Dependency Theory

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at
Thu May 24 18:52:18 MDT 2001

> From: Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky <gorojovsky at>
> To: marxmail <marxism at>
> Subject: Re: Dependency Theory
> Date: Thursday, May 24, 2001 12:51 PM
> En relación a Re: Dependency Theory, el 24 May 01, a las 22:51, Philip
> Ferguson dijo:
> > All this is not to say that there are not some serious problems with
> > dependency theory.  I haven't got time to go into my disagreements
> > with it here in any depth, so I'll just mention one.  Namely, it
> > suggests that workers in the imperialist centres and the masses of
> > the Third World do not have the same interests and therefore it
> > cannot make a material appeal to workers in the West, only a moral
> > (and moralistic) one.
> You have hit the pot here! DT's in Argentina fell very easily towards
> national bourgeois populism (from their initial "leftist" positions)
> precisely because of this. I had never seen it this way. Great on you
> that you could expose it so well.
> Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
> gorojovsky at

There is some confusion above. Phil and Nestor are confusing dependency
theory with Lenin's theory of imperialism. Dependency theory does _not_
state that the interests of the workers in imperialist countries are
antagonistic to the interests of workers in the Third World. None of the
dependency theorists make such a claim, so I would like to see a citation
on this.  Instead, it was Lenin who talked about the labor aristocracy in
centers. Lenin thought that such sections of the working classes made
to capitalism through social democratic arrangement of class relations and
compromises with the
core bourgeoisie. There is nothing moralistic about because it is a _fact_
( if you consider the class basis of social-democratic parties in Europe,
and the _relative_ increases in class wealth gained by the European
exploitation of global wealth)  This problem of co-optation can only be
solved _if_  workers in imperialist centers are class conscious of the
imperialist exploitation in the third world, and support the
anti-imperialist struggles in the periphery against core/local bourgeoisie.
This is a pre-condition to international class solidarity as well.
If,  for example, US workers want to be part of NAFTA, knowing
that NAFTA won't benefit Mexican workers materially, they are not
contributing to the socialist cause, neither in the periphery nor in the
core.  Or if, let's say, US workers call the regime in Cuba autocratic, or
Milosovic facist,
knowing that these regimes have been victims of US imperialism,
including their working classes, they are not helping the
third world workers again  I am just giving examples, but such examples
occured in the history of working class movement in the imperialist
Working classes are _not_ always class conscious of imperialism. This
assumption apples to third world workers too (given that there are people
defending NAFTA/free trade from the third world on this list:-)). We need
to consider what _blocks_ international class solidarity, and pits workers
the imperialist centers against workers in the imperialized nations and
vice versa. This has NOTHING  to do with moralism. It has something to do
with understanding
the REALITIES of global capitalism.

I agree with Lou. Between Brenner and MR tradition, I prefer the second.
You guys have to stick to the argument  Capitalism does not allow third
world to develop in the same way that Britain or US did. This does not mean
there is no capitalist development/accumulation in the third world. There
is, but it is extremely uneven because of the international surplus gained
from the exploitation of third world workers by the imperialist centers and
peripheral bourgeoisie. _Mainstream_ dependency theorists (Cardoso in
Brazil, Peter Evans in US) make a case for the possibility of development
_within_ capitalism  in the third world. The evidence they appraise is
_dependent development_ (accumulation led by local+foreign bourgeoisie).
This is a different version of Bill Warren's argument for the efficacy of
capitalism through imperialism or Brenner's conclusion wrapped up in
modernization versions of dependency theory (that the third world should
emulate the British model as a universal example in order to promote
The second school, MR, makes use of _only_ the radical versions of
dependency theory (such as Frank),  but goes _beyond_ them in their claim
to combining dependency problem with a class analysis+
That is what we need, not Brenner!!! For a Marxist analysis that integrates
dependecy  issues with a class analysis, see Ronald Chilcote's books.

btw, Nestor, I don't think that we should be talking about _national
bourgeois populism_ in Argentina here. I understand your point, but you are
wrong in lumping together _national bourgeois populistic versions of
dependency theory_ (such as Cardoso) and radical ones that are more
sympethatic to the socialist cause such as Frank, or those Marxists
sympethatic to the causes of the Cuban revolution--the revolution aimed at
eradicating the capitalist backwardness imposed by imperialism.

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Ph.D Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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