This book compares sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Union, two regions beset by the breakdown of states suffering from extreme official corruption, organized crime extending into warlordism, and the disintegration of economic institutions and public institutions for human services. The contributors not only study state breakdown but also compare the consequences of post-communism with those of post-colonialism.
This chapter looks at the processes of state formation in
postcolonial Africa and the former Soviet Union and asks whether those
processes make African and Eurasian states especially vulnerable to civil war.
In particular, we ask whether the experience of Africa's postcolonial states
suggests a similar historical trajectory for the new states that emerged in
Eurasia at the beginning of the 1990s. We argue that, despite important
differences between the two historical experiences, conditions surrounding
state formation in Africa and post-Soviet Eurasia have inhibited the formation
of stable and legitimate states and have made war more likely.
chapter beings by outlining three broad explanatory factors that scholars have
used in trying to explain civil wars since 1945: ethnicity, nationalism, and
globalization. We argue that these explanations neglect what Klaus Gantzel
referred to as "the historicity of war," by which he means "the structural
dynamics which condition the emergence and behaviour of actors" in any given
period (Gantzel 1997, 139). We then suggest that a focus on state formation is
helpful in providing the historical context for understanding civil wars. After
surveying the experience of state-building in postcolonial Africa and in
Eurasia, we conclude with comparisons and contrasts between the regions.