[Marxism] Samir Amin on André Gunder Frank

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun May 1 14:01:02 MDT 2005

A Note on the Death of André Gunder Frank (1929-2005)
by Samir Amin

I met André Gunder Frank and his wife Marta Fuentes in 1967. Our long 
conversation convinced us that we were intellectually on the same 
wavelength. “Modernization Theory,” then dominant, ascribed the 
“underdevelopment” of the Third World to the retarded and incomplete 
formation of its capitalist institutions. Marxist orthodoxy, as represented 
by the Communist Parties, presented its own version of this view and 
characterized Latin America as “semi-feudal.” Frank put forward a new and 
entirely different thesis: that from its very origins Latin America had 
been constructed within the framework of capitalist development as the 
periphery of the newly arising centers of Europe's Atlantic seabord. For my 
part, I had undertaken to analyze the integration of Asia and Africa into 
the capitalist system in light of the requirements of “accumulation on a 
global scale,” a process that by its inner logic had to produce a 
polarization of wealth and power.

A few years later, in Mexico in 1972, we met again at the Congress of 
CLASCO (Latin American Council on Social Sciences), where Frank—together 
with F. H. Cardoso, Anibal Quijano, Rui Mario Marini and others—proposed 
the first formulation of “dependency theory.” They had invited me there to 
present the parallel conclusions that I had reached on the basis of the 
very different historical process by which Asia and Africa had been 
integrated into the global system.

We naturally found ourselves in similar agreement with the “World System” 
school of thought introduced during the 1970's by Immanuel Wallerstein. 
Thus was established our “gang of four” (Amin, Arrighi, Frank, 
Wallerstein). The “four” accordingly became joint authors of two books: La 
crise, quelle crise ? [Crisis—What Crisis?] (1982) and Le grand tumulte ? 
[The Great Tumult?] (1991) (both published by Maspéro-La Découverte). 
Though establishment of the new neoliberal globalized economic structure 
had only just begun and capitalism's new global strategy was just becoming 
perceptible, we already ascribed strategic importance to the “new social 
movements” that ten years later, at Porto Alegre in 2001, were to join 
together in the “World Social Forum.”

This closeness of basic outlook, despite clear differences (which were 
stimulating for us all) led to a close friendship. Isabelle (my wife) and 
myself loved Frank as a brother and suffered keenly from the degradation of 
his health during the last twelve years of his life, years of constant and 
courageous struggle against cancer. What I loved above all about Frank was 
his unlimited sincerity and devotion. Frank was motivated only by a single 
desire: the desire to be of service to the working classes and subordinated 
peoples, to the victims of exploitation and oppression. Spontaneously, 
unconditionally, he was always on their side. A quality which is not 
necessarily always found even among the best intellectuals.

(Translated from the French by Shane Mage)

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