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Imperialism and Fascism in Uganda Paperback – 9 May 1983

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Global Amin 5 April 2002
By Pumpkin King - Published on
Format: Paperback
Fascism is often portrayed as an error in history, born out of desperate conditions and a weak social fabric. Richard Rubenstein, in THE CUNNING OF HISTORY, cautions against reading the Nazi rise as a freak accident, and attempts to frame it as developing logically from the course of capitalism. Mahmood Mamdani cautions us against seeing fascism in Uganda as a result of the individual, Idi Amin. Instead, he sees Idi Amin himself as a product of the specific conditions of the country at the time, which arose from a specific historical context, colonialism. He argues that fascism was supported by a continuation of colonialist thought even after Independence, thus the title which associates imperialism and fascism. Mamdani writes a brief but extremely insightful analysis of the foreign influences which shaped Uganda from the perspective of dependency theory. He argues that Amin was a social, political, and economic phenomenon constructed not just by Uganda, but with the help of the British, the US, and the Soviet Union.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Skip 'Last King of Scotland' and Read Mamdani's Book 20 Dec. 2012
By Dave - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Idi Amin is constantly demonized in the West as the 'Hitler of Africa' (a term they are gradually applying to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe too), but Mamdani skewers the idea that the West was not totally complicit in his crimes. Amin rose to power as a military leader who would more effectively allow Britain and the West to extract resources and labor power from its neo-colony, Uganda. Mamdani does a wonderful job posing a theoretical framework for neo-colonialism, in which we then trade the rise and fall of Amin in relation to the rest of Ugandan society.

The stunted development of the Ugandan working class and the lack of a communist party placed petty-bourgeois and bourgeois elements at the helm of the independence movement. Like Fanon wrote about in Wretched of the Earth, this nascent bourgeois class was totally unreliable in continuing the revolution to its fullest extent, and in Uganda, they ended up making a deal with the same colonial devil. When the more benign forms of neo-colonial rule proved shaky, Britain and the US installed Amin to whip trade unions into shape and militarize the economy. Eventually Amin became something of a nationalist, at which point the imperialists who installed him turned on him and he sought aid from the Soviet Union.

Mamdani's book traces all of this and examines the way in which neo-colonialism means fascism for the working masses in the Third World. The biggest weakness - and even Mamdani seems uncomfortable with this point - is his need to label Soviet involvement in Africa as 'imperialist'. He acknowledges the tremendous differences between the USSR and the UK/US role on the continent, and yet he insists that they were both functioning as imperialist powers towards Uganda. His case is weak, and a self-described Marxist like Mamdani should know better.

Nevertheless, this is a good book for those interested in a short but thorough account of Uganda in this fascinating period. Mamdani's book is worth its weight in the neo-colonial theory alone.
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