Uneven development within the boundaries of a country

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at SPAMgmx.net
Tue Aug 1 09:58:58 MDT 2000

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky wrote:

> I would rather discuss a more general
> issue, which is the framework for our debate, and this is the problem
> of uneven development within the boundaries of a country.
> Just to spark the whole thing, two examples:
> a) the Basque or Catalonian bourgeoisies, in Spain, have many times
> tended to gather around themselves the popular masses by screaming
> against the "colonialism of Madrid". It is more or less as if the
> Boston bourgeoisie tried to gather the Mass. working masses by
> denouncing the "colonialism of Washington".
> b) from time to time, there appear in Third World countries (usually
> in areas holding important natural resources which are an interesting
> bite for some imperialist country or other) "anticolonial" movements
> which request that the portion of the country manage its "own"
> natural resources free from colonialism from the central city. I can
> give at least two examples from Argentina (connected with oil), but
> will rather give a more serious one, that of Panama, which was cut
> off Colombia on the grievance that Bogotá was a "colonial" metropolis
> and that Panamanians wanted to enjoy the benefits of the oceanic pass
> for themselves.

The examples show that all of them must be understood out of their national
pariticularities. Let me try to add a few ideas:
- Spain
The Basques countries and Catalonia were the most advanced parts of Spain.
Catalan is a distinct language that differs considerably from Spanish and it
is commonly spoken in Catalonia, whereas no one really speaks the Basque
language. It has a status like the Gaelic in the East of Ireland, a language
that had to be reconstructed from its historical roots.
Historically the record is mixed. In the 19th century Basque nationalism
took an openly reactionary character. Still today catholicism is very strong
in the Basque countries. Due to the early industrialization of the Basque
areas workers came from other parts of Spain. Thus Basque nationalism
effectively split the working class there.
In the Spanish civil war Catalonia was one of the strongholds of the
anti-fascist forces and during the Franco years the Basque resistance was an
important part of the anti-fascists. I am not sur about the charachter of
present day Basque nationalism.
- Panama: As I understand it, Paname was created purely artificially by the
US. No popular movement at all.

Other examples of uneven development that come to my mind are the examples
- Eritrea/Ethiopia:
Since the end of the 19th century Eritrea was an Italian colony. Italy used
as a base for its attempts to invade Ethiopia. So the roots for a capitalist
development were laid. In WWII the UK occupied Eritrea taking over and even
increasing the Italian industrialization efforts. So at the end of WWII
there was a substantial Eritrean working class, wheras social realtions in
Ethiopia did not change much due to the Italian occupation from 1936 onwards
and remained largely feudal.
Though the main language of Eritrea (Tigrinya) is identical with the
language spoken in the Ethiopian province of Tigray an distinct Eritrean
national identity developed because of the different history.

- Nigeria North/South divide
During British colonial rule the South of Nigeria was under direct British
rule, whereas in the North the British ruled through the local Sultans. The
south is predominatly Christian (with exception of parts of Yorubaland that
are Muslim) wheras the North is Muslim. There are several hundred different
people and languages in Nigeria. As a result of colonial rule school
education was better in the South and generally the South maintained more
ties to the outside world.
This lead to a peculiar uneven development of independent Nigeria: Commerce
is concentrated in the South, where as the military is dominated by the
North. Given the many years of military rule the North influence in politics
is strong. Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of Nigerias exports. It
only found in the South.


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