'Passive revolution' in Africa: A Gramscian analysis of post-colonial Mozambican history

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


The African Studies Association of Australiasia and the Pacific

Place of Publication



Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Arts and Humanities




Robinson, D. (2015). 'Passive revolution' in Africa: A Gramscian analysis of post-colonial Mozambican history. In Africa: Diversity and Development, 37th AFSAAP Conference Proceedings. Australia: The African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific. Available here.


This paper examines the possibility of constructing a Gramscian analysis of modern Mozambican history, with particular emphasis on the concept of ‘Passive Revolution’. It will be argued that, while the FRELIMO party that took over in Mozambique following independence in 1974 self - identified as a revolutionary socialist party that was building towards communism, the reality of changes in Mozambique’s productive capacity and relations of production in the post-colonial era more objectively match the Gramscian concept of ‘Passive Revolution’ – a transition from one form of capitalism to another. For Gramsci a passive revolution is a state-driven process that alters the social formation in order to deal with the material and ideological pressures exerted by the global system, or the formation’s constituent social classes. State - led attempts at developmental catch - up following independence were thus an internal aspect of global capitalism, rather than an attempted alternative to it. Mozambique’s period of transition and conflict from 1960 to 1995 will be considered, encompassing the anti-colonial struggle against Portuguese rule, independence under FRELIMO’s socialist government, civil conflict against the Apartheid-backed RENAMO rebel group, and the post-Cold War transition to liberal democracy

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