Social Scientist. v 11, no. 116 (Jan 1983) p. 3.


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C P CHANDRASEKHAR*

Imperialism and Industrialisation in the Underdeveloped Countries: On the Significance of the 'Nev^ International Division of Labour9

IT is by now a commonplace observation that since the early 1960's a few among the underdeveloped countries (UDCs) have seen rapid industrial growth based on an expansion of exports. While this is true essentially of South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and some of the ASEAN countries, others like Mexico, Brazil and India have also had a share in the growing exports of manufactures from the UDCs. The experience of these countries, though they are not significant in terms of their number, has at least raised the possibility of a process of industrialisation in the UDCs based on markets abroad.

The emergence of such a possibility, it needs to be noted, has important implications for the traditionally held Marxist views on capitalist development and industrialisation in the UDCs. It has been an accepted proposition among Marxists that the possibilities of capitalist development and, in particular of rapid and independent industrialisation in the present-day underdeveloped countries are inherently limited. This is not based on an assessment of the logical possibilities of capitalism as a system, whose progressive and dynamic role in the earlier centuries cannot be denied, but on an understanding of the specific manner and phase of international capitalism in which these countries have entered the stream of capitalist development. There are in essence three elements that are crucial to the above formulation regarding the possibilities of development: (i) while the world-wide expansion of capitalism from the current-day developed world introduced capitalist relations of production, and, therefore, an element of dynamism, into the more backward and (most often) stagnant societies in these countries, it also generated and reinforced pre-capitalist relations and was accompanied by policies (of the colonial state) that inhibited the rate of market expansion and industrial development; (ii) in the post-colonial period these

*Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.



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