This article was first published in English in NEW LEFT REVIEW, Number 74,
DEPENDENCY AND DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
The theory of imperialist capitalism, as is well known, has so far
attained its most significant treatment in Lenin's works. This is not
only because Lenin attempts to explain transformations of the capitalist
economies that occurred during the last decade of the 19th century and
the first decade of the 20th, but mainly because of the political and
historical implications contained in his interpretations.
In fact, the descriptive arguments of Lenin's theory of imperialism were
borrowed from Hobson's analysis. Other writers had already presented
evidence of the international expansion of the capitalist economies and
Nevertheless, Lenin, inspired by Marx's views, was able to bring
together evidence to the effect that economic expansion is meaningless
if we do not take into consideration the POLITICAL and HISTORICAL
aspects with which economic factors are intimately related.
From Lenin's perspective, imperialism is a new form of the capitalist
mode of production. This new form cannot be considered as a DIFFERENT
mode of economic organization, in so far as capital accumulation based
on private ownership of the means of production and exploitation of the
labour force remain the basic features of the system.
But its significance is that of a new STAGE of capitalism. The
historical 'momentum' was a new one, with all the political consequences
of that type of transformation: within the dominant capitalist classes,
new sectors tried to impose their interests and ideologies; the State,
the Army and all basic social and political institutions were redefined
in order to assure expansion abroad.
At the same time new types of liberation and social struggles came onto
the historical scene -the colonial liberation movements and the fight
against 'trade unionism', the latter a struggle against an initial form
of working class compromise with the bourgeoisie made possible by the
exploitation of the colonial world.
From the broad picture of a new historical stage of capitalist
development Lenin inferred new political tasks, tactics and strategies
for socialist revolution.
LENIN'S CHARACTERIZATION OF IMPERIALISM
The main points of Lenin's characterization of imperialism that are
essential to the present discussion can be summarized as follows:
a) the capitalist economy in its 'advanced stages' involves a
concentration of capital and production (points that were well
established by Marx in CAPITAL) in such a way that the competitive
market is replaced in its basic branches by a monopolistic one.
b) this trend was historically accomplished through internal
differentiation of capitalist functions, leading not only to the
formation of a financial stratum among entrepreneurs but to the
marked prominence of the banking system in the capitalist mode of
production. Furthermore, the fusion of industrial capital with
financial capital under the control of the latter turned out to be
the decisive feature of the political and economic relations within
capitalist classes, with all the practical consequences that such a
system of relations has in terms of state organization, politics and
c) capitalism thus reached its 'ultimate stage of development' both
internally and externally. Internally, control of the productive
system by financiers turned the productive forces and the capital
accumulation process toward the search for new possibilities for
investment. The problem of 'capital realization' became in this way
an imperative necessity to permit the continuing of capitalist
expansion. In addition there were internal limits that impeded the
continuous reinvestment of new capital (impoverishment of the masses,
a faster rate of capital growth than that of the internal market, and
so on). EXTERNAL OUTLETS had to be found to ensure the continuity of
capitalist advance and accumulation.
d) the increased and increasing speed of the development of productive
forces under monopolistic control also pushed the advanced capitalist
countries toward the political control of foreign lands. The search
for control over RAW MATERIALS is yet another reason why capitalism
in its monopolistic stage becomes expansionist.
In short, Lenin's explanations of why advanced capitalist economies were
impelled toward the control of backward lands, was based on two main
One stressed movements of capital, the other outlined the productive
Both were not only linked to each other but also related to the global
transformation of the capitalist system that had led to the control of
the productive system by financiers.
It is not difficult to see that such modifications deeply affected state
organization and functions as well as the relationships among nations,
since a main thrust of capitalist development in the stage of
imperialism was toward the territorial division of the world among the
leading capitalist countries.
This process guaranteed capital flows from the over-capitalized
economies to backward countries and assured provision of raw materials
IMPERIALISM AND DEPENDENT ECONOMIES
From that perspective, the consequence of imperialism with respect to
dependent economies and nations (or colonies) was the integration of the
latter into the international market.
Inequality among nations and economies resulted from imperialism's
development to the extent that import of raw materials and export of
manufactured goods were the bases of the imperialist-colonial
relationship. The reproduction and amplification of inequality between
advanced economies and dependent economies developed as a by-product of
the very process of capitalist growth.
Certainly, Lenin was aware of particular types of interconnections, as
in Argentina and other economies dependent on Great Britain, where local
bourgeoisies controlled sectors of the productive system creating more
complex patterns of exploitation. The same was true with respect to the
political aspects of dependency in those countries where the state tried
to defend the national bourgeoisie against imperialist pressures.
Nevertheless, from the theoretical point of view, as a mode of
exploitation, imperialism should tend to restrict the economic growth of
backward countries to mineral and agricultural sectors in order to
assure raw materials for the advanced capitalist nations in their drive
for further industrialization.
For the same reasons the indigeneous labour force could be kept at low
wage and salary levels. By that means the dominant central economies
were assured of cheap raw material prices.
Consequently, in colonized or dependent nations, internal markets did
not have any special strategic significance.
Of course, in terms of 'capitalist realization', selling products abroad
had importance. But even so, the main imperialistic tie in terms of
direct capital investment was oriented toward the concession of loans to
the dependent State or to private local entrepreneurs. In both cases,
however, political and financial guarantees were assured by the State
or the administration of the receiver country.
In short, imperialist profit was based on unequal trade and financial
exploitation. The latter could be measured by the increasing
indebtedness of exploited economies to the central economies. The former
was evidenced through the different types of products exchanged,
i.e. raw materials for manufactured goods. This process of exploitation
of the indigeneous labour force thus insured an unevenness in both types
Moreover, technological advances in the industrial sectors of central
economies provided a high level of exploitation, increasing the relative
surplus value extracted through a continuously advancing technology of
production (leading in turn to unevenness of the rate of organic
composition of capital), while in the dominated economies the direct
over-exploitation of labour prevailed in the productive system.
Politically, this type of economic expansion thus reinforced colonial
links, through wars, repression and subjugation of peoples that
previously were not only marginal to the international market, but were
culturally independent and structurally did not have links with the
Western world. Such were the African and Asian regions where nations,
in spite of previous commercial-capitalist expansion, remained largely
untouched in terms of their productive systems.
Latin America from the beginning was somewhat different in its links to
the imperialist process. It is true that this process of colonialistic
penetration obtained with respect to some countries (mainly the
Caribbean nations). Yet throughout most of Latin America, the
imperialistic upsurge occurred by way of a more complex process, through
which Latin American countries kept their political independence, but
slowly shifted from subordination to an earlier British influence to
[On this process see:
R.Rojas Sandford: Latin America: a failed industrial revolution
R.Rojas Sandford: Latin America: the making of a fractured society
R.Rojas Sandford: U.S. imperialism in Latin America][R.R.]
Ownership of the productive system was the site of the main differences.
Some Latin American economies, even after imperialist predominance, were
able to cope with the new situation by maintaining proprietorship of the
local export economy in the hands of native bourgeoisies. Thus in some
countries (such as Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Chile), the
export sector remained at least to some extent controlled by the local
bourgeoisie and the links of dependence were based more on trade and
financial relations than directly on the productive sectors. In some
countries the internal financial system was itself mainly dominated by
internal bankers, and financial dependence was based on international
loans contracted, as noted above, by the State or under State
In spite of numerous political and economic variations, Lenin's basic
picture remained valid: the internal market of Latin American countries
grew in a limited way during the period of the first imperialist
expansion; the industrial sector was not significantly expanded;
external financial dependence grew enormously; raw materials including
foodstuffs constituted the basis of export economies.
At the same time not only were the majority of Latin American countries
unable to keep control of the export sector, but some of the countries
that had previously dominance of raw materials or food production, now
lost that capacity (as in the Chilean mineral economy).
NEW PATTERNS OF CAPITAL ACCUMULATION
In spite of the accuracy of Lenin's insights as measured against
historical events during the first half of the century in many parts of
the world, some important recent changes have deeply affected the
pattern of relationship between imperialist and dependent nations. These
changes demand a reappraisal of emergent structures and their main
Even if these modifications are not so deep as the shift that enabled
Lenin to characterize a new stage of capitalism during the period of
imperialist expansion, they are marked enough to warrant a major
modification of the established analyses of capitalism and imperialism.
Nevetheless, contemporary international capitalist expansion and control
of dependent economies undoubtedly prove that this new pattern of
economic relationships among nations remains imperialist.
However, the main points of Lenin's characterization of imperialism and
capitalism are no longer fully adequate to describe and explain the
present forms of capital accumulation and external expansion.
With respect to changes that have occurred within the more advanced
capitalist economies (chiefly the rise of monopoly capital and corporate
enterprise) there are some consistent analyses. Baran and Sweezy's
works, as well as those of Magdoff, Mandel and O'Connor, come to mind.
These offer a comprehensive body of descriptive and explanatory material
showing the differences between capitalism now and during Lenin's life.
In spite of some recent criticism, Baran and Sweezy argued convincingly
(and Sweezy's article on "The Resurgence of Financial Control: Factor
or Fancy?"2 helps to affirm that conviction) that corporations operate
as a quasi-self-sufficient units of decision and action vis-a-vis
capital accumulation. Hence previous notions of banking control over
industry need to be rethought. Similarly, the conglomerate form of
present big corporations and the multinational scope of the production
and marketing adds considerable novelty to the capitalist form of
These transformations (and we are only suggesting some of the principal
ones which affect all processes of capitalist transformation) have led
to important consequences that have been already analysed by the authors
noted, as well as others. These writers stress, for instance, the
increasing secular growth of profit rates under administered prices in a
monopoly system. Of course, this is a central point in Marxian theory
and in Lenin's analysis. Yet now important modifications, such as those
mentioned, alter the type of political response that the capitalist
system is able to produce in order to cope with the challenging
situations created by its expansion.
It is equally necessary to approach the problem of surplus realization
with a fresh perspective. In this connection some authors have
considered the strengthened ties between militarist expansion and the
reinforcement of military control over society, through a war economy,
as the basic means of capital realization. As a second argument, but a
still important factor, State expenditures in welfare are emphasized as
alternative outlets for capital accumulation.
Though the adequacy of this analysis may be questioned, Marxist authors
have carried out a fairly comprehensive ECONOMIC reinterpretation of the
mode of functioning of monopoly capitalism. The same is not true,
however, when one considers the POLITICAL aspects of the problem and
especially the POLITICO-ECONOMIC consequences of monopoly capitalism in
dependent economies. Let us start with the last aspect of the question.
NEW FORMS OF ECONOMIC DEPENDENCY
Recent figures demonstrate (see Tables I and II) that foreign investment
in the new nations and in Latin America is moving rapidly away from oil,
raw materials and agriculture and in the direction of the industrial
sectors. Even where the bulk of assets continues to remain in the
traditional sectors of imperialist investment, the rate of expansion of
the industrial sector is rapid. This is true not only for Latin America
but also for Africa and Asia.
TABLE I. Growth of the American direct investment -1929 to 1968
PER CENT OF
VALUE U.S.$ bn. RATE OF GROWTH PARTICIPATION
1929 1950 1960 1968 1950-60 1960-68 1950 1960 1968
ALL REGIONS 9,5 11,8 31,9 64,8 10.4 9.3 100 100 100
Canada 2,0 3,6 11,2 19,5 12.0 7.2 31 36 30
Latin America 3,5 4,6 8,4 13,0 6.2 5.6 39 26 20
Europe 1,4 1,7 6,7 19,4 14.7 12.4 14 21 30
Other areas 0,6 1,9 5,6 12,9 11.4 11.0 16 17 20
Manufacturing 1,8 3,8 11,1 26,4 11.3 11.5 32 35 41
Oil 1,1 3,4 10,8 18,8 12.3 7.2 29 34 29
Mining 1,2 1,1 3,0 5,4 10.6 7.6 9 9 8
Others 3,4 3,5 7,0 14,2 7.2 9.3 30 22 22
SOURCE: "Survey of Current Business@; ECLA analysis.
In F. Fajnzylber, "Estrategia Industrial y Empresas Internacionales",
United Nations, ECLA, Rio, November 1971.
TABLE II. Percentage of United States direct investment in
manufacturing compared with total US direct investment (%)
YEARS AMERICA ARGENTINA BRAZIL MEXICO COUNTRIES
1929 7 25 24 1 4
1940 8 20 29 3 3
1946 15 39 39 21 6
1950 18 45 44 32 7
1952 21 50 51 43 1
1955 22 51 51 45 7
1956 22 51 50 46 8
1959 17 43 53 47 7
1960 19 45 54 49 8
1961 20 43 54 50 7
1962 22 51 56 51 8
1963 24 55 59 55 8
1964 26 57 67 59 9
1965 29 62 67 64 11
1966 31 63 68 64 12
1967 32 63 67 66 13
1968 34 64 69 68 14
SOURCE: "Survey of Current Business", several numbers. "U.S. Investments
in Latin America", ECLA analysis.
In F. Fajzylber, op. cit., p. 204
The point is not only that multinational corporations are investing in
the industrial sectors of dominated economies, instead of in the
traditional agricultural and mineral sectors. Beyond that, even when
'traditional' sectors of dependent economies, they are operating in
technically and organizationally advanced modes, sometimes accepting
local participation in their enterprises.
Of course, these transformations do not mean that previous types of
imperialistic investment, i.e. in oil or metals, are disappearing, even
in the case of the most industrialized dependent economies,
i.e., Argentina, Brazil and Mexico in Latin America. However, the
dominant traits of imperialism in those countries, as the process of
industrialization continues, cannot be adequately described and
interpreted on the basis of frames of reference that posit the exchange
of raw material for industrialized goods as the main feature of trade,
and suppose virtually complete external ownership of the dependent
economies' means of production.
Even the mineral sector (such as manganese in Brazil, copper in Chile
during Frei's government, or petro-chemicals in various countries) is
now being submitted to new patterns of economic ownership. The
distinguishing feature of these new forms is the joint venture
enterprise, comprising local state capital, private national capital and
monopoly international investment (under foreign control in the last
As a consequence, in some dependent economies -among these, the so
called 'developing countries' of Latin America -foreign investment no
longer remains a simple zero-sum game of exploitation as was the pattern
in classical imperialism.
Strictly speaking -if we consider the purely economic indicators- it is
not dificult to show that DEVELOPMENT and MONOPOLY PENETRATION in the
industrial sectors of dependent economies are not incompatible.
The idea that there occurs a kind of development of underdevelopment,
apart from the play on words, is not helpful. In fact, DEPENDENCY,
MONOPOLY CAPITALISM and DEVELOPMENT are not contradictory terms: there
occurs a kind of DEPENDENT CAPITALIST DEVELOPMENT in the sectors of the
Third World integrated into the new forms of monopolistic expansion.
[For an earlier analysis of DEPENDENT CAPITALIST DEVELOPMENT in Chile
and Latin America see R. Rojas, "Chile, un caso de desarrollo
capitalista dependiente"; R. Rojas, "La Penetracion Norteamericana
en Chile", in Causa ML, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, 1968; T. Dos Santos, "El nuevo
caracter de la dependencia", CESO, U. de Chile, 1968; R. Rojas, "Yanquis
invaden la industria chilena", Causa ML, No 4, 1969; R. Rojas, "Las
garras de Rockefeller en Chile", Causa ML, No 4, 1969; and R. Rojas,
"El imperialismo yanqui en Chile", Ediciones ML, Chile, 1971. R.R.]
As a result in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa,
India, and some others, there is an internal structural fragmentation,
connecting the most 'advanced' parts of their economies to the
international capitalist system.
Separate although subordinated to these advanced sectors, the backward
economic and social sectors of the dependent countries then play the
role of 'internal colonies'.
The gap between both will probably increase, creating a new type of
dualism, quite different from the imaginary one sustained by some
non-Marxist authors. The new structural 'duality' corresponds to a kind
of internal differentiation of the same unity. It results directly, of
course, from capitalist expansion and is functional to that expansion,
in so far as it helps to keep wages at a low level and diminishes
political pressures inside the 'modern' sector, since the social and
economic position of those who belong to the latter is always better in
[To see how the above can originate a 'reactionary political dynamic'
within the working class in 'dependent societies', as in Chile, see
R. Rojas, "The Murder of Allende and the end to the Chilean way to
socialism", Harper & Row, U.S.A, 1975.][R.R.]
If this is true, to what extent is it possible to sustain the idea of
DEVELOPMENT in tandem with dependence? The answer cannot be immediate.
First of all I am suggesting that the present trend of imperialist
investment allows some degree of local participation in the process of
economic production. Let us indicate a crucial feature in which present
and past forms of capitalism differ. During the previous type of
imperialism, the market for goods produced in dependent economies by
foreign enterprise was mostly, if not fully, the market of the advanced
economies; oil, copper, coffee, iron bauxite, manganese, etc., were
produced to be sold and consumed in the advanced capitalist countries.
This explains why the internal market of dependent economies was
irrelevant for the imperialist economies, excepting the modest portion
of import goods consumed by the upper class in the dominated society.
Today for General Motors or Volkswagen, or General Electric, or Sears
Roebuck, the Latin American market, if not the particular market in each
country where those corporations are producing in Latin America, is the
immediate goal in terms of profit. So, at least to some extent, a
certain type of foreign investment needs some kind of internal
prosperity. There are and there will be some parts of dependent
societies, tied to the corporate system, internally and abroad, through
On the other hand, and in spite of internal economic development,
countries tied to international capitalism by that type of linkage
remain economically dependent, insofar as the production of the means
of production (technology) are concentrated in advanced capitalist
economies (mainly in the US).
[For a dramatic case of the above in contemporary times, see
R. Rojas: "Notes on South Korea, Taiwan and the myth of the "East Asian
In terms of the Marxist scheme of capital reproduction, this means that
sector I (the production of means of production) -the strategic part of
the reproductive scheme- is virtually non-existent in dependent
economies. Thus, from a broad perspective, the realization of capital
accumulation DEMANDS a productive complementarity which does not exist
within the country.
In Lenin's interpretation the imperialist economies needed external
expansion for the realization of capital accumulation. Conversely,
within the dependent economies capital returns to the metropole in order
to complete the cycle of capitalist reproduction.
That is the reason why 'technology' is so important. Its 'material'
aspect is less impressive than its significance as a form of maintenance
of control and as a necessary step in the process of capital
Through technological advantage, corporations make secure their key
roles in the global system of capital accumulation. Some degree of local
prosperity is possible insofar as consumption goods locally produced by
foreign investment can induce some dynamic effects in the dependent
economies. But at the same time, the global process of capitalist
development determines an interconnection between the sector of
production of consumption goods and the capital goods sector,
reproducing in this way the links of dependency.
One of the main factors which explained imperialist expansion in Lenin's
theory was the search for capitalist investment. Now since foreign
capital goes to the industrial sector of dependent economies in search
of external markets, some considerable changes have occurred.
First, in comparison with expanding assets of foreign assets, the net
amount of foreign capital actually invested in the dependent economies
is decreasing: local savings and the reinvestment of profits realized in
local markets provides resources for the growth of foreign assets with
limited external flow of new capital. This is intimately related to the
previously discussed process of expansion of the local market and it is
also related to the mounting of 'joint ventures' linking local
capitalists and foreign enterprise. (See Table III).
TABLE III.- Sources of Investment
1957/1959 1960/1962 19663/1965 1957/1965
AREAS AND Source of Inv. Source of Inv. Source of Inv. Source of Inv.
SECTORS IF LF USF IF LF USF IF LF USF IF LF USF
Total 0,52 0,22 0,26 0,57 0,24 0,19 0,48 0,32 0,20 0,52 0,27 0,21
Mining 0,46 0,13 0,41 0,63 0,20 0,17 0,68 0,26 0,06 0,60 0,20 0,20
Oil 0,48 0,23 0,29 0,61 0,15 0,24 0,43 0,29 0,28 0,50 0,23 0,27
Manufg. 0,57 0,24 0,19 0,53 0,30 0,17 0,49 0,35 0,16 0,51 0,32 0,17
Total 0,57 0,13 0,30 0,70 0,12 0,18 0,64 0,22 0,14 0,64 0,17 0,19
Mining 0,40 0,20 0,40 0,52 0,14 0,34 0,75 0,23 0,02 0,58 0,19 0,23
Oil 0,42 0,24 0,34 0,66 0,11 0,23 0,58 0,18 0,24 0,55 0,18 0,27
Manufg. 0,77 0,01 0,22 0,81 0,11 0,08 0,63 0,24 0,13 0,71 0,15 0,14
Total 0,50 0,17 0,33 0,71 0,23 0,06 0,60 0,31 0,09 0,59 0,24 0,17
Mining 0,46 0,01 0,43 1,08 0,26-0,34 1,04 0,13-0,17 0,78 0,14 0,08
Oil 0,57 0,09 0,34 1,06 0,01 0,07 0,96 0,14-0,10 0,79 0,08 0,13
Manufg. 0,36 0,40 0,24 0,38 0,40 0,22 0,38 0,40 0,22 0,38 0,40 0,22
Total 0,44 0,37 0,19 0,42 0,30 0,28 0,40 0,38 0,22 0,41 0,35 0,24
Mining -- -0,50 0,50 1,25-0,50 0,25 0,32 0,23 0,45 0,44 0,04 0,52
Oil 0,30 0,44 0,26 0,33 0,18 0,49 0,22 0,40 0,38 0,27 0,35 0,38
Manufg. 0,52 0,33 0,15 0,46 0,35 0,19 0,47 0,37 0,16 0,48 0,36 0,16
Total 0,58 0,23 0,19 0,51 0,29 0,20 0,38 0,35 0,27 0,46 0,23 0,23
Mining 0,82-0,18 0,36 0,48 0,30 0,22 0,29 0,41 0,30 0,40 0,31 0,29
Oil 0,57 0,23 0,20 0,55 0,24 0,21 0,36 0,28 0,36 0,47 0,26 0,27
Manufg. 0,56 0,29 0,15 0,43 0,39 0,18 0,42 0,42 0,16 0,44 0,39 0,17
IF = Internal Funds (Reinvestment of profits and depreciation funds
LF = Local Funds, or funds coming from third countries
USF = Funds coming from the United States
SOURCE: "Survey of Current Business", several issues, analysed by ECLA
In F. Fajnzylber, op. cit., p. 65
Secondly, but not less important, statistics demonstrate that dependent
economies during the period of monopolistic imperialist expansion are
EXPORTING capital to the dominant economies.
[see in The Robinson Rojas Archive the following statistics:
4.- Net Factor Payments to Abroad. All economies. 1960 to 1992][R.R.]
As a reaction against that process, some dependent countries have tried
to limit exportable profits. Nevertheless, international corporations
had the foresight to sense that the principal way to send returns abroad
is through the payments of licenses, patents, royalties and related
items. These institutional devices, together with the increasing
indebtedness of the exploited nations vis-a-vis international agencies
and banks (in fact controlled by the big imperialist countries), have
altered the main forms of exploitation.
It is not the purpose of this presentation to discuss all the
consequences of this for a monopoly capitalist economy. However, some
repercussions of the new pattern of imperialism on the US and other
central economies are obvious. If a real problem of capital realization
exists under monopoly capitalism, the new form of dependency will
increase the necessity to find new fields of application for the capital
accumulated in the metropolitan economies. Witness the push toward more
'technical obsolescence' administered by corporations. Military
expenditures are another means of finding new outlets for capital.
Nevertheless, I am not considering the whole picture. In fact, some of
these conclusions might change if the capital flows and trade inter-
relations among advanced capitalist economies were taken into
consideration. Thus the preceding remarks are presented with the single
aim of stressing that the present trend of capital export from the
underdeveloped countries to the imperialist ones leads to a redefinition
of the function of foreign expansion for capital realization.
The idea that the growth of capitalism depends on Third World
exploitation requires some further elaboration. In fact, the main trends
of the last decade show that Latin American participation in both the
expansion of international trade and investment is decreasing.
If we accept the distinction between two sectors of international trade
-the Centre and the Periphery- one finds that the trade rate of growth
was 7.9 per cent per year in the central economies and 4.8 per cent in
the peripheral ones.
As a consequence, exports of the peripheral economies which reached a
peak in 1948 (32 per cent of the international trade) decreased to 26
per cent in 1958 and to 21 per cent in 1968 (below the 28 per cent of
the pre-war period).
In the Latin American case this participation decreased from 12 per cent
in 1948 to 6 per cent in 1968.4 The same is happening with respect to
the importance that the periphery has for US investments. The periphery
absorbed 55 per cent of the total US direct investment in 1950 and only
40 per cent in 1968. Latin American participation in this process fell
in the same period from 39 per cent to 20 per cent.
Of course, these data do not show the increase of 'loans and aid' which
-as was stressed before- has been of increasing importance in economic
imperialism. However, the fact that the interrelations among the most
advanced economies are growing cannot be utilized as an argument to
infer the 'end of imperialism'. On the contrary, the more appropriate
inference is that the relations between advanced capitalist countries
and dependent nations lead rather to a 'marginalization' of the latter
within the global system of economic development (as Anibal Pinto has
SOME POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES
The new forms of dependency will undoubtedly give rise to novel
political and social adaptations and reactions inside the dependent
countries. If my analysis is correct, the above mentioned process of
fragmentation of interests will probably lead to an internal
differentiation that in very schematic terms can be suggested as
follows. Part of the 'national bourgeoisie' (the principal one in terms
of economic power -agrarian, commercial, industrial or financial) is the
direct beneficiary, as a junior partner, of the foreign interest.
I refer not only to the direct associates, but also to economic groups
that benefit from the eventual atmosphere of prosperity derived from
dependent development (as is easily demonstrated in Brazil or Mexico).
The process goes further and not only part of the 'middle-class'
(intellectuals, state bureaucracies, armies, etc.) are involved in the
new system, but even part of the working class. Those employed by the
'internationalized' sector structurally belong to it.
Of course, structural dependence does not mean immediate political
co-option. Effective political integration of groups and persons depends
on the political processes, movements, goals and alternatives that they
Nevertheless, as the process of internationalization of dependent
nations progresses, it becomes difficult to perceive the political
process in terms of a struggle between the Nation and the anti-Nation,
the latter conceived as the Foreign Power of Imperialism.
The anti-Nation will be inside the 'Nation' -so to speak, among the
local people in different social strata. Furthermore, to perceive that,
in these terms, the Nation is an occupied one, is not an easy process:
there are very few 'others' in cultural and national terms physically
representing the presence of 'the enemy'.
[For an illustration of the above process, see:
R.Rojas: The Chilean Armed Forces: a political organization
S.Allende: Speech to the UN General Assembly, 4th Dec. 1972
Chile: The Popular Unity's Programme (Alternative Development)
U.S. Senate: Covert Action in Chile 1963-1973][R.R.]
I do not wish to give the impression that I conceive the political
process in a mechanistic way. Consequently, my intention is not to
'derive' some political consequences from a structural economic
analysis. Rather, the point is that most socialist interpretations of
the Latin American political situation not only run in that direction
but also assume the wrong structural point of departure.
Some more general remarks can be summarized thus:
a) Analysis which is based on the naive assumption that imperialism
unifies the interests and reactions of dominated nations is a clear
oversimplification of what is really occurring. It does not take into
consideration the internal fragmentation of these countries and the
attraction that development exerts in different social strata, and
not only on the upper-classes.
b) The term 'development of underdevelopmen' (in A. G. Frank) summarizes
another mistake. In fact, the assumption of a structural 'lack of
dynamism' in dependent economies bacause of imperialism misinterprets
the actual forms of economic imperialism and presents and imprecise
political understanding of the situation. It is necessary to
understand that in specific situations it is possible to expect
DEVELOPMENT and DEPENDENCY.
It would be wrong to generalize these processes to the entire Third
World. They only occur when corporations reorganize the international
division of labour and include parts of dependent economies in their
plans of productive investment.
Thus the majority of the Third World is not necessarily involved in this
specific structural situation. To assume the contrary will lead to
political mistakes equivalent to those derived from, for instance,
Debray's analysis of Latin America. Debray once accepted the view that
imperialism homogenized all Latin American countries (with one or two
exceptions) and assumed a frame of reference which stressed the old
fashioned type of imperialist exploitation with its attendant
reinforcement of oligarchic and landlord-based types of dominance.
Now, I am assuming that there are different forms of dependency in Latin
America and that in some of them, development produces a shift in
internal power, displacing the old oligarchical power groups and
reinforcing more 'modern' types of political control. In that sense, the
present dictatorships in Latin America, even when militarily based, do
not express, by virtue of pure structural constraints, a traditional and
'anti-developmentalist' (I mean anti-modern capitalism) form of
[See R. Rojas, "The Murder of Allende", 1975,
Chapter 2, Why was the general assassinated?[R.R.]
It is hardly necessary to repeat that from the left's point of view
there are strong arguments to maintain its denunciation of both new
forms of imperialism or dependency and political authoritarianism. But
clearly, new political analyses are needed to explain the bureaucratic-
technocratic form of authoritarian state which serves the interests of
the internationalized bourgeoisie and their allies.
In this context, and in order to avoid a mechanistic approach, a correct
orientation of the struggles against capitalist imperialism demands
special attention to cultural problems and the different forms of
If the capitalist pattern of development in industrialized dependent
countries pushes toward internal fragmentation and inequalities, values
related to national integrity and social participation might be
transformed into instruments of political struggle. To permit the State
and bourgeois groups to command the banner of nationalism -conceived not
only in terms of sovereignty but also of internal cohesion and
progressive social integration- would be a mistake with deep
consequences. I am not supporting the idea that the strategic (or
revolutionary) side of dependent industrialized societies is the
'marginalized sector'. But denunciation of marginalization as a
consequence of capitalist growth, and the organization of unstructured
masses, are indispensable tasks of analysis and practical politics.
For this reason it is not very realistic to expect the national
bourgeoisie to lead resistance against external penetration.
Consequently, denunciation of the dependency perspective cannot rest on
values associated with bourgeois nationalism. National integrity as
cited above means primarily popular integration in the nation and the
need to struggle against the particular form of development promoted by
the large corporations.
In the same way that trade unionism may become a danger for workers in
advanced capitalist societies, development is a real ideological pole of
attraction for middle class and WORKERS' sectors in Latin American
countries. The answer to that attractive effect cannot be a purely
ideological denial of economic progress, when it occurs. A reply must
be based on values and political objectives that enlarge the awareness
of the masses with respect to social inequalities and national
[Note by Robinson Rojas: the use of the term 'development' in this
article has a very restricted meaning. Borrowing from Cardoso's
work elsewhere "by development, in this context, we mean 'capitalist
development'. This form of development, in the periphery as well as in
the center, produces as it evolves, in a cyclical way, wealth and
poverty, accumulation and shortage of capital, employment for some and
unemployment for others. So, we do not mean by the notion of
'development' the achievement of a more egalitarian or more just
society. These are not consequences expected from capitalist
development, especially in peripheral economies."]
1.- See, F.H.Cardoso and E. Faletto, "Dependencia y Desarrollo en
America Latina", Mexico, 1972.
2.- See, P. Sweezy, "The Resurgence of Financial Control: Fact or
Fancy?", SOCIALIST REVOLUTION, No. 8, Vol. 2, March-April 1972
3.- See, H. Magdoff and P. Sweezy, "Notes on the Multinational
Corporation", in Fann and Hodges, "Readings in U.S.
Imperialism", Boston, 1972, pp. 93-116.
4.- These data and analyses can be found in Anibal Pinto and
Jan Knakel's interesting paper "El sistema centro-periferia 20 anos
despues", ECLA, 3rd version, 11-11-71, pp. 14 and following.
5.- A comprehensive and pioneer analysis on the new forms of imperialism
can be found in J. O'Connor, "The Meaning of Economic Imperialism",
Radical Education Project, Detroit. See also H. Alavi, "Imperialism,
Old and New", SOCIALIST REGISTER 1964.