For the last twenty years, the West African nation of Guinea has exhibited all of the conditions that have led to civil wars in other countries, and Guineans themselves regularly talk about the inevitability of war. Yet the country has narrowly avoided conflict again and again. In A Socialist Peace?, Mike McGovern asks how this is possible, how a nation could beat the odds and evade civil war.
Guinea is rich in resources, but its people are some of the poorest in the world. Its political situation is polarized by fiercely competitive ethnic groups. Weapons flow freely through its lands and across its borders. And, finally, it is still recovering from the oppressive regime of Sékou Touré. McGovern argues that while Touré’s reign was hardly peaceful, it was successful—often through highly coercive and violent measures—at establishing a set of durable national dispositions, which have kept the nation at peace. Exploring the ambivalences of contemporary Guineans toward the afterlife of Touré’s reign as well as their abiding sense of socialist solidarity, McGovern sketches the paradoxes that undergird political stability.