MARXISM AND DEVELOPMENT1 (Draft, 21.12.

2005 to be published in Amitava Krishna Dutt and Jaime Ros, International Handbook of Development Economics, London: Edward Elgar, 2006) I Marx’s first thoughts. “Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: … [that] the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch form[s] the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.” (Engels [1883], 467). Engels’ eulogy, delivered at Marx’s burial in 1883, is an assertion of Marx’s pre-eminent role as a theorist of development in general and of the fundamental importance of economic development for Marxism. This essay briefly outlines Marx’s own ideas on the process and the ways in which later Marxists have built on and adapted these ideas. Marx viewed human history as a giant spiral tracing the development of the productivity of labour (the forces of production) in relation to the changing social structure within which production took place (the social relations of production). The forces of production tend to grow through history2, although at varying speeds depending on whether the social relations create a favourable or unfavourable climate for material progress. At key moments the forces of production find themselves held back by the form of society and this creates pressure for revolutionary transition from one social system to another, for instance from feudalism to capitalism, which was to play a pivotal role in the development of human history. Being a system driven by the pursuit of profit in competitive conditions, capitalism would impel a sharp acceleration in the development of the productive forces to such an extent that the universal elimination of want and of involuntary labour could become possible. But capitalism was also a uniquely unequal system, polarizing people into a minority of property owners and a majority of propertyless proletarians. Under capitalism the elimination of want was potential, only realizable after a transition to a fully socialist society. In that way Marx envisioned human society both advancing along the axis of scientific and material progress while at the same time following a circular movement from primitive communism, through various forms of class society and ultimately to a new communism and equality which would be combined with an advanced state of development of the forces of production3. Marx regarded capitalism as a system which is abhorrent because it rests on exploitation and generates inequality but historically progressive because it brings about an unprecedented development of the productive forces and creates its own “gravediggers”, the propertyless working class.

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From his early writings until the publication of the first volume of Capital in 1867, Marx had three great expectations. The first (repetition) was that the rapid capitalist industrialization which he observed in Britain would soon be repeated in other parts of the world. “The country that is more developed industrially” he wrote, “only shows, to the less developed, the image of its own future.” (Marx [1867]).. The second expectation (universalization) was that the spread of capitalist growth would lead not to independent capitalist countries but to a single, unified interdependent system. In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels expounded a famous vision of the way capitalism would pervade the globe: “The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. … All old-established national industries … are dislodged by new industries … that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. … In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations.” (Marx and Engels [1848]) The third expectation (utopia) was that a revolutionary proletariat would “expropriate the expropriators” and install a society of freedom, both freedom from want and freedom for humans to realize their capacities. In this utopia4 the existing division of labour would end, multi-faceted work would “become not only a means of life but life’s prime want” and “society [could] inscribe on its banners: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” (Marx 1985[1875]) II Second thoughts? Marx’s favourite motto was ‘de omnibus dubitandum’ and his later writings often hint at some second thoughts about all three of his development expectations. This was not only because events were moving slower than he had foreseen; his theoretical work, too, began to suggest possible contradictions with his earlier predictions. The urgent and universalist tone which suffused earlier writings gave way to more complex treatments of the forces leading to monopoly and capitalist concentration and to economic crisis which might slow or halt capitalist growth before it had created the productive basis for communism. The main pressure to rethink his expectations came from problems in applying Marxist ideas to contemporary politics. Among those were his attitudes to British imperialism in India, the question of national liberation in general and prospects of a transition to socialism in Russia. Marx had initially believed that: “England … in causing a social revolution in Hindoostan, was actuated only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them. But that is

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The question is. advocate of a nationalist and protectionist development strategy for Germany and the United States (see Cowen and Shenton 1996. after serious study of the question he penned no less than five drafts of his reply to Zasulik without reaching a definitive position (Shanin. becoming more supportive of the anti-colonial struggle. And they will do it. to that end … [t]hey intend now drawing a net of railroads over India. 3 . (Marx [1853a]) He confidently predicted that “[t]he millocracy [industrial capitalists] have discovered that the transformation of India into a reproductive country has become of vital importance to them and that. 1975[1870]). By 1881. They supported Irish self-rule because the failure to settle the Irish question was threatening working class unity in Britain. the regime they regarded as the main bastion of reaction in Europe. and never abandoned the idea that the development should be universal. the country where they had high hopes for the development of socialism: “the national emancipation of Ireland is no question of abstract justice or humanitarian sentiment but the first condition of [English workers’] own social emancipation” (Marx. can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not. both the tone and the content had shifted: “What the British take … from them (the Indians) without any equivalent … amounts to more than the total sum of the income of the 60 million of agricultural and industrial labourers of India.not the question. In 1881 the Russian revolutionary Vera Zasulik sought Marx’s guidance on the debate between Russian Marxists advocating capitalist development and the Narodniks who believed that capitalism could not develop Russia and who therefore argued for a transition to socialism based on existing peasant communes. Marx was an fierce critic of the writings of Friedrich List (1856). 1968[1881]) There was a parallel evolution in Marx and Engels’ attitude towards other nationalist movements which they had once opposed. (Marx.” (Marx [1853b]) In later years Marx came to give more weight to the crimes and less to the hope of economic transformation. 1983). 154–69). was supported in order to neutralize a cause of fissure in the proletarian movement or to weaken a particular section of the international ruling class. Nationalism. whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution”. The question clearly perplexed Marx and his reaction was not to reassert his earlier opinions. then. two years before this death. but not because of any general belief in the necessity of national capitalist development strategies. And their support for Polish national liberation was premised on the belief that it would weaken Tsarist Russia. This is a bleeding process with a vengeance”.

While his thinking evidently evolved there is no convincing evidence that he fundamentally changed the idea of the ambiguous progressiveness of capitalism. The latter could advance unevenly in leaps. did not proceed as an exact series of simultaneous transformations or even repetitions in backward countries (Trotsky. Lim. By the first years of the twentieth century nationalist and protectionist forms of development. The implication of that possibility was that perhaps something other than capitalism would have to shoulder the task of developing the productive forces – a question later followers would have to confront. the title of a book promoting the idea that World War I was an inter-capitalist struggle in which the working classes should oppose their own bourgeoisies. separate steps in the journey of development in the more advanced countries might be combined together in more backward ones resulting in “an amalgam of archaic with more contemporary forms” (Trotsky. 1990). the opposition to national paths to development or the nature of the socialist objective of development5. although brutal and truncated. the highest stage of capitalism (Lenin [1916]). An economically backward revolutionary nation could take advantage of the forces of production in the more advanced nations6. This was what Lenin called Imperialism. was historically progressive. in examining the situation in Russia. Trotsky’s theory of combined and uneven development was a complementary way of seeing Russian peculiarities in the context of Marx’s expectations. 27). Nonetheless. The central question confronted by Marxists in the generation which followed Marx was imperialism (for a survey. Marx was certainly prepared to reexamine the three original expectations in the light of historical events and to espouse more flexible political tactics. Permanent inter-capitalist fratricide fatally wounded Marx’s vision of 4 . 1977[1899]). History. he argued. 1977. could be politically advanced and also why the revolution was necessarily international. 1977) . Marx had been obliged to face the possibility that capitalism might not accomplish the development of the whole world. implying that the revolutionary impulse would come from the working class (Lenin. and Shanin. see Brewer. turning the inter-imperialist war into a series of revolutionary civil wars. III Marx’s followers – development and imperialism 15 years after Marx’s death Lenin still argued against the Narodniks that capitalism in Russia. others have seen Marx edging towards radically different positions (in different ways. exactly the kind of repetition which List had supported and Marx opposed. 1992. 1969[1906] and 1977[1930]. 1983). had produced a small group of leading countries contending for world hegemony. 1985. Booth. Imperialism reached the conclusion that in an overall sense this “monopoly stage” of capitalism could no longer be considered progressive – not because economic development in all countries would cease but because competition and war between the leading imperialist powers would destroy more than capitalism could create. Melotti. Trotsky used this idea to explain both why technologically backward Russia. and ruling over rival empires.Some have seen these intimations of diminished expectations as fitting into a coherent whole with alongside earlier apparently more optimistic ideas (for instance.

Luxemburg concluded that it was forced to avert collapse by absorbing non-capitalist areas and activities. and hence the further development of capitalism. was stunted at the outset. they also became second-class states. Lenin’s book and that of his fellow Bolshevik Nicolai Bukharin [1915] were influenced by the Social Democrat Rudolf Hilferding whose remarkable Finance Capital was published in 1910 (Hilferding. however. Building on Marx’s later writings. it contributed to the economic development. and the capitalist class in the large economic territories became less concerned with establishing consumer goods industries in foreign countries than with acquiring control over raw materials for their ever growing producers’ goods industries. As economic tributaries of foreign capital. another theorist of imperialism of this epoch also saw the export of capital as prejudicial to peripheral countries (such as Egypt and South Africa). Bukharin and Lenin. dependent on the protection of the great powers. … In the small economic territories. especially to their poorer classes who were usually required to repay the debts incurred and wasted by their rulers (Luxemburg. 1951[1913]). 329–30) Rosa Luxemburg.” (Hilferding. Even so. to which the state became the slavish servant. … [t]he bulk of the profit flowed abroad … [which] slows down enormously the pace of accumulation. He sounded a whole series of pre-echoes of views which later became commonplace: “As long as the export of capital served primarily for the construction of a transport system and the development of consumer goods industries in a backward country. in the debtor country. Such emancipation became quite impossible when the character of capital exports changed. In large economic territories … a national assimilation of foreign capital soon occurred. in a capitalist form. 1981[1910]. p. because an indigenous capitalist class emerged much more slowly and with greater difficulty. Hilferding furnished a detailed analysis of the new monopoly stage of capitalism. and along with it their political and financial development. This analysis would be a major part of the theoretical background to the political strategy which led to the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. … [The] capitalist development [of the weaker European countries]. in ditching the universalization expectation Lenin transformed the nature of the utopian one. Finance capital was the bloc formed in all leading countries between industrial. Imperialism had nothing to do with monopoly or with nations. commercial and banking capital – a “holy trinity”. 1981[1910]). this assimilation was more difficult to achieve. But her theory of imperialism was only remotely connected with those of Hilferding. it was a systemic imperialism of capitalism as a mode of production. rapaciously seeking its 5 . of that country. Hilferding argued that the epoch of finance capital meant that Marx’s repetition expectation had only been realized in a limited number of countries and that to some extent it had been replaced by new obstacles to the development of weaker countries. Arguing that capitalism suffered from a permanent shortage of demand (underconsumptionism).universalization under capitalist relations.

at the height of these debates about imperialism. Once the hope of other European revolutions was betrayed the new communist state had to search for a means of survival and if possible progress. gave way in 1921 to the less ambitious and stabilizing New Economic Policy (NEP) under which a large measure of market autonomy was restored. This “ultraimperialism” would in many ways be worse than imperialism especially for the less developed areas of the world which would be collectively exploited by the ultraimperialist alliance. A short period of “war communism” characterized by almost total state control and the breakdown of regular exchange. would develop the productive forces and the working class until socialism became both feasible and inevitable. Suddenly. 1970[1914]). both of them were searching for a way to achieve what Marx had expected of capitalism – the creation of the material conditions for socialism. pre-echoes the way many Marxists and left radical were to look at the world half a century later. they differed about whether this would 6 . The leading protagonists were Bukharin. IV A non-capitalist road? The new Bolshevik rulers of Russia took power still believing that the transition to socialism required a high prior development of the forces of production and must be conducted at a global level. more sympathetic to the left opposition. who argued for a more rapid pace of industrialization. In a debate which has not lost its relevance7. left largely to itself. too. While she did not share Lenin’s view that capitalism had changed from a progressive to a retrogressive system. Marxists found themselves with the responsibility of managing an economy in desperate need of development. and in conditions where Marx’s expectations about the development of capitalism had not been fulfilled. From a different viewpoint to that of Hilferding. Somewhere between the two currents. Kautsky. there was a brief window in which questions of development strategy were seriously debated among Marxists. Luxemburg did for different reasons share his opinion that human society was approaching a precipice in which all the historical development of the productive forces would be threatened and the choice was between “socialism or barbarism”. financed by squeezing a surplus out of agriculture. who increasingly leaned towards the position that the development of a capitalist agriculture was a necessary precondition for eventual industrialization and who therefore saw the more market-friendly NEP as a long term necessity. who argued. But this process – really a version of Marx’s primary or primitive accumulation – could not continue indefinitely since once the non-capitalist world was completely absorbed then the system would collapse. to Lenin’s fury. that the epoch of conflict of the great powers would give way to a period of cooperation between them (Kautsky. stood Karl Kautsky. In this they both differed from many conservative socialists who continued to believe that capitalism.surplus value from other modes of production. and Preobrazhensky. Between the introduction of the NEP and Stalin’s seizure of complete power in 1928.

Foretastes of this idea of imperialism for a world after decolonization had been present in Marxist writings. and Bukharin and Preobrazhensky were killed when Stalin imposed “Socialism in one country”. Fel’dman was politically purged. 7 . capitalism in Russia was nonetheless incomplete. A. 1986). virtual autarchy. Nonetheless. Instead it would create growing polarization between the developed and underdeveloped countries. 1987. V Marxism and the Third World – polarization or convergence? In the decades following World War II. The country emerged from World War II with an enhanced industrial and technological capacity. for nearly a century. though still progressive. especially P. the apparent existence of a road to industrialization which was not capitalist. and other Marxist writers on development (Ehrlich. Mahalanobis. (A debate between Marxists about similar issues took place during the early years of the Cuban revolution. Its legacy is still very much alive in widespread anti-globalization sentiment. being influential on the early Indian planners. the world economic crisis of the 1930s and three years of Nazi invasion. 1978)10 and even earlier it had a strong presence among Chinese Communists. 1978. A Soviet economic model established itself consisting of highly centralized planning. 1987). high rates of investment. Both India and China in different ways adopted aspects of the Soviet model. In the documents of the Third International this idea also appears at the end of the 1920s (Palma. It became enormously influential among mass movements and radical intellectuals throughout the world before strong attacks were directed against it by other Marxists. Soviet industrialization survived the trauma of forced agricultural collectivization.8) Also during the 1920s G. 1987a). His ideas were partially incorporated into Soviet planning methods and later aroused interest outside the USSR.occur by imitating capitalist development or by following a novel non-capitalist route. a growing number of Marxists began to argue that capitalism was no longer capable of producing economic development in the poorer parts of the world. Soviet planning acquired a positive reputation just at a time when colonialism was collapsing and the development of poor countries was on the international agenda9. Fel’dman designed two sector models. against the chorus of optimistic modernizing developmentalism emanating from official sources in the West. Lenin insisted that. concentration on producer goods and heavy industry in order to build a strong industrial productive base and maximize output and consumption in the long run (Bardham. including even those of Marx himself. (Ellman.C. Sen. as a method of planning a socialist economy. was to have considerable impact on the evolution of Marxist ideas about development under capitalism. But after the 1950s it was more emphatically asserted by influential Marxist and radical thinkers. although it failed to transplant successfully. Hilferding came close to producing a theory of polarization. Chakravarty. based on Volume II of Marx’s Capital. the definitive abandonment of a universalist perspective on development.

1952). The cause of the onset of monopoly capital. they have analysed the world in a long historical perspective. assigned some role to classes (especially the weakness of the dependent bourgeoisie). also see Baran. a new stage of the system characterized a general tendency in the major centres of capitalism to underconsumption and crisis. through which a privileged group of countries in the centre could transfer resources from the dominated countries of the periphery through plunder. 1989). concluding that “the capitalist system. Particularly influential were the writings of Andre Gunder Frank which began as an attack on modernization theories exemplified by W. Others. His name became associated with dependency theory whose influence penetrated several disciplines – economics. Frank transformed the meaning of the word “underdevelopment” from a pre-developmental state into a consequence of world wide capitalist development. An overlapping set of ideas was the world-system theory of Immanuel Wallerstein.Elements of theories of inevitable polarization were already circulating among Latin American intellectuals when Paul Baran in the 1950s presented an explicitly Marxist version of it. 1990. 1979 and Cardoso and Faletto. Most of them believed that development of the poorer countries would not be possible without some clear limit to involvement in the unequalizing capitalist world market. put capitalism in the centre of their analysis. 1973[1957]. to others a more complex and variable form of dependent development (see Evans. p. Rostow and on the antirevolutionary perspectives of Latin American Communist Parties. held at bay only by state spending. and expounded a theory of polarization between nations and continents which was arguably a transfigured version of Marx’s idea that capitalism simultaneously created wealth and 8 . Samir Amin derived polarization from an analysis of world-scale capital accumulation (Amin. Proponents of these theories differed considerably over the extent to which development was held back by involvement in the capitalist economy. the plunder of the wealth of poorer regions which was one element of Marx’s primary accumulation of capital). 1990). “the development of underdevelopment” during centuries of capitalist history (Frank 1969 and 1991). 1974). saw it as a process which had lasted through the four centuries of existence of a worldwide market. Like Marx. 1981 and Brewer. sociology and international relations in particular (see Kay 1989 and Larrain. has turned into a no less formidable hurdle to economic advancement” (Baran. found some of the causes of the process of underevelopment in Marx’s own analysis (for instance. influenced by the long-term historical outlook of Fernand Braudel (Wallerstein 1979 and 1983). Other theorists of polarization. Many advocated protectionism. an idea encapsulated in the title of Samir Amir’s book. citing Friedrich List and Alexander Hamilton as positive historic precedents. 1979). Delinking (Amin. in a memorable phrase. unequal trade and later investment and indebtedness. To some it meant simply impoverishment. including Baran. saw the way out as repeating Soviet-style industrialization policies.W. once a mighty engine of economic development. 402. among others). His purpose was to anatomize what he called. militarism and the exploitation of ethnic minorities and economically backward countries11. by contrast. but most were strongly influenced by Marxism and have often been labelled “neo-Marxists” (by Hirschman. Not all the advocates of dependency and world-systems theory saw themselves as Marxists in the way Baran had done12.

Hardt and Negri assert that it is a world non-ruling class. made with the same ringing defiance as they had attacked modernization and the Latin American Communist Parties. While Marx saw capitalism as being progressive in spite of its barbarities. 1976. and that “the ties of ‘dependence’ (or subordination) binding the Third World and the imperialist world have been and are being markedly loosened with the rise of indigenous capitalisms”14. Marxist or not. Such critics contended that dependency theory failed to recognize that it is not the market and exchange which are the essence of capitalism but productive capital producing surplus value by exploiting free labour. the fusion of capitalist countries into a single global system. that the obstacles to capitalist development are not those involving relations with developed countries but those to be found “in the internal contradictions of the Third World itself”. that colonialism had indeed broken obstacles to progressive social change as Marx had originally predicted. assumed that the world was very different from the one which Marx had foreseen. “Post-imperialist” historians have argued that Marx’s universalization expectation. their focus is on the emergence of a single global capitalist class. Lenin for one reason and later Baran for others saw the epoch of capitalism which they wrote about as having ceased to be progressive. and also as a result exaggerate the role of nation and underestimate the role of class in the generation of and the fight against world inequalities13. 1973). Some critics have argued taken issue with this assumption. that much of it had taken place since World War II. This leads to the erroneous location of the beginning of capitalism’s great polarization of the world in the 16th century with the emergence of worldwide markets. most polarization theorists have not. But many dependency and world systems theorists regarded capitalism as never having been progressive. the “multitude”. In other words. He argued that prospects for capitalist development were in fact good. But much polarization theory stressed the divergence between countries rather than classes. is already a reality (Sklar. Becker et al. was that of Bill Warren. 9 . which is the most coherent offspring of globalization and the decline of states’ authorities. Pioneer of Capitalism (Warren. in his book provocatively titled Imperialism. The “return to Marx” proposal which has been the most influential. 2000). in part because it was a frontal attack on the polarization theorists. 1987). Hence they ascribe the process of underdevelopment more to plunder and unequal exchange rather than to more essential features of the capitalism mode of production.poverty. widely discussed global hypothesis. he was arguing that Marx’s first thoughts remained valid and Marxist thinking about development from Lenin onwards was a saga of errors. Most polarization theories. that the policies of the developed countries in general foster rather than stifle industrialization in the underdeveloped ones. Their decidedly global concept of development is implicit from their main political demands – for the totally free movement of human beings across borders and for a global guaranteed basic wage and access to welfare provisions (Hardt and Negri. 1980. also see Warren. Dependency theorists have been criticised by other Marxists for regarding capitalism as an unchanging system throughout its history. In a more recent.

This momentous shift in the centre of gravity of world capitalist accumulation creates echoes of the earlier Marxist propositions and debates about development. 1985 and Brewer. contradictory development tendencies. Not only are there. it is worth mentioning that from 1950 there was a clear divergence between developed and underdeveloped countries in aggregate until as recently as the 1990s. equally the continued economic decline of Africa and parts of Latin America refutes the opposite hypothesis (Leys and Saul. Latin America and Asia (excluding Japan) taken together fell as a percentage of the North (USA. Although a number of seemingly impartial commentaries have accepted these conclusions (for example Booth. although others pointed out that none of the Asian success stories were based on free market capitalism but that all of them had depended on vigorous state intervention and protectionism. it continues to fall up to the present (as calculated from Maddison. The advance of China suggests that the centre of capitalist accumulation has geographically shifted from the long developed countries. The dichotomy. 2003). Will China (along with other Asian countries) reach the economic level of and challenge the hegemony of the 10 . While the GDP per head of China (measured at purchasing power parity) has risen by 667 per cent during the years 1980 to 2004. the location of the most important surge of capitalist industrialization which has happened in history. presided over ironically by those who. Warren’s attack on dependency was in considerable part an empirical one. which has ended in what has been variously described as an impasse (Booth. if the empirical evidence which Warren relied upon in the 1970s seemed less than convincing. to 62 per cent in 2004 and at this rate will overtake it in a very few years (World Bank. by the final years of the 20th century the rapid development of a number of Asian countries seemed to give solider support to his position. The average GDP per head of Africa. At the other is China. 1985) or mutual check-mate (Munck. that of Latin America by 12 per cent and that of Africa has fallen by 6 per cent (World Bank. He stressed that the economic and social performance of the Third World was not nearly as bad as polarization theorists made out. surely indicates a more complex global reality that either polarization or convergence theories assume. Canada.Unlike some other critiques. The overall size of China’s GDP rose from 13 per cent of that of the USA in 1978. but also the extremes are extraordinarily far apart. 2005). The last two decades have been years of extremely sharp divergence not so much between developed and underdeveloped countries but between different groups of underdeveloped countries. in what was called the Third World. Nonetheless three decades of breakneck development in China and other parts of Asia is enough to refute the idea of continuous polarization between developed and underdeveloped countries as a global generalization. If China is excluded. without apparent embarrassment. over such a time. 2005). EU and Japan) in every year between 1950 and 1990. Such a difference. 1990). 1999). 1999) needs to be transcended. but also a high proportion of the population is infected with a fatal disease which is changing the nature of society and which has reduced life expectancy by decades. Nonetheless. At one extreme is Southern Africa where not only is poverty growing. style themselves as Marxists.

Marxists much try to give new answers to them today. criticized Marxist conceptions of development as no less male-. the maintenance of traditional cultures. spearheaded by people of other heterodox opinions and currents. feminists challenged Marxists by insisting that women’s emancipation is a task which cannot be reduced to class and development in general. Sen’s notion of “development as freedom”. O’Connor. The discussion of “human development”. based on A. 2000). but perhaps the problem is more a shared failure to question the nature of the telos. the long debate on imperialism had not prepared Marxism well to make major creative contributions to a number of neglected questions which have come to the fore. which partly embraces the previous two. often directing their fire not only against conventional development thinking but against Marxism as well15.USA? Will it become an imperialist power? Will its thirst for raw materials force it to develop parts of Africa? Or will new forms of polarization occur? And what will be the role in this story of the Chinese working class? These are the questions which Marx asked about 19th century capitalist. post-modernists and other radical critics of social and economic orthodoxy have. The neo-liberal revival and the collapse of actually existing socialism have shifted the global political balance in favour of capitalism’s friends. polarizationists complained that they will not. Polarization and convergence theories shared an implicit conception that development meant roughly what had been attained in developed countries. production and redistribution Since the 1980s the influence of Marxism in development has declined. A number of writers. Martinez Alier. Booth criticised both for their “system teleology”. sometimes with validity. Neither side incorporated a thorough critique of the economic and social nature of the destination itself. A third issue. More fundamentalist heterodox critics have scorned all conventional (including Marxist) images of the destination of development as dystopias. 2002. Major debates were. therefore. 1991. launched by the UNDP in 1990.K. however. 1998) but it remains a minority pursuit. environmentalists. But also. a balance with nature and so on. They have forced some self-critical rethinking about the limitations of Marxist approaches to 11 . was one influential but limited attempt to do this. From post-development or even anti-development perspectives they have rejected development as an aim and have tried to outline a more modest model which often stresses small scale communities. Second. have begun to search for Marxist answers to this and other environmental quandaries (see Löwy. is the nature of the objective of development. majority opinion in environmental science is that probably the universalization of development in its most widely used meaning is physically not attainable. First. VI Utopia. So feminists. euro-centric or unsustainable than orthodoxy itself. Convergence theorists forecast that most countries would reach the destination. It is a central part of the struggle for and the realization of socialist utopia (for a survey of arguments see Parport et al.

There are serious dangers involved in concluding from the valid parts of these criticisms that the whole concept of development. P.development. Sweezy (1966). as how to translate capitalist productivity into socialist utopia. 1966. Monopoly Capital: an essay on the American economic and social order. New York: Monthly Review Press. must form a part of the journey to social emancipation. Bob Sutcliffe References Note: the references are all to printed versions. The baby which must be saved is Marx’s fundamental insight. ‘On the. Amin. S. unsustainable and imperialist form. Penguin Books. and P. these forces are in fact used on a huge scale to produce unreasonable and destructive “needs” (what some have referred to as “over-development”). (1974). are available online at the indispensable Marxists Internet Archive (www. New York: Monthly Review Press.A.org). economic and productive foundation. (2003). (1990). 12 .A. in its orthodox or Marxist version. C. January. From Farm to Factory.A. p. Princeton University Press. then the main focus of development on a world scale must now be not so much on growth but increasingly on distribution. Accumulation on a World Scale. 402 [originally published by Monthly Review Press in 1957].marxists. Political Economy of Backwardness. (1952). London: Zed Books. P. The majority of the references by Marx. Yet since distribution is so unequal. and a few afterwards. Nonetheless. Baran. Baran. (1973[1957]) The Political Economy of Growth. Engels and Marxist authors before 1950. Harmondsworth. Delinking. P. picked out by Engels’ in his eulogy. in the way Marx posed it. If the question of development is posed. that utopia must rest on an appropriate global material. Yet in a sense what all these currents of thought do is to re-pose a problem central to Marx’s original thinking about development – the definition of utopia. economistic modernization project which. There are some elements of the often reviled. human productivity is now so advanced that the forces of production are more than enough to produce all reasonable human needs if the composition and distribution of their product was different. should be thrown out like old bathwater. Some of the reprinted sources do not have dates. Baran.M. Dates in square brackets refer to the original date of publication. Amin.’ Manchester School of Economics and Social Studies 20. Allen R. purged of their unequal. S.

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Notes 19 .

3 For discussions of the various senses in which Marx used the term “development” see Cohen. one of only a handful Marxist analyses of the whole capitalist system written in the last 50 years. 2003. See Brundenius 1984 and Martinez Alier 1972. Day. These critiques raised the question of how the capitalist mode of production was to be defined. These debates remain interesting although they quickly slipped into history in Cuba as it became increasingly dependent on Soviet aid and followed Moscow’s line in international policy. 1980. p. 8 The leading participants in these debates were Che Guevara (then Minister of Industry). developed an explicitly Marxist theory which relates the historical pattern of capital accumulation to the restriction of development. 9–10. 1978. see Elster. 1978 and Cowen and Shenton. 1998. pp. For a summary of this and references to other authors see FosterCarter. Allen. This is what G. 10 The idea of polarization was encouraged in the 1928 Congress of the International partly a cynical manoevre to isolate Bukharin and his supporters who regarded further capitalist development as possible and desirable.A. 14 Warren. 2005. 9 On the Soviet economy and planning methods see Davies. Davies. 1996. 1973. 196–219. They opened once again familiar issues: the role of the state and the market. pp. . 2001. 1980. with imperative policy implications for the survival of civilized and decent life. 5 An exposition and discussion of the issues dealt with in this and the previous section can be found in Patnaik. Carlos Rafael Rodriguez from the wing of the old Cuban Communist Party which had switched its support to Castro. 1978. 2000. and Brewer. He concludes that there is an “urgent need to revive development theory. and Gregory (ed). but as a field of critical enquiry about the contemporary dynamics of that order itself. Cohen calls Marx’s “development thesis”: see Cohen. 1985. 1950 and 1960. Monopoly Capital. 1992. and not just in the ex-colonial countries”. Ch. especially in Africa. 6. 13 For two examples of this kind of critique see Laclau. the balance between agriculture and industry. 766. 1977. although a critic of dependency theory. Bukharin. 15 On the subject of the decline of Marxist development theory see Bernstein (2005) which analyses the rise and decline of Marxism in the world of academic and para-academic development studies and Leys (1996) who sees the decline of Marxist development theory as part of the disappearence of development theory in general. and (perhaps the most originally discussed question) the balance between moral and material incentives. 11 This thesis appeared in rudimentary form in Baran’s The Political Economy of Growth and was later much elaborated in Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy. pp. The question of new directions in Marxist and critical development thinking is also discussed in Munck and O’Hearn (1999) and Schuurman (1993). 1986 and Löwy. 7 See Filtzer (ed). and a number of foreign Marxist theorists including Ernest Mandel and Charles Bettelheim. 4 Any reader who doubts whether Marxism can be described as utopian (in the positive sense) should read Geras. pp. Nove. 1993. 1987b. G. Haynes. this summary follows that in Booth. pp. Erlich. 1985. 1971 and Brenner. Cohen. 1975. 226–36. it was related to a much larger development-related discussion of the relevance of modes of production and their interrelations. 1990. 12 Among the most explicitly Marxist of development theorists were Marini (1991) and Dos Santos (). not as a branch of policy-oriented social science within the parameters of an unquestioned capitalist world order. Harrison and Wheatcroft (eds).1 2 My thanks to Andrew Glyn and Arthur MacEwan for comments on a draft. Ellman. 1979. Kay (1975). 1981. 6 For analyses of combined and uneven development. It disappeared from official communism after the USSR’s alliance with the liberal democracies in 1941.

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