Article from ROAPE Volume 11 Number 31
Analysis of Development of the Settler State in Liberia
Recent years have witnessed a revival of interest among radical scholars in the peripheral state as a specific object of study within the broad realm of political economy. Important debates have focused on the concept of the ‘over-developed’ post-colonial state, the historical transformation of the state during the de-colonisation process, the form of the peripheral state and its class character, with discussions being based on case studies of former European colonies. This focus, however, leaves aside the form of the peripheral state in societies which did not experience a typical colonial situation - the state in settler societies being a case In point. While the state as found in settler societies such as Algeria, Kenya and Rhodesia has attracted some scholarly attention, the case of the settler state in Liberia has not been discussed in any rigorous or systematic manner. The failure of the literature on Liberian political economy to establish the specificity of the early form of the Liberian state prompts the present article which reflects a process of working through the historical development of the Liberian state between 1822 (when the first black American emigrants arrived in Liberia) and 1904 (when the settler state was sufficiently established along the coast to attempt inland expansion of its authority), directed by central issues raised In debates on the peripheral state. These issues include: the form of the Liberian state, is: Its function, organisation and class character, the relationship between the state and the class structure and the nature of state intervention in the economy. The discussion presented here is intended as a preliminary sketch in what is a largely under-researched area of study, the political economy of 19th century Liberia.