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Sharad S. Marathe

ON CAPITALIST UNDERDEVELOPMENT
By Andre Gunder Frank
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1975, 113, 12.00

PATTERNS OF DEVELOPMENT 1950-1970
By Hollis Chenery and Moises Syrquin
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1975, 234, 20.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

Andre Gunder Frank's book which was written at the very beginning of the ascent of the ‘Depen­dence theory’ is a difficult book to read and to review. It does not make for easy reading partly because the draft which was prepared in 1963, was published almost without change after a lapse of several years. As the author himself points out in the preface, he has  ‘left the speculative—almost stream of con­sciousness—and often cumbersome, style unchan­ged.’ The book is also a difficult one to review beca­use while the hundred odd pages throw up many scintillating and thought-provoking propositions, the argument is often cryptic. The main thrust of the book is that under-development as well as eco­nomic development are ‘the simultaneous and rela­ted products of the development on a world wide scale and over a history of more than four centuries at least, of a single integrated economic system .... capitalism.’ The growth and expansion of mercan­tilism of the 16th century led to the development of a single integrated world-wide capitalist system; and this system through ties of commerce and force has created a developed metropole and a periphery which is under-developed. The contradictions of the capitalist system and the process of uneven capi­talist development result in regional concentration of development and underdevelopment. Even in developed metropolitan centres, there are regions which are underdeveloped, just as there are pockets of development in the periphery. One of the main propositions in the book is that political independence and decolonization have not brought with them greater economic independence or accelerated economic development in Asia, Af­rica and Latin America. If anything, the post-war decades have seen even greater incorporation of the underdeveloped economies into the world-wide capitalist, imperialist system ‘penetrating them more deeply, tying them more firmly and aggravat­ing the structure of and the amount of underdeve­lopment still further.’ While the author elaborates on this thesis in different forms and by citing histo­rical evidence, there is no attempt at either defining development and underdevelopment; nor is the evi­dence cited incontrovertible. There is also no dis­cussion about any factors other than colonial exploi­tation or capitalist penetration which clearly would have a bearing on the process of development. As a result, except perhaps for the committed Marxist, the argument remains less than persuasive. There are several interesting propositions in the book which ...


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