Social Scientist. v 7, no. 80-81 (March-April 1979) p. 105.


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Strawberry Imperialism

ERNEST FEDER, STRAWBERRY IMPERIALISM, Editorial Cam-. pesina, Mexico City, 1978, pp 156.

CONVENTIONAL economic wisdom holds that the multinational corporation (MNC) is an important—almost indispensable—instrument for promoting economic development in non-socialist underdeveloped countries (UDCs).1 In the orthodox view, scarcity of capital and foreign exchange— "the savings gap" and "the foreign exchange gap"—constitute the crucial bottlenecks to economic development. The MNC, it is argued, supplies both. In addition, it is claimed, the MNC brings advanced technology and modern management skills. Further, the MNG can compete effectively in highly competitive international markets and earn valuable foreign exchange for the UDG by producing for the export market. Finally it provides badly needed jobs. This kind of reasoning leads naturally to policy prescriptions which recommend that the UDC must provide the MNGs tax concessions, full freedom in production and marketing decisions, unfettered rights to repatriate profits and so on. The policy package for wooing MNGs also includes 'appropriate' labour legislation. 'Industrial peace' must be preserved, at the cost of the basic democratic rights of the working class, if necessary, in order that the flow of production and competitive strength in world markets are not impaired. It demands also the absence of any social control over natural resources.

It has been demonstrated, both historically and theoretically, that the above reasoning and the implied benevolent and indispensable role of the MNCs for the economic development of the UDCs are quite invalid.2 In the book under review, Ernest Feder provides further evidence for a logical, factually based rebuttal of the claims of the protagonists of MNCs. Feder's book—a study of



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