Theories of Underdevelopment                  Humanities Press, 1979                         3-15-90  

Theories about Development: An attempt to take illustrative examples and show what an adequate explanation might look like.

Chapter 1   The original transition
Throughout history economics remains subordinate to politics.

Weber argued that theological doctrine caused intense anxiety amongst Calvinists and they attempted to act as they were in fact among the elect and so precluded any idleness or frivolity.This together with other rationalization in other spheres of society provided the catalyst for the dev't of modern industrial society.

Durkheim the central fact was the dissolution of the old ties of mechanical solidarity which bound people to each other in the tightly knit communities of pre-industrial society.  The resultant anomie would create a soullessness which people would not accept and so would subordinate themselves to a new collective structure.

Marx sought the liberation of the individual in exactly the opposite direction.  Rather than receiving moral guidance from authority liberated man would freely come together with his fellows to decide a course of action.  Marx Fundamental Law of Capitalism was the imperative need to accumulate capital.

Political system of any decentralized fief is bound to be unstable.  So precursor of Capitalism is a centralized state.

In Britain a slow and drawn out symbiosis of bourgeoisie and aristocracy enabled the transition to proceed smoothly without major outbreaks of violence.

Chapter 2   Replicating the Transition

If evolution is seen as a process of progressive differentiation, if the society is not to fall apart there must be a parallel process of re-integration of the increasingly more complex structure.

Even if one accepted Parsons' pattern-variables as a useful analytic tool, whether one could apply them in a straightforward way to contrast underdeveloped and developed societies is quite dubious (Frank, 69).

Immanuel Wallerstein - the mode of production denotes a systematic whole, but argues that there is only one level of wholeness, that of the world system.

McClelland, in a crude and simplist vulgar misinterpretation of Weber argues that if the Protestant ethic caused economic growth in the west, then some analogous phenomenon must be sought in order for dev't  to occur.

Barrington Moore The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy '66 sets three routes to modernization:  the classical bourgeois revolutions which give rise to democracies; revolution from above, by a reactionary alliance between landed aristocracy and a modernizing elite, which gives rise to variants of fascism; and revolution from below, in which a peasant revolt becomes the vehicle for a Communist-inspired drive towards modernity.  Although the societies which Moore works with are indeed some of the most important societies in the contemporary world, the vast mass of the Third World countries are excluded from his analysis by the simple fact that he cannot deal with exogenous influences.

Jaguaribe 73  National capitalism, state capitalism, and developmental socialism.  National capitalism involves a Neo-Bismarkian leadership where modernizing sectors of the national bourgeoisie and the middle class in alliance with the proletariat
and with the support of the mobilized peasants are opposed by traditional sectors and their foreign bosses.  State capitalism involves the modernizing sector of the middle class, with full support of urban and rural masses versus traditional patrician elite and their consular allies in the middle class.  Developmental socialism involves the intelligentsia of the counterelite organized in a revolutionary, well disciplined party, with support of party-controlled urban and rural masses employs the state to maximize economic growth.

Gerschenkron then Trotsky both see an advantage in the stages of dev't in that now a backward country can leap frog by importing the newest technology  South Korea and the other 4 tigers.  But these don't shed any light on how the society changes.


Chapter 3  Internal Obstacles

The United Nations Economic Committee for Latin America (ECLA) broke away from endogenous paradigms by noting that international markets are often dictated for the underdeveloped countries.  And that the terms of trade had been moving against the Latin American nations since about 1870.  By the mid 1930's the political alliance in Latin America took the form of Populism and much of the Third World varieties of national Socialism.  However, by the 1960s the import-substituting industrialization had not broken the reliance on a single export commodity.  Only the unused in the 60's Marxian theories of imperialism questioned ECLA paradigm of dependency and exploitation by first world and so market factors prescribed by ECLA were not accurate. 

***The entire productive structure of the multinational corporations is geared to the manufacture of - to the third worlds population - high income commodities.  This is backed up with a advertising and mass communication which means that, when the people in the Third World manifest their free choice in a market place dominated by the values of the countries of advanced capitalism, they do so by purchasing precisely those commodities which are dysfunctional for balanced economic growth.

This 60's disenchantment of the ECLA model occurred at the same time as a new model was being tried out in practice - The Brazilian Model.  this arose out of a political crisis which briefly was the result of the decay of the old agrarian oligarchies into the New State of coffee capitalists based in Sao Paulo and linked with the newer industrial bourgeoisie meant changes in the nature of the state.  As populism rose and disenchantment with the ISI growth rate of the economy, vociferous masses met alarmed establishment and the political institutions were unable to cope so in a now standard fashion a "dithering' President Goulart was ousted by a military coup.  Who then instituted the Brazilian Model.

Brazilian Model initially orthodox - wages reduce, budgetary restraint, and an issuing recession which saw inflation manageable.  the resulting stagnation had theorists like Baran and Frank arguing that capitalism in the underdeveloped world was incompatible with economic growth in any but the most superficial ways.  But then in 1967-73 (73 world wide recession) a 9% real growth rate was achieved.  This growth may be attributed to a reversal of the ISI model of income distribution.  Rather than make the distribution more equitable, there was a concentration of income with most of the benefits going to the top 20%.  The remaining 80% participated in the market only as producers not consumers.  The expansion of this market was created by a massive inflow of foreign capital attracted by:
        1.  low wages
        2.  a controlled and stable labour movement
        3.  deliberate government incentives
        4.  local capital reinvested in non-durable consumer goods
        5.  push toward exporting to less developed markets

Marxist argument is foreign investment in time must eventually stabilize with the return outflow higher than the inflow.  But with modern multinationals a great deal of capital is raised locally muting this argument.

Skidmore 77, Merkx, 73) If a Third world country opts to continue an ISI and a one or two product export base and the ECLA position of declining terms is accurate, then inflationary pressures stemming from these market imperfections will create political instability resulting in authoritarian solutions and the probability of a military coup will increase dramatically.

Comments

Emmanuel 72  The implication of theories of unequal exchange seems to be that exploitation may  take place in the sphere of circulation, as well as in the sphere of production.  If this is so, then the high wages of workers in advanced countries are , in part a result of the low wages of workers in the periphery.

Frank Whenever the ties between the center and the periphery are loosened, and the conditions for industrial development appear, it is likely that the domestic bourgeoisie will form a progressive alliance with the working class against the landed oligarchy.

In underdeveloped countries two sets of contradictions and two sets of struggles are present:  the struggle against dependency and for national liberation and development; and the class struggle against the local ruling class.

No satisfactory general theory is available.  So any empirical generalization must remain closely grounded in concrete historical research.


Development and Underdevelopment in Historical Perspective
Gavin Kitching
Metheun 1982

Populism - an effort to bypass the terrors of capitalism in becoming industrialized.  Most often tried by landed agrarian class co-operation with new bourgeoisie.  In Russia the control used the vehicle of the obshchina a select group of elders historically responsible for collecting rent/taxes from serfs of peasants for the landlords.

In China 30 peasants labour is required to keep 1 student in school.  China is barely making it in the agrarian sector which is so huge any attempt to modify could be disastrous.  But in comparison the industrial sector is so small that it can't be taxed enough to pull up the agrarian reforms.

***If disintegration of the rural life in the Third World continues there is no way out---no matter how much money is spent.  pg 203 


Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism 
Bill Warren
NLB 1980

A full time Marxist and declares Capitalism and Democracy are linked virtually as siamese twins.

Lenin:  monopoly capitalism marked the end of the progressive aspects of Capitalism that Marx and Engels wrote of.

Imperialism caused diminishing resources.

return to books