В свете мир-системного подхода к анализу проблем глобализации выделяется, как одна из наиболее разработанных, теория неравного развития различных регионов нашей планеты, принадлежащая египетскому ученому, профессору университета в Дакаре Самиру Амину. С. Амин распространяет марксистский анализ на глобальную систему экономических отношений, основанную на капиталистическом способе производства (глобальный рынок или мировой империализм), выделяя глобального капиталиста (страны т.н. «ядра») и глобальный пролетариат (страны т.н. «периферии»), а также основной механизм эксплуатации первыми последних – механизм неэквивалентного обмена.
Подчеркивая целостный характер сложившейся системы экономических связей, Амин обосновывает рост благосостояния развитых капиталистических стран нарастающей эксплуатацией колоний и зависимых стран, что влечет за собой постоянно растущий разрыв в темпах их развития. Система воспроизводит сама себя, успешно сопротивляясь попыткам отдельных стран вырваться из-под ее контроля (путем построения автаркийных экономик) либо принципиальным образом реформировать сложившуюся в ее рамках схему международных отношений.
Автор статьи, разделяя в общем и целом антиимпериалистическую ориентацию Амина и его сторонников, обращает внимание на очевидные слабости предлагаемой концепции: не совсем оправданную, с методологической точки зрения, экстраполяцию классового подхода на уровень отношений между странами и народами, а также невозможность четко определить положение ряда стран в рассматриваемой системе (что влечет за собой необходимость использования ряда промежуточных понятий типа «полупериферия»).
The contemporary epoch of rapid and hardly predictable social change is marked for social science by a number of original and very interesting theories of international relations, introduced by adherents of very different schools of thought. Analyzing the radical branch of globalism, for instance, we cannot ignore the outstanding scholarly heritage of such figures as Samir Amin, the leading theorist of the so-called “unequal development” approach.
This Egyptian scholar reminded us to look for understanding of development outside Eurocentric thinking, introducing a very original kind of neo-Marxist approach to non-European societies. Accepting Wallerstein’s  distinction (“core”-”semi-periphery”-”periphery”), Amin applies Marx’s logic of class relations to the contemporary world system. Analyzing the patterns of development of the peripheral societies, he argues, in particular, that Marx foresaw that no colonial power would be able to preclude for long the local development of capitalism. With the rise of monopolies, however, the “development of capitalism in the periphery was to remain extroverted, based on the external market, and could therefore not lead to a full flowering of the capitalist mode of production in the periphery” [1, p. 111].
A class-based analysis is employed by S..Amin in order to explain the nature of distinction between the North and the South, character of their relationships. According to him, we cannot think of class struggle as occurring within separate national contexts but should think about it as taking place within the context of the world system.
The theory of unequal development, elaborated by Amin, acknowledges
“…the different patterns of transition to peripheral capitalism and to central capitalism as a consequence of the impact of the capitalist mode of production and its mechanism of trade upon precapitalist formations... Unequal international specialization is manifested by distortions in the export activities, bureaucracy and light industries of the periphery. Given its integration within the world market, the periphery is without adequate economic means to challenge foreign monopolies”
[3, p. 234].
The accumulation of capital in the “core” countries creates the barriers for successive capitalist development of peripheral nations; logic of this accumulation, determined by the existing monetary system, reproduce and reinforce these barriers. The existing distribution patterns, therefore, serve the interest of the “core” entities. Being blocked from successive capitalist development, peripheral countries cannot repeat the way of the developed capitalist countries. Underdevelopment is reinforced and economic growth (social modernization) is obstructed in the periphery, making independent (or autonomous) options of capitalist development hardly realizable. Thus, according to S.Amin, the capitalist mode of production is exclusive only in the “core” countries; in the periphery a number of different, non-capitalist modes do co-exist.
In the UNEQUAL DEVELOPMENT... he stresses the following general characteristics of peripheral formations:
§ the predominance of the agrarian capitalism (a kind of the “tribute-paying” mode of production”);
§ limits, imposed by foreign capital on a peripheral country’s development (predominance of commercial capitalism that accompanies the export agriculture);
§ development of the state capitalism (which displaces the weak urban national bourgeoisie, suppressed by foreign capital): the new bureaucracy tends to become the main social driving force;
§ proletarianization and marginalization of the periphery (increasing social inequality is the mode of reproduction of the conditions of externally oriented development).
Following this logic, the class system in its international dimension determines the nature of the world system: if the periphery appears to be a “collective proletariat”, the “core” countries play the role of a “collective capitalist”. Class, production, struggle, and transition all must be analyzed in a world context. But can this order be changed?
“... the transition from capitalism to socialism must be of an international order, and it must begin in the periphery” [In Supra]. The radical change of the existing world system’s nature is tied by Amin to the socialist transformation: “The periphery cannot just overtake the capitalist model; it is obliged to surpass it” [1, p.385].
Amin’s “unequal development” theory is, however, much richer than its description we have reproduced here; the limited volume of this paper does not allow us to analyze all his - often very interesting - findings and conceptual schemes. However, constituting an outstanding contribution to the globalist paradigm, his theory, at the same time, embodies a number of weak assumptions and conceptual constructions.
For instance, interpretation of the “core”-”periphery” relationships in terms of class struggle seems to be interesting but very questionable. How legitimate such terminological extrapolation is? Creating his theory of class struggle, Marx believed that capitalism generates both wealth and poverty but he saw this dichotomy as occurring within nation-states, not in the international sphere. Moreover, Marx saw capitalism as inherently progressive and not as a process in which the relationship between unequal partners would allow one to develop at the expense of others. Thus the question above - how legitimate this extrapolation is - remains unanswered.
In light of today’s reality Wallerstein’s distinction itself (employed in Amin’s theory) between the “core” and the “periphery” does not appear to be obvious. Great economic and socioeconomic differences among “developing” countries forced Wallerstein, who understood this difficulty, to introduce an intermediate category - the “semi-periphery”. The role of that group of countries in the world system is unclear and not appropriately explained by his theory. Existing anomalies are not described by this theoretical construction which otherwise seems to be logically successive and non-contradictory. Isn’t Wallerstein’s distinction too artificial? In our opinion, Amin, accepting this scheme, has demonstrated - as well as a number of other globalists – the inability
”to account for Third World countries that have been relatively successful: Venezuela, Brazil, Singapore, North Korea. In addition there is the greatest success story of any non-European, non-North American country: Japan. What is it about this countries that had allowed them to escape direct poverty? Nor are they examples of autonomous development. In fact, they seem to have benefited greatly from international ties” [4, p. 466].
The next problem of the “unequal development” approach is that it tends - like some other globalist doctrines - to overemphasize relations of exchange. As a result, political, ideological, cultural, strategic, and other factors which shape the world system are disregarded (or at least downgraded). Amin’s scheme of the existing international system fails to embrace the non-economic phenomena and is, therefore, of quite limited scope. Of course, the critique above can be addressed not only to Amin but to a number of world system theorists; at the same time, his theory has some idiosyncratic weaknesses.
For instance, even applying the logic of class-based analysis to the international reality (in Amin’s or any other interpretation), we cannot deny the existence of class struggle on the intra-national level. However tight economic interrelations could be, the class battles within separate countries must not necessarily be projected upon the international system.
The presupposed drive to socialist transformation of the world system which, according to Amin, originates from the periphery, also is of quite hypothetical nature. What social classes in peripheral societies are capable to take the lead in that transformation? Proletariat is undeveloped, non-numerous and weakly organized there. Peasantry is dispersed, socially passive, and illiterate. National bureaucracy, one of the leading social classes in those societies, is anti-democratic and oriented towards preserving its exclusive privileges. Amin stresses the role of revolutionary intelligentsia in such transformation; but is that stratum really capable - being small and divided ethnically, politically, and ideologically - to carry this task out? Moreover, if it is totally unclear which stratum could lead the socialist transformation, why should we accept as given that such transformation is a real perspective of the Third World?
A number of other questions, related to different aspects of Amin’s theory, could be raised accordingly. Not being able to include all of them in this project, we, nonetheless, suppose that the “unequal development” approach, attempting to apply Marxist analysis to the sphere where its applicability is very problematic, gives birth to certain difficulties for those who accept its methodology. Being, undoubtedly, well-elaborated and useful in some particular subfields of social sciences (such as study of monopolies and patterns of capitalist accumulation on global scale, analysis of the character of exchange between developed and “developing” countries, etc.), Amin’s approach to understanding of the international relation system (taken as a whole) remains too simplistic and maybe overly ideologized. Thus, being a important contribution to the IR theory-building, the “unequal development” theory needs – in order to broaden its scope and improve its explanatory force - to be seriously corrected, conceptually complemented, and more precisely elaborated.
1. Amin, Samir. Unequal Development: An Essay On The Social Formations Of The Peropheral Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976.
2. Amin, Samir. Accumulation On A World Scale. New York: New York: Monthly Review Press, 1978.
3. Chilcote, Ronald. Theories Of Comparative Politics: The Search For A Paradigm Reconsidered. Second Edition. San Francisco: Westview Press, 1994.
4. Viotti, P. & Kauppi, M. International Relations Theory: Realism, Pluralism, Globalism Second Edition. New York: McMillan Publishing Co., 1993.
5. Wallerstein, Immanuel. The Capitalist World-Economy. Cambridge: Cabmridge University Press, 1979.