Situating the Militariat

  • Jimmy D. Kandeh


Primus inter pares within subordinate strata, armed regulars and irregulars have routinely parlayed their guns into means of physical survival, consumption and, in some instances, criminal extraction. Cartesian rationalism may posit a contrary ontology but for the teeming ranks of the militariat in Africa, it is the gun that defines existence, rights, entitlements, and power. Armed subalterns derive a large measure of their self-worth, not to mention political clout, from their weapons. Guns, from this perspective, do not only kill and destroy; they also feed, clothe, house, and enrich those who resort to violence for personal gain. Predicating self-worth on weapons, however, increases the potential for confrontation between armed subalterns and the rest of society. This is because armed marginals, especially when they go on the rampage or during mutinies and coups, frequently act as though their needs and interests supercede those of the rest of society.


Subordinate Group Collective Consciousness Popular Sector Subordinate Category Political Domination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ali Mazrui, “The Lumpen Proletariat and the Lumpen Militariat: African Soldiers as a New Political Class,” Political Studies, 21 /1 (1973), p. 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Antonio Gramsci, Selections From the Prison Notebooks (New York: International Publishers, 1971), p. 198.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See David Arnold, “Gramsci and Peasant Subalternity in India,” The Journal of Peasant Studies, 11/4, 1984, pp. 155–177, for a superb analysis of subaltern attributes and traits.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    Alberto Maria Cirese, “Gramsci’s Observations on Folklore,” in A.S. Sasson (ed.), Approaches to Gramsci (London: Writers and Readers, 1982).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See D.N. Dhanagare, “Subaltern Consciousness and Populism: Two Approaches in the Study of Social Movements in India,” Social Scientist, 16 /11 (Nov. 1988), pp. 18–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 8.
    See James Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976)Google Scholar
  7. James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990)Google Scholar
  8. Goran Hyden, Beyond Ujamma in Tanzania (Berkeley: University of California press, 1980).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Claus Offe and Helmut Wiesenthal, “Two Logics of Collective Action: Theoretical Notes on Social Class and Organizational Form,” in M. Zeitlin (ed.), Political Power and Social Theory: A Research Annual, vol. 1 (Greenwich, Conn: JAI Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Karl Marx and Friederick Engels, Collected Works, vol. 10 (New York: International Publishers, 1978), p. 62.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Frederick Engels, The Peasant War in Germany (New York: International Publishers, 1976), pp. 18, 45.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Sam Dolgoff (ed.), Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), p. 334.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    For a comprehensive overview of the historical and conceptual uses of the term lumpen, see Peter Stallybrass, “Marx and Heterogeneity: Thinking the Lumpenproletariat,” Representations, vol. 31, 1990.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    See Vivek Dhareshwar and R. Srivatsan, “Rowdy-Sheeters: An Essay on Subalternity and Politics,” Subaltern Studies, vol. 9 (1996), p. 202.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1963), p. 129.Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1969), p. 62.Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    Ibid. For a comparative discussion of Cabral and Fanon, see Robert Blackey, “Fanon and Cabral: A Contrast in Theories of Revolution for Africa,” Journal of Modern African Studies 12 /2 (1974), pp. 191–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 21.
    James Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), p. 335.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Robert Fatton, Predatory Rule in Africa (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1992), p. 9.Google Scholar
  20. 26.
    Nelson Kasfir (ed.), State and Class in Africa (London: Frank Cass, 1984), p. 17.Google Scholar
  21. 28.
    Eric Nordlinger, “Soldiers in Mufti,” American Polical Science Review, vol. 64 (1970), p. 1134.Google Scholar
  22. 30.
    Kenneth Noble, “Liberia’s Government Plans to Hold Peace Talks,” New York Times International, 10 June 1990, p. 16.Google Scholar
  23. 32.
    Eboe Hutchful and Abdoulaye Bathily (eds.), The Military and Militarism in Africa (Dakar: Codesria, 1998), pp. VI–VII.Google Scholar
  24. 33.
    Henry Bienen, “Populist Military Regimes in West Africa,” Armed Forces and Society, 11 /3 (1985), p. 357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 34.
    Nii K. Bentsi-Enchil, “Notes on the Latest Revolution,” West Africa, July 23 1979, p. 1300.Google Scholar
  26. 35.
    Basil Davidson, The Black Man’s Burden (New York: Times Books, 1992), pp. 246–247.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jimmy D. Kandeh 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jimmy D. Kandeh

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations