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An A-Z of theory Samir Amin (Part 1)

In a new addition to his "A to Z of theory" series, political theorist Andrew Robinson introduces, in a two-part essay, the work of Samir Amin, one of the leading theorists of World Systems Analysis and dependency theory. In part one, Robinson introduces Amin's approach to global accumulation and "Maldevelopment". Delinking versus Capitalist Expansion Samir Amin, an Egyptian economist currently based in Senegal, is one of the leading theorists of World Systems Analysis and dependency theory. He is a major influence on the grouping around Monthly Review journal. His main contributions to radical theory have been in the field of international political economy. In contrast to mainstream economics, which compares national economies as distinct units or billiard balls, dependency theory views the world economy as a single, integrated system. The system of exploitation of labour and the system of states are indistinguishable. As such, the system of states is an effect of the global expansion of capital. Hence, rich and poor nations are analytically inseparable; they cannot simply be juxtaposed. This is as true in the present phase as in earlier history. Amin views globalisation as an extension of capitalist imperialism. Dependency theory has been very much out of fashion in development studies of late; but, in my view, this is for political rather than empirical reasons. The dependency model still fits closely with the reality of uneven development premised on the enrichment of globally-dependent local middle-classes in the South. It is very much relevant to the issue of globalisation. It is out of fashion mainly because this stratum has obtained power in most of the South, to such a degree as to make alternatives invisible. Amins work is thus very relevant in understanding global inequalities and capitalist structures today. Global Accumulation and Maldevelopment

According to Amin, underdevelopment is not a lack of development. It is the reverse side of the development of the rich countries. The rich countries depend on the active exploitation of other countries, which renders the latter underdeveloped. In works such as Accumulation on a World Scale and Maldevelopment, Amin argues against neo-classical economics from a class perspective. In common with other dependency theorists, he argues that the global economy systematically favours the continued enrichment of rich countries at the expense of poor countries. Throughout its history, capitalism constantly expands. Amin argues that mainstream economics simply theorises the management of capitalist expansion, and ignores the role of social conflicts in development. He argues that capitalist expansion starts at a certain place and time, but tends to expand globally. Historically, it is divided into three phases. In the mercantilist phase (15001800), international exchange is created, partly through the looting of countries such as India and China. It is only after this looting that other parts of the world fall behind European development. In the second, competitive phase (1800-1880), capitalism expanded through competition, based on the advantages it had already established. In the third and current stage (1880 to today), monopoly capitalism, capitalism prevents declines in the rate of profit through the mechanism of unequal exchange. Amin disagrees with Marxs view of crisis resulting from the declining rate of profit, which he thinks has been moved beyond today through the device of monopoly. The global model is monopolistic, establishing monopolies for the core countries on technology, control of financial flows, military power, ideological and media production, and access to natural resources. Unequal exchange is the main means whereby capitalism reproduces inequalities. The rich countries create an international division of labour in which they subordinate and exploit other countries (Originally, they did this directly, by colonial conquest). Monopoly systems lead to super-profits, above the level which can be made in competitive markets. This means the beneficiaries of imperialism cant be out-competed in world markets. The global rankings are locked in place, despite free market processes.

Development in poor countries in this context tends to be a development of underdevelopment. They undergo economic growth, but in ways which do not contribute to long-term development. Their surpluses are expropriated by rich countries, rather than used locally. Today, major means of surplus-extraction include structural adjustment and debt repayment. The world is divided between rich centre countries and poor peripheral countries. Centre countries are less structurally dependent than peripheral countries, and tend to produce mainly capital goods and consumer goods. Accumulation in centre countries is cumulative over time, whereas accumulation in peripheral countries is stagnant. This is because of differences in pricing mechanisms for raw materials and produced goods. Produced goods tend to go up in price over time, whereas raw materials stay at the same price or are unstable. In addition, whereas wages in rich countries keep up with development, those in poor countries do not. This is because wages in poor countries are not connected with global labour markets, and because states in poor countries tend to suppress social movements which would win increased wages. The global market is, according to Amin, distorted, because equally productive workers are paid at different rates in different countries. Workers with the same skills may be earning dozens of times as much money if they are in rich rather than poor countries. This is unequal exchange: it exchanges one hour of productive work in a Northern country for many hours of similarly productive work in a Southern country. Amin does not believe that globalisation will affect unequal exchange, because unequal exchange is the major motive for companies to outsource to poor countries. Global capitalism thus integrates commodities and capital, but refuses to integrate labour. This provides connections between issues of global policy and struggles around migration, which in principle could integrate global labour markets. Another recent movement to address unequal wealth, from a perspective distinct from Amins, is the Fairtrade movement, which aims to provide fairer rates of pay for producers. Overall, however, the mechanism of unequal exchange remains intact. The world-system functions through a division of labour among countries. Poor peripheral countries are assigned the role of providing low-value inputs into global processes, at below their actual value. The periphery specialises in producing primary goods such as agricultural crops and mined ores which

are mainly exported to the centre. Unlike the centre, the periphery is primarily focused outside itself. The agrarian sector thus tends to predominate in the economy of poor countries. Furthermore, the local bourgeoisie tends to develop in a dependent way, subordinate to foreign capital. A local (state or middle-class) elite, known as the comprador class, act as the local enforcers of global power on the basis of their own class benefit in obtaining payoffs from exploitation.

A series of economic distortions emerge, relative to the development of rich countries during their own emergence into capitalism. These include bureaucratic overspending, excessively rapid urbanisation, structural imbalances within the economy, reliance on external aid flows, and the redistribution of local incomes towards the comprador class. The effects of the global market are taken to distort production towards export, primary raw materials, and light rather than heavy industry. In agriculture, peasant production is replaced by commercial agribusiness, which depends on imported components and export markets. This does not preclude temporary economic miracles, but the long-term tendency is towards stagnation and blockage. The structure is self-reinforcing. It becomes impossible in almost all cases for a peripheral country to develop out of its peripheral position. Peripheral capitalism also differs from core capitalism in other ways. In the periphery, capitalism is only loosely articulated with culture. While dominant,

it is also articulated with pre-capitalist economic forms. Amin sees Southern states as operating in a partly tributary mode of production with pre -capitalist features. Often, reproduction costs (the cost of making sure capitalism has workers to exploit) are subsidised by non-capitalist economies. For instance, childcare might be supported in rural subsistence economies, allowing workers to be paid lower wages. Poor countries are also financing their own exploitation. For instance, profits from Gulf oil, invested in American banks, American government debt or extracted through the profits of foreign oil firms, financed the recolonisation of the Gulf by American forces. Dominance over natural resources (in this case, oil), and in military technology, is used to reproduce global monopoly power. The relationship between rich countries and poor countries in Amins theory is very similar to the relationship between bosses and workers in Marxism. Such events have affected the rest of social life. In politics, neoliberalism has disconnected the actual functioning of the class struggle (which is now global) from the level at which political contestation occurs. Politics across the world is resultantly empty, and is filled by distractions such as populism and social conservatism. Amin refers to this trend as low-intensity democracy, since elected regimes have little power in relation to the forces of global capital and therefore conditions of life. He believes we are in a hollow or reflux pe riod, in which compromise is to be expected, and the conditions for rupture are so far absent. Yet he continues to insist on a necessity to swim against the tide and to refuse to yield to the demand for international competitiveness. Amins critique is similar in some respects to postcolonial theory. In Eurocentrism, Amin argues that it is a mistake to view Europe as a historical centre of the world. Only in the capitalist period has Europe been dominant. Earlier phases taken as European were actually centred on a Mediterranean region, which was the core of the ancient world economy. For Amin, Eurocentrism is not only a worldview but a global project, homogenising the world on a European model under the pretext of catchingup. In practice, however, capitalism does not homogenise but rather, polarises the world. Eurocentrism is thus more of an ideal than a real possibility. It also creates problems in reinforcing racism and imperialism. Fascism remains a

permanent risk, because it is nothing more than an extreme version of Eurocentrism. Amins recent works have analysed the current, neoliberal phase of the worldeconomy and the war on terror. In The Liberal Virus, he argues that the network society is simply a lyrical outburst of ideology. The reality is an increasingly stark global apartheid. He also argues that the concept of poverty is problematic in its assertion of a brute fact. According to Amin, the poor are not simply lacking, they are actively impoverished by processes which are constantly reproduced, and which are getting worse. Hence, he refers not to poverty but to pauperisation. He argues that the global popular classes are increasingly being pauperised through resource grabs and surplus extraction. In analysing the war on terror, Amin suggests that it is an effect of a particular historical conjuncture. The especially crude American version of capitalism, lacking in nuances and long-term perspectives, is seeking to globalise itself through resource grabs. This is partly to compensate for its uncompetitiveness relative to other central capitalisms. America is also taken to have an extreme ideology in which the existence of others is conditional on not obstructing the American herrenvolk in taking what it needs. He argues that American aggression should be contained by an alliance of other states. He also argues that a split has emerged between an integrated core economy and a political system dominated by one state. America has taken on the role of policing the world economy by suppressing peripheral revolt. Nationalism is criticised as a bourgeois ideology, through which the proletariat are integrated into nation-states. The nation did not pre-exist the nation-state. It is a product of capitalism, and was created by state violence as well as capitalist markets. It is also incomplete. It assimilates to the nation the virtues formerly claimed by the aristocrat, leading to racism and jingoism. Nationalism was artificially exported to Eastern Europe and much of the South: it does not spread everywhere due to capitalism. The state is the actor which sometimes creates or recreates the nation, and sometimes fails to do so. Amin does not believe that liberation movements in the South are nationalist. However, he sees possibilities for nationalist and populist currents to be drawn into movements for delinking.

Amin also dismisses fundamentalisms and ethno-nationalisms as politically reactionary and irrational. They are simply something people use to fill the vacuum of the lack of class politics. For instance, he analyses political Islam as primarily a form of cultural belonging through a ritual assertion of group membership. these are ultimately simply charity because they fail to provide means to destroy the conditions which create misery to begin with. Furthermore, political Islamists tend in the last instance to side with capitalism and with elite interests in Muslim countries. He also denies they have their own theory of political economy. Rather, they reproduce features of the tributary mode of production. He also considers Green thought to be a variety of fundamentalism, mainly based on a superficial reading of certain theorists.
This obscures actual class dichotomies. While political Islamists provide some effective services,

In his works before the current phase, Amin also gave considerable attention to the eastern bloc. Eastern European and Chinese socialism was a stage of separation from the world economy to pursue autocentric development. They did this in pursuit of rationalities separate from capitalism, though he maintains Eastern Europe was actually statist rather than socialist in its economics. Amin has been proven wrong on his view that reintegration of the eastern bloc into global capitalism is unlikely. Amin also theorises further divisions into stages, based partly on Kondratieff wave theory. The current composition of the world-system was created after World War 2, with America as the global leader. This phase was expanded from 1945-55, and was expanded through autonomy movements in the poor countries. During this Bandung era (1955-75), poor countries tried to catch up with rich countries through industrialisation on unequal terms. The third period (197691) saw the three pillars of this world order Fordism, Soviet growth and the Bandung project go into crisis. Capitalism has responded to this crisis in the current period with neoliberalism attacking wages and welfare provision, and curtailing the economy which peripheral elites had obtained. Capital has shown that it prefers second place in a world market to first place in an autonomous economy. Amin refers to one effects of neoliberalism as recompradorisation the restoration of the comprador nature of local elites in peripheral countries, through the destruction of their autonomy. According to Amin, peripheries

have now been industrialised, but are still subordinated to the centres monopolies. He also believes capitalism has been disintegrating for most of the last century. Amin insists on the importance of struggle to a greater degree than many world-systems analysts. He criticises other world-systems analysts, such as Arrighi, for seeing capitalism as more inexorable and total than it actually is. Amin believes that history is created through a series of clashes between the capitalist logic and social forces which resist it, which he terms anti-systemic forces. The latter make history as much as does capitalism. Indeed, future developments are mostly shaped from the outside in, starting from resistance at the periphery. Andrew Robinson is a political theorist and activist based in the UK. His book Power, Resistance and Conflict in the Contemporary World: Social Movements, Networks and Hierarchies (co-authored with Athina Karatzogianni) was published in Sep 2009 by Routledge. His In Theory column appears every other Friday.

Samir Amin: Colonialism is Inseparable from Capitalism

The ongoing debate on colonialism. For Samir Amin, increasing globalization has led to a system of apartheid on a global scale, continuing the colonial system under a different name. HUMA: Are you surprised by the degree of anger that the Law on the positive role of colonialism (2) has created in the younger generation? SAMIR AMIN: This law is scandalous, even if it were only for the fact that a democratic state does not have any official history. The reaction you mention shows that the youth are more interested in the past than most people believe and that they have a critical perspective on it. Colonization was atrocious. Like slavery, it was an attack on fundamental rights. Yet, if you want to understand why these rights were trampled on and why they still are being trodden on in the world today, you have to get rid of the idea that colonialism was the result of some sort of conspiracy. What was at stake was the economic and social logic that must be called by its real name: capitalism. HUMA: But its more the Republic that one hears being accused right now ... SAMIR AMIN: Since the memory of colonization is confounded with the Third Republic in France [1870-1940], we tend today to automatically link the two phenomena. People forget that this Republic was, from the beginning to the end, capitalist. They also forget that colonialism started well before the

Republic, whether you think of the Caribbean or Santo Domingo [Haiti], or of Great Britain which has never been republican and which for three and a half centuries had the largest empire. One forgets that capitalism predates the Republic and is not to be confused with a particular political regime. HUMA: To what extent do we need to see capitalism and colonialism as linked to each other? SAMIR AMIN: They are inseparable. Capitalism has been colonial, more precisely imperialist, during all the most notable periods of its development. The conquest of the Americas by the Spaniards and Portuguese in the 16th century, then by the French and the British, was the first modern form of imperialism and colonization: an extremely brutal form which resulted in the genocide of the Indians of North America, Indian societies in Latin America thrown into slavery and black slavery through the whole continent, north and south. Beyond this example, by following a logic of precise deployment through the different stages of its history, we can see that capitalism has constructed a consistent dichotomy of relations between a centre (the heart of the system of capitalist exploitation) and the periphery (made up of dominated countries and peoples). HUMA: How has the system of colonial exploitation worked? SAMIR AMIN: It has been based on unequal exchange, that is, the exchange of manufactured products, sold very expensively in the colonies by commercial monopolies supported by the State, for the purchase of products or primary products at very low prices, since they were based on labour that was almost without cost - provided by the peasants and workers located at the periphery. During all the stages of capitalism, the plunder of the resources of the peripheries, the oppression of colonized peoples, their direct or indirect exploitation by capital, remain the common characteristics of the phenomenon of colonialism. HUMA: Beyond the injustices and inequalities which it created in French society, have we returned to the Age of Colonialism? SAMIR AMIN: We can discuss these terms, but the reality remains - in other words the hyper-exploitation and plunder of the South. In this respect, how are we to describe the WTO if not as the multinationals club for looting the Third World, a sort-of global Super-Ministry of the Colonies? Is it really an organization responsible for facilitating world trade, as it pretends to be, or an organization for defending the monopolies of the imperialist capitalist nations by providing excessive protection for so-called industrial and intellectual property rights, through setting up a false symmetry - opening up markets for the plunder of resources in the South without giving the South access to

markets in the North? I call this apartheid on a world scale, the extension of colonialism into todays world. Translators notes: (1)Egyptian-born and trained in Paris, Samir Amin is one of the better known thinkers of his generation, both in development theory as well as in the relativistic-cultural critique of social sciences. He is currently Director of the Polycentric Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal, an international pool of academics from Africa, Asia and South-America as well as President of the World Forum for Alternatives. Amins work has focused on the relationships between developed and undeveloped countries. One of the most important concepts of his work is the theory of the disconnection, in which he explains why the underdeveloped countries should disconnect themselves from the capitalistic world system, become self-reliant and abandon northern values, in order to allow for the creation of both democracy and socialism in the South. He has written extensively on economics, development and international affairs. His major works include Capitalism in the Age of Globalization (1996), Delinking - Toward a Polycentric World (1990), Eurocentrism (1990). He has just published Pour un monde multipolaire (ditions Syllepse) (2) On 25 January 2006, Jacques Chirac issued a press release agreeing to pass a decree to suppress the much disputed clauses in Article 4 of the Law passed by the his own deputies in the French Legislature on 23 February 2005, which referred to the positive role of the French presence, particularly in North Africa, and which, the Law stipulated, should be recognized in courses taught in the school system.

Samir Amin at 80: An Introduction and Tribute

Samir Amin was born in Cairo in 1931, and studied within the French educational system in Egypt (Lyce Franais du Caire). He pursued his higher education in Paris at Institut dtudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) receiving his diploma in 1952; then at Institut national de la statistique et des tudes conomiques, obtaining his Ph.D. in Political Economy in 1957. He worked in the planning agency of Egypt from 1957 to 1960, until the Nasser regimes persecution of communists forced him to leave. From 19601963 he was attached to the Ministry of Planning of the newly independent Mali. After becoming a full professor in France in 1966, he chose to teach in Paris-Vincennes and Dakar, Senegal. He has been based in Dakar now for over forty years, serving there for ten years as director of the UN

African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, and since 1980 directing the African Office of the Third World Forum. He is currently president of the World Forum for Alternatives.1 In my view, Amins wide-ranging work can be most succinctly described in terms of the dual designation of The Law of Value and Historical Materialismthe title of one of his books, now in a new edition as The Law of Worldwide Value. Marxs intellectual corpus, he notes, appears to be divided into writings on economics and writings on politics. This seeming juxtaposition of two apparently irreducible discourses has given rise to a certain way of expounding Marxism which is not only generally found in elementary textbooks and popular pamphlets, but also permeates the predominant trends in Marxist writing. According to this type of exposition there is, on the one hand, a correct economicscienceMarxist political economy. On the other hand, there is supposed to be a science of societies historical materialismbased upon the fundamental proposition that class struggle is the driving force of history. These two chapters of Marxism are viewed as complementary, with their unity deriving from the method which inspires them both.2 For Amin, this basic division of Marxist theory is not to be denied. Nevertheless, he insists that the economic laws of capitalism, summed up by the law of value, are subordinate to the laws of historical materialism.3 Economic science, while indispensable, cannot explain at the highest level of abstraction, as in mathematical equations, the full reality of capitalism and imperialismsince it cannot account either for the historical origins of the system itself, or for the nature of the class struggle. Nor indeed can it present in a strictly determinant fashion thecontemporary historical manifestation of the law of value, expressed as the theory of globalized value, which requires recognition of such factors as monopoly power and unequal exchange.4 At best we can see value relations as historically transformed in ways that are less determinant than in the abstract models based on a freely competitive economy, but which are still subject to meaningful politicaleconomic analysis. Amins work goes on to explore the broader phenomena analyzed by historical materialism, and how these have altered and reshaped the law of value under capitalism as it has moved to the monopoly stage and then to the current phase dominated by generalized, financialized, and globalized oligopolies located primarily in the triad (the United States, Europe, Japan).5 It is the preeminence of historical materialism over the law of value that also captures

the revolutionary social response of the worlds popular classes to capitalism, which arises from the interactions of class and nation.6 In Amins analysis, then, the law of value and historical materialism do not have equal standingif only because the former offers the world no way out, while the latter does. Yet, a meaningful critical understanding of the capitalist present without some sense of how the law of value has been transformed under monopoly capitalism/imperialism is impossible. T h e L a w o f Wo r l d w ide V a l ue In his own words, Amins analysis of the history of capitalism meshes with the conclusions that Baran, Sweezy, Magdoff (and following them, the Monthly Review team) have drawn from their precocious analysis of monopoly capitalism.7 These include: (1) capitalisms tendency toward overaccumulation associated with problems of surplus absorption; (2) stagnation as the rule and rapid economic growth as the exception under late capitalism; (3) the negation of free competition through the growth of monopoly capital beginning at the end of the nineteenth century; (4) the countering of stagnation in part through production centered in the state;8 (5) the recognition that the rapid growth of 19451975 was mainly the product of historical conditions brought into being by the Second World War which could not last; and (6) the focus on financialization, which emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s as a new more potent counter to stagnation inseparable from the survival requirements of the system.9 This understanding of economic development is extended in Amins thought through the incorporation of six additional theses: (1) the existence of two historical phases of the development of monopoly capitalismmonopoly capitalism proper up to 1971, and global monopoly-finance capital after that;10 (2) the adaptation of monopoly capital to two long crisesin 1873 1945 and 1971presentby means of concentration and centralization on a world scale, financialization, and deepened globalization; (3) the formation at the world level of two models of accumulation, one autocentric in the global center, the other disarticulated, and externally-oriented in the global periphery; (4) the shift from the period of inter-imperialist conflict depicted by Lenin, to the period of U.S. hegemony during the Cold War, to the collective imperialism of the triad led by the United States by the end of the twentieth century; (5) the division between center and periphery as the defining

contradiction of the system, reflected in a series of third world revolutions; and (6) the transformation of the law of value into the law of globalized value.11 The theory of worldwide value is Amins signal economic contribution, summing up as it does the system of unequal exchange/imperial rent that divides the global North and the global South. Today the concentration and centralization of capital is manifested in the growth of international monopoly capital. Capital is more and more mobile (along with technology), as the giant firms become increasingly globalized and financialized. Nevertheless, nationstate divisions remain intact with governments promoting the interests of their corporations over those of other countries, along with restrictions on the mobility of labor.12 The result is a system of unequal exchange, in which the difference in the wages between labor forces in different nations is greater than the difference between their productivities. This creates a system of imperial rents accruing to the global corporations in the centerreferred to less directly in mainstream economic circles as the global labor arbitrage. (An analogous process affects natural resources, drawn from the global South.) All of this points to the superexploitation of labor in the periphery, which receives in wages less than the value of labor powera situation made possible also by the existence of a massive global reserve army located primarily in the periphery. The fact that labor is rewarded differently in the center and the periphery, and that this is related to the globalization of monopoly capital, constitutes the essence of the imperialist world system today. The existence of a lower rate of exploitation of labor in the North and a higher rate of exploitation of labor in the South constitutes the main obstacle to the unity of the international working class. H is to r i c a l Ma te r ia l is m a n d th e C r i t iq ue o f A p a r t h e i d o n a W o r ld S c a le The system of worldwide value means, according to Amin, that there is one imperial world system, encompassing both the global North and the global South, enforced by international monopoly capital, backed up by the triad. Yet, the conditions of class, national, and imperial struggle (as well as politics and culture), belong to the larger realm of historical materialism, which cannot be reduced to the law of value even in its globalized form. Moreover, historical materialism is also concerned with the analysis of precapitalist and postcapitalist societies for which the law of value has no direct relevance. Indeed, attempts to reduce imperialism entirely to what are conceived of as the narrow economic laws of a pure capitalism (and to the supposed cultural

universals of modernism) lead to fatal errors. The very term imperialism, Amin observes, has been placed under prohibition, having been judged to be unscientific. Considerable contortions are required to replace it with a more objective term like international capital or transnational capital. As if the world were fashioned purely by economic laws, expressions of the technical demands of the reproduction of capital. As if the state and politics, diplomacy and armies had disappeared from the scene! Imperialism is precisely the amalgamation of the requirements and laws for the reproduction of capital; the social, national and international alliances that underlie them; and the political strategies employed by these alliances.13 Eurocentrism is an ideology expressly designed, Amin suggests, to deny the global division between center and periphery by proposing a single line of cultural development: one that describes modernity as the unfolding of natural capitalist impulses, and which makes Europe, which is seen as exemplifying these traits, into the only universal culture. In contrast, Amin proposes a history of civilization in which the accidental advantages of the West, arising from feudalisma particularly backward form of the tributary mode of production that characterized all early civilizationsled to the development of capitalism first in these societies. This then created a global rift, arising from the aggressive outward expansion of capitalism and colonialism. The rise of monopoly capital and imperialism from the late nineteenth century on consolidated a system of apartheid on a world scale dividing the affluent countries of the North from those of the South.14 Rather than suffering from original underdevelopment, as suggested by modernization theory, the countries of the periphery experienced, as classical dependency theory understood, the development of underdevelopmentin which their social formations were forcibly restructured and placed in a dependent position (with Japan being the great exception). Although some countries in Asia and Latin America have become increasingly integrated into global manufacturing since the late twentieth-century, other countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, were reduced to fourth world or permanently impoverished status. Moreover, even those that appear to be growing rapidly (the emerging economies) remain critically dependent in many ways on core capital and subordinate to the states of the triad and international monopolies. 15 China, because of its

size and the legacy of Maoist revolution, constitutes for Amin the most important potential exception to this tendency, at the beginning of the twentyfirst century. In terms of the class structure of the global capitalist system, six classes predominate worldwide: (1) the imperialist bourgeoisie of the center which concentrates to its advantage much of the surplus value of the world economy; (2) the center proletariat, which until recently enjoyed real wage increases more or less parallel to the rise in the productivity of labor; (3) the dependent bourgeoisie of the periphery existing in a comprador relation to international capital; (4) the proletariat of the periphery, subjected to superexploitation due to the disconnection between its productivity and the wages its receives; (5) the peasantries of the periphery, oppressed by the dual exploitation of precapitalist modes and capitalist production; and (6) the oppressive classes of the non-capitalist modes (e.g. traditional oligarchs). This creates a complex set of struggles and alliances.16 The combined influence of imperialism and superexploitation means that political systems are typically distorted in the periphery towards various forms of autocratic rule, with the whole shaky structure backed up by military interventions, principally by the United States. In order to retain control of the states of the periphery, the imperial powers frequently promote backwardlooking social relations drawing on archaic elements, as in the case of political Islam, which, in Amins argument, is chiefly the creature of imperialism. 17 The introduction of democracy in the South, without altering the fundamental social relations or challenging imperialism, is nothing but a fraud (doubly so given the plutocratic content of the so-called successful democracies in the North). The political demand in the global South for liberation from the global North is symbolized, according to Amin, by the 1955 Bandung conference of the nonaligned movement during the Cold War. But the breaking of imperial ties has proven impossible through mere political maneuvering on the part of states. Moreover, with the Soviet Union no longer present as an alternative world force, beginning in the 1990s, the room for Southern states to maneuver has become even more limited. The main hope for the nations of the South thus lies in the genuine revolutions (which can take a wide variety forms), and in the creation of social formations that pursue alternative lines of development, delinked to a considerable extent from the capitalist world economy, and relying on the growth of anti-imperialist South-South alliances. Critical for world social revolution is the much hoped for revolt of the working class of the

North against imperialism and capitalism itself: a prospect that becomes more likely as the world system comes apart. Nevertheless, the prime movers of revolutionary change in the twentieth century were the oppressed classes of the peripheryas can be seen in a whole series of revolutions (Mexico, Russia, China, Cuba, Algeria, Vietnam, etc.), symbolized by Che Guevaras call for many Vietnams.18 They remain the prime movers in the twenty-first century. For Amin, and obviously for the worlds people as a whole, it is the dramatic revolts of the new belle poque of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century that are of greatest historical moment at present: those taking place in Asia (e.g. Nepal), Latin America (e.g. Venezuela and Bolivia), and in Africa and the Middle East (e.g. Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Bahrain)raising the question of the Arab Spring. It is this critical conjunctureassociated with the Arab revolt in particularthat is the focus of his articles in this issue of Monthly Review, in which he extends his analysis to account for the wider political questions of The Democratic Fraud and the Universalist Alternative. The utter catastrophe that capitalism in its phase of global oligopoly-finance capital represents for the planet is crystal clear in Amins analysis, and represents, in my view, his most important message. Capitalism, he writes, only adapts to the exigencies of the unfolding of struggles and conflicts that form its history at the price of accentuating its character as destroyer of the bases of its wealthhuman beings (reduced to the status of labor force/commodity) and nature (reduced in the same way to commodity status). Its first long crisis (begun in 1873) paid off with thirty years of wars and revolutions (19141945). Its second (begun in 1971) entered the second, necessarily chaotic, stage of its [own] unfolding with the financial collapse of 2008, bringer of horrors and destructions that henceforth are a menace to the whole human race. Capitalism has become an obsolete social system. If we are to come out in the end from this long tunnel, he declares, it will be into socialisma society aimed at transcending the legacy of unequal development inherent to capitalism by offering to all human beings on the planet a better mastery of their social developmentin line with ecological requirements.19 N o te s

1. Samir Amin, Samir Amin (born 1931) (autobiography), in Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer, The Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2000), 1-7, and Accumulation on A World Scale (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974). For a short summary of the early development of Amins theory of dependent accumulation and unequal exchange see John Bellamy Foster, The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1986), 178-84. 2. Samir Amin, The Law of Value and Historical Materialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1978), 1-2. 3. Amin, The Law of Value and Historical Materialism, 3. 4. Samir Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010), 12-13. Amins recognition of the limitations of mathematical modeling does not prevent him from using this in a limited way to express the main parameters of worldwide value. Ibid., 86-87. Many aspects of Amins theory of worldwide value were already present in the 1970s. See Samir Amin, Imperialism and Unequal Development (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977). What changed and clarified things was the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-08, which made it clear that monopoly capitalism had entered a new phase of oligopoly-finance capital (see note 10 below) and led to Amins more definitive formulation of the imperial rent relation. 5. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 14. 6. Samir Amin, Class and Nation, Historically and in the Current Crisis (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1980). 7. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 117. 8. Amin refers specifically to Baran and Sweezys focus on department 3 (as distinct from department 1, investment, and department 2, consumption), representing the diversion of surplus product under monopoly capitalism into state spending, often in forms of waste such as military spending but also referring to the proliferation of waste/unproductive expenditures in the economy in general. Amin observes that it was in order to address this difficult problem that Baran first introduced the concept of surplus, complementing the traditional surplus value calculus. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 27. See also John Bellamy Foster, Marxian Economics and the State, in Foster and Henryk Szlajfer, The Faltering Economy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1984), 325-49, and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism, 24-50. 9. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 118. 10. Amin uses the term global oligopoly-finance capital to explain the latest phase of capitalism. See Samir Amin, Market Economy or OligopolyFinance Capital, Monthly Review 59, no. 11 (April 2008): 51-61. This corresponds to the understanding of the evolution of the new phase of

capitalism developed within Monthly Review, and which arose from an attempt to understand the forces that were later to lead to the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2008. See John Bellamy Foster, Monopoly-Finance Capital, Monthly Review58, no. 7 (December 2006): 1-14; John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, The Great Financial Crisis (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2009). 11. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 118-119, 89-90. 12. The recognition of the continuing importance of nation-state divisions is crucial to Amins theory of imperialism and separates his analysis off both from the globalization thesis, which posits the decline of the nation state, and the transnational capital argument, which argues, in somewhat more sophisticated terms, along the same line. See Samir Amin Transnational Capitalism or Collective Imperialism, Pambazuka News, 522, March 23, 2011, http://www.pambazuka.org. 13. Samir Amin, Eurocentrism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1989), 141. 14. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 53. 15. The five means of monopolistic controltechnological, financial, natural resources, communications, and militaryby which the center continues to seek to control the periphery are described in Samir Amin, Capitalism in the Age of Globalization (London: Zed Books, 1997), 4-5. 16. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 92-93. 17. Samir Amin, Political Islam in the Service of Imperialism, Monthly Review, 59, no. 7 (December 2007): 1-19, and Obsolescent Capitalism (London: Zed Books, 2003), 166-71. 18. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 122-28. 19. Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 50, and Eurocentrism, 152. To understand the present capitalist economic crisis, Ama Biney contends that there is an urgent need to revisit the works of Egyptian political economist Samir Amin. His bold proposals on ending global inequalities and injustices are timely. Samir Amin stands within the intellectual canon of African revolutionary thinkers whose gargantuan and prodigious lifetimes work is invaluable to all human beings who seek to eliminate the predatory, devastating impact of capitalism in our times. At the age of 80 and having written over 30 books and articles, Amins encyclopaedic understanding of the global capitalist system and its changing historical nature continues to offer fresh nuances and significant analyses in the field of critical theoretical thinking.

Here, I simply wish to pay tribute to some of the most important aspects of his thinking that are incredibly pertinent to the global crisis confronting humanityatpresent. For example, in the light of the current uprisings in North Africa and elsewhere around the world, perhaps Amin can also be characterised as a political prophet in a purely secular sense for writing the following in 1997: Peoples peripheralized by capitalist world expansion, and who seemed for a long time to accept their fate, have over the past 50 years ceased accepting it, and they will refuse to do so more and more in the future. [1] As people in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen refuse to accept continued dictatorship such struggles inspired by the single act of a young Tunisian man setting himself alight will continue to inspire ordinary peoples around the world to fight for freedoms and new systems free from tyranny. Amin goes on to encourage those committed to the perspective of global socialism to struggle against the five monopolies which reproduce capitalism. They are: the monopoly of technology generated by the military expenditures of the imperialist centres, the monopoly of access to natural resources, the monopoly over international communication and the media, and the monopoly over the means of mass destruction. [2] Amin poses critical questions about the nature of the current capitalist system in many of his writings but none so provocatively entitled as his latest book: Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism? It is the ending of the capitalist system in its reconfiguration of neoliberal globalization with accompanying military intervention that Amin calls for. In the current time of the profound capitalist economic crisis, there is an urgent need more than ever to closely revisit and re-examine the works of thinkers such as Amin. In addition, such writings should be placed on the social science curriculum of African universities. It is deplorable that many African students graduating as economists from African universities are likely to be able to regurgitate Western economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs. Yet, how many African graduates of economics would be familiar with the thinking of Amin or other radical African political economists such as the Nigerian Claude Ake and Bade Onimode or the Ugandan Dan Nabudere?

The reason for this state of affairs lies in the fact that since independence the models of development and nation-statism that Africa has subscribed to have imitated the West. The colonial legacy transformed into neo-colonialism in the post-independence period with the euphoria to Africanize institutions such as the civil service, army, judicial system and educational systems failed to fundamentally change the mindset, values and purpose of such structures. In the 1980s and 1990s African institutions of higher education came under Western influence to the extent that universities, like African economies, have had to prostitute themselves for research funding from foreign donors as kleptocratic African governments failed to fund universities whilst they prioritized military expenditure instead. The impact of such an educational system is that Africa has produced armchair theorists indulging in abstract economic theory that is based on the premise of Homo oeconomicus. Consequently, such a paradigm is divorced from social reality in the quest for an elusive rationality that is lacking from bourgeois conventional economic theory, or what is sometimes known as market economy. This is the argument of Amin in the chapter Pure economics, or the contemporary worlds witchcraft in which he likens the claims of pure economics to science as one of magic and witchcraft that obscures and obfuscates material reality. More importantly, the discourse of pure economics has no real aim other than to legitimize the unrestricted predations of capital, writes Amin. The chief proponent of such economics in our day is Milton Friedman [who] is the wizard-in-chief of our contemporary Oz and there are lesser wizards and pundits in both the developed world and in Africa who subscribe to such economic bamboozling. For Amin, it is Marxian political economy, wedded to a historical materialist approach that poses essential questions for human beings. Among them are: what are the relations between capital and labour on a national and world level? Which ruling social groups comprise the hegemonic alliance within the capitalist system? How does the state generate a conducive environment for capital and regulate conflicts between capital and labour? And in the context of the uneven development of capitalism - what struggles are necessary for working people in the peripheries to overthrow the capitalist order in their own locality as well as imperialist exploitation? What forms of solidarity are necessary between peoples in the North and South to overhaul capitalism and imperialism and how can they be created and sustained towards the long term achievement of

socialism? Whilst several academics in the North belong to a school of thought that contends that the concept of globalization is a new phenomenon in our world, writers such as Amin and Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem have consistently argued that historical capitalism, at every stage of its maturity, has always been globalized. Perhaps it is the case that globalization represents old wine in new bottles. The late Abdul-Raheem wrote in 1998: Globalization is therefore not so much a new thing but a new context. The lack of historical context and political responsibility in discussing the current fad of globalization, which has given rise to much writing on the concept, dangerously negates the fact that there was a previous globalizing mission of globalized colonialism that extended into the twentieth century for Africa, yet began with the infamous Berlin Conference of 18841885.[5] Undoubtedly the present nature of capitalism has spawned a deepening polarization of the world between the poor and the rich countries. Within the centres of the North and South these profound cleavages also persist and this is a point of emphasis in Amins writings. Another important integral theme in the work of Amin is his deconstruction of imperialism and its global operations and impact on the peoples of the South; how the collective imperialism of the Triad, that is the US, Western Europe and Japan, has appropriated democracy and the discourses on the environment, aid alongside the increased militarization of the United States. Amin considers these developments and issues are inextricably linked to the reproduction and control of the resources of the world by the minority capitalist-imperialist centres who seek to dominate such resources held in the South. In reality the peoples of the global South comprise 80 per cent of the worlds population and therefore constitute the majority world. In the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991, the decade of the 1990s saw the rise of calls for multiparty elections and democracy in Eastern Europe. Africa was infected with this fever and the calls for democracy as envisioned by the North quickly became a conditionality that the financial institutions adopted to coerce African countries to open up to the globalized liberal economy. Good governance and commitment to human rights as defined by the West became the fig-leaf for continued aid that far from being apolitical has been used to prop up dubious regimes in Africa and elsewhere. Yet as Amin points out, the autocratic regimes

of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Georgia, and Yemen, among others, are permitted to continue to oppress their peoples because they are regimes Western countries consider to be strategic to their political and economic interests. In the savage and ruthless search for endless accumulation, capitalism continues to ravage the planet and has done so for centuries. Climate change, pollution, drought, famine and hunger are inseparable from this ruthless capitalist logic and therefore human beings on this planet cannot disconnect the destruction of the natural environment from the manner in which economic exploitation of the earths resources (fish, agriculture, oil, diamonds, minerals etc) are extracted at the expense of the majority world to support the way of life of those in the North. Currently, capitalist oligopolies have sought to present their green credentials in green capitalism which has been supported by those in power in the Triad. Amin argues that this capture of ecologist discourse is providing a very useful service to imperialism. Again, economists and powerful corporations masquerading as green economists engage in witchcraft (such as carbon swaps) to deflect focus on the fundamental causes of climate change and the necessity to overhaul capitalist production to arrest the continued pillage of the planet. In what has been coined as the new scramble for Africa by others, that is, an intensification of the conflict for access to the natural resources of Africa, it appears Chinas encroachment on what the Western countries have historically and arrogantly considered their exclusive preserve signals two courses of action for Africans. Either Africans challenge this new re-colonization or continue to be client states of not only the Triad but also the emerging powers of Brazil, India, Russia and China (popularly known as the BRIC countries) if non-exploitative forms of economic engagement are not practised with the emerging powers. For Amin the way forward for countries of the South lies in delinking, or his theory of disconnection which offers such countries an alternative from the constraints imposed by the worlds economic system. Emphasizing that the concept should not be equated with autarky, that is, withdrawal from any forms of engagement with the world, the process of delinking is fundamentally about the refusal to subject the national development strategy to the imperatives of worldwide expansion. [6] It requires a politically bold government with a conscious citizenry to implement

a model of alternative development based on expanding the scope for noncommodity and self-management activities; rejection of the dictates of comparative advantage; and strengthening North-South relations between progressive forces. Essentially whether one likes it or not, [delinking] is associated with a transition outside capitalism and over a long time - towards socialism. Such a transition is by no means linear or devoid of retreats. In building socialism of the future there is no blueprint. Or as Amin puts it: if in 1500 one had been asked what capitalism would be, one would doubtless have furnished inadequate replies, even supposing one could have then imagined that what one was building was capitalism. In short, socialism has still to be built.[8] And in building socialism, Amins work stresses that the struggle for democratization and the struggle for socialism are one and the same. No socialism without democracy, but also no democratic progress without a socialist perspective. Delinking seeks to create self-reliance in practice and reality among the peoples of the South through greater South to South cooperation, particularly economic relations that avoid reproducing similar relations of exploitation that exist between the capitalist core and the periphery, that is, the developed nations and the less developed countries. In this protracted struggle towards delinking, the people of the South will also have to confront the militarization of globalization. With American soldiers in 144 countries around the world and the recent establishment of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) with over 2,000 American troops in tiny Djibouti, it seems Africa is now the latest incorporation into Americas Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and the Project of the New American Century (PNAC). The latter vision was born during the Bush presidency and has extended the Monroe doctrine which upheld that the US reserved the right to intervene against anything on or near the American continent that is perceived as a threat. The Bush regime extended that doctrine to the entire planet. In relation to Africa, the Bush administration set up AFRICOM which constitutes a dangerous development that legitimizes itself by claims of assisting in security, humanitarian efforts and eradicating the GWOT on the continent. AFRICOM co-exists with its subalterns in the form of Japan and a defunct NATO constantly seeking a new role for itself in the postCold War era. The reality is among AFRICOMs objectives is to secure much -

needed energy for the American economy from the oil producing states of Africa. States such as Ghana and Chad which have recently discovered oil wealth, along with the existing African oil producers such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, have intensified the strategic importance of Africa in this new scramble for the resources of the continent in the next decades. Amin urges the people of the South and radical movements in the North to force the Triad of imperialism to abandon their military bases spread all over the world and to dismantle NATO. He speaks of the urgency of constructing an internationalism of workers and peoples confronted by the savagery of continued capitalist dispossession through accumulation and increased militarization. The perspicacity of Amins theoretical dissections of financializiation, American hegemony, the erosion of democracy and its manipulation in order to serve imperialist interests, the increasing power of global oligarchies such as the American company Monsanto (just to name one among hundreds that currently exist), the adoption of responsibility to protect which conceals imperialistic military agendas in ostensible humanitarian guises, the destruction of the earth in the rapacious search for more resources and markets around the world, are inextricably linked. The solutions - that is the creation of a new socialist world - will not be smooth, but as Amin vividly articulates, the alternative is chaos and barbarity. Ideologically consistent and committed to radical transformation, Amin is an intellectual titan in the canon of African radical thought. The great AfricanAmerican political activist, Ella Baker defined radical as getting down to and understanding the root cause. It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.[9] If humanity progresses by asking questions of itself and at times stumbles in the process of finding and then implementing radical solutions to global inequalities and injustices - then Amin has made a colossal contribution in defining those profoundly relevant questions and issues at this critical juncture of history.

A Critique of the Current Arab Discourse

Dr. Samir Amin is an Egypt-born political author who is best known for his Neo-Marxist writings in development theory and his promotion

of the conscious self-reliance of developing countries, particular for the Arab world. He has dedicated a major part of his work on studying the relationships between developed and undeveloped countries. For him, the differences between state institutions of both northern and southern countries can be found in the very basis of capitalism and globalization. One of the most important concept of his work is the theory of the disconnection, in which Amin explains why the undeveloped countries should disconnect themselves from the capitalistic world system and abandon northern values, in order to allow both democracy and socialism to settle in the South. He gained a Ph.D. degree in Political Economy in Paris (1957) as well as degrees from the Institut de Statistiques and from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques. He then returned home where he was attached to the Planning bodies of Nasser's regime. He left Egypt in 1960 to work with the Ministry of Planning of the newly independent Mali (1960-63) and following this commenced an academic career. He has held the position of full Professor in France since 1966 and was for ten years (1970-80) the director of the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (in Dakar). Since 1980 he has been directing the African Office of the Third World Forum, an international non-governmental association for research and debate. He is currently the President of the World Forum for Alternatives. He has written more than 30 books including Imperialism & Unequal Development, Specters of Capitalism: A Critique of Current Intellectual Fashions, Obsolescent Capitalism: Contemporary Politics and Global Disorder and The Liberal Virus. His memoirs were published in October of 2006. He publishes mainly in French and Arabic. Publications by Samir Amin * 1957, Les effets structurels de lintgration internationale des conomies prcapitalistes. Une tude thorique du mcanisme qui a engendr les onomies dites sous-dveloppes (thesis) * 1964, LEgypte nassrienne * 1965, Trois expriences africaines de dveloppement: le Mali, la Guine et le Ghana * 1966, Lconomie du Maghreb, 2 vols. * 1967, Le dveloppement du capitalisme en Cte d'Ivoire * 1969, Le monde des affaires sngalais

* 1969, The Class struggle in Africa * 1970, Le Maghreb moderne (translation: The Magrheb in the Modern World) * 1970, Laccumulation lchelle mondiale (translation: Accumulation on a world scale) * 1970, with C. Coquery-Vidrovitch, Histoire conomique du Congo 1880-1968 * 1971, LAfrique de lOuest bloque * 1973, Le dveloppement ingal (translation: Unequal development) * 1973, Lchange ingal et la loi de la valeur * 1973, Neocolonialism in West Africa * 1973, 'Le developpement inegal. Essai sur les formations sociales du capitalisme peripherique' Paris: Editions de Minuit. * 1973, Lchange ingal et la loi de la valeur * 1974, with K. Vergopoulos): La question paysanne et le capitalisme * 1975, with A. Faire, M. Hussein and G. Massiah): La crise de limprialisme * 1976, Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism New York: Monthly Review Press. * 1976, Limprialisme et le dveloppement ingal (translation: Imperialism and unequal development) * 1976, La nation arabe (translation: The Arab Nation) * 1977, La loi de la valeur et le matrialisme historique (translation: The law of value and historical materialism) * 1979, Classe et nation dans lhistoire et la crise contemporaine (translation: Class and nation, historically and in the current crisis) * 1980, Lconomie arabe contemporaine (translation: The Arab economy today) * 1981, Lavenir du Maosme (translation: The Future of Maoism) * 1982, Irak et Syrie 1960 - 1980 * 1982, with G. Arrighi, A. G. Frank and I. Wallerstein): La crise, quelle crise? (translation: Crisis, what crisis?) * 1984, 'Was kommt nach der Neuen Internationalen Wirtschaftsordnung? Die Zukunft der Weltwirtschaft' in 'Rote Markierungen International' (Fischer H. and Jankowitsch P. (Eds.)), pp. 89 110, Vienna: Europaverlag. * 1984, Transforming the world-economy? : nine critical essays on the new international economic order. * 1985, La dconnexion (translation: Delinking: towards a polycentric world) * 1988, Imprialisme et sous-dveloppement en Afrique (expanded edition of 1976) * 1988, Leurocentrisme (translation: Eurocentrism) * 1988, with F. Yachir): La Mditerrane dans le systme mondial * 1989, La faillite du dveloppement en Afrique et dans le tiers monde]

* 1990, Transforming the revolution: social movements and the world system * 1990, Itinraire intellectual; regards sur le demi-siecle 1945-90 (translation: Re-reading the post-war period: an Intellectual Itinerary) * 1991, LEmpire du chaos (translation: Empire of chaos) * 1991, Les enjeux stratgiques en Mditerrane * 1991, with G. Arrighi, A. G. Frank et I. Wallerstein): Le grand tumulte * 1992, 'Empire of Chaos' New York: Monthly Review Press. * 1994, LEthnie lassaut des nations * 1995, La gestion capitaliste de la crise * 1996, Les dfis de la mondialisation * 1997, Die Zukunft des Weltsystems. Herausforderungen der Globalisierung. Herausgegeben und aus dem Franzoesischen uebersetzt von Joachim Wilke Hamburg: VSA. * 1997, Critique de lair du temps * 1999, "Judaism, Christianity and Islam: An Introductory Approach to their Real or Supposed Specificities by a Non-Theologian" in "Global capitalism, liberation theology, and the social sciences: An analysis of the contradictions of modernity at the turn of the millennium" (Andreas Mueller, Arno Tausch and Paul Zulehner (Eds.)), Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, Commack, New York * 1999, Spectres of capitalism: a critique of current intellectual fashions * 2000, Lhgmonisme des tats-Unis et leffacement du projet europen * 2002, Mondialisation, comprehendre pour agir * 2003, Obsolescent Capitalism * 2004, The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World * 2005, with Ali El Kenz, Europe and the Arab world; patterns and prospects for the new relationship * 2006, Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World * 2008, with James Membrez, The World We Wish to See: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century * 2009, 'Aid for Development' in 'Aid to Africa: Redeemer or Coloniser?' Oxford: Pambazuka Press

Samir Amin
Samir Amin was born in Cairo, the son of an Egyptian father and a French mother (both medical doctors). He spent his childhood and youth in Port Said; there he attended a French High School, leaving in 1947 with a Baccalaurat. From 1947 to 1957 he studied in Paris, gaining a diploma in political

science (1952) before graduating in statistics (1956) and economics (1957). In hisautobiography Itinraire intellectuel (1990) he wrote that in order to spend a substantial amount of time in "militant action" he could devote only a minimum of time to preparing for his university exams. Arriving in Paris, Amin joined the French Communist Party (PCF), but he later distanced himself from Soviet Marxism and associated himself for some time with Maoist circles. With other students he published a magazine entitled tudiants Anticolonialistes. In 1957 he presented his thesis, supervised by Franois Perroux among others, originally titled The origins of underdevelopment - capitalist accumulation on a world scale but retitled The structural effects of the international integration of precapitalist economies. A theoretical study of the mechanism which creates so-called underdeveloped economies. After finishing his thesis, Amin went back to Cairo, where he worked from 1957 to 1960 as a research officer for the government's "Institution for Economic Management". Subsequently Amin left Cairo, to become an adviser to the Ministry of Planning in Bamako (Mali) from 1960 to 1963. In 1963 he was offered a fellowship at the Institut Africain de Dveloppement conomique et de Planification (IDEP). Until 1970 he worked there as well as being a professor at the university of Poitiers, Dakar and Paris (of Paris VIII, Vincennes). In 1970 he became director of the IDEP, which he managed until 1980. In 1980 Amin left the IDEP and became a director of the Third World Forum in Dakar. Work
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Samir Amin has written more than 30 books including Imperialism & Unequal Development, Specters of Capitalism: A Critique of Current Intellectual Fashions, Obsolescent Capitalism: Contemporary Politics and Global Disorder and The Liberal Virus. His memoirs were published in October 2006. For Samir Amin (1997), the ascent and decline is largely determined in our age by the following five monopolies 1. the monopoly of technology, supported by military expenditures of the dominant nations 2. the monopoly of control over global finances and a strong position in the hierarchy of current account balances 3. the monopoly of access to natural resources 4. the monopoly over international communication and the media

5. the monopoly of the military means of mass destruction The economic performance over the last few years teaches us an important lesson about the evolving mechanisms of the future Kondratieff cycle, that began in the mid-1980s. Let us recall, that for Dependency and World Systems theory in the tradition of Samir Amin (1975), there are four main characteristics of the peripheral societal formation: the predominance of agrarian capitalism in the national sector the formation of a local bourgeoisie, which is dependent from foreign capital, especially in the trading sector the tendency of bureaucratization specific and incomplete forms of proletarisation of the labor force In partial accordance with liberal thought, (i) and (iii) explain the tendency towards low savings; thus there will be

huge state sector deficits and, in addition, their twin chronic current account balance deficits In the peripheral countries. High imports of the periphery, and hence, in the long run, capital imports, are the consequence of the already existing structural deformations of the role of peripheries in the world system, namely by

rapid urbanization, combined with an insufficient local production of food excessive expenditures of the local bureaucracies changes in income distribution to the benefit of the local elites (demonstration effects) insufficient growth of and structural imbalances in the industrial sector and the following reliance on foreign assistance The history of periphery capitalism, Amin argues, is full of short-term miracles and long-term blocks, stagnation and even regression.

Samir Amin's views on Political Islam According to Samir Amin, Islam leads its struggle on the terrain of culture, wherein "culture" is intended as "belongingness to one religion". Islamist militants are not actually interested in the discussion of dogmas which form religion but on the contrary they're concerned about the ritual assertion of membership in the community. Such a world view is therefore not only distressing as it conceals an immense poverty of thought, but it also

justifies Imperialism's strategy of substituting a "conflict of cultures" for a conflict between the liberal, imperialist centres and the backward, dominated peripheries. This importance attributed to culture allows political Islam to obscure from every sphere of life the realistic social dichotomy between the working classes and the global capitalist system which oppresses and exploits them. The militants of political Islam are only present in areas of conflict in order to furnish people with education and health care, through schools and health clinics. However, these are nothing more than works of charity and means of indoctrination, insofar as they are not means of support for the working class struggle against the system which is responsible for its misery. Besides, beyond being reactionary on definite matters (see the status of women in Islam) and responsible for fanatical excesses against non-Muslim citizen (such as the Copts in Egypt), political Islam even defends the sacred character of property and legimitises inequality and all the prerequisites of capitalist reproduction. One example is the Muslim Brotherhood's support in the Egyptian parliament for conservative and reactionary laws which empowers the rights of property owners, to the detriment of the small peasantry. Political Islam has also always found consent in the bourgeoisie of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as the latter abandoned an anti-imperialist perspective and substituted it for an anti-western stance, which only creates an acceptable impasse of cultures and therefore doesn't represent any obstacle to the developing imperialist control over the world system. Hence, political Islam aligns itself in general with capitalism and imperialism, without providing the working classes with an effective and non-reactionary method of struggle against theirexploitation. It is important to note, however, that Amin is careful to distinguish his analysis of political Islam from islamophobia, thus remaining sensitive to the antiMuslim attitudes that currently affect Western Society.

Publications by Samir Amin

1957, Les effets structurels de lintgration internationale des conomies prcapitalistes. Une tude thorique du mcanisme qui a engendr les onomies dites sous-dveloppes (thesis) 1965, Trois expriences africaines de dveloppement: le Mali, la Guine et le Ghana 1966, Lconomie du Maghreb, 2 vols. 1967, Le dveloppement du capitalisme en Cte d'Ivoire

1969, Le monde des affaires sngalais 1969, The Class struggle in Africa 1970, Le Maghreb moderne (translation: The Magrheb in the Modern World) 1970, Laccumulation lchelle mondiale (translation: Accumulation on a world scale) 1970, with C. Coquery-Vidrovitch, Histoire conomique du Congo 18801968 1971, LAfrique de lOuest bloque 1973, Le dveloppement ingal (translation: Unequal development) 1973, Lchange ingal et la loi de la valeur 1973, Neocolonialism in West Africa 1973, 'Le developpement inegal. Essai sur les formations sociales du capitalisme peripherique' Paris: Editions de Minuit. 1973, Lchange ingal et la loi de la valeur 1974, with K. Vergopoulos): La question paysanne et le capitalisme 1975, with A. Faire, M. Hussein and G. Massiah): La crise de limprialisme 1976, Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism New York: Monthly Review Press. 1976, Limprialisme et le dveloppement ingal (translation: Imperialism and unequal development) 1976, La nation arabe (translation: The Arab Nation) 1977, La loi de la valeur et le matrialisme historique (translation: The law of value and historical materialism) 1979, Classe et nation dans lhistoire et la crise contemporaine (translation: Class and nation, historically and in the current crisis) 1980, Lconomie arabe contemporaine (translation: The Arab economy today) 1981, Lavenir du Maosme (translation: The Future of Maoism) 1982, Irak et Syrie 1960 - 1980 1982, with G. Arrighi, A. G. Frank and I. Wallerstein): La crise, quelle crise? (translation: Crisis, what crisis?) 1984, 'Was kommt nach der Neuen Internationalen Wirtschaftsordnung? Die Zukunft der Weltwirtschaft' in 'Rote Markierungen International' (Fischer H. and Jankowitsch P. (Eds.)), pp. 89 110, Vienna: Europaverlag. 1984, Transforming the world-economy? : nine critical essays on the new international economic order. 1985, La dconnexion (translation: Delinking: towards a polycentric world)

1988, Imprialisme et sous-dveloppement en Afrique (expanded edition of 1976) 1988, Leurocentrisme (translation: Eurocentrism) 1988, with F. Yachir): La Mditerrane dans le systme mondial 1989, La faillite du dveloppement en Afrique et dans le tiers monde 1990, Transforming the revolution: social movements and the world system 1990, Itinraire intellectual; regards sur le demi-siecle 1945-90 (translation: Re-reading the post-war period: an Intellectual Itinerary) 1991, LEmpire du chaos (translation: Empire of chaos) 1991, Les enjeux stratgiques en Mditerrane 1991, with G. Arrighi, A. G. Frank et I. Wallerstein): Le grand tumulte 1992, 'Empire of Chaos' New York: Monthly Review Press. 1994, LEthnie lassaut des nations 1995, La gestion capitaliste de la crise 1996, Les dfis de la mondialisation 1997, Die Zukunft des Weltsystems. Herausforderungen der Globalisierung. Herausgegeben und aus dem Franzoesischen uebersetzt von Joachim Wilke Hamburg: VSA. 1997, Critique de lair du temps 1999, "Judaism, Christianity and Islam: An Introductory Approach to their Real or Supposed Specificities by a Non-Theologian" in "Global capitalism, liberation theology, and the social sciences: An analysis of the contradictions of modernity at the turn of the millennium" (Andreas Mueller, Arno Tausch and Paul Zulehner (Eds.)), Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, Commack, New York 1999, Spectres of capitalism: a critique of current intellectual fashions 2000, Lhgmonisme des tats-Unis et leffacement du projet europen 2002, Mondialisation, comprehendre pour agir 2003, Obsolescent Capitalism 2004, The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World 2005, with Ali El Kenz, Europe and the Arab world; patterns and prospects for the new relationship 2006, Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World 2008, with James Membrez, The World We Wish to See: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century

2009, 'Aid for Development' in 'Aid to Africa: Redeemer or Coloniser?' Oxford: Pambazuka Press 2010, 'Eurocentrism - Modernity, Religion and Democracy: A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism' 2nd edition, Oxford: Pambazuka Press 2010, 'Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism?' Oxford: Pambazuka Press 2010, 'Global History - a View from the South' Oxford: Pambazuka Press 2011, 'Maldevelopment - Anatomy of a Global Failure' 2nd edition, Oxford: Pambazuka Press Writings about Samir Amin

Aidan Forster-Carter: The Empirical Samir Amin, in S. Amin: The Arab Economy Today, London 1982, pp. 1 40 Duru Tobi: On Amin's Concepts - autocentric/ blocked development in Historical Perspectives, in: Economic Papers (Warsaw), Nr. 15, 1987, pp. 143 163 Fouhad Nohra: Thories du capitalisme mondial. Paris 1997 Gerald M. Meier, Dudley Seers (eds.): Pioneers in Development. Oxford 1984

The new capitalist globalisation: Problems and perspectives

by Samir Amin

No social or perhaps even natural phenomenon evolves in a regular, constant and indeterminate way. The same also holds for capitalist growth, whose phases of rapid expansion are necessarily followed by periods of difficult readjustment. From this is point of view the post-war years (194590) formed an exceptional period of strong generalised growth, entering into crisis in the 1970s and 1980s. This evolution has inspired a revival of long cycle, or Kondratieff, theories, whose merits I wont discuss here, having done so elsewhere. However its best to state from the outset that I share with Paul Baran, Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff a basic thesis which is widely rejected, even

by dominant trends in Marxist political economy: namely that the capitalist mode of production is a system which constantly generates a tendency to overproduction, which is a new phenomenon, unknown in human history before the industrial revolution. It is easy to illustrate this fact in a model of expanded reproduction reduced to Marxs two departments, production of the means of production (Department I) and production of consumer goods (Department II). The realisation of surplus value requires that the real wage must increase from one period to the next in calculable proportions, in line with the growth of labour productivity. But the social relationship between bourgeoisie and proletariat counteracts this necessary adjustment: wages tend to be lower than what they should be according to productivity The system therefore generates a spontaneous and permanent tendency to overproduction, or underconsumption, these two terms being synonymous, two sides of the same phenomenon, namely the discrepancy between the wage and the need to absorb expanding output. So, contrary to the self-congratulatory ideological pronouncements of capitalism, it is not stagnation which causes the problem, but the reverse, the prodigious growth created by the system in spite of this inherent tendency to stagnation. Which is why Ive put forward an argument which goes against mainstream ideas on the subject, one in which successive phases of growth correspond precisely both to the introduction of major innovations and to political developments that result in expanded markets. These are, in order:

the first industrial revolution, and the wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire; the railway, and German and Italian unification; electricity, and colonial imperialism; the reconstruction and modernisation of Europe and Japan after 1945, the society of the automobile, and the Cold War; and tomorrow a new conquest of the East and the computer and space revolutions?

Within this framework, the post-war cycle is to be defined as a long growth phase sustained by three pillars which were partially in conflict but also complementary: (a) social-democratic regulation of Fordist accumulation, of course by means of openly Keynesian national policies but nonetheless reconciling, within the context of the nation-state, the expansion of capital with the historic compromise between capital and labour, with reinforcement coming from the military spending of the Cold War; (b) increasing

modernisation and industrialisation in countries on the periphery which had rewon their independence, driven by what I have called the Bandung Project (195575), a national-bourgeois plan to catch up via managed economic interdependence; (c) continuation of the Soviet project: catching up by means of a model of accumulation similar to that of historical capitalism, but totally disconnected from the constraints of the global system, and carried out at the level of the nationstate, or of several nation-states, by means of state ownership and the centralisation of economic and political power, concentrated in the hands of the emerging new bourgeoisie (the nomenklatura of the Communist parties). Military bipolarity completed the architecture of the model. It was the roofing on the building which rested on these three pillars, protecting it from bad weather. This tripolar system formed the basis for generally powerful economic growth in each of the three regions making up the post-war world. Because of this, added influence was given to those (centripetal) forces that guaranteed a certain coherence in the behaviour of the social actors, even when they were in conflict, by defining the boundaries of these conflicts. This being the case, the implementation of these plans and their very success are at the origin of ideological illusions, which have powerfully influenced public opinion. In the West, people believed that endless growth was from then on adefinitive gain. In the Third World, it was believed that national construction would eventually solve the problems of underdevelopment. In Eastern Europe, people believed in socialism. The turning point in the situation, which put an end to this growth phase, is the combined product of the exhaustion of the three models making up the world system in the post-war cycle. This turnaround is plunging every region of the planet into a deep, lasting structural crisis. Today, no indicator suggests light at the end of the tunnel, not in the West, East or South. The talk of those in powereven the most powerfulis that of managing the crisis, not of solving it. For example, it is no longer a question of doing away with unemployment in the West, but of living with it. They speak of a twospeed economy etc. Now because of this, periods of structural crisis in the system are always stages in which centrifugal forces come to the fore. The confusion created both in everyday life (by the stagnation and even decline in economic and social conditions) and on the level of the ideology (by the collapse of the old illusions without the preparation of new ones) feeds these centrifugal forces.

At the end of the Second World War, capitalism as it actually existed as a world system still displayed two basic characteristics inherited from its historical formation. National bourgeois states which were historically formed as such set the political and social framework for the management of national capitalist economies (national systems of production that were largely controlled and directed by national capital), and were in aggressive competition with one another. Together these states formed the centres of the world system. The polarisation between these centres and the peripheries, since the centres had had their industrial revolution one after the other during the nineteenth century, had taken the form of an almost complete contrast between industrialisation of the centres and lack of industry in the peripheries. However, in the course of the post-war cycle, these two features were gradually eroded. The peripheries, after winning back their political independence, came into the industrial age, albeit in an uneven manner, such that the apparent homogeneity created up till then by their shared lack of industry, gave way to a growing differentiation between a semi-industrialised Third World and a Fourth World which had not yet begun its industrial revolution. The interpenetration of capital throughout the centres as a whole burst asunder the national systems of production, and began their restructuring as segments of a globalised system of production. Can we then envisage a new stage in world capitalist expansion on the basis of a restructuring of the system, given the qualitative transformations noted here, and others such as the collapse of the Soviet system and its reintegration into the world market, as well as the beginnings of new technological revolutions? If so, the post-war era could now be considered as the time of transition between the old system and the new one. The question now arises of how to define this new system, how to identify its main features and contradictions, how these are to be regulated, and what are to be the forces driving the dynamics of its development. The answers to these questions necessarily involve an analysis of the laws which govern the accumulation of capital and an analysis of the political and ideological responses of the component parts of societies to the challenges with which the logic of capitalist expansion confronts them. It flows from this that the future is always uncertain, as the growth path of actually existing capitalism also gets conditioned in its turn according to the political outcomes of struggles brought about by the conflict of social interests.

The crisis of the Fordist model It is useful to begin this analysis with a critical reflection on the famous Fordist model, which is now obsolete and which linked growth in productivity to increases in wages and consumption. Capitalism, like any living system, is based on a certain number of contradictions which it continues to overcome throughout its existence, without of course doing away with them. The shaping of social forces, mechanisms and institutions which enables it to overcome some of its contradictions, formsin a specific time and placewhat may be called its concrete model of regulation. From this perspective, we need first of all to identify the real contradictions of actually existing capitalism and how they interrelate, without coming to premature conclusions on the grounds that the systems contradictions have had the same basic organisational structure throughout its history. Identifying the qualitatively different phases this structure has gone throughand hence implicitly its systems of regulation is important from this point of view. Regulation theories, in pointing to the uniqueness of Fordist capitalism, have certainly made a positive contribution to this task. However, this contribution is limited and inadequate, given that these theories have, as it were, looked at Fordist capitalism through a magnifying glass and left the areas beyond that glass hazy and undefined. In other words, they have focussed their attention on the advanced centres of capitalism, forgetting that actually existing capitalism forms a world system and that the advanced centres at issue dont give us a picture of what the rest will be like in the future. Nor can they themselves be understood apart from their relation to the world system taken as a whole. Now any model of regulation which understates the intensity of some of the contradictions in the system must emphasise the sharpness of others. Thus 1 would like to connect the crisis of Fordisrn to other aspects of the global crisis of the post-war system. Post-war economic development The first long phase of capitalism, from the Industrial Revolution to the postWorld War I period (18001920), is that of heavy machine industry, as studied by Marx in Capital. This period saw the setting up of industry-based, self-contained national capitalist systems of production, built within the framework of the new bourgeois national state and enjoying its positive and active intervention.

The main way the regulation system works is national and political in nature. For capital it was a question of isolating the new working class, made restless and dangerous by its concentration in cities (given the technology of military control at that time, the barricade was still effective). To that end, the bourgeoisie made compromises, depending on historical conditions, either with the peasantry as a whole (as in France), or with the aristocracy (England and Germany). Different economic policies were put in place to shore up the bourgeoisies anti-worker alliance-protection of domestic agricultural markets, action to protect small and medium-sized land holdings, and manipulation of the tax base. This system eased some internal social contradictions, but only by sharpening others, notably the contradiction between colonial states and their colonies and conflict among imperialist powers. This latter almost led to the collapse of capitalism at the time of the First World War, which led to the Russian Revolution. The United States benefitted from World War II, which for it was an unexpected opportunity to simultaneously come out of the great crisis of the 1930s, speed up modernisation of production systems by generalising the Fordist model started in the 1930s, and to gain a position of leadership in all spheres, sadly symbolised by the use of its nuclear monopoly in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. By contrast, Europe and Japans lagging behind which was apparent after World War I (a lag marked by the weak penetration of the Fordist model), was aggravated by ongoing debilitating struggles between the victors and vanquished of 191418 and the Great Crash, and took on tragic aspects due to the massive destruction caused by war. However, European and Japanese social fabrics were sufficiently strong to avoid a repetition of the revolutionary radicalisation of 1919. On the contrary, Europe in 194748 (Marshall Plan) and Japan in 1951 (San Francisco Treaty) launched into accelerated development along US Fordist lines. In 1919, the historic compromise between capital and labour on which ideological regulation would rest was still in its infancy, even though the ideological preparation for it had been achieved by the massive rallying of the working classes to their imperialist bourgeoisies from the end of the nineteenth century. By 1945, all the conditions existed for its rapid implementation. The accelerated modernisationAmericanisation was carried out under US hegemony, which was accepted unreservedly (creation of NATO in 1949).

Theories of regulation of the system

Theories of regulation were formulated to advance the analysis of capitalism in this new phase. Labour and Monopoly Capital (1974), the remarkable work of Harry Braverman, broke new ground in dealing with the change to the labour process brought about by the production line. Braverman put his finger on the essential point: the massive deskilling of labour that the new system implied, the substitution of working masses for the former skilled working class, the loss of control over the labour process by this new working class, all to the benefit of supervisors and managers fenced off from the production workers by leading hands become slave-drivers. This new organisation of capital and labour simultaneously created the conditions for the appearance of a new system of regulation. This had become objectively necessary because the inherent tendency of capitalism to overproduce was getting more extreme. Labour productivity, greatly boosted by Taylorist rationalisation, would have generated surplus production which could not have been absorbed if real wages had remained relatively fixed. But this new worker-mass, more homogeneous than that of the earlier stage, created a favourable climate for the spread of unionism. In the face of this, capital concentration and oligopoly formation took the place of former types of competition based exclusively on price (and in this type of competition the pressure on wages always remains strong). New kinds of competition also emerged which emphasised productivity improvements (which implies some sort of consent from workers) as well as product multiplication and differentiation. The scene was set for bosses and unions to negotiate a common wages policy, accepted by both partners (its from this time that the term social partners has been used to denote antagonistic classes!). The state in turn came on the scene to ensure that policies negotiated by the most powerful and best organised partners would flow on to labour relations across the nation as a whole. The main contents of this new wages policy was simply to link wage increases to increases in productivity. This new form of regulation dampened the average seven-year cycle that had been so typical of the earlier phase, because it introduced an element of investment planning. But it did not eliminate the systems tendency to overproduce. The state again intervened to systematically promote a Department III (adding, with regard to the Marxist model of expanded reproduction, to Department I (production of the means of production) and Department II (production of consumption goods). Its job was to absorb the surplus.

Here we meet the decisive role played by US military spending in the period of post-war prosperity. Almost without interruption from 1940 to the present, that is for half a century, capitalism has found no solution to its deep tendency to stagnate apart from an enormous growth in arms expenditure. (This directly or indirectly accounts for a third of us Gross National Product, a percentage that the USSR only caught up with recentlyin Brezhnevs timeexhausting itself moreover trying to maintain.) Post-war regulation relied more on this enormous growth in military expenditure than on the accord between labour and capital. Thats why its unlikely that the system can adapt itself to a dramatic cut in this spending, which would plunge the US into a gigantic crisis. Further, the massification of the labour process and the rise of mass production have had social and ideological effects without which regulation in all its aspects cant be understood. The social compromise involved a shift in the underlying attitudes of the working class, giving up its socialist project and replacing it with the new ideology of mass consumption. From that time the working class ceased to be what Marx expected of it: the liberator of society from economic alienation. For the first time bourgeois ideology truly became the dominant ideology in society. This bourgeois ideology was based on a separation between the political sphere, which it saw as being managed by bourgeois democracy (freedom, the multiparty system, and elections as a way of designating powers etc.), and the economic sphere, whose management (undemocratic) would be based on private property, competition and the rule of the market. The new regulation carried through the erosion of democracy: the double consensus (political democracy, rule of the market) on which it rested reduced the impact of the former distinction between right and left, which was based on the counterpositions conservative spirit/spirit of change and possessing classes/popular classes. By the same token it opened the way for the expansion of the middle class and its leading role in the ideological shaping of society, by setting up a model average citizen, who would set an example of modes of consumption, social aspirations, etc. The regulation at issue remained strictly national. It was built within the framework of self-contained systems of production which were still largely independent of one other, in spite of the interdependence associated with the global market. It was therefore only functional as long as the nation state effectively mastered not only the means at its disposal for managing the national economy, but also all types of relationships with other countries (commercial competitiveness, capital flows, technology transfers). Such a state of affairs could only obtain in the central capitalist states. One should add that this regulation is only fully effective in those countries which

are the best placed in the world hierarchy. In the less developed and relatively more fragile central capitalist societies the difficulty of marrying domestic social compromise with the requirements of international competitiveness leads to continuing severe crises in which reform efforts often fail. At the level of the global system, regulation at the centre leads to the reproduction of unequal relationships between the centres and the periphery. The most dynamic central capitalist powers benefit from all sorts of monopolies operating at a global level, attracting technological progress (the brain drain) and capital to themselves (contrary to the prevailing talk about development the norm is for the peripheries to export their capital to the centres). Because of this, privileged access to the peripheries is an important element in competition between the centres. The Fordist period (192070) coincided with the rise of the national liberation movements which achieved, from 1945, independence in Asia and Africa. This in itself modified the conditions of international competition, in particular by raising the importance of geopolitical stakes. All of this operated in favour of the us, which mobilised the anti-communism of the Cold War era to its advantage. Seen from within the advanced capitalist societies, Fordist regulation may be described by the pleasant term social-democratic; from a world point of view (in a world in which three quarters of the people are in the peripheries), it would perhaps more deserve the less flattering term social-imperialist.

The decline of Fordist regulation

In any case the system of regulation of the Fordist period has no future. While this fact is acknowledged by all, most regulation theorists attribute it to the development of class struggles in the centre, in conjunction with the technological revolution: the working-class mass has developed forms of passive resistance which cancel out organisational measures aimed at improving labour productivity. The rate of profit has shrunk and capitalism has lost the flexibility needed for smooth functioning. In addition, technological revolution is speeding up the development of new kinds of production. The productivity gains to be realised in the sectors of Fordist production are henceforth limited in the extreme (and moreover the needs satisfied by the kinds of goods produced under these conditions are close to saturation in the centre). By contrast, new technologies provide an extensive field for productivity gains, among other things through computerisation and robotisation. This trend weakens the position of the Fordist working class (the unskilled but unionised worker-mass), which forms the social base of social democracy and

is in relative or even absolute numerical decline. People often like to say that this trend is leading to a new skilling of the work force. Thats true, as long as one adds that this reskilling is taking place in a society dominated by the middle classes, whose importance is reinforced in qualitative and quantitative terms, that is, through the continuing erosion of previous forms of democratic political control of society. This fact alone introduces considerable scope for uncertainty in political behaviour and, as a result, in the outcome of national and international conflicts. This uncertainty shows up in that apparent incoherence, not to say irrationality, which seems to rule the actions and reactions of todays political actors to a degree that would have been difficult to imagine only a few years ago. This is the framework for understanding the (often working-class) swing to the right, which has to be taken seriously. At the same time, the nature of the new technological revolution, more capital saving than capital using, which was the case in the previous great technological revolutions (railways, electrification, the automobile and urbanisation), aggravates immediate imbalances between the supply of available savings (product of a given national and world structure of income distribution) and the demand for productive investment (determined by the growth of productivity through the expansion of the technological revolution). As a result the trend to overproduction is further exacerbated. This exacerbation is reinforced still further by financial globalisation which shows up as a mass transfer of capital from the peripheries towards the centres (the debt is one means among others for effecting this transfer). Sweezy and Magdoff (1966) have stressed, rightly in my view, the reactions of the system to this state of affairs, namely its headlong rush into speculation. However, I would stress other reasons why Fordist regulation has been struck down by a fatal decline: the growing interpenetration of national systems of production at the centre of the system, and the shift presently taking place in the international economy towards, for the first time in history, a truly global economy. This interpenetration cancels out the effectiveness of traditional national pollcles and delivers the system as a whole up to the commandand transgressionsof world market pressures alone. These cannot effectively be controlled in the absence of real supranational political institutions, not to mention a political and social consciousness really accepting of this new requirement of capitalism. And yet, this contradiction, which is new, in my opinion isnt open to regulation. It can only give rise to chaos and, keeping in mind what Ive previously said about the degeneration of democratic political systems, a dangerous chaos.

Its useful to stress these serious problems, and the uncertainty that they entail for the future of the European Union itself (in contrast with the de rigeur optimism displayed in this field), for the imbalances between the us, Japan and Europe which mark the new situation, and for the further, equally serious, unknowns introduced by the evolution of Eastern Europe and Russia. My conclusion is that the national factor is far from having been neutralised by the trends which globalisation will force on the economic system, and that it is, on the contrary, on the road to trying to prevail once more over the very logic of economic development.