Article from ROAPE Volume 20 Number 55
Sierra Leone: Contradictory Class Functionality of ‘Soft’ State
While the ‘soft’ state may be metaphorically descriptive of the malleability, hegemonic impotence and functional incapacitation of the post-colonial state in Africa, the class functionality of state softness remains ambivalent and problematic. Although a soft, institutionally fragile state with multiple informal points of entry is generally conductive to processes of class formation at the top, it is doubtful whether such an impaired apparatus of political domination can be reproductive of long term ruling class interests. And because the class whose formation is made possible by institutional fragility lacks a hegemonic ideology and is largely parasitic and unproductive in its modes of consumption and accumulation, it is inherently of leading a genuine capitalist, populist or socialist transformation of African society. This incongruent, stultifying duality in the class functionality of the soft state is at the centre of the problem posed by the contemporary political and economic retardation of African societies. Discusses: Autonomy, hegemony and the soft state; Formative and reproductive class functionality; Generalizations from the case of Sierra Leone; Conclusion.