The agrarian question in Tanzania: the case of tobacco
Mueller, Susanne D.
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Since independence in 1961, Tanzania has pursued a policy of institutionalizing a middle peasantry, while stymieing the development of capitalism's principal classes. The policy has taken an extreme form following a 1973 decision to forcibly reorganize the majority of Tanzania's peasants on individual block farms within nucleated villages and to bring the sphere of production more directly under the control of the state and international finance capital. This attempt to subordinate peasant labor to capital by perpetuating middle peasant households increasingly confines capital to its most primitive state. The pursuit of this policy in an export-oriented agricultural economy has particular contradictions and limitations. As long as labor and capital are not separated, they cannot be combined in their technically most advanced form. Hence the contradiction of the state's attempts to extract greater surplus value while simultaneously acting to expand and preserve middle peasant households. This paper explores the implications of such a course of action within the framework of Marxist writings on the agrarian question. Using tobacco production as, an example, it discusses the ways in which middle peasant households are being squeezed and pauperized by this backward capitalist system. It argues that the system inhibits the formal and real subordination of labor to capital and tends to perpetuate the extraction of absolute as opposed to relative surplus value. Household production fetters the concentration of capital and prevents the socialization of labor, while perpetuating the hoe as the main instrument of production.
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 32
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