The Congo: Plunder and Resistance
David Renton, Leo Zeilig, David Seddon
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.
revolutions in Eastern Europe of , President Mobutu might peacefully be persuaded to concede power or resign. Between and , a protest movement was born, taking root in every city among workers, the young and the poor. Students at the University of Kinshasa sparked the protests. Food riots followed. Under considerable pressure, Mobutu accepted a certain liberalisation: rival political parties were tolerated, and an allparty National Conference convened. Yet, in a pattern that has been
Europe, the immediate post-war years were a time of intense political turmoil in Belgium. Before , political conﬂict was a three-way struggle between Socialists, Christian Socialists and Communists. Even after , the centre of political gravity, on all issues save the empire, remained far to the left. In , a referendum was held to discuss whether the royal family miners and planters would be allowed to return. King Léopold III was believed to have worked too closely with the
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
citizens traded shells, sea-salt, ﬁsh, pottery, wicker, rafﬁa, copper and lead.10 Nkuwu’s authority was semi-feudal in character. Local lords had the right to control land, in return for which they paid taxes to their king. His people were skilled in iron- and copper-working and especially weaving. They grew bananas, yams, and fruit; they kept goats, pigs and cattle and ﬁshed. From palm trees, they manufactured oil, wine, vinegar and a form of bread. The society was prosperous and self-sufﬁcient.
ofﬁcially conditional on internal reforms, which Mobutu was unwilling to accept. In the face of overwhelming evidence of human rights abuses, economic corruption and mismanagement, and effective bankruptcy, the international community continued to back the regime, ﬁnancially and politically. In December and January , eighteen members of Mobutu’s Council were arrested and charged with subversive activities. They had written a -page letter condemning the dictatorship and calling for