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6. Political and social conditions for alternative development in the third world

Impossibility of the bourgeois national state in the peripheries of the world system1
Inequality in the worldwide expansion of capitalism; the state's central role
The worldwide spread of value3
A return to the third world?4
The consequences of unequal development
The issue of democracy
The historical subject of the popular national option; the role of the intelligentsia

The option for national and popular alternative development' cannot be reduced to a model of a particular macro-economic strategy. It entails the construction of a state other than the unachievable bourgeois national state (would it then be a 'socialist' state?); it entails a democratic operation of society, whose difficulties and problems must be identified; it entails an active historical subject taking charge of the crystallization of the popular coalition that is the precondition for its emergence.

Impossibility of the bourgeois national state in the peripheries of the world system1

The bourgeoisie is a complex social phenomenon that cannot be reduced to its economic aspect (ownership of the means of production). At this level moreover, the bourgeois is a class fragmented by competition and divergence of immediate interests among its component segments. During its emergence, its unification into a class for itself was produced primarily by its ideological struggle, which revolutionized European culture, then by the political construction of the nation-state it undertook. This ideology (along with the fundamental principles it inspires for the organization of political life: separation between the state and civil society, the foundation of modern democracy) became the dominant ideology in the central capitalist societies and the basis of a consensus that goes beyond class and political conflicts. In this emphatic meaning, the bourgeoisie is a phenomenon that is difficult to disentangle from its historical and cultural (European) substratum, and consequently a total social reality that is more or less slavishly imitated at the periphery of the system. Here, might it not be more appropriate to speak of the domination of capital, rather than domination of the bourgeoisie (which at the centre is really the synonym of domination of capital)? This would be an encouragement to stress the essential capitalist role fulfilled by the state, motivated and dominated by the ideology of capitalism. The state is basically a slavish imitation of forms (of administration, education, organization, and so on) or, when there is a greater degree of consciousness, seeks to incorporate into the reality the criteria of capitalist rationality (efficiency, productivity, profitability) regarded as rationality per se. It is then possible to understand why, when the real social base of this capitalist power is weak (or virtually non-existent), the capitalist power is unsure whom it is serving or should serve. In these circumstances it can slide under the prongs of compradorization, turning the local state into an extension of the dominant worldwide capitalist power. But, under popular and national pressure, it could also try to refuse this surrender and seek rather to build an autonomous state, bourgeois in the sense that it is founded on the ideology of capitalist rationality, but without the real bourgeois social support that transmits the rationality. There is a strong temptation for this kind of state to declare itself socialist.

The asymmetry between the domination of capital, founded at the centre on an entirely real bourgeois base, and the domination at the periphery based on its absence, or virtual absence, is one of the many aspects of the contrast between the centre and periphery. This asymmetry has vital consequences at all levels. Capital, through its expansion, unifies its domination going beyond the segmentary competition of bourgeoisies (in the plural), by virtue of the ideological hegemony it inspires and the system of states through which it operates (without, however, this unification negating contradictions between the central states, above all when none of them exercises global hegemony and the field is clear for conflict over access to the vacant hegemony). At the same time, capital breaks up the social force that is marked down as its burial party: it reduces the relative size of the working class at the centre, to the benefit of the middle classes whose expansion is based on the worldwide expansion of capitalism; it bases its domination of the periphery on multiform or amorphous societies constantly breaking up into extremes of a minority working class, highly differentiated peasantry, uneasy middle classes, landowners rather than capitalist entrepreneurs, and so on, and where the weakness of the real bourgeoisie does not allow the prospect of establishing a bourgeois national state. By way of a quip, the situation might be described in a reversal of the classic expression: it is bourgeois internationalism in the face of proletarian nationalism!

If the necessary recomposition of society at the periphery cannot be achieved by the bourgeoisie, it must be by other - ideological - popular social forces. It is, of course, a difficult operation: but, as history has shown, far from being impossible it has made possible (in Russia and China, then other countries) the only 'renaissances' we know that escape the catastrophic drift of the capitalist Third World. The whole problematic of delinking lies here. That this does not lead to 'socialism' but merely to a contradictory and complex 'post-capitalism' is an entirely different issue.

Inequality in the worldwide expansion of capitalism; the state's central role

To assert a central role for the state in the conduct of 'development' in the developed and underdeveloped capitalist countries implies a rejection of the 'anti-state' ideological propositions of conservative liberalism that are running before the wind in the West. For the bourgeois economic theory is based on the deliberate voiding of the state issue, overlooked in the analysis of 'economic mechanisms'. Such overlooking is of course ideological. Economic theory, even the best, has only limited application. At best it makes it possible to grasp the rationality of the conjunctural behaviour of economic actors and to forecast the short-term effects. It makes it possible to rationalize the eventual collective strategies of these agents of the state. But it is unable to take account of profound changes in societies, changes in structure, and it is furthermore unable to take account of unequal development in world capitalist expansion (the issue of 'development' end 'underdevelopment').

The inequality of nations challenges the theory of capitalism as a world system.2 As Tamas Szentes puts it: from the outset capitalist development has been expressed in the dialectical and contradictory unity of the (internal) national factor and the (external) international factor; of its very nature, the capitalist system is incapable of overcoming this contradiction. Prevailing schools of thought (the non-Marxist analyses and the de facto main current in Marxism) attach too much importance to the internal factors; the common view casts doubt on the thesis of a trend towards polarization (as the debate on the semi-peripheries, within the same world system school, shows). As a result there are few takers for the view that the national versus world contradiction cannot be overcome within the capitalist framework. The answer given to that question determines the essence of the conception held of the nature of the options on the agenda of current history.

The fact that the worldwide expansion of capitalism has been and is unequal is not of itself denied by anyone. Our thesis goes further, since it argues that all the regions that were integrated in the world capitalist system with peripheral status have remained like that to the present. We make clear that according to this thesis, New England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were never peripheral formations: by contrast, Latin America, the Caribbean. Africa and Asia - with the exception of Japan - were and have remained so. The thesis also distinguishes the areas integrated as peripheries from non-peripheralized backward countries that crystallized as centres, albeit later than the rest (Germany and Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Japan). In addition, we are told that some Third World countries are on the path towards full capitalist development, of a central kind. This remains to be seen. Very much the same was said, with similar arguments, a century or two centuries ago, without subsequent events confirming the optimistic view of capitalist expansion playing a homogenizing role.

The decisive criterion whereby to classify societies of the world capitalist system as 'centres' and 'peripheries' is the character of their state. The societies of central capitalism are characterized by the crystallization of a bourgeois national state, whose central role (beyond the simple maintenance of the domination of capital) is to control the conditions of accumulation through the national control it exercises over reproduction of labour power, the market, centralization of surplus, natural resources and technology. The state here fulfils the conditions allowing 'autocentric accumulation', that is, subjection of (most frequently aggressive) external relations to the logic of accumulation. By contrast, the peripheral state (which like any state fulfils the role of maintaining the internal domination of classes) does not control local accumulation. It then becomes - objectively - the instrument of 'adjustment' of local society to the demands of worldwide accumulation, whose changing directions are determined by changes at the centres. This difference explains why the central state is a strong state (and when it becomes democratic in the bourgeois sense of the term, this is an additional sign of its strength), while the peripheral state is a weak state (and among other things this is why access to genuine bourgeois democratization is virtually barred and why the scale of the civil society is inevitably limited).

Why has the bourgeois national state been able to form in one instance and not the other? This raises the following three groups of questions.

First: how are the 'infernal factors' end 'external factors' articulated in this differentiation? Which are decisive? Undoubtedly the internal conditions are always the decisive factor in the last resort. But that is only a platitude; and it is dangerous and ingenuous to halt the analysis at these internal conditions alone. To do so assumes - implicitly or even explicitly sometimes - that the external conditions (that is, those flowing from integration in the world system) are of themselves 'favourable', that is offer the possibility of a capitalist development as such and that it will tee 'central' or 'peripheral' in the sense of 'complete and developed' or 'incomplete and underdeveloped' - exclusively by virtue of the internal conditions. This supposition is totally false. In fact the 'external' conditions are unfavourable. In the sense that they are an obstacle not to capitalist development in general, but to the acquisition by this development of the characteristics of central capitalist development. In other words: the crystallization of the bourgeois national state for some excludes the crystallization for others. Alternatively: the 'underdevelopment' of some is the result of the 'development' of others. Again it must be made clear that this proposition is not symmetrical and reversible; we have not said that the converse is true ('the development of some is the result of the underdevelopment of others'). This observation, too often left unsaid, and the confusion between our proposition and the converse, give rise to serious misunderstandings and sterile polemic.

It must be understood that the destruction of the periphery by exploitation is massive and decisive. The destruction goes further than the purely economic and affects the political and cultural aspect too: it 'kills' local creativity, that is, the very possibility of responding to the historical challenge.

Second: why did this crystallization of the bourgeois national state occur early on in one place (Western Europe, then Central and Eastern Europe. New England and Japan) and not in another? The thesis we have put forward is one of unequal development in the birth of capitalism.

Third: are there not 'intermediate cases' in the central and peripheral situations, that might be described as 'semi-peripheries'? Might their existence show that peripheralization is not 'inevitable', and that when it does occur, it is for reasons mainly related to internal factors, and it might at the same time be possible not with standing the 'external obstacle' - to be establishing a new centre? There is no doubt, in society as in life, that there are always 'intermediate cases' or some apparently so. This would be difficult to deny. But that is not the real issue. Our thesis is that the world capitalist system is motivated by a strong tendency to polarization. As in the capitalist mode of production, the tendency is to polarization between the two fundamental classes ('bourgeoisie and proletariat'). Crystallizations of centres at one pole and peripheralization at another, that is despite appearances increasingly pronounced, does not preclude at any given instant the emergence of 'semi-peripheries', by analogy with the 'middle classes' engendered by the dynamic of capitalist accumulation. For the exclusion of this constant emergence would imply an absurdly static view, as if the centre and periphery polarization were magically to appear fully blown at the outset, when it is the result of the movement in the world system. At the same time, the emergence of these 'semi-peripheries' does show the true nature of the dialectic governing this movement, the convergence, or conflict, between the (favourable or unfavourable internal factor and the (unfavourable) external factor. In any event history does show that 'semi-peripheries' are not 'centres in formation'. How many of the semi-peripheries identifiable in the history of the past four centuries have become centres? None to our knowledge. This fact alone would be enough to show to what extent the external conditions are unfavourable and strongly so, since even when the internal conditions are relatively favourable, the others prevent the attempts of the 'semi-peripheries' to hoist themselves up to the status of 'centres'. More than that, our thesis is that crystallization of new centres is more and more difficult; that is to say, the obstacle represented by the external factor is increasingly difficult to overcome. This is the case even when we consider the historical formation of new centres, constituted on the basis of 'backward' but non-peripheralized situations (Germany and Japan for example), and a fortiori when we consider the fate suffered by the societies described as 'semi-peripheries'. For example, it is obvious that Germany, despite its backwardness, succeeded in 'catching up and overtaking' Britain in a few decades of the 19th century. How much time will it take for Brazil to 'catch up and overtake' the United States? Is this prospect imaginable in the foreseeable future? The concept of a cut-off point established at the end of the 1 9th century by the formation of the imperialist system - in Lenin's sense of the term - seems to us entirely defensible from this standpoint. We have expressed its meaning as follows: before this cut-off point, there was no contradiction between the crystallization of a new centre (from the starting point of a backward but non-peripheralized situation, provided of course that internal conditions were favourable to this crystallization) and its integration in the world system; later there was a glaring contradiction (and for this reason, there are no more 'backward' societies that are not peripheralized). In other words, the imperialist cut-off point marks a qualitative change in the constitution of the world system.

In the light of this series of theses in the formation of the bourgeois national state, a 'courter-thesis' has emerged over some years that argues essentially that this is all in the past and that the 'centres-peripheries' polarization is disappearing, along with the prevailing form of the bourgeois national state, to the benefit of a new form of worldwide capitalism.

The arguments adduced are highly varied. The most common - and certainly most widespread - is one that drawing on capitalism's adaptive capacity urges that the 'North has an interest in the South's further development'; all the partners of capitalism would gain since this is not a zero sum game, where the advantage of one party is necessarily paid for by the detriment of another. This is ideological reasoning without scientific foundation; it is the modish language of states ('We are all in the same boat and have common long-term interests...'). The proposal for the New International Economic Order was exemplary from this point of view. The proposal in no way clashed with the long-term abstract logic of capitalism, in the sense that the proposed new order would have provided the basis for greater expansion in the North and South. The proposal was' however, rejected by the North. Why? Quite simply because capitalism was not motivated by a search for the strongest long-term growth for all, but for the maximum of short-term profit for the strongest. The argument of the ideology of a possible universal harmony ignores - or pretends to ignore - this reality. It does not mean that capitalism is insufficiently flexible to be able not only to adapt but even to make profits from the structural changes forced upon it by the social forces it exploits. Wage improvements in the West have created new markets for the expansion of capital; they were not the result of capital's strategies but of workers' struggles. In the same way improved growth in the South could create markets for the capitals of the North, but it must be fought for by the Third World countries against the West's strategies.

A second group of arguments stresses the - real - changes that, operating at the level of the expanding forces of production, seem to challenge autocentric accumulation and the role of the bourgeois national state at the very heart of the system. Does this mean that the phase of imperialism is finished? that we are going into an 'ultra-imperialism' unified through the interpenetration of capitals that have already lost their 'rational' character? This does not appear to us to be the case. First and foremost since the essence of imperialism is not the conflict of imperialisms but the centre/periphery opposition reaching a stage making the crystallization of new capitalist centres impossible. This contradiction, far from being eased by the weakening of the conflict of imperialisms, is on the contrary sharpened by the North's 'common front' (against the South and the East). Further, since we are still very far from the time when a world state (albeit limited to the capitalist North of course) will have taken over from the national states. The national state has so far been the only framework in which the social and political conflicts can be fought out. This particular contradiction between capital - whose worldwide dimension is much more marked than half a century ago even though appropriation and control of capital have remained largely national - and the state - which has remained strictly 'national' - is typical of the crisis of our time. The contradiction, attenuated by United States hegemony allowing the American state partly to play the role of a 'world state' (or world policeman), has come to the surface with redoubled force now that the US has ceased to be the exclusive fount of innovation and to play that role of world policeman. The Reaganite counter-offensive did not affect this evolution in its essentials.

The third group of arguments remain, highlighting what is - or could be new in the South. It has been suggested that new 'semi-peripheries' have emerged that are already on the way to constituting themselves as new capitalist centres (Brazil, India, South Korea, for example) and putting a decisive end to the existence of a Third World that would henceforth be fragmented. Without returning here to the diversity of the periphery - a commonplace of every age over the past four centuries - we should like merely to emphasize that it has not yet been established whether the 'semi-peripheries' in question can really succeed in building the bourgeois national state capable of controlling internal accumulation and subjecting their external relations to this accumulation, that is, to escape the heavy constraints of 'adjustment' to the demands of the expansion of central monopoly capital. But, we are told, this construction is useless now, as the national state is itself on the way to being dissolved in the centres themselves. It would then have to be shown that the society of the semi-peripheries under discussion was on the way to approximating to that of the already established centres, within the global prospect of this future homogenized capitalist world in the making.

Such a demonstration has not been made and is not feasible, as the social changes under way in the foreseeable future are such a mixed bag. Once again analysis of the real contradictions and their dynamic has been replaced by an a priori perception of a harmony that has overcome the former. This is supposed to resolve the problem, but that kind of reasoning is unacceptable.

The worldwide spread of value3

Polarization within the world system is not some kind of inevitable result of the implacable play of the economic laws of capitalism. It is a complex and total social phenomenon where economic laws do of course have their place, but subject to the conditioning of social forces (classes, nations, states, ideologies) governing the evolution of societies.

That being so, it goes without saying that the centres/peripheries dichotomy does have 'economic' effects (manifest in a transfer of value from the peripheries to the centres) and 'economic mechanisms' permitting their reproduction, and that the latter tend to shape the society in accordance with the needs of this reproduction. The 'economic' aspects of the changes and their political, social and ideological aspects are interlocked. It is worth recalling that direct political domination and 'pillage' precede the social and economic structures that later provide for the 'normal' exploitation of labour by capital. Undoubtedly the capitalist system has reached a state where 'economic' forms seem capable on their own of ensuring reproduction of the conditions of labour exploitation. When we describe the prevailing trend in the Third World bourgeoisies as 'comprador by nature' we are only illustrating this predominance of 'natural' (in fact economic) forms of exploitation. It is not enough to stop there, as the 'non-economic' forms also have their place in the operation of the system: political and military pressures and intervention, cultural alienation (the allure of the 'Western' pattern of consumption, for example), are also part of the system. In our view, this 'non-economic' shaping is the real obstacle, making any attempt to escape the system by 'delinking', refusing to accept capitalism as eternally destined, 'desire' for socialism, and so on, appear 'utopian'. In this sense, therefore, the political, social and ideological effects of the centres/periphery polarization are more significant than the strictly economic effects. For the societies of the periphery, accepting this dichotomy is the equivalent of an 'ethnocide' since it kills their creativity, their capacity to respond to the challenge they face. These effects are more damaging than the transfers of value indicative of the specific forms of exploitation. The effects of the polarization are no less in the societies of central capitalism: the ideological consensus on which their stability depends is much more than the consciousness - if there is any - of the 'material advantages' gained from exploitation of the periphery. This consensus has its own cultural aspect, manifest day by day in every way by Western-centred arrogance or sufficiency, or racism, or more modestly 'complacency' ('we're the best', 'We're the only ones to enjoy democracy' and so on).

The strictly 'economic' - and quantifiable - aspects of transfers of value reveal many forms that can in no case be reduced to a single mechanism. The multiplicity of these forms makes it impossible to separate absolutely those of 'economic' character from those constituting sheer' pillage'. Pillage is not only a feature of the prehistory of the system. Contemporary ecology has rediscovered what Marx saw long ago, namely that the thirst for profit may also bring destruction of the natural basis on which the future depends. This destruction operates with peculiar crudeness in the peripheries. Some examples among many: (i) the contribution of oil at a derisory price to the West's great upsurge from 1950 to 1974 (to the detriment of the oil-producer countries' future); (ii) the irreversible destruction of the soil in Africa, caused by its extensive colonial exploitation for the benefit of export and which is at the root of the African disasters (it scarcely matters that the values extracted were only a negligible total in comparison with those produced in the metropolises, the effect of the destruction on the societies that suffered them is calamitous). How should one describe the - quantifiable - advantage of exploitation of labour of migrants, whose costs of upbringing and retirement have been borne by the societies of the periphery while the societies of the centre take all the benefit of their productivity?

Without losing sight of all sides of the problem - that anti-Third-Worldism in the West is quick to forget - it is worth taking a systematic look at the 'normal transfers" governed by the strictly economic operation of the system.

This world system has the following characteristics: (1) great international mobility of goods (and hence the non-specific character of the output that is traded): (2) strong mobility of capital (and hence the tendency to equalization of the rate of profit, with the limitations to this equalization brought by virtual monopolies); (3) relatively weak world mobility of labour.

These are the characteristics of the current system; it goes without saying that they were only embryonic in the past. It is, moreover, a matter of strong trends, rather than complete characteristics. In this sense it is always possible to modulate the expression, and agree that 'all the goods are not produced from all the goods', to use a turn of phrase in Sraffa's style, not even at the national level (where there is the qualitative significance of the distinction between wage goods and others, that do not affect the determination of the rate of profit), and a fortiori at the world level. It is also possible to modulate the description of the products exchanged as 'non-specific'. Evidently some products are relatively specific by their character (some agricultural or mining products, for example). Others are so by virtue of unequal development itself: the Third World countries are obliged to import machinery they do not produce, the countries of low industrialization manufactured goods in general, and so on.

If it were not a matter of trends but a complete process, the problem of the centres/peripheries inequality would be solved. With 'all production being the result of all production' end 'all regions producing some of everything', we should be dealing with a capitalist mode of production perfectly homogenized on a world scale. There is, therefore, a contradictory unity at local (national) and world level for local determination of value and its world determination.

The key issue is to know which of the two aspects of the contradiction is decisive, in the dominant position. In the current system, the world aspect directs the movement (this is the meaning of the fact that the trends in question are 'strong'). This dominance of the world aspect is the factor reproducing and magnifying the centres/peripheries qualitative dichotomy. The disarticulation of the dominated sub-systems, inequality in specialization - in other words the characteristics of 'underdevelopment' - are active in the reproduction of the centres/peripheries dichotomy.

In the current system too, the world aspect dominates the determination of value (hence the national aspect is dominated). This is obviously a historical about turn, for over a long period the values were determined primarily at local level.

Does the pre-eminence of worldwide values entail the generalization of wage employment as the form of labour and the equalization of labour productivities?

It is the correlation of the pre-eminence of worldwide values and non-wage forms of labour (of lower productivity) that reproduces the centres/peripheries dichotomy and makes it insurmountable within the framework of capitalism. Workers at the periphery are super-exploited, not because they have equal productivity and lower wages, but because the differential of wages (and incomes from non-wage labour in general) is much higher than the differential of productivities. Why do we also take into account the income from non-wage labour, since the non-proletarianized producers are no more autonomous in relation to the global system, but closely integrated in it? In turn, the fact that the differential of rewards for labour is greater than the differential of productivities implies a transfer of value. This transfer is manifested in unequal exchange; but it has its source in the conditions of production and exploitation of labour. The choice of the expression 'unequal exchange' was perhaps unfortunate, as it allowed anyone who did not bother to look beyond the words to think that the inequality had its source in the exchange and not in the conditions of upstream production. This choice of words is perhaps the origin of useless misunderstandings that could easily be cleared up for those who care to understand.

Does the transfer of value benefit the capital dominating the system or the wage-earners at the centre? The transfer is mainly to capital and raises the average rate of profit. But the transfer also facilitates wage rises at the centre (if the social organization of the working class can insist on them).

Global equilibrium, demanding that the level of reward for labour be in relationship with that of development of the forces of production, operates on the world scale. That is why for this purpose the unit of analysis must be the global system and value is a worldwide category. In each of the asymmetrical parts of the system (centre and periphery), the level of reward for labour depends on that of its productivity and the demands of equilibrium at the global level.

Is the pre-eminence of worldwide values a figment of the imagination unrelated to empirical reality? This is argued by those who believe that systems of prices and values are determined exclusively (or only mainly) by internal conditions (of productivity, exploitation of labour, equilibrium, and so on). But then the world system is nothing more than a juxtaposition of national systems, whose inequality of development is pegged only to causes internal to themselves.

In fact, it can be seen that the structural systems of prices of the countries of the periphery are largely governed by the worldwide system of values. The decisive evidence is that the table of distribution of value added per worker, which is close to the average for the economies of the centre, is widely dispersed for the economies of the periphery.

If the system of prices at the periphery was determined essentially by conditions internal to the periphery, the distribution would also be close, as it is in the centre. The dispersal, associated with the disarticulation of which it is cause and effect, is itself a significant ingredient in the reproduction of the centres/peripheries dichotomy. Furthermore, the worldwide expansion of values is manifest at the ideological level to an unchallengeable degree: is not the insistent language of 'international competitiveness' a sign of this? as is the World Bank's conformity with capitalist practice in purporting to base the 'rationality' of its recommendations on 'reference to world prices'.

This economic analysis is enough to give a flavour of the reproduction mechanisms of the centres/peripheries polarization. But it is insufficient if the question is raised whether the vicious circle of this reproduction can be broken. Why do the bourgeoisies of the periphery not seize the opportunity of the rate of super-exploitation of labour to keep the surplus for themselves and invest it, in order to accelerate the development of the forces of production and 'catch up' on their backwardness?

A return to the third world?4

Is the national liberation movement of a stature to transform the asymmetrical centre/periphery relationship and force the world system to adjust to autocentric, national development of the periphery? In this case, imperialism will have been only a stage in the expansion of capitalism on a world scale, and not its 'highest stage' but simply an intermediate stage to ensure transition from a system marked by the centre/periphery asymmetry to a homogeneous global system of domination of capitalist relations.

Are the Third World bourgeoisies which have come to power against the old colonial alliances capable of setting their countries on a new step: after winning political independence can they win economic independence? The conjuncture of the period 1970-75 made it seem possible.

The growth from 1945 to 1970 created an illusion of the possibility of the construction of new centres, and established a definition of autonomy of national bourgeois hegemony (control of reproduction of the labour force, the market, the centralization of surplus, technology and natural resources). The illusion is the more remarkable for the fact that the phase is precisely defined by the political victory of the liberation movements in Asia and Africa, who seized independence, proceeded with the setting up of a local state and often embarked upon 'anti-feudal' reforms. This apparent progress in the constitution of autonomous bourgeois hegemonies does not call for strategies of delinking. On the contrary, almost throughout the globe, in Latin America, in Africa, the Arab world, and in Asia, this expansion is accompanied by a relative intensification of external exchanges, an increase in imports of technology and even of private capital (associated with the penetration of multinationals) and public capital (external public debt), despite the - normal fact that re-export of profits cancels out or even exceeds the flow of financial inputs. The most radical advances in this direction - self-styled as 'socialist' - are based on a reinforcement of the state's role and frequently on Soviet support, for conjunctural reasons of the conflict with imperialism. But even there, one can scarcely speak of a strategy of delinking' even when conjuncturally the intensity of relations with the West has been diminished.

The crisis has revealed the extreme fragility of these attempts at the very moment when, on the 'anti-Third-World' helter-skelter, so many commentators were rushing to bury the concepts of centre and periphery, the analysis of unequal development, and so forth. With surprising ease, the 'socialist' experiences were dismantled, sometimes evidently through the mobilization of the West's policemen for the purpose. Through the Camp David agreements and the invasion of Lebanon, the surrender of the Front Line countries in Southern Africa, begun by Mozambique, the whole of the Arab world and Africa was brought into line. This is further confirmation of the schema we have put forward of attempts at autocentric development of the periphery looking like a long series of successive abortions, brutally arrested before term by an acute crisis in the external balance occasioned by the reflux of super-profits appropriated by dominant central capital. Is not the external debt - nowadays a conventional proof (but a total denial of the World Bank forecasts of development 'fuelled by external demand', forecasts that were quickly embraced by anti-Third-Worlders) - the contemporary form of this murderous drain of surplus?

It is clearly understood and nobody denies it that capitalist expansion in the Third World in the years 1945-70 has been unequal in the extreme and has taken multiple forms. In this sense, saying that the Third World does not exist since it is not homogeneous, is not a new discovery - since it never was uniform - nor an answer to the question whether, apart from its heterogeneity, it will cross the stepping stones to become 'analogous' to the centres of the system.

Those who urge that such is the case base their arguments on what might be celled 'exceptions' in recent Third World development. It is fairly clear that the forms of development in eastern Asia (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) reveal particular characteristics that distinguish them greatly from the rest of the Third World. At first, these developments, especially in Korea and Taiwan, were based on significant agrarian reforms (certainly for fear of contagion from the communist model) reinforced by the peculiarly egalitarian sensibility of Confucian ideology. Whereas in Latin America, Brazil in particular, the Arab countries and South and South-East Asia, the internal market has been extended by a comparatively higher income for the middle strata to the detriment of the mass of the people, here in a highly unusual way, wages as a whole (including those of the middle strata) have been maintained at a minimal level, allowing for substantial savings, largely public, and for peasant incomes to remain reasonable. In the Chinese states of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, a close collaboration has been established with what one might call the overseas Chinese bourgeoisie, spreading throughout the western Pacific and South-East Asia. In demographic aspects, Confucian Asia has reached modest growth levels that indicate greater social control and greater penetration of the ideology of individual and family enrichment. Finally, attempts at technical education have been much more systematic and effective. On the basis of a strong national reality, these developments come much closer than elsewhere to the emergence of a hegemonic national bourgeoisie, legitimated by a fairly broad social consensus, although the democratic expression of recent years casts some doubt on this supposed consensus.

For the rest, the crisis reveals the vulnerability of strategies based on deliberate integration in the international division of labour. Confucian Asia, more skilled than Latin America or the Arab world at social control of the readjustments imposed by the external crisis (notably the debt burden), is doubtless able, if necessary, to withdraw in upon itself. An intensification of the relations of the countries in question with China and Japan might provide a substitute that was profitable to all the partners and have a noticeable effect on world balances.

Brazil's spectacular growth, contrary to the erroneous ideological statements of the World Bank, was not 'fuelled by external demand' (Brazil's exports, which at their peak were 10% of GDP, fell to 5%). Transnationalization occurred essentially at the level of finance and not of trade. The foreign debt that resulted from this model of integration in the worldwide scheme was no less spectacular. But repudiation of the external debt would be fairly easy for Brazil, as the reprisals would be more costly to the partners than to Brazil. The obstacle to change is internal since growth was based upon increasing inequality. Could the popular and democratic forces reverse the trend here? But would that not be precisely the start of the supersession of the bourgeois national state by a national and popular evolution?

India's relation with the world system has been even less constringent. In fact the choice made by Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi was one of 'semi-delinking', not only through strict control of foreign trade, capital transfers and the technology on which it relied, but also in a more profound sense. Hence, for example, the internal structure of prices (and notably the internal terms of trade for the prices of basic foodstuffs and industrial prices) was semi-delinked from the world system, as has often been noted (and this delinking was often the subject of the most heated criticism by the World Bank). The Gandhian ideology, willingness to isolate the Indian elite from Western models, obviously played a not insubstantial part in this choice.

The results achieved for the development of India are fairly praiseworthy, but due to this semi-delinking and not its reverse - an 'open-door'! For the rest, the contradiction of the system lies in the social content of power, largely one of a bourgeois alliance (state bureaucracy, industrial and agrarian capitalists). These forces have always exerted pressure for a reduction of the 'delinked' dimension of the development strategies. It would appear that for several years the Indian Congress's use of power in crisis combined with the personality of Rajiv Gandhi has encouraged the 'comprador' aspirations of the middle classes, avid for immediate enjoyment. Will India thereby encounter a serious crisis? It does rather look like it.

Political analysis of 'exceptions', far from weakening the thesis that the national and popular option is a necessary objective, reinforces it. In the absence of such an option the countries under discussion are not 'semi-peripheries' hurrying to 'catch up', but real peripheries of the world capitalist system of today and tomorrow.

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