.
    Samuel Decalo, Coups and Army Rule in Africa ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976 ) p. 240;Google Scholar
  30. and Aristide R. Zolberg, ‘Military Rule and Political Development in Tropical Africa’, in Jacques van Doorn (ed.), The Military Profession and Military Regimes ( Hague: Mouton, 1969 ) p. 168.Google Scholar
  31. Also see S. J. Baynham (ed.), Military Power and Politics in Black Africa ( London: Croom Helm, 1985 )Google Scholar
  32. and Isaac J. Mowoe (ed), The Performance of Soldiers as Governors ( Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1980 ).Google Scholar
  33. 26.
    For a detailed look at these processes in Zaire, see Callaghy, The State-Society Struggle, chapters 5–7; Young and Turner, The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State, chapter 8; and Michael G. Schatzberg, Politics and State in Zaire: The Mechanics of Coercion in Lisala ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987 ) forthcoming.Google Scholar
  34. 27.
    In regard to Zaire, see Vwakyanakazi Mukohya, ‘African Traders in Butembo, Eastern Zaire’, Ph.D. dissertation (University of Wisconsin, 1982);Google Scholar
  35. and Bianga Waruzi, ‘Peasant, State and Rural Development in Postindependent Zaire’, Ph.D. dissertation (University of Wisconsin, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  36. In this regard, John Lonsdale notes: ‘Africa’s modes of production have not been so transformed in incorporation into global capitalism that all its people have been captured. There is still a great deal that states cannot control’: ‘States and Social Processes in Africa’, African Studies Review 24, 2–3 (June-September 1981 ): 205.Google Scholar
  37. 28.
    For a sane, balanced view of class in Africa, see Henry Cooperstock, ‘Social Stratification in Tropical Africa’, in Timothy M. Shaw and Kenneth A. Heard (eds), The Politics of Africa: Dependence and Development (New York: Africana Publishing, 1979) pp. 23–38.; see also note 8 above.Google Scholar
  38. 31.
    See Eli R. Hecksher, Mercantilism ( London: Allen and Unwin, 1935 );Google Scholar
  39. Charles Cole, Colbert and the Century of Mercantilism ( Hamden, Ct.: Anchor Books, 1964 );Google Scholar
  40. and Walter E. Minchinton (ed.), Mercantilism: System or Expediency? ( Lexington: Heath, 1969 ).Google Scholar
  41. 32.
    On the development of capitalism in Europe, see Maurice Dobb, Studies in the Development of Capitalism ( New York: International, 1963 );Google Scholar
  42. E. L. Jones, The European Miracle ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981 );Google Scholar
  43. and Douglass C. North and Robert Paul Thomas, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 34.
    See Carl G. Rosberg and Thomas M. Callaghy (eds), Socialism in Sub-Saharan Africa: A New Assessment ( Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  45. 35.
    Eli R. Heckscher, ‘Mercantilism’ in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences ( New York: Macmillan, 1937 ) IX, p. 339.Google Scholar
  46. 42.
    Cooper, ‘Africa and the World Economy’, p. 51; also see John Iliffe, The Emergence of African Capitalism ( London: Macmillan, 1983 ).Google Scholar
  47. 46.
    On the ‘exit option’, see Goran Hyden, Beyond Ujamaa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980)Google Scholar
  48. and Goran Hyden, No Short Cuts to Progress ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983 ).Google Scholar
  49. 47.
    G. K. Helleiner, ‘The IMF and Africa in 1980s’, Canadian Journal of African Studies 17, 1 (1983): 28–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 49.
    Aristide R. Zolberg, ‘A View from the Congo’, World Politics 19, 1 (October 1966): 137–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Crawford Young, ‘Patterns of Social Conflict: State, Class, and Ethnicity’, Daedalus III, 2 (Spring 1982): 94.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Richard A. Joseph, ‘Class, State, and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria’, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 21, 3 (November 1983): 20–24, 30;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. also see the fine piece by Larry Diamond, ‘The Political Economy of Corruption in Nigeria’, paper presented to the 27th annual meeting of the African Studies Association (Los Angeles, California, 25–8 October 1984 ).Google Scholar
  54. 56.
    Joseph, ‘Class, State and Prebendal Politics’: 30, 32, 34. A similar argument can be made for Ghana; see Rothchild and Gyimah-Boadi, ‘Ghana’s Demodernization’, and Naomi Chazan, An Anatomy of Ghanaian Politics: Managing Political Recession, 1969–1982 ( Boulder, Co.: Westview Press, 1983 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Zaki Ergas 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas M. Callaghy

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations