HISTORICALLY, the thrust of metrbpolitan capitalism into the precapitalist economies of the Third World led to a process bf pauperisation, rather than prol^taridtiisation, of the peasantry. Unlike in the metropolitan countries themselves, where peasants and petty producers, dispossessed of their means of production by spreading commodity production as well as by such direct methods of coersion as the enclosure movement, were d^rawn in as proletarians for burgeoning capitalism in the towns as ^sll as well as in the countryside, th6 constraints imposed upon capitalist development in the colonies, Semi-colonies and the dependencies in the Third World implied liiat the dispossessed peasants and artisans lingered on in the rural areas as a vast pauperised mass, an army of underemployed landless labourers, rack-rented tenantry and sharecroppers, and m^ginal peasants with "one foot in ruin'*. Pauperisation, which does n6t necessarily involves proletarianisation, is thus the resultant o^a certain mode of integration of the Third World economies into the world capitalist system. As long as this mode of integration continues in it's essence, notwithstanding a certain amoimt of changes and modifications, this specific process of pauperisation too would continue.
The lead article in the current number of Social Scientist^ which is devoted to agrarian issues, provides a striking illustration of this proposition. The Sri/ Lank-an government, for electoral reasons, has undertaken large resettlement projects for the landless. ' But the pauperised peasantry, after being so "'uplifted" from its pauperised state, has oner1 again found itself emm'shed in a fresh round of pauperisation. Thus a lasting solution to the -problem of "iandlessness" is not the mere possession of land; it require^ an all-round ^development of productive forces, which capitalism in the Third World countries is incapable of achieving even when political independence has been attained. The article by N Shanmugaratnam not only raises important theoretical questions of this kind but does so in the context of examining the prospects of World Bank-style "liberalisation" ushered in by the