Article from ROAPE Volume 9 Number 24
Algerian Bureaucracy

The Algerian Bureaucracy
Vol.9 No.24 (Summer 1982), pp39-54
Algeria has a form of ‘state capitalism’ and thus the role of the bureaucracy is crucial. The approach here to this question rejects as simplistic the two polar views: on the one hand, the belief that Algeria is undergoing some kind of transition to socialism and though there may be a ‘problem of bureaucracy’ , this is treated outside the class structure; on the other, the notion that if there is state capitalism then the bureaucracy is a ruling class, which ignores the fact of social as opposed to private accumulation. Analysing it as a bureaucracy and in its context of the working of the Algerian state, reveals that the relationships between it and a bourgeois class with a separate existence are mediated through and by other features that affect the ‘rationality’ of the Algerian bureaucracy. Religion plays an important role, but not one that dictates the pattern of politics as in some Islamic or Catholic countries, but as an ideological and legitimating link with the people. The pursuance of personal benefits and traditional obligations through the bureaucratic system limits its effectiveness in pursuing policy goals, however. Patronage in turn feeds into a pattern of factions that rend the bourgeoisie, thus limiting its emergence as a national class, and also the bureaucracy, thus further impairing its efficacy. This situation may now undergo change as the state tries to respond to demands from below for a second stage of industrialisation going beyond the initial accumulation in heavy industry. But consumer goods production could be met by the expansion of either private capital or state capital. The first would require a shift to economic liberalisation. The second strategy implies greater effectiveness of the bureaucracy and its greater political direction. A political struggle over these two lines is discernible but has not lead to a complete polarisation of the party.