Social Scientist. v 1, no. 7 (Feb 1973) p. 73.

Graphics file for this page

ANDRE GUNDER FRANK, CAPITALISM AND UNDERDEVE-LOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA, Pelican Books 1971 (first published in 1967), pp 368.

THE sole reason for reviewing this rather dated book on Latin America1 in these columns is that certain 'theoretical-conceptual' theses presented by the author (who modestly points out in his Preface that they have 'important scientific implication9) have come to exert a considerable influence on a section of academic opinion on India.

We first observed the influence of these theses in Kathleen Gough's mimeographed paper, Peasant Resistance and Revolt in South India^ where the author confessed to being "partly influenced by Andre Gunder Frank's analysis of the Brazilian economy". We saw Gunder Frank being exalted to authoritative status when Bipan Ghandra in his Presidential Address, Colonialism and Modem India, at the Indian History Congress in December 1970 complimented him on his 'clear-cut hypothesis' on the connection between industrial development and the 'weakening9 of imperialist economic ties during the two world wars and the depression.3 We learnt that Gunder Frank was one of the stars of the International Seminar on Imperialism, Independence and Social Transformation in the Contemporary World5 held in New Delhi (March 1972). A casual remark by S K Mishra in a book review of Bettelheim's India Independent in the second issue of Social Scientist^ confirmed our suspicion about the rising status of Gunder Frank—not merely as an authority on Latin American backwardness, but as a 'revolutionary theoretician5 who has brought Marxism-Leninism up to date and (what is more important) up to an analysis of the condition of 'underdo velopment'.

Let us make it clear at the outset that we consider Gunder Frank's work a highly schematic and vulgar presentation of Trotskyite theory in relation to the conditions of backwardness in Latin America. We are, however, concerned in this review only with two aspects of the theoretic al analysis of the author:

—his understanding of capitalism in general and his construct of the relation between capitalism and backwardness ;

—his approach to the problem of relations of production and, in particular of relations of production in agriculture.

Gunder Frank's main thesis is that the internal contradictions of capitalism and the historical development of the capitalist system "have generated underdevelopment in the peripheral satellites whose economic surplus was expropriated, while generating economic development in the metropolitan centres, which appropriate that surplus—and, further, that this process still continues" (p 27).

Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Monday 18 February 2013 at 12:44 by
The URL of this page is: