[Marxism] Samir Amin's "Beyond US Hegemony"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 29 11:33:49 MST 2006

Although world systems theorists are united in their opposition to 
capitalism and their preference for socialism, somehow the question 
of revolution tends to get lost in the shuffle. Furthermore, since 
the unit of analysis is the entire planet viewed from the 
geopolitical stratosphere rather than a specific country (why bother 
with such petty details), there is a tendency to use the discourse of 
hegemonic and subhegemonic nations/blocs rather than ruling class and 
ruled. Finally, the emphasis is on redressing imbalances between 
hegemons and subhegemons rather than figuring out ways to eliminate 
these categories entirely. While nobody would deny the Third World a 
larger slice of the pie, isn't the job of socialists to think past 
such a schema?

Perhaps the most extreme form of this tendency was Andre Gunder 
Frank's "Re-Orient", the last book that this great dependency 
theorist wrote. It argued that finally after 300 years or so, China 
would emerge as a new hegemon and take the place of the United 
States, which leads me to wonder, as the old Peggy Lee song put it, 
"Is that all there is?"

In some ways, this approach overlaps with what Hugo Chavez has dubbed 
an "axis of good," referring quite rightly to the alliance between 
Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. For many, this might be extended to all 
those countries in Latin America that have remained willing to 
collaborate with the "axis of good", including Brazil, Argentina and 
Chile. But why stop there? If the goal is to unite all those 
countries or blocs that can potentially be recruited to a global 
alliance that rejects the extreme violence and predation associated 
with the bogus "war on terror," why not look toward India, Russia and 
China, countries that while clearly committed to capitalist growth 
appear less crazed?

That in essence is the argument found in Samir Amin's "Beyond U.S. 
Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multiplural World." As 
opposed to the hegemonic bloc constituted by the U.S. and Great 
Britain, Amin explains in his introduction that "other hegemonic 
blocs are possible", a formulation that obviously owes something to 
"another world is possible" but dispensing with its ambitiousness. 
According to Amin, "Such alternative blocs will not necessarily be 
called upon to make a radical break with the requirements of 
capitalism, but they may very well force capitalism to adapt to 
certain demands that do not conform to its peculiar logic." Not quite 
the stuff easily translated into a slogan, but certainly well-meaning.


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