The Congo: Plunder and Resistance

The Congo: Plunder and Resistance

David Renton, Leo Zeilig, David Seddon

Language: English

Pages: 253

ISBN: 1842774859

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book traces the story of the Congo from the unleashing of King Leopard's fury across the region in the 19th century, to the Western sponsored murder of Patrice Lumumba in 1961 to the war that has ravaged the country since 1997. It is an immensely readable and radical introduction to the Congo that pays attention to the importance of economic production for social organization throughout the country's recent history. It also argues that the nature of global capitalism, far from always leading to modernization, can in fact mean the expansion of private capital accompanied by social collapse. As for the future, the hope is that another politics will emerge from the resistance of ordinary Congolese to imperialist slaughter and the post-independence Mobutu dictatorship.

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83 Another critic of Belgian rule was the novelist Joseph Conrad. A friend of Roger Casement, Conrad had piloted a Congolese steamboat in his youth, and the experience of the first decades of Belgian rule informs his best-known novel, Heart of Darkness.84 Conrad accepted the myth that colonialism was intended as a form of benign tutelage. He argued, however, that Western intervention could never succeed. The Belgian project was ‘a sordid farce acted out against a sinister back-cloth.’ His

The pregnant wives of male workers were given greater food allowances. It was in Stanleyville that Union Minière provided the first schools and hospitals for Congolese workers. By the late s, this model had become general throughout the country, as an aspiration, at least, if not yet a reality. In  a statutory minimum wage was introduced. The limits of reform André Gide was a visitor to the Congo in . He reported the case of an official sent out at a young age. ‘He needed a strength of

campaign, dismissed initially as ‘intimidation’, had now become a ‘popular movement’. Refusal to pay taxes was widespread. Accused and plaintiffs refused to answer summonses to appear in the tribal courts; tribal judges, too, stayed away. The Abako operated its own system of courts. All administrative measures dealing with land and health were ignored.66 We might normally describe such a situation as one of dual power: with local structures of power in competition, the rules of colonialism

owned the factories and the land. 3 It is not entirely fanciful to see the possibility of a similar danger weighing on the mind of Patrice Lumumba, even during his moment of triumph on  June . The economic situation was dismal: On the eve of its independence the Government was faced with large current deficits (£ million on current account for  alone). The flight of capital and the loss of international confidence, because of the events of , meant the new Government would come to

established by the UDPS, including the Parti Democrate Social Chrétien (PDSC), the Union des Federalistes et Républicains Indépendants (UFERI) and the Union Sacrée de l’Opposition Radicale (USOR), had expanded to include  political parties. As in so many countries undergoing cautious reforms, the floodgates proved hard to shut. In February , hundreds of thousands of workers, civil servants and public service employees held a three-day general strike to demand the resignation of the

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