Development: Lodestar or Illusion? Author(s): Immanuel Wallerstein Reviewed work(s): Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 23, No.

39 (Sep. 24, 1988), pp. 2017-2019+2021-2023 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: . Accessed: 02/05/2012 02:22
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theytalk aboutthe ways in which bureaucratic rigiditiesand political errorshave changed the economy. we are told that developmentis possible. Endlessness is not everyone's cup of tea. or would presumably otherwise enjoy. or that the species will survivevia a processof reproduction. morearithmeticthan often meanssimply biological. In all of this grumbling. The rest of the analogy. But of course the basic idea has much older roots.The social interpretationof good and bad times tends to be quite straightforwardlyrelational. Whatever we now have some of. what divides left and right. of efforts to develop. the underlying drive is to end an oppressive situation. however. was at issue in the proposed policies we group together today under the heading of mercantilism? I should like thereforeto reviewwhat we know of the history of this capitalistworldeconomy in order to address five questions: (1) Development the development what? is of (2) Who or what has in fact developed? (3) What is the demandbehind the demand for development? (4) How can such development occur? (5) What arethe politicalimplicationsof the answers to the first four questions. others are clearly facing primarilythe moremanageableprojectof 'catchingup' to those who already have more.theytalk abouthow too large or too inappropriategovernment involvement in the economic process has initiativeand therefore created has hampered a less desirable economic situation than these countries presumably enjoyed previously.Thereare few discussions of the likelihoodthat theseentitieswill eventuallydie. even passionately. 1988 . the death of a single organism is never the death of the species.Nationsor statesor societiessomehow (and somewhere)begin. We are told that laissez-faireis the road to development. In the SovietUnion. I doubt that there has been a single government anywherein the last 30 yearsthat has not asserted it was pursuing this objective. economicexpansionand contractionpresent differentpictures.but which policies are presumedto offer most hope that this objective will be achieved. after all. Everywhere in the worldtoday. We are told that delinkingis the roadto development.Expansion then may open up the optimistic hope of immediateabsolute improvementand relative Contractionoffers middle-term catching-up. Of course. as we all know.however. There are good times and there are bad times. at least for its own country. We are told that increased agricultural productivity is the road to development. If then we distinguish betweengroups at the high end of the scale of possessions and those at the low end. development. Now. But. to createan environmentof manageablescale.In a set of groupswho are located on a scale in terms of quantity of possessions.and respondvigorously. then they grow or develop. But it is ther. those groupsat the top end of the scale have only the void before them. We are told that socialism is the road to development.. and it is always possible to imagine more of something. they talk about the waysin whichthe cultural revolution is said to have blocked for a decade. T he presumedsocio-economicanalogy is clear. Then. is rarelypursued.From little acornsdo giant oaks grow. then. If there are protracted revolutionarymovementsin the world. Those at the low end start from the base knowledge of their relativelylow level of material reward.Those at the high end to be surehavethe comfortof being at the high end. come immediately we upon a social relativity. One is the referenceto the processesof a biologicalorganism. We think of economic developmentas a post-1945concept. we might have moreof tomorrow. projection.Above all.Development 'more'.And it is certainly also true that since 1945 the concept as doctrine has been applied more widely and with greater social legitimation than ever before. since they also reproduce. if only we do the right thing. they grow or develop. The critics or reformersor whateverthey call themselves have merely argued that new and different policies must be adopted to replace those which they assert have failed. There is a furtherelement in the picture. Somehow they fact severaldeeades. howeverdefined. and why all our attentionis concentrated on what are taken to be the normalities or abnormalitiesof the middle segmentof the September 24.What else. they debate what explainsthe.eventuallythey die. there has been considerable disillusionment of late with the fruits of past development policies. So while some may face the unchartedprospectsof seemingendlessness. At the same time. They may howeverin times of expansion fear the void and in times of contraction fear that they will no longer be at the high end.Weare told that an increasedopening to the world market(export-orientedgrowth)is the road to development. is not whether or not to develop. In China. or at least monotonic.virtuallyno one in China or the Soviet Union or Africa or the US or westernEuropehas challenged Economic and Political Weekly either the desirability or the viability of developmentas an objective.We are told that a break with tradition is the road to a product of the geopolitics of the Dost-1945 era in the world-system. Durkheim's discussionof anomie is another version of the same argument. But the other drive that sustains the revolutionariesis the expectation that their victory at the state level will open the door at last to the realdevelopmentof their country. Bad times are those in which we think or fear we have less. and who are all seeking more. Full-fledged intellectual debates about how countries might be developed were occurring at least as early as the seventeenthcentury. This is clearly very encouragingas a social possibility. and so set back. the presumedgrowth process.Development: Lodestar Immanuel Wallerstein or Illusion? Thispaper reviews the history of the capitalist world-economy in order to addressfive questions (1)Development is the development of what? (2) Who or what has in fact developed? (3) What is the demand behind the demand for development? (4) How can such development occur? (5) What are the political implications of the answers to the first four questions? THERE is perhaps niosocial objectivethat can find as nearly unanimous acceptance today as that of economic development. whereasgroups who are at the bottom are bounded by groupsabovethem.infinity is also quite terrifying. infinity is far away. In the United States and westernEurope. will I come to the question in my title: is development a lodestar or an illusion? sequence. one which therefore offers a reasonable possibility that it is somewhat controllable. lnfinity is in a very real sense a void.In Africa. And of course linear projections go to infinity. Here. and they call for a perestroika. One reason may be that developmenthas a second connotation.All organic phenomena have lives or natural histories. as used by politicians and intellectuals. It seems in fact that its history is concurrentwith the history of the capitalistworldeconomy itself. But what is this right thing? There is of course no shortage of people who will respond to this query.seriousworseningof their economic situation since independenceand following a 'decade'. And it is certainly true that most of our currentlanguage. 2017 I Developmentis a word that has two differentconnotations. There is an entire literature of clinical psychologyabout the waysin which human beings need to bound their universes. we are making an analogy not to an organic cycle but to a linear. In this case. and only then. We are told that a revitalisedtradition is the road to development: We are told that industrialisationis the road to development. periods of boom and periodsof bust or at leastof stagnation. Good times are those moments in whichwe think we havemore than previously. mightwonder We why the analogy is not pursuedto its fullest.

has 'developed'.beginning of the historical process. What could occur because of some technological we mean by the locutions. as living beings. From the beginning. and suffering.This of course was the constant desire of producers who received 'ess than others of the overall created surplus.Of course. We mean by 'peripheries' II those zones that lost out in the distribution of surplus to 'core' zones. accumulate!'is the leitmotiv of capitalism.wealth of the different geographical areas.the patternof geographical of advantagehas beensubjectto reorganisation. Some states 'rise'.we tend to ignorethe relationships involved and instead summarise such phenomena in terms of the juridical units we call states. 'developed'and or organisational advantage which some 'underdeveloped'countries. the a mere one century's flow of surplus was basic issue is not psychological but social. The total surplus extractedin these commodity chains was at no point in time distributed evenly in terms of the geographical location of the creation of the surplus. this seems to me un. It seems to me therefore not hard to understandwhy people feel so passionately about developmentand oscillate so rapidly among alternative schemata for realising development.cesses. it was inherently vulnerable. at the However.or rather fused. Whatever was the source of monopolistic advantage.come to be used in the last 30 years. In short. monopolisation of some segment of the Who then has really developed in this commodity chain. What we call technological advances simply reflect this search for new monopolisticadvantages. or the consumptionwas lower.eighteenthcentury concern with the 'wealth of nations' was simply one ideological expression of the interestthat producershad in maintaining or creatingtheir own monopolistic advantages and undermining those of others. These commodity chains almost all tendedto traverse existingpoliticalbounthe daries. What then do we know of the patternof 'national development' within the framework of the capitalistworld-economyprior to 1945? I believe there are a number of things we can say today with some clarity.wassimilarlythe resultof newproducers jumping on a bandwagonof highly profitable goods and underminingmonopolistic advantageby the expansionof total production. The net result could be the same. Weare all awarethat if some consume much.Wethink of the so-called third world as constituting the list of underdevelopedcountries. theoretically inevitable or historically Thus. both class and geographicterms. Those who consume well tend to draw the organismic implicationthat not only they as individuals. Hence we observe interstate 'mobility'. Certainly old ones were constantly reorganised. ' When one kind of monopoly in the commodity chains was undermined. the in rewards.this means.this mustmnean. is their immediatepast historywithin the operation of the world-economy. and neither method excluded the other. a capitalistworld-economy form centredon the Europeancontinent in the sixteenth century. whether or not we think it structuresin creatiqn. Yet it is also the case that if we look at things about the emergentperipheralzones the variousgeographical-juridical zones that (such as east-centralEurope and Hispanic are today sovereignor potentially sovereign America)comparedwith the emergentcore zones in which producerswhose abilities to corner surplus were somewherein the middle rank sought in to use the state structures which they were influential to undermine economically stronger rivals. social organisationof local productionproAs an empirical fact. This is usually been true as of 1450. peripheralat any given time. The monopolisation sense?At one level-theansweris easy. of The vulnerability historically temporary monopolisations was real.That a given geographicalzone occupies a given role is far from immutable.The per capita states. tion processes used labour that was more whetherthe comparison is made betweena coercedand receivedless real income. And in fact. the realisation of the dream of endless accumulation has come to be not merelylegitimatebut to seem in some sense plausible. this involvedthe establishment integrated of production processes may call commodity we chains. which regularly led to stagnations in the worldeconomy.since this was the only viable mechanism of cornering a large (as well as disproportionate) shareof the capital accumulatedthrough market-oriented production. entry into production undermined advantage via the market.the only reason that is why spme are more central and others m7pre. and that in the future we shall not be there to consume. Whereas.1988 Economic and Political Weekly . The. we are all too conscious of the problem of death. At the same time. most do not. The desire lies within all of us. Generally speaking. and (many Two.producers sought to create other new kinds of monopolistic advantages. etc).say the US or Sweden. It is 'better off' materially. (This given state today and that same state (more was of coursea majorreasonwhy per capita The statestructures or less) 50 or 100 or 300 years ago. talities) bred by historical capitalism. Developmentas the achievement of 'more' is the Prometheanmyth. In short.and an impressiveconsumption level for about 10-20 per cent of the world'spopulation.) comparisonis made between a given state's were less centralisedinternally and weaker ordinal rankingin GNP per capita and the externally. by 1600 we could already say three enduring. 2018 some politically-enforced restriction of the market.The local produchistory of the capitalist world-economy. What as the capitalistworld-economy an historical Systemhas done is to makethese desiresfor the first time socially legitimate. What we call mercantilismwas simply one organisedmethod of this struggle. they are faced with 'civilisation and its discontents'. September 24:. we think of the countries of westernEurope plus Japan as the members of the list of 'developed' countries. Whereas mercantilist policies sought to overturn existing advantage through political mechanisms. In our discussion. of the capitalist world-economy.and wherethey standin an ordinalrankingtodaycomparedto formerly. We are all equallyawarethat consumptionis a presentoriented activity. Often entirelynew commoditychainswereestablished. every time a major monopoly has been underlocations mined. the only reason why some geographicareas have been better off than othersin termsof capitalaccumulation. but was always concentratedto a disproportionate degreein some zones rather than in others. The advantages wereconstantly underattack-within states and betweenstates. some are uncontestably better off than they were at previousmoments in the consumption was lower. Others could over time try to 'copy' in one way or another the technological or organisational advantageor try to underminethe politically-enforcedrestrictions of the market. began to One.It is crucialto note that while all ranklevelof the same state threestatementsweretrueby 1600 none had ordinalinterstate 50 or 100 or 300 years ago. the political organisationof the state contestable. is precisely list of thosewho have'developed' the (or not) in eitheror both senses I spelledout above over the past 50-300 years. Indeed. there although the controversies cerning developmenthave deep resonances seemed little difference in the economic in the collectivesocial psychologies(or men. 'Accumulate. Since locational rent is a relativelyrare (and in the long run economically minor) phenc ienon. The recurring problemof 'overproduction' relative t. con. but the groups of which they are a part will one day 'decline'. It is pleasureand powercombined.the mode of obtaining a largerprowould argue)politically (expansion of civil portion of the surplus was the relative rights. The socialist countries present the most controversialcategory in terms of either comparison:where they are today in relationto wherethey were.p any existing market. the scientific-technological output of this capitalistsystem has created some widely-visible spectaclesof significant accumulation. It is the realisationof all our libidinal desires. as they have segmentof the producershad or becauseof on the otherhand the gloom of declinefrom an already low level. The three empirical of what we mean when we say that a given truthswerethe consequence the operation state. located in other state structures. Analysts do not agree on what the basic economic measurements show and/or on whetherthese measurementsare valid indicators for the socialist countries. enough to create a visible distinction betThe factis that historical capitalismhas been ween core and peripheryin terms of three up to now a system of very differential criteria: the accumulation of capital.

This involvedsometimes the remouldingof existing political structures. it is certainthat for a majority of the population of the core zones the statementis true. in terms of absolute income. in accumulated wealth-has probablybeen as greatas in the entireperiod of 1500-1945. The question is not whether the extraordinaryexpansionin accumulatedphysical plant and real wealth due to the transformation of the forces of production has occurredor not. 1988 .If therewerestill geographicalzones not involvedin any of the commoditychains that made up the functioning of the capitalist world-economy.the combinationof materialgrowthand growth in antisystemicforceswas thought by many of heralda fundamentaltransformationof the pre-1945 structure the world-economy. I think.or cadres. use of local surplus to sustain a workforce that would migratefor specifiedperiods to work in the productionof rawmaterialsor of the food-crops needed to sustain the producers of raw materials. The uneven distributioni of profit remained crucial.the absolutelevelof consumablewealth has risen over the past 400 years. September 24. Each economic stagnation led to a whole series of changes designed to restore the overall rate of profit in the worldeconomy as a whole and to ensure its continued uneven distribution: reduction of costs of production by reduction of wage costs (both by the further mechanisation of production and by site relocation). Conquest. became more and more possible. the main argumentof liberaldevelopmentalistshas been that this could be true. The multiple expansionis the capitalist of world-economy occurred sporadically but continuallyfrom the seventeenth throughthe nineteenthcenturies. taken together. least their piecemeal dismemberment. in value produced. The fundamental process may be described as a sequence. (b) the dispersion of the absolute measures has diminished. and many of them would argue further that it has been in fact historically true. But they could not be so strong vis-a-vis the states in the core zone into the commodity chains of the wortdeconomy. The gap between their incomes and those of the top tenth or top seventhof the world's population had certainly grown enormouslyover the previousfour centuries. The question is primarily whether it has nmeant rise in real wellany being for the large majority of the world's population. even the conquest of bureaucraticallyorganised world-empires or at. as long as surplus is accumulated unevenly and we therefore can rank geographicaljuridical zones ordinally. By the late nineteenth century.therewereno areasleft on the globe outside the operations of its interstate system. It is quite clear now what the process of incorporation involved when it occurred. expansion of' effective demand by further proletarianisation of segments of the workforce. And today. Here. mainly. Three. Nor is it whetherthis expansionhas not benefitedthe world'sso-calledmiddlestrata. It must mean this.Of course it has. provide the explanation of why 'development' has become so central an ideologicaltheme and field of combat since then. and sometimes the creation of entirelynew and quite arbitrarilydelimited structures. The last change however entailed on balance a rise in real income for those segments.The absolute expansion of the world-economy-in population. Of course. The explanation of 'why these frontiers expanded lies in processes internal to its changing structure. efforts may be made by firms and state-agencies to try to fight back by constantlyattemptingto 'marginalise' some formerly proletarianisedhouseholds. the debatelargelycentresaround why it has not occurred. less than 20 years later. even when we control for price inflation. What then did occur since 1945so far as the structure the capitalistworld-economy of is concerned? TWo things. The transformation of the capitalist worldeconomy since 1945has been remarkable in two regards. global averages were of no concern to individual capitalists. The political strengthof antisystemic forces has been incrediblygreater than before 1945. creation of new monopolised leading products via innovation. And economic stagnations continue to have the consequence of transformingsegments of these semi-proletarianised households into proletarianised ones. On the one hand. Whatever the case. of technological advances in armaments and therefore a steadily growing disparity in the control of military force between the core states of the capitalist world-economy and those political structures outside the world-economy. Of c. The fourth observation has to do with overall growth in the forces of production and levels of wealth. The second transformationthat occurred in the incorporation process was the reconstructionof existing political structures into states operating within the interstate systemof the capitalistworld-economy. And 2019.I'nitially incorporated the zones fit Economic and Political Weekly of the world-economythat they could effectivelythreatenthe interests the majorexisof ting monopolisers. If anything. however. the capitalist world-economy benefited from the advantages of its internal mechanisms.Virtually all householdsare at least semi-proletarianised.up to 1945. They had to maintain a certain degree of effective internal control which would permit the flows necessary to.and risen considerably. The boundarylimits arebeing reached. of The heraldedtransformationdid not occur. We thus come to the point in time with which we began the discussion-1945. it meant the transformation of a certain number of production processes in these areas such that they were integrated in at one of three points in the chain: production of a 'raw material' a cash-crop (includingfood-crops)or mineralproductinvolvedin some manufacturingprocess in core areas.production of additional foodcrops to feed the workforce in peripheral zones producing the raw materials. The fact that the dominant forces in the capitalist world-economy sought at various moments to expand its boundaries did not mean necessarily that they could. includingfood goods. When the United Nations proclaimed the 1970sthe 'Decade of Development'. the frontiers of this capitalist world-economy which was originally located in Europe were expanded over the subsequent three centuries. these populations were probablyworse off than their ancestorshad been. The absolute developmentof the forces of production has meant a massive reduction of the of percentage the worldpopulationengaged in producingprimarygoods.and by and largethe remainingfew non-involved loci came to be involvedby the time of the Second World War. sometimes the fusion of several.Furthermore. especially given the fact that incorporation was so unattractive a proposition in terms both of immediate material interests and the cultural values of those being incorporated. Both leading and lagging profit margins must as a consequence now decline.that other states 'decline'. These two facts. In the processwe havegone a considerable distance towards exhausting the pools of low-cost labour which have hitherto existed. If therefore we utilise state-level measures like GNP per capita we will find such an increase. of varying efficacity. if some rise others must fall. Ot' course. sometimes their dismemberment. since this 10-20 per cent of whom I speak are unevenlydistributedacross the globe. as a mode of incorporating new low-cost labour which would in effect compensate for the increases in real wages elsewhere and thereby keep down the global average. Though it is logically irrefutablethat. But the path to this objective lay in part through expansion of the reach of the capitalist world-economy. The exhaustion of 'leading' monopolies led to periodic economic stagnations in the world-economy (so-called Kondratieff B-phases). The absolutegrowthof the manufacturing sectors and the absolute and relative growth of the tertiarysectors have led to a runaway'urbanisation'of the world which is still going on at a reckless pace. Peoples everywhere offered resistances. it might still be possible that either or both of the following could be also and simultaneously true:(a) all or most states have 'risen'on some absolute measurement of 'development'. Indeed. they werenot many.when this majority was still largely rural.ourseit has. in an ordinal ranking. the crucial elementwas that the resulting'states'(sometimes they werethose non-sovereign'states' called 'colonies') had to operate within the rules of the interstatesystem. and hence was in partial contradiction with the objective of increasing the global rate of profit. it is quite dubious that it did. The constant reward for innovation had the effect. the operation of the commoditychains. among other things.itis unquestionablethat for 10-20 per cent of the world'spopulationat the top in termsof income. It is here that expansion of the boundaries of the worldeconomy entered.Certainly. to the process of incorporation into the world-economy.

A thirdmanifestationof this has been the comingto powerafter 1945of labourand/or social-democratic parties in the western world and the institutionalisation of a 'welfare state' in most of these countries. the prospects of a growingpie were thereto ensure that everyone could hope for more. if not obversesides of the same coin. as movements. has been the driving forceof the political thrusttowardsdevelopment. which of the two objectivesdid people. has Paradoxically.On the one hand.On the one hand. First. the net movementwill in all likelihoodremainin the directionof full proletarianisation houseof holds. as well as many of their conservativeopponents. A second manifestation of this was the triumph of national liberation movements in a numberof countriesof t he thircd world.In any case. This was scarcelya problem before 1945. the rift between those who sought upward mobility and those who sought equality.However. The question remains however as to which of the two objectives. I am not arguingthat the coming to power of Marxist-Leninistparties in the socialist bloc.On the other hand. They mayeven be in contradiction with each other. Vietnam. but it was nevercertainwhich few this was. or at least the confusion and discontent.and especiallysincethe 1970s. what is the demand for developmentabout. the capitalist worldeconomy was still in secular expansion. One. developmentwas supposed to mean economic growth which involved 'catchingup' with the leader. Some too were rendereddocile by the prospectof full-timeemployment. a good deal of the neo-liberal governmentalpolicies undertakenin many countries during the 1980s represented attempts to do just this. developmentwas supposed to mean greaterinternalequality. their support was always being eroded at both ends of their sociologicalspectrum. 2021 III This then brings us to the third question that I said I would address: what is the demand for developmentabout? The twin goals indicatethe doubleanswer. each was the result of the upsurge of popular forces in their countries. Each type of movement in power has come under internal criticism from within their countries. meaning that they claim the heritagein one way or ainotherof the Third International.It was the weakening of the political carapace of capitalism which. the lure of individual mobility. exposed the deep internalcleavage of these movements. as was made notorious in Krushchev'sprediction that the USSR would 'overtake'the US by the year 2000. Economic and Political Weekly In fact. if adopted.(You and I may or may not agree with this conceptualisation.which constitutedsignificantupwardmobility.and of social-democratic parties in the OECD countrieswerethe same thing. Korea.what Mao Zedong was arguing in the 1960s. For example.the antisystemic movements remained politically weak.) Secondly. it should be clear by now that we have to analyse these objectives separatelyand cannot continue blithely to assume their pairing. forces which saw their victories as in some sense being antisystemic. in each case the groups in power set themselves the double policy objectiveof economic growth and greater internal equality.The sjoganhas maskeda contradiction that is deep and enduring. somewhere down the line. at the top end. both liberal and Marxist. What has happenedsince 1945. have this effect.This latter.and most relevant to our present discussion.which September 24. some of these triumphsweredue primarilyto the military prowess of the USSR. They are not necessarilycorrelativewith each other. whichmeans higher-cost wage-labour.for their failuresto achieve.they could maintainuntouched their unifying if contradictoryideology and hence they could survive. Thirdly. is that this contradiction is now a glaring one. As long as that was true. For everyone this meantcatchingup. The process of course variedconsiderablyfrom country to country.The movementsbrought together under one organisational roof those who wished to have more. each involved parties or movements that had beenin politicalopposition (and frequently illegality) assuming governmental office. of late. these goals-economic growthand greater internal equality. To be sure.This cement often took the form of the assertion that it was throug-heconomic growth (the end of scarcity) that equality would be made possible. Those whose hopes for more seemedmore distantusually formed the social base of the antisystemic movements.One manifestationhas been the creation of a series of countrieswe call 'socialist countries'.Angolaand Mozambique. but a significant number were the result of internal revolutionary forces-notably China.The ideological belief that the two objectiveswerecorrelative served initially as organisational cement. with the United States. ideological the coating. has unglued. fundamental social (or socialist) transformation.I merelyat this point suggest that it was a widespreadselfimage. there is a fourth. movementsto arrive at state power in large numbers. but a minimal list of countries where a significant popular struggle took place might include India and Indonesia. GhanaandAlgeria.the political weakness of the antisystemic movements prior to 1945 was theirstrength. I said theysharedthreethingsin of whose principal attractions was that they seemed to offer a political routeto speedingup the realisation of the hope for more. If this is true. have for the most partdone for the past 150years. And I think the evidenceof the next 30 yearswill show conclusivelythat it is politically more difficult for capital to 'marginalise' proletarianised populations than it is for segments of the workingclass to 'proletarianise' themselves. and we are collectively being requiredto make political choices that are quite difficult and quite large. is that there is no single coherent answer to that question to be gained through historical analysis.and survivequite well. or to achieve to a sufficient'degree. then capital is faced with an increasing squeeze. those strata that wereworst off (the semiproletarianised households) were often defeated.and those who havesearchedfor equality.there is much evidence that this occurs. The answer to the question then.the coming to power of the movements has forced them to operationalise theirpriorities. This was the objective even for the leastpartially. But there were nonetheless three elements they sharedin common.that is. Yugoslavia. seems to long as the capitalist worldeconomy was in secularexpansion.not of course into the bourgeoisie but into the proletariat. undid their sense of collective solidarity in the struggle. What I really mean is that the ideologicalstatements both groupshaveasserted of this. Albania and (with a somewhat special history) Cuba.Becausethey could never be in power. Indeedthe split goes back to the very beginningof their individualand collective histories. for two reasons. to catch up to (and implicitlyto surpass)some others. hard to organise. To put it bluntly. And at the low end. In many cases this too was the outcome of a significant popular struggle. The resistance has been great. This double 'defection' is of course the explanation of why the traditional nineteenth-centuryscenario of a workers' revolution neverreallyoccurredthus far. the frequentproposals in the US and western Europe to allow individuals to opt out of collective social insuranceschemes would. Hence the disillusionment. for those popularstratathat wererelativelybetteroff. do people reallycare about? To which did they give priority? The answer has to be that the states have alwaysgiventheirpriorityto catchingup and that the movements have been split on this issue.This is the sourceof the disillusionment to which I referredat the outset. which developmentalists. This wasplausibleonly for a cew. by allowing the antisystemic. overthe long run. Nicaragua and Zimbabwe. is the heart of.Thus. Indeed. But social transformation catchingup and are seriously different objectives. derived from the two different connotations of the concept of development. of nationalliberation in movements the thirdworld. Those who could hope for more in a near future usually supported the system outright. or simply scrambling for subsistence. perfectly rational in a system in secular expansion. The second main transformationi the of post-1945 period has been the remarkable seriesof triumphsof all the branchesof the worldwide family of antisystemic movements. Though the movements claimed to representthe popular classes and hence the overwhelmingmajority of the population. 1988 . and often even from within the movements in power. And hence it seemed a plausibleprospectto many. I say that both liberalsand Marxistshave blithely assumed that growth leading to catching up and an increase in egalitarian distribution are parallel vectors.

Worldrevoluat tion or evenco-ordiniated worldwide political struggleremainsa rhetoricalflourishfor the most part. If core zones had not grown in size (and therefore in geography) at the same time as peripheral zones. But will popularly-organised national movementsin fact achievegreaterequality and democracy?I havebecome increasingly scepticalof this.One obvious way would be to seek to increasethe price of labour or the price of sale by the directproducers. and change constantly. In the period since 1945this viewhas evolveddefacto into a somewhatdifferent one: that the route is via popularly-organised national movements. What has been happening seems to me quite simple. National development may well be a perniciouspolicy objective. If this is the objective. The OECD states did not 'achieve' their 'national development'. as havemanyothers. we must clear up one more spreadto the near parts of the blotter. At this point I must makean assumption.I think popularly-organised national movements have found themselves in a dilemma for which there is no easy solution and which has contributed strongly to the sense of impasse and frustration that has been growing of late.a significantsegment vative scenario is that the process is still conof the world's population elsewherein this tinuing since 1950. At that system. in the socialist countries as well. will be fact. the dilemmawill remain. This is a very strong argument and has secured wide support. then perhaps some comes in. The great argument in favour of stateorganisedattemptsto retainsurpluscreated within the frontiers is that the state is the only agency potentially capable of going against the strong currents of unequal exchange flows structurallycentral to the functioningof the capitalistworld-economy. It was that a dozen or two came to enclose the principal fruits of the expansion and development of the capitalist worldeconomy as a whole. countries. First. that is transmuteradically the location of worldscale production and therebytheir location on the interstateordinalscale. It is clear that economic self-interest pushes them towardsthe growth and 'catching-up'goal. And if the first segments were low on the retention of surplus.developedwas the capitalistworld-economy. separatestates. and the consequenices the popularstrata for tend to be in the middle run usually at best no change for the better. IV list' development far greater. The more radical version is thalt while whether China or India or Brazil truLe such development did occur in the ninieteenithi 'catches up' via delinikingor via exportcenitury.Supposethat antisystemic movements concentrated their energies everywhere-in the OECD countries. In the late nineteenth and early twentiethcenturies the dominant view was that the route was via nationally-organised working-class movements. however. let us first ask whether this scenario in fact reflects accurately what occurred? There is another way of reading world history for the period 1750-1950. areasarecore-like. The OPEC oil pricerise was a marvellous instanceof this. 1950. As long as solutions are franmed and sought at the national level.That historical question. When the OPEC September24. the coinditions ar-enow etntirelydiforientation or by any other-method. in the third world countries.And for those the few states which may still realise it. illuminatesall the pitfalls of national-level development strategies. on efforts defined as retaining most of the surplus created.and states governed by erstwhile antisystemic movements will remain repressiveof their own popular strata and at best only partial winners of the catching-up game. it is unrealisable. If a new area England dexeloped. the more conservative and more 30 years China or India or Brazil were in a radical versions differ. The assumptionis that the objectiveis truly an egalitarian. This has always been true up to a point. least presently. an old areamust go out. a numnber longer expand. And my answer is: surely not. This was other western countries. And these persons have a direct interest as a sub-groupin the choice of priority between an emphasison growth/catching-upand equality. to the primary benefit of the cadres. It is more true than ever today. I am thinkingratherof attacking the flows of surplusat another point. whatever method adopted. between say 1750 and 1950. V We thereforearriveat the issue everyone reallycaresabout:what shall be done?What politicalimplicationsshallwe drawfromthis analysis? The first one I draw is the most radical. at the point of theirproduction. those who occupy the key political and bureaucraticposts. The usual picture that has been painted The geographyof the whole system can no is that. No doubt you may retort. many more geographical loci seemed to be 'developed' than in 1750 was not the consequence of the fact that a dozen or two dozen states had 'developed' their 'national' economies. we can deal with the inkspill of accumulated surplus which political choices. the latter termn as a synonym of indicator of development. But before examining the export-oriented model vs the delinking model. If in the next juncture. it had to mean that there was palallel growth of other segments of these commodity chains. the retrea. This ferent and the obstacles to national 'capitawill be true as long as states. like most prices. finally the wvholelist always partially ture. but only partially. Catching-up implies cotmpetitioi. I remind you of two aspects of this structure we discussed: the polarisation of zones which has been accentuated over time. theirbenefits will perforcebe at the expenseof some other zone. surplus-creating but not surplus-retaining segments of the worldwide commodity *chains. and the OPEC countries initially did very well for themselves. say. It was as though there were an expanding Before. I hearthe shouts of all those who are suffering by the currentunequal allocation of the world'screatedsurplus. Hence todav the only alternative is said to be a radically new path of total rupture with the system. how in fact 'national it was registeredin the national accounts of development' did occur. What are each searching for ways to develop themselws. The fact that. the system would no longer have been a capitalist one. where it occurred. democratic world. Is not another strategyavailable for the movements?I am not referringto a worldlevelstrategy. For most states.undemocraticworldsystem.This is for two reasons. (plus Japan). Instead of seeing it as the story of a succession of successful national development efforts. The more consertruesenseto 'catchup'. The increase of the geographical scope of operations led to an increase in the populations included in the world-economy. It was clearlya consciously political struggle. are controlled by market considerations.this is mnore geographical The tale is usually told this way. but market considerations within parameters established by political struggle. These prices. one country rather than another was not or at least where it is claimiied that it has necessarily or primarily the result of the or less in the OECD occurred-more policies of that country. 1988 2022 Economic and Political Weekly . This version of historical because of the overall expansion of the events takes us down to.sometimes even a worsening of their condition. If there usually taken is to be any significant change in which 'industrialised'. The great negative howeverof that argumient that the state is as an agency requires decision-making actors. and not simply a reversal of fortunes inside our presentinegalitarian. and the constant expansion of the outer boundaries of the system. they had it 'thrust upon them'. in 1950. Ergo the geographic reach of countries have successively 'developed' or of the core can no longer expand. Now it is entirelytrue. This is exactly what capitalists know. that of course meant that the others were higher. Without going into the details of the antiOPEC counteroffensivewhich did over a decade force OPEC to retreat. than ever a zero-sum game. we could see it as the story of the secular expansion of the worldeconomy as a whole. and yes. They were added in order to create low-cost. what is the route?. As such segments grew absolutely. look at them now. The situation has indeed changed today. anid competition means that one country's development will *be at someone else's expense ultimately. with some Countries like world-system would have to decline as a the Republic of Korea demonistrating this This locus of capital accumuLlation. They spend a considerable amount of their worldwide political energy on the politics of pricing.What then shall we do? Surely you do not expect us to do nothing. Such an alternative is unrealisitic. by that one means a strategy if that requires implementation by a worldlevel movement. These parametersare subject to change.

the politics would have been quite different. I suggest that they should be seen instead as substitutes for other policies that would have speeded up the pacc far more and far faster. Capitalists fought back in two main ways. a significant cave-in of political support for the system will occur. The great barrier to that today is less the large-scale capitalists than the antisystemic movements themselves. But if the state apparatuses are the motor. capitalist world-economy has no secure way to survive. Center for Advanced Study of InternationalDevelopment.arcess to a defacto unlimited reserve labour force. None of the traditional or erstwhile antisystemic movements-the Social Democrats in the west. 1988 2023 . however. We can try to force the pace on the secular trends ot the capitalist world-economly. Ssuch a battle would have far more ups than downs. Distinguished Speaker series. But that of course would be collectively suicidal. Quite the contrary! As long as the focus is on national distribution of the accumulated surplus value. This strategv is less obvious than one thinks. Janpath Market Hazrat Ganj Lucknow 226 001. If all our energies are turned in that direction. But. and this is the cruLIcialpoint. That is. then-Development: illusion? I hope by now my answer is obvious. could be devastatingly effective. can relocate the locus of their capital without necessarily losing longrun control over it. I am grateful to the astute comments. if tomorrow. that is an emphasis on greater equality and democratic participation. And they recruited new workers from the national and worldwide pool of reserve (semliproletarianised) households. A steady politically-induced rise in surplus retention would be unlikely to lead to serious losses in the world market.countries retained after 1973 a larger percentage of the flow of surplus. The movements cannot afford their close links to the states. far from being utopian. 1987. as the local victories cumulate. Allahabad Uttar Pradesh Economic and Political Weekly September 24. textile workers were paid 20 per cent more. Since the distribution of proletarian and semiproletarian households was not randomii but stratified nationally. But it is far from enough to say more commodification is the route to the undoing of the system. it was clear that a political strategy that focused on proletarian households missed a good half of the battle. UP National News Agency PaltanBazar Dehradun Uttar Pradesh Shree RamAbhilash Dubey Newspaper Agents &Booksellers 107 Badshahi Mandi. In the nineteenlthi century this struggle was fought both in the workplace (via the construction ot trade unions) and in the political arena (via the construction of socialist parties). ethnically. This has now become quite limited. Or they might look for new NICs. In such on option. We will nlot inS our way to world equality. capitalists are nlOW vulnerable to the original strategy of a 'class' struggle as they were not before because of the fact that the world-economy has reached its geographic limits. They might do this in part. all of which are oriented in one way or another more to equality than to growth. in a world-economy that is in the process ot exhausting its reserve labour forecs. Such a strategy might also be able to mobilise the efforts of all the many varieties of new social movements. of Terence K Hopkins. VI lodestar or Well. And with the 200 extra years. an extensive political and ideological the apparatLus). even to the regimes they have struggled to bring to power.And almost none of the newer mntisystemic movements that have arisen in the last 20-30 years are doing so either. the national liberation movements -are preaching it. the choice facing the purchasers of such textiles might only be to tuLrn to other equally expensive zones. and without an 'army' to protect the capitalists (that is. And. and more equal. They must become aware of their historic ambivalence about the two meanings of developmentmore. and within the OECD states the emphasis shifted to the anti-racist struggle. racially. the CommuLnist Parties of the world. If the start of the process had been a rise in the price of labour on OPEC oil fields. As it becomes more and more commodified. left to themselves. or at least they are not doing so with the kind of conscious intent to overload the system I am advocating. whatever the method advocated and used. The local and localised demands for greater participation and higher real income. Rather it is premised on the belief that global rates of profit are quite open to political attack at a loca! level. The efforts of national development have been traditionally seen as something that has speeded up the pace. sinice an underfed 'army?tends to refuse to fight. The struggle now emphasised national liberation and national development of the national economy. The OPEC-type battle in fact serves them quite well. exactly what capitalists fear most. It was then up to the states to redistribute this-to the cadres. then development will be an illusion and not a lodestar. But development can be a lodestar. For. ralk. And they must opt for the latter. and the appeal to sacrifice (of the surplus each produces) on behalf of the state. reducing global rates of profit significantly and evening out distribution. then capitalism mav have the 200 extra years Schumpeter hoped it could create for itself. the dominant forces will seek to slow down tke pace. and to try to eat into the portion of the surpluis they apportion to their agents anid intermediaries. None of the Seven Sisters suffered from the OPEC price rise. the inexorable drive of capitalism for the accumulation of capital has been undermffining abilityto comainiaiid its . October 22. worldwide unruliness by producers in the loci of production (using this term in its broadest sense) is politically mobilising and econiomically redistributive. to the workers. an equivalent shift in emphuxs Meanwhite. to the creation of infrastructure. There are many ways in which the state apparatuses can abet this prQgramme. ever more sharply in the twentieth century. and to the continuing intellectual discussions with himnand with Giovanni Arrighi. When an attempt is made to keep these objectives separate-as happened in the Cultural Revolution-it fails to achicve either. it undermines its ability to maldistribute surplus and hence to concentrate its accumulation. If the struggle had been a workers' struggle within the OPEC states and not an OPEC state struggle against the world powers-that-be. But it cannot be an egalitarianism that turns its back on individual realisation and social variation. The battle would have its ups and downs. The movements still have too much faith in equality via growsth. In a sense what I amn calling for is a rCturnl of the pendulum. Their concern must be how at each point on very long commodity chains a greater percentage of the surplus can be retained. The weakness of the capitalist worldeconomy is in its self-fulfilment. This is not a new Fabian strategy. An emphasis on surplus retention by the producers. Michigan State University. the privileged strata of the world may be able to maniagea transition to a completely different but sinmilarlyi negalitarian world-system. Such a strategy would tend over time to 'overload' the system. etc. For it will force the greedy to fall out among themselves. that is. It also disarmls the tetnants of the status quo of somne of their best weapons: the political divisions between proletarian and semiproletarian households (nationallv and worldwide). in any serious wsay.] Economic and Political Weekly Available from: Uttar Pradesh Modern Book Stall B6. in all the NICs. The first great strategy in the fight against inequality involved the socalled class struggle. The pressures were obvious and so were the vulnerabilities. it was the states who retained this. but it might also have been considerably more difficult to reverse. On the other hand. as usual. The strategy of capitalists has thus shifted. Thus we got the swing. They are intimately linked.what they need to seriously envisage is growth through equality. to what might be called an 'antiimperialist' focus. the impact might have been less dramatic. But this then requires a reorganisation of the emphasis of the movements. even secondarily. capitalists. They used the state to repress such movements. the state is not irrelevant. National development is today an illusion. Equality is not in competition with liberty.

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