Remembering Dependency Theory: A Marxist-Humanist Review

Lautaro Tapia

Summary: This essay takes stock of the rise and fall of “dependency theory”—an important theory of social development in the non-Western world—in light of recent economic developments and the insights contained in Marx’s concepts of abstract labor, value production, and socially necessary labor time. Originally appeared in New Politics, Summer 2017   (3200w) – Editors

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  1. saikou keita

    the mode of dependency is design by the west in a way that it’s a continuous cycle of exploitation. they name themselves the ORIENTALIST and name us the OCCIDENTAL, they label themselves DEVELOPED and we the UNDER DEVELOPED, THEMSELVES the FIRST CLASS WORLD and us the THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES, THE WEST and we THE EAST, they stay as MANUFACTURERS and we PRODUCERS OF RAW MATERIAL alone. all these were predesigned by their CAPITALIST THEORY and its METHODOLOGIES such as DEMOCRACY, MODERNISATION, GLOBALISATION just a few to mention. Thee whole ideology is NEOCOLONIALISM. what am trying to say is that this is dependency; colony, protectorate, province, dominion, outpost, satellite, satellite state; holding, possession, BOURGEOISIE and PROLETARIAT

  2. Karel Ludenhoff

    Agreement and some doubts

    Although I agree with the main line of this article, the demonstrating of the unfruitful approach of the dependency theory to really understand the uneven development of and exploitation in world capitalist society I have a few doubts about some points.

    It is certainly true that Marx kept his eye on the international development of capitalist production. Indeed, Anderson’s “Marx at the Margins” (2010) and Pradella’s “Globalisation and the Critique of Political Economy
    “(2015) refer to it. But we have to be careful in this context with statements as this one: “One of the many simplifying assumptions that underline dependency theory and theories of the ‘new imperialism’ is that Marx only examined the phenomenon of an isolated capitalism or national capitalism. Yet Marx himself consistently highlighted that capitalism is a world-polarizing and ever-expanding system.”

    Marx was a man of his time. He developed his notion of prices of production and his price mechanism pointed to national capitalism. Notwithstanding this, the strength of his notions is that they can be worked out for world capitalist society. So we can have international prices of production, an international price mechanism and an international rate of profit, but these notions have to be worked out for our stage of capitalist society by Marxists nowadays.

    Besides this it is good when we talk about a simplifying assumption of an isolated capitalism to remember what Dunayevskaya remarks about Marx’s using it in his dialectical methodology.

    When she is discussing the theory of capital accumulation of Marx and the one of Luxemburg, she states that Marx in his analysis “did not pose the rule of capital in the entire world, but its rule in a single isolated nation.” (RLWLKM, p.36). She refers to the second volume of the Theories of Surplus Value and to Bukharin in note 14. But on page 37 we come to the crux of the matter when she writes: “Far from being only a phenomenological analysis of his age, Marx’s theory was so profound a dialectic of accumulation that, at one and the same time, it disclosed the different forms of revolt and how they revealed the LOGICAL DEVELOPMENT TO THE POINT WHERE NO ALTERATION IN EXCHANGE OR DISTRIBUTION COULD FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE ANYTHING.”(My emphasis- K.L)

    In dealing with the organic composition of capital (OCC) I think we have to assume that firms, companies have an OCC and not countries, unless we have state capitalist countries.

    Companies with a higher OCC are more productive than companies with a lower OCC, because they can produce a bigger amount of commodities with less value per unit output. The companies with a higher OCC produce their commodities thus cheaper and can sell their commodities cheaper as the companies with a lower OCC. Moreover, the companies with a higher OCC can appropriate more value than their own labourers produce through the existence of prices of production in the process of price formation.

    These things we already find in Marx’s work in a national dimension, although as I indicated with the POTENTIAL to work it out for today in an international dimension.