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An analysis of Warlord Politics and African States

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In this document, we decode the logic and reality in the criminalization of the Black African states that is often a task for the analysts and journalists. They do not avoid the pitfall of Afro-pessimism. Stephen Smith has asserted this statement in his essay "The present has no future in Africa." For its part, the recent academic literature has sometimes merely spoken about "collapsed states" or "state failures".

A research document renewed the analytical framework of the state in Africa. In their book The Criminalization of the State in Africa, Jean-François Bayart, Stephen Ellis and Beatrice Hibou back on the patrimonial strategies of leaders of these states and emphasize the idea that the state, despite the war, has not collapsed. For his part, William Reno, a political science professor at Florida International University, has proposed a new paradigm that is based on this work. By studying the first the logic of criminalization in the state of Sierra Leone, Reno developed the concept of "shadow state".

According to Reno, the shadow state would consist of political elites who foster the development of informal markets to counter the economic decline of central authority of power. In this way, the state, by privatizing it, would ensure its survival. The book Warlord Politics and African States will be the subject of our analysis. In his work on Sierra Leone, Reno adopts a comparative approach by adding to the Sierra Leonean state analysis of successive logical criminologists in Liberia, Congo and Niger.

We present the findings of Reno from the study of these states and then evaluate the relevance of the concept of "shadow state". As we mentioned earlier, the academic debate on the specific states in black Africa sees several theories. To understand the work of William Reno, we must mention here that William Zartman, a noted author Collapsed States, sees in black Africa the region most affected by the "failed states":

"State collapse phenomenon is: deeper than a riot. It refers to a situation where the structure, authority (Legitimate power), law, and political order have fallen apart and must be reconstituted in some form, old or new way. The phenomenon is historic and worldwide goal is nowhere there in contemporary Africa. "

Further, Zartman explains in simple terms what makes a failed state: "Collapse means: the basic functions of the state are no longer performed, as analyzed in various theories of the state. As the center of government decision making, the state is paralyzed and inoperative: laws are not made, and order is not preserved, and societal cohesion is not enhanced. As a symbol of identity, it has lost its powers of conferring a name on its people and it has a meaning to the social action. As a territory, it is no longer assured security and provisionment by a central sovereign organization. As an authoritative institution, it has lost its legitimacy, which is up for grabs."

Tags: Black African states, Afro-pessimism, The Criminalization of the State in Africa, logic of criminalization, legitimate power, government decision making, societal cohesion, authoritative institution

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