Delinking, tactics and strategies (was Re: Forwarded from John Enyang (reply to Sam Pawlett))

Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at
Thu Feb 8 07:25:51 MST 2001

En relación a Forwarded from John Enyang (reply to Sam Pawlett),
el 1 Feb 01, a las 0:08, John Enyang (via Louis Proyect) dijo:

> The problem with the delinking thesis has always been firstly,
> the local comprador elite and secondly, the attitude of the imperialist
> powers [...] Since it is bereft of both capital and ideas the
> comprador has flourished only through forms of economic parasitism [...]
>  When conditions are more favourable however the comprador
> has been known, particularly of late, to appear as the modernising
> neo-liberal technocrat.

With all the due respect to African cdes. and their knowledge of their own
situations, and trying not to be imposing our own experience in Argentina to
their so different history, there is in the above a couple of points I would
contest because they broach a more general issue.

If I understand John Enyang adequately, what he is saying can more or less be
summed up as "Dear Sam, delinking is not easy at all!". OK. Up to this point, I
am in full agreement.

I would like to comment, however, that (precisely _because_ imperialism is a
world system), "Delinking" is also unescapable. It implies a transitional step
out from the tyranny of the international markets, and it cannot be avoided.
If you don't delink, imperialism will either "relink" you from within -the
behaviour of the "comprador" groups John has pointed out being an essential
component of this-, or will "delink" you through isolation and embargo.

So that one must be prepared to live with this. In fact, we had better to think
-from the very beginning- that we shall _actively_ delink, and we shall try to
use this _fact of life_ to our benefit.

John comments, then, that

> The compradors have shown that they will fight tooth and nail against any
> delinking project, either from without or by undermining it from within.
> In this, not only have the compradors have able to rely on the
> encouragement of the imperialist countries, but certain internal political
> weaknesses and the economic backwardness of African society have greatly
> strengthened the hand of this class. So, I would venture that the economic
> backwardness relative to the capitalist countries which according to Amin
> makes delinking possible (or even necessary) could equally be said to
> present one of the greatest obstacles in the way of this project.

Here, I must pose a serious question. Does John suppose that "the economic
backwardness relative to the capitalist countries" is an isolated fact?

If I do not remember wrongly, Mao stated (at any rate, he acted as if he
believed this) that the consciousness of the masses, the modifications in that
consciousness, and the very path of the revolutionary process, are forces of
production themselves. True, economic backwardness[1] is the condition for the
existence of these "comprador" layers such as they are, and they will certainly
fight to death against those who (like us) want to put an end to the normal
working of the structure of plunder and underdevelopment they thrive on. But
allow me to point out, dear John, that these are _political_ issues.

Instead of musing on the opposition we shall find in the "comprador" elites, we
should take it for granted, and ask ourselves which are our actual necessities.
Once these are defined, then we should march forwards. The question, then,
still remains as to whether "delinking" can be escaped, or not. Short of a
socialist revolution in the imperialist countries (which perspective, soothing
as it is, I don't see very near in the future) we must assume the fact that any
socialist revolution in a Third World (or whatever you call it, you know what I
mean, don't you?) country will have to cope with both isolation and arson from
within. The only remedy I can conceive of is a rationally managed act of

This said, and stating again my full agreement with John Enyang's

> I would
> also add that, your claim "delinking could be accomplished with ease"
> is in need of qualification to take into account those harsh political
> realities, including the role of the "traditionalist" reactionaries and
> the modern comprador, which we have barely begun to describe above.

I qualify the following at my turn:

> What of this comprador elite? [...] it is no less real than the capitalist
> system to which it is historically conjoined. It is a reality that can
> neither be wished away nor ignored and whose fate will ultimately
> depend on the fate of the capitalist system as a whole.

My criticism runs along two intertwined ways:

(a) Up to my knowledge, _no_ ruling class in a given formation is unrelated to
what happens _within_ that formation. Imperialist penetration which generates
(or buttresses and reconstitutes) these elites does not operate in the vacuum.

Short of direct colonial occupation, imperialists cannot avoid this -in my
mind's eye, quite obvious- fact, which makes their interest in colonizing the
mind of the local residents more compelling than ever[2]. Thus, although the
existence of such elites _as a global phenomenon_ does indeed depend solely on
"the capitalist system as a whole", there is a possibility that in each
separate exploited country the local elite is destroyed by revolutionary
forces. It is this possibility that makes revolutionary political action
possible, nay, a must.

I would, in fact, pose John's dictum above in the opposite way, namely that
"the fate of the capitalist system as a whole" depends on the fate of the
comprador elites. The sooner we sweep them away (that is, the sooner we delink)
the easier it will be for our comrades in the First World to reach their
working class fellow countrymen. Thus we shall be, at the same time,
establishing the conditions for socialist revolution again.


[1] An aside: Oh, how I hate this word in English which implies that those who
have been arrested in their development by an external force are looking "back-
wards": it expresses the dictatorship of bourgeois mind on the whole of the
society! (those who understand Spanish please compare "atrasado" (retarded,
arrested) with "retrógrado" (backwards)

[2] Even colonial occupation cannot be enough. Think of India, among others.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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