Colonialism and periphery: Latin America, Africa and the Middle East

(This is a translation from this text, originally in spanish)

The idea of ​​this text is to study some general points (especially conceptual) that can help to understand the situation of the colonized and peripheral countries of the globe. They need a much larger and more detailed investigation, and it can be reformulated in any way in the light of concrete data. Although current decolonial theory does not recognize it, we believe that Marxist theory is the most incisive to start an analysis of colonial relations; and at the same time, as we pointed out in previous texts, theories such as that of imperialism are outdated. Not only this: besides its outdatedness, we believe that the theory of imperialism is  incomplete, focusing much more on the internal relations of the metropolitan countries (and in this we agree with the decolonial criticism), than on the characteristics of the colonized and peripheral countries. The differences we have with the decolonial movement is that for us the Marxist theory is (still -and including the theory of imperialism-) the best theory from which to start  to make an analysis of colonialism. What happens is that it is necessary not only to update them, but to put aside the fear of replacing them completely (if necessary), even if it is rooted on their analysis.

This text could only really replace the theory of imperialism, by studying the flows of international valorization and the forms they charge in the metropolitan and colonial countries as a whole; some initial attempts (real drafts) of updating (and not replacement) are here or here. What happens is that the imperialist theory seeks to study a specific conjuncture in the evolution of capitalism (the emergence of monopoly capitalism), and not only colonialism or even the passage of peripheral pre-capitalist modes of production to capitalism, etc. This, precisely, speaks loudly of its incomplete nature (and not only outdated) to understand our colonized and peripheral regions. And at the same time, it is necessary to start from Marxism because it is the first and only theory that establishes a development of the colonized and peripheral countries (in the Precapitalist economic formations  by Marx, that is, in his Grundrisse), and the one that achieves a theory of colonial exploitation even higher than later developments (superior, even, to developments -Ricardian, to put it directly- of the decolonial and world systems theory themselves, and before them, the dependency theories themselves, who hypocritically criticize Marxism today as 'Eurocentric', when all its theories come from Paul Baran, who specifically starts from the imperialist theory and the developments made by Marx). That is to say: Marx is criticized for being 'Eurocentric' when he is rather the first European to establish the foundations of a development theory of colonized and peripheral countries, and on top of that, his economic theory explains colonial exploitation much better (being European) than the developments of the theorists themselves from the colonies of the so-called Third World (from dependentism to world-systems). But let’s go beyond polemical arguments and get into the subject at hand.


1-        We believe that to understand the development of colonialism and peripheral countries, it is necessary to study the Asian mode of production and the forms of capitalism that emerge from it. This forces us to speak, although very generally, about the controversial Asian production mode (something already started  here). Discarded not only by Stalinism, but by Engels himself (in his  Origin of the family, private property and the State), I think it is best to refer to the work done by Marxist economic anthropology (especially by Godelier). The Asian mode of production is a particularly economic concept, not globally cultural or political. When Marx speaks of the 'immutability' of the countries under the Asian mode of production, he does not mean that these countries have not undergone any change (as we know, they were frequent and tumultuous, in Latin America as well as in Asia, etc), but to that they do not present/display general changes in their way of strictly economic production (here we will advance, incidentally, a possible explanation for that). Moreover, the existence of the Asian mode of production (in its Precapitalist economic formations ) show that   Marx never proposed a single general scheme of historical evolution for all mankind, but is perhaps the first theoretician and scientist to propose a  multipolar   development (in that same sense, and only as an annotation, it is   false   that the theory of imperialism speaks of a center or hegemon -US imperialism, for example - that explains all the colonial problems; on the contrary: from Hilferding, through Bukharin and reaching Lenin himself, they all talk about imperialism as   multipolarity   -read the original texts, you will not find anything else-, and it is Stalin and Mao who insert the discourse of "American imperialism", so the decolonial criticism or the criticism of Empire by Negri & Hardt, etc., should be directed more towards Stalinism or Maoism, and not towards imperialist theory or Marx). This, moreover, also belies Marx's critiques as either 'positivist' or 'Eurocentric' (something much more debatable about Engels).

2-        On the other hand, the criticisms of Perry Anderson or Samir Amin are extremely weak: Anderson has two main criticisms: 1) that there was private property, for example, in ancient China or India, and 2) that the Chinese state was not despotic, but it had something like an intellectual bureaucracy, etc. In the case of Samir Amin, he criticizes especially 1) the generalized abstraction of proposing an Asian mode of production for regions as diverse as Latin America, Africa and Asia, and also 2) the fact that the production modes of these regions (which he qualifies as tributary) are neither communal-primitive at all, nor subject only to the State (where he adds the qualification of slavery -? - something that neither Marx himself does ...), but there is a third class with property that receives rent and taxes (the reason why he choose the tributary mode of production). The answers to Anderson are simple: in China the concept of 'private property' is developed (and appears in the sources with that name), but in actual practice  it wasn’t private property absolutely alienable in the modern capitalist sense (it was subject to a whole series of restrictions made by the State, as Marx puts it), so this criticism is to pass the historiographic criticism (the appearance of the term) by a historical criticism (the concrete relationship). Anderson himself mentions that the private property that he brings up as supposedly destroying the existence of the Asian mode of production was not individual, but familiar, and this is precisely the characteristic pointed out by Marx to differentiate it from modern or European-feudal private property: the existence of a communal property based on the extended family, the relationship between the rights of usufruct (as possession) and the property itself. Now, the existence of an intellectual bureaucracy in China does not speak against its despotic character in the least: as we shall see later, Marx establishes the despotic character because there is a relationship even   more direct   of dominion on the part of the State in the Latin American (pre-Columbian), African and Asian regions, than in the European fief (even in the age of absolutism). This is pointed out by even non-Marxist authors such as Issawi or Beinin, but it is completely overlooked by Anderson. In the case of Amin, the answers are equally simple: Amin criticizes the generalized abstraction of the Asian mode of production in peripheral societies, only to propose an abstraction  even more generalizing: the tributary mode of production that would include even European feudalism as a sub-division of this overarching mode. We believe that Amin loses all the specificity of the differences between feudalism and the modes of production of the peripheral regions, precisely because of the high level of generality of the universal tributary mode (much greater than Marx's, or that of the Marxists that he supposedly criticizes). Finally, when he says that the pre-Columbian, African or Asian peasant are not completely subject to primitive communal forms or to the state, but to an intermediate form, without knowing it he is making exactly the same definition of the Asian mode of production that Marx gives in his Precapitalist economic formations. In any case, it is difficult to understand what he is referring to when he says that there is a slave state subjection, something that neither Marx nor Godelier and other anthropological scholars of the Asian mode mention.

3-        The Asian production mode is as varied and mixed as any mode of production in its concrete form. We believe that Balibar's notion of socio-economic formations and modes of production is useful (although without falling into other Althusserean formulations[1]): every mode of production is the mixture of different socio-economic formations, where one of these formations is dominant . This is important to understand the passage of the Asian production mode towards capitalism in pre-Columbian Latin America, in Africa or in the Middle East, which as we know, is directly related to its forms of colonization. We are not going to analyze pre-capitalism before the colony, and we will not analyze the internal specificities of each of the regions (the difference between Central America and South America, or the difference between the Maghreb and the sub-Saharan region, or between the Persian and Arabic regions, etc.), but we will make very general points that we believe are characteristic of the entire region discussed. In any case, we must be clear that differences do exist, and that they are abysmal, beyond the generalities that they share and that we are going to point out here.

4-        Now, this will seem cumbersome, and even scholastic, but it will be very important to point out many aspects of the Latin American, African and Asian economy (especially in the agricultural field), so it is inevitable to enter into the most detailed discussion possible. Here perhaps it is necessary to say that we have to speak of a conjugation of all the variables that Marx develops in his theories of the passage from pre-capitalism to capitalism; that is, we cannot simply focus on primitive accumulation, or the appearance of rent in money, but we must combine all the variables, which for us, are the following: 1) primitive accumulation, 2) the theory of rent (in work, in kind or money), 3) the concept of simple mercantile mode of production, 4) the concept of the parcels regime (chapter 47 of Capital volume III), 5) and the theory of the formal and real subsumption of labor in capital. All have to be balanced as related variables, and none as an axis or center of explanation. To give an example: Brenner points out (in his criticism on Dobb) that the income in money (mixed with rent in kind) of European absolutism is not capitalism, to the extent that a regime of feudal tribute still exists. And it would be a kind of formal subsumption of capital, a form of simple mercantile production, and it is part of primitive accumulation within the disappearance of the regimen of classical feudalism. Now, if instead of a feudal regime the mercantile liberalization of the economy were given (the absolute alienation of individual private property, the existence of 'free' workers to sell their labor force, the generalized commercialization, the total disappearance of rent in kind for rent in money, etc.), then the same relationship that Brenner points out (the existence of income in the form of money) would become a capitalist, no longer feudal relationship. That is why we should not confuse the existence of wages or monetary relations in the Middle Ages or antiquity, with the appearance of capitalism; they are its germ, but they do not represent the existence of a capitalist mode of production.


5-        The Latin American colony is radically different from the colony in Africa or the Middle East: we can begin by saying that while in Latin America the communal institutionality is completely replaced by a colonial institutionalism linked to their respective crowns, in Africa and the Middle East colonization is given implanting capitalist relations within the existing traditional relationship. That is to say: in Africa and the Middle East there is no creation of institutions such as the cabildo or the viceroyalty, as is the case in Latin America, with their reciprocal relations as local or regional centers, etc., in a bureaucratically complex institutional apparatus or indirectly, but the power of the colonial state is used as it exists in its  direct relations  with the different groups of political and economic power. This difference is crucial, basically because:   the political centralization of the Middle East and Africa provokes (dialectically) their reciprocal fragmentation in the economic sphere, and because the political decentralization in the Latin American colony (the formation of a whole colonial institutionalism throughout the occupied territories, instead of simply an immediate command flowing from the central State) reciprocally produces its economic centralization (the centralization of accumulation). In Latin America, regional leaders are replaced by colonists as representatives of the colonial state, while in Africa and the Middle East the colonial state relies directly on the leaders of local towns or landowners, while the colonists own land, etc. Now, the degrees of economic fragmentation and political centralization are abysmal among all these regions: the political centralization capacity in Africa was much smaller than that which existed in the Middle East, or in south or central Africa much smaller than in the Maghreb, etc. Precisely these major and minor degrees of political centralization are those that explain the different approaches on the part of the colonists, and their possibilities of establishing more complex models or simply basing themselves on the existing models of society at the time of their occupation. We need to keep in mind these degrees later, when we talk about specifically capitalist development in peripheral countries.

6-        And this is going to affect the typology of forms of land tenure, which are very different, and in addition, evidences precisely the difference pointed out by Marx (in his Pre-capitalist economic formations ) to establish the Asian mode of production: as we will recall, the Asian mode of production differs from feudalism in that while in feudalism the feudal lord owns the land, and only as owner of the land, becomes lord of the peasants (converted into vassals) who live in it, in the Asian mode of production is the state who as a representative of the community, becomes an appraiser (rentier) of the land where the community lives. This produces a huge economic difference (clearly ignored by Anderson or Amin, and in general by most economists outside of Marxist economic anthropology): all the different typologies of land tenure and ownership (even private) in the Middle East and Africa, are mediated by the State as representative of the community, and in Latin America as well, in the case of the encomienda (which, as we will remember, is the property of the settler not on the land, but on the indigenous peoples themselves, and only through these, from the land where they live). In the Asian mode of production, one cannot oppose communal property to state property, and even private pre-capitalist property, since they are the same thing: the state owns all the property, but there is a property communal as a right of usufruct, with a partial alienation (always regulated by the State), and when there is individual property (the Arab or African landowner, etc) is as land assessed by the State (granted directly by the State). As even non-Marxist historians point out, unlike European feudalism, the Middle East or African landowner receives rents from scattered or fragmented regions within state territory: instead of being settled in a territory (like the European feudal lord, as owner of the land), he owns the right to collect a rent from the peasant (which is why the State always mediates); instead of a mechanism of reciprocal rights and duties between feudal lords and different state authorities, it receives directly from the State its right to collect that rent. In Latin America, the small and medium private property of the land will develop much more in a capitalist sense (not feudal or pre-capitalist, as could be concluded from some formulations of Torres Rivas or Medina Echeverría, etc.), with economic mechanisms such as leasing, sharecropping or directly proletarianization through wages, etc (and their different degrees and class differences in the field: as the lease for periods in opposition to the pure lease, or rentier small-medium peasant alternated with their own subjection to payment of an income, etc). On the other hand, in Africa and the Middle East the landowner obtains rent from the land through his power over the community (either as head of the communal village or as a representative installed by the State as the last landowner and owner of the land): the lease is given, but on a much smaller scale than in Latin America, and rents are extracted in money through communal fragmentation (based especially on the extended family) of possession.   This means that the difference pointed out by Marx between land ownership and the representation of the community explains the difference between a political centralization that is fragmented economically (in Africa and the Middle East), and a political decentralization that is centralized economically (in Latin America). This will have very important implications for the development of modern capitalism (and for politics) in those regions.

7-        This allows in Latin America the opposition like the one that exists between the encomiendas and the royal grants, in opposition to the simple taxation and collection of rents in Africa and the Middle East. This will allow a greater real subsumption of capital in Latin America, as opposed to merely formal subsumption, and therefore, the degree of penetration of specifically capitalist relations (which will explain the degrees of development that all these regions present between them today). While in Latin America the encomiendas will disappear as the last vestige of primitive communal relations of the Asian mode of production (subject, of course, to colonial power and extraction of value), in the Middle East and especially in Africa the customary law of the community will persist with mixtures of formal subsumption and real capitalists. In all these regions the original or primitive accumulation will be terribly weak, so there will be a great existence of a small or medium peasantry, with very diverse historical fluctuations: for example, nationalist Pan-Arabism will carry out an agrarian reform that will further fragment the land tenure compared to previous or later periods, while in Central America the disappearance of small and medium peasants will be more gradual, etc. In Latin America, the parcel regime will be even more common in regions where the landowners have not managed to develop an extensive latifundium of a more acute classical cut, while in Africa and the Middle East the landowner (inheriting this from the property relationship of the Asiatic mode of production) will become rentier of the land and not simply tributary, but without disappearing the communal possession based on kinship; an intermediate degree of real subsumption of capital, but with much lower productivity due to communal soil fragmentation. In general, in Latin America as well as in Africa and the Middle East, agricultural productivity will be much lower precisely because of this intermediate degree between formal and real subsumption (between the extraction of absolute and relative capital gains): it is not a formal subsumption because there are already relationships fully capitalist, but they are not fully capitalist relations in a developed sense because there is no primitive accumulation in the classical sense (and therefore, the other variables: there is no income in money in the classical sense, nor total exit from the simple mercantile regime, nor total elimination of the parcel regime, etc). That does not mean that the regions discussed here (Latin America, Africa and the Middle East) are 'pre-capitalist', and this is what the schematism of orthodox Marxism never understood: just as Brenner discusses a rent in feudal money, as a grade of   advance   towards capitalism in the European fiefdom, so there is a degree of formal subsumption that serves as   backwardness   for Latin American, African and Asian capitalism. The African or Middle Eastern landowner does not modify the means of production of his property, and grants a right of usufruct (informal or by means of leasing) to the communal-primitive possession of the peasant (rendering all the productivity more backward, and a degree more backward in Africa than in the Middle East, due to the same reasons); the Latin American landowner manages to create extensive latifundia (much less in Central America than in Mexico or South America, but comparable or close to the latifundia-minifundia ratio of Europe), but most of the productivity remains in the hands of the small and medium peasant (making production more backward than that of developed countries, but greater than that of Africa and the Middle East).

8-        Likewise, Latin American trade will be carried out from local and urban centers coordinated by the colonial State (such as the town councils, and from these to the viceroyalties, etc.), while in Africa and the Middle East it will be the landowners themselves who directly take charge of commerce, then functioning as tax-collectors of the State, landowners and merchants all at the same time. We return to our first point: the political centralization that fragments economically, and the political decentralization that centralizes economic accumulation; in Latin America, political power is more mediated or indirect (through different forms of colonial state bureaucracy), and this causes the concentration of trade in these centers, while in Africa and the Middle East political power is so immediate and direct ( on the part of the colonial State directly on the leaders of towns or landowners designated by itself as State) that the commercial accumulation disintegrates between the different individuals and sectors in charge of commerce (their own landlords and collectors of tributes). This is important to understand the degree of capitalist accumulation that will be achieved in these regions, and therefore, the degree of penetration of the capitalist mode of production itself (with political consequences that we will point out later): the passage from a formal subsumption to a real one, from the hand of the weak appearance of original or primitive accumulation, and through the different forms of appearance of income in money, of the exit from the simple mercantile mode of production, etc (that is to say, of all the variables as we mentioned in the preamble)   they all help explain that there is not a sufficient degree of accumulation (neither from craftsmanship / manufacturing or commercial capital) for the passage of a capitalist mode, back to a strictly industrial one, which will explain the progressive character of certain fractions of the anti-colonial bourgeoisies of these regions, and the reactionary character of others, but not in a unilateral sense, but within different economic-political compositions. And all this will derive from the character of commercial capital, not only by the internal configuration of that capital (centralized here, decentralized there), but by the colonial subordination itself, which impedes the development of an internal market, and which reduces these regions basically into importers and exporters of everything they produce and consume.

9-        Marx explains this stagnation very well in his analysis of formal subsumption in Draft Chapter VI, and precisely where it speaks of the possibility of existence of wage or commercial exploitation relations, but which are not yet capitalist: "The restricted form, which prevents his wealth from functioning as capital, is further shown by the fact that a maximum is in fact prescribed for the extent of the value of his capital. (…)  He works to order — with the exception of his work for merchants — for immediate use value, and so the number of masters is regulated accordingly. He does not confront his workers as a mere merchant. Still less can the merchant convert his money into productive capital; he can only “transfer” the commodities, he cannot produce them himself. An existence of the estate type — the purpose and result of the exploitation of alien labour is here not exchange value as such, not enrichment as such. What is decisive here is the instrument. The raw material is in many branches of labour (e.g. tailoring) delivered to the master himself by his customers. The barrier to production within the whole range of the available consumption is here a law. It is therefore by no means regulated by the barriers of capital itself. In the capitalist relation the barriers disappear along with the politico-social bonds in which capital still moves here, hence not yet appearing as capital." Here there is then a wage relationship, a kind of formal subsumption or a simple mode of production, and that in addition to not being capitalist, is prevented from developing industry even with commercial relationships. I believe that this situation characterizes trade and agricultural production (as well as manufacturing) in the colonial regions: they enter into capitalism to the extent that everything enters (progressively) within the scope of commercialization, but they have a limit in terms of production of value that prevents them from moving from commerce and agriculture, to modern capitalist industry. Likewise, there is the work done by Takahashi, precisely in the discussion of the transition from feudalism to capitalism (only centered on the metropolitan countries), where exactly chapter XX of Volume III of   Capital is discussed: there would be two ways of approaching the commodification of the economy, 1) one from the small-owner that seeks to pass to commercial capital, and 2) from the commercial capital that seeks to appropriate existing industrial production. These two routes (according to the thesis of Takahashi) would mark precisely the difference between the bourgeois revolutions from 'below' (England and France, etc), and those that occur from 'above' (Germany, Italy, Japan, etc). Note, for now (since this implies a research work that completely departs from this text), that this indicates exactly the same difference that we are pointing to around commercial capital: agricultural landowners who are responsible for their own commercialization (produce for the market) through commercial centers, and agricultural landowners who are themselves the commercial 'centers' themselves, and therefore, not only prevent the local handicraft and manufacture (linked, in this case, to the primitive community) from producing for the market in general, but they appropriate a greater part of the commercial profit that would go to the centers of autonomous commercial capital itself.

10-     Thanks to the elaboration of Takahashi, we can be even more specific: it is not that in Africa or the Middle East there are no commercial 'centers' (cities, for example), but that commercial capital never happens to take direct ownership of agricultural or manufacturing production: the landowner-trader is more of a intermediary between the direct producers and the shopping centers than the owner of the productive process itself; is a merchant that has power over agricultural production or   manufacturing (and in this case, still more exact: a tax appraiser / landowner where tax and rent are indiscernible), and not an industrialist who produces for trade. In Latin America, on the other hand, the landowner produces for the commercial market in general, and the centralized and autonomous commercial capital is the intermediary in its valorisation process, not the landowner. This helps us to be more precise as to why we speak of divergent degrees of transition between formal subsumption and real subsumption: in Latin America the landowner is the direct owner of the land (absolute rent and relative surplus value of real subsumption), but it predominates the small and medium agricultural plot (marketing surpluses as in formal subsumption), while in Africa and the Middle East the landowner receives his rent but without transforming the communal productive process (an absolute rent   without relative surpluses), and is also responsible for marketing surpluses (as in the formal subsumption).

11-     This last point helps us to be clearer: we know that there are different regimes of land tenure (private, state, uncultivated, communal, etc.), and that there are different regimes within each of these land types (the industrialized latifundia, the fragmented latifundio, the villas on state lands through representatives -converting them virtually to large landowners but by state means-, the communal lands also valued by representatives, etc), with their respective dynamics (large industrialized states, others fragmented by producers organized around clans, or by the simple parcelling of sharecropping, where the usufructuaries have a kind of intermediate degree of property of partial alienation and inheritance that fragments the land),their respective ways of extracting the collection of taxes / rents (individual or communal, by lease-fixed-or appear, etc), and with their value streams (tax and rent are virtually inseparable, so the state representative that is at the same time head of a village, is also a virtual landowner both by state and primitive relationship, just like in the definition of the Asiatic mode), etc. All this complexity   cannot be reduced. But we cannot yet draw more general conclusions without knowing, for example, the statistical proportions of each of these regimes. What we can affirm, for example, is that the simplification of value flows (the fact that villagers and landowners are tax collectors at the same time, and at the same time, are in charge of commercialization), implies a proliferation of points of concentration of value (a raise in the commercial margin between the merchant and the direct peasant producer), which means that more quantity of value remains in intermediaries (in Africa barely 40% of taxes reach the State), and that the peasant is more exploited (receives less value). It also implies that in opposition to Latin America, in Africa and the Middle East the product is still exchanged as rent (both the landowner -who trades it- or the state -through that landowner who pays afterwards the tax based on that appropriation-), which implies a survival of the rent in kind (which puts it behind the formal subsumption), and at the same time, it is formal subsumption (and therefore, a degree of simple commodity mode of production) because it is surplus marketing. As we can see, categories such as rent in kind and money, and formal and real subsumption, intermingle and form mixed or transitional degrees among themselves, which explain unequal and combined forms of development. We can already be clearer from the previous point: as we saw, in spite of having a latifundio-minifundio ratio relatively similar in all these areas, there is a great difference between the ability to obtain relative surplus value in the Middle East and Africa, and it would have to be established if it is due to the fact not only of not modifying the technical-social productive process (as a more orthodox position might say), but that we must consider the possibility that it is due to this fact of mixing between marketing, rent and tax: that is, the inability to articulate a commercial sector with greater concentration and centralization of accumulation, which would put in a more general interests of the peasantry of the Middle East and Africa. This, in any case, is to advance a possible way of investigation, and it has to be more carefully studied.

12- It would be very interesting to analyze all the variations (pure lease or in periods, the small or medium peasant who pays a rent in money but at the same time charges a rent -in lease or sharecropping- to a landless peasant, the evolution of the relationship between the grazing land and the arable land as an inverse relationship between the parcelling and the large property estate, etc), since they do affect the evolution of agriculture and, therefore, the penetration of capitalism, and especially, the different political interests when defending one or other forms of accumulation (all of which is beyond the immediate objective of this text). The persistence of communal forms (in Africa and the Middle East) or of small and medium   property (in Latin America) can be explained precisely by the power of resistance of the peasant. But it is not necessarily a 'backward' resistance in opposition to the 'advanced' primitive accumulation; for example, when the figures of the different African agrarian programs show that the agricultural productivity of land based on communal property is greater than the productivity of land based on individual property, this happens for a simple reason: forms of communal ownership are much closer (in its primitiveness) to forms of large-scale (modern) agricultural production, precisely because the land is less fragmented, because there is a greater investment of human labor, because there is a more complex division of labor, etc. .This possibility in Latin America is less due to the extension of individual property (the royal grants) in opposition to the continuous disappearance of the communal encomienda. That is why in Africa or the Middle East the 'modernizers' (through the attempt to formalize individual property) rather delay agricultural productivity, and in Latin America it is the peasant resistance for the possession of their land (gradually decreasing) that delays ( in productive terms, it is worth remembering) the insertion of large-scale agricultural forms with greater productivity. The archaic character of certain formations is more progressive in terms of accumulation than other more supposedly advanced forms (just as in Marx’s view of the Russian peasant communes in the Zasulich letters): that is why in a certain sense tribal chiefs or African or Middle Eastern villagers can be said to be defending superior forms of accumulation (something that gives them support from local communities - even if they are being subjected to their exploitation or autocratic command-), while in Latin America the attempts to install more extensive forms of agricultural production are those that improve accumulation (to the detriment of the peasant condition). In general, we are talking about an intermediate form between formal subsumption (the commercialization of the agricultural surplus product), and real subsumption (absolute rent and relative surplus value: classic money income based on latifundio and large agricultural production methods). It is not mere formal subsumption, insofar as we are talking about forms of production in which the means of production (the land) belongs to the landowner and not to the peasant, but it is not real subsumption because this dispossession of the peasant in favor of the property of the landowner, does not translate into a pure latifundista organization of production, but in the parcelling of their own means of production (their land) through the right of usufruct or possession of the peasant or extended peasant family, etc. (in the form of sharecropping,lease-fixed-rent, etc).

13- For example: in Latin America it will be the landowners of large royal grants converted into extensive latifundia, the ones who press for a greater insertion of capitalist trade in the colonial economy, and therefore, greater economic and political liberalization (the liberal independence movements in Latin America). In contrast, in Africa and the Middle East, landowners will be less concerned about   a centralized accumulation through economic and political liberalization (less concerned in promoting republican democracy in the Middle East or Africa, for example), because their particular commercial accumulation is strong enough (for their own interests - simple reproduction -), and they will then fight for reactionary forms (tribal leaders or landowners looking for Islamic monarchies in Africa and the Middle East). That is why in Latin America the sectors that are separated from production (the unproductive rentiers) will be the most conservative and reactionary sectors, while in the Middle East and Africa it will be the opposite: they will be the sectors linked to the state rent (the military or the intellectuals, public workers, etc.) who will promote the development of purely capitalist relations (the African and Asian nationalist movements). This explains the democratic-republican advance in Latin America, and the backwardness of democracy in Africa and the Middle East: while the sector directly interested in accumulation in Latin America is, precisely for that reason, the most interested in economic liberalization (and therefore both, in the existence of democratic freedoms that allow the generalized commercialization, etc), the sector directly interested in the accumulation   and valorization in Africa and the Middle East makes its accumulation precisely because those democratic freedoms are not present; while Latin American trade is more related to the centralized colonial political power, and the landowner needs this mediation for its own accumulation, in Africa and the Middle East the trade is done by the landowner himself, so he has no need of mediators . This also explains the dependence of the State (the 'paternalism') in Latin America, and the clientelism and customary informality that reigns in the Middle East and Africa. They are two different paths for the same problem of impulses and stagnation in the processes of valorization and accumulation.

14-     This does not mean that the Latin American landowners are pro-development and the Asian or African landowners are 'backward precapitalists': the leaders of villas or landowners in the Middle East and Africa stop the emergence of democracy precisely by advancing the real subsumption of work into capital . That is to say, they directly have the same interest as the great independentist landowner in his struggle for the liberalization of the economy, only because of his specific and particular economic and political configuration, he has a radically different political direction. This is demonstrated by the agricultural policy of Pan-Arab nationalism or the progressive sectors in Africa, which have endeavored for agrarian reforms where they plotted the land (curbing the real subsumption and a more advanced agriculture), while the tribal leaders and landowners are those that drive the latifundio. The progressive sectors believe that it is private individual property that produces capitalism by itself, as opposed to communal forms (which is denied by the figures of the same African and Middle Eastern agrarian programs ), while tribal leaders maintain the primitive customary law at the same time that they accumulate no longer tribute, but rent. Here it is only possible to apply the theory of unequal and combined development (of Trotsky) as it emerges from the anthropological-economic analyzes of Marx: remember that the Asian regime for Marx is reformulated in his Letter to Vera Zasulich of 1881  , where he talks about the possibility of a revolution in Russia precisely because of the advanced character of primitive-communal property : in an inversion that can only be understood in a dialectical way, the mixture of this primitive property with the incipient industrial development in Czarist Russia, would allow the collectivization of the land, etc. (this will be reiterated in the prologue to the Russian edition of the Communist Manifesto). This is what Trotsky will resume for his theory of permanent revolution: an unequal and combined development between backward and advanced aspects. We see the same in the case of colonialism and the peripheral countries: what drives capitalist accumulation in Latin America is democratic liberalization, while in Africa and the Middle East autocracy does it; in both cases: it is a capitalist problem (as the Asian and African theorists and intellectuals point out again and again, in opposition to the Western discourse of 'backwardness', of the 'medieval' and of 'religion', blaming Islam or African traditions, etc).   

15- Thus, commercial capital becomes the key to understanding the positions of the different sectors: the bourgeoisies of all these regions are subordinated to this operation precisely because it is from it that they generate their accumulation. Thus the Latin American landowner, to the extent that is subject to a process of accumulation where the marketing of their own product depends on commercial capital (developed by sectors linked to the international market, or even directly by foreign capital)The Latin American landowners goes on to defend an advanced accumulation (a real subsumption of agrarian capital) through the State, or better yet: through a highly centralized commercial capital through institutionality (which implies its subordination to commercial capital); the African and Middle Eastern landowners go on to defend an advanced accumulation as well, with a subordination to commercial capital as well (only that the commercial capital is themselves), in complete detachment from any formal institutionality . In both cases, commercial capital becomes the key  insofar as it is the commercial capital that is linked to the international markets, and therefore, subject to the international division of labor that subjects the colonized countries to buy the developed manufacture, and sell their raw materials and agricultural products (all in benefit, precisely, of that commercial capital -to which, of course, one adds banking: money capital-). As explained by the quotation from Marx that we reproduced before: instead of a monet-capital that operates simply by exchange value, irrespective of its use, and can simply be valued by its own valorization in any medium (the purely capitalist and developed form), money-capital remains tied to its specific use values ​​(agricultural, commercial, etc.) without becoming industrial capital, let alone without a fully developed autochthonous financial sector (remembering the difference between banking and finance itself, as established by Hilferding). Or in other words: the bourgeois sectors are not all progressive in opposition to a feudalism (as posed by imperialist theory and Marx himself), but rather they depend on their non-relation with commercial capital, or better yet: on the specific composition of commercial capital: in Latin America the petty-bourgeois sectors with the aspiration to become bourgeois, in Africa and the Middle East will be the rentiers of the State with the same aspiration; in Latin America, the transfer of value from the export sectors to the manufacturing / industrial sectors occurs through an autonomous commercial capital linked to a political-state institutionality, while in Africa and the Middle East the transfer of value from exports to manufactures / industries can only be done by the State directly (to the extent that trade is directly linked to the export model).Thus there is a commercial and bourgeois manufacturing / industrial sector directly interested in industrialization and the creation of an internal market in Latin America, while the division between the commercial and manufacturing / industrial sector in Africa and the Middle East makes all attempts at economic liberalization and politics that allow the development of industrialization and the internal market go through a subordination of the manufacturing / industrial sector to state rentiers (military, etc.) as the only possibility of breaking with the export model. That is why post-colonial governments in Africa and the Middle East will be as interested in industrialization, as well as the petty-bourgeois reformist and populist in Latin America: they become the vanguard (within the bourgeoisie, not in society in general ) interested in the creation of an internal market and indigenous industry (with themselves in the lead, of course); Latin American agricultural landowners will go from being pro-independence democrats to simply defending the status quo that maintains its processes of valorization and accumulation (even if this implies a retrogression in democracy: dictatorships), holding back any possibility of developing an internal market and a regional industry , and the African or Middle Eastern landowners will go on to prevent the development of any kind of democracy,to the extent that they themselves control the entire process of valorization and accumulation (fragmenting the very possibility of the existence of republican states in Africa and the Middle East).

16- In the Middle East and Africa, the State (rentiers) need to collect taxes to meet their credit debts, etc., which opposes them to merchants (foreigners or natives), and especially to landowners-traders, etc. In Latin America the same thing happens (chronic indebtedness and   dependence on commercial taxation), but it is not simply the rentier sector, but the small-bourgeois manufacturing (with industrial aspiration) or commercial sector that takes the baton of industrialization and the domestic market. The African and Asian doubling occurs because the commercial sector is fragmented among the landowners, very different from the Latin American autonomous commercial sector, so the pattern of accumulation needs the rentier as a political force. This is due not only to a late colonization of Asia and Africa simply, but precisely to this difference in the composition of the commercial capital inherited by the different modes of colonization with respect to the native Asian mode of production. But this does not have to be confused with levels of industrialization and/or commercialization exclusively, but with their patterns of accumulation and their distribution among sectors and political actors : the extractive industry of the Middle East (eg: oil) is incomparable with that of Latin America in terms of valorization and accumulation, but its control by the State, for example, is unthinkable in most of Latin America's history. In the Middle East and Africa there are centers of concentration for commercial capital, and they are as linked to foreign capital as they are in Latin America: what then is the difference? That the indigenous commercial capitals are fragmented among the landlords (which is why foreign capital trades directly with them), and that in Latin America the commercial capital is relatively more autonomous with respect to agricultural capital (although always within a predominantly agricultural export-model). The State has a particular place then: in Latin America it becomes a means for the expansion of the valorization and accumulation of an autonomous sector distinct from the State, and in Africa and the Middle East it becomes a means for the valorization and accumulation of a sector directly linked to rentism,  which would explain to a much greater extent the great difference between the attempts of industrialization in all these regions: while in Latin America many of these attempts are stopped by the landowning oligarchy (through dictatorships), in the Middle East and Africa it is the state authoritarianism who maintains the (declining) nationalization of the industry even to this day. In Latin America, authoritarianism makes its entrance to stop the attempts of industrialization and creation of the internal market, and in the Middle East and Africa it is authoritarianism that makes it possible. It must be remembered that the germ of capitalism is commercial (merchant capital) and usurious (interest bearing) capital. We are talking about different ways in which different money-capitals seek to enter completely indifferent processes of use values and pure and simple self-valorization, and the agro-export models of colonialism produce an unequal distribution of that money-capital within societies: the sectors that are least directly involved in the accumulation of this money-capital (the losers of competition, the ones subordinated to the agro-export models) will seek to make 'progressive' the insertion of capitalism in order to move on to a process of self-valorization (to improve its own accumulation in opposition to the hegemonic sectors that have exactly the same purpose).

17-     The independence movements of the Middle East or Africa (at first) work together with the colonial commercial capitals (in a form of neo-colonialism), in view of their distance from the autochthonous commercial capital centered around the agricultural landowner, and in Latin America the industrialization attempts are supported by fractions of urban petty-bourgeois commercial capital, and it will be the commercial fractions linked to the agro-export model that will oppose any attempt to transform said model. Both the State's position (based on tariffs and indebtedness), as well as the existence of an agro-export model, such as foreign control over the manufacturing industry, are all present in all these regions. It is the organization of commercial capital (inherited from the forms of colonization and insertion of capitalism in its pre-capitalist ways) which creates a rupture in terms of the political positioning of the different (bourgeois) sectors. The fact that in Africa and the Middle East it's not the autochthonous commercial capital the one directly interested in industrialization and the exit of the agro-export model, produces the need (for foreign commercial capital) of the emergence of the rentier-state as vanguard of the development of the African industrial capital and the Middle East; and the fact that in Latin America there is an autochthonous commercial capital directly interested in the development of Latin American industrial capital, which will oppose it to the foreign commercial capital that monopolizes the agro-export model.   

18- That means that the 'progressive' sectors in Africa and the Middle East are usually rentier, and in Latin America they are sectors directly involved in the production of value. The rentier sectors are really interested in capitalist valorization (pro-industrialization nationalist movements, etc.) precisely because the African or Middle East valorization is directly mediated by the State (hence the only difference between the industrialization of the Ottoman Empire or Egypt in the nineteenth century and that of the Pan-Arab movements in the Middle East and the African Maghreb are explained by this intricate -but direct- subordination of the accumulation to Asian standards of production of value, of collection of rents and collection of taxes: what is politically direct, becomes economically fragmented and plagued by crossings in the patterns of accumulation, which prevent the establishment of formal regimes of law, etc). In the different traditionalist stagnations (predominantly landowners), and attempts at industrialization, import substitution and creation of internal markets (by manufacturers, merchants or bourgeois or petty bourgeois rentiers), the problem is not a pessimism or a subordination to the colonial situation: it is rather the capitalist competition to obtain greater forms of valorization and particular accumulation which creates the inter-bourgeois struggles, the frictions between different factions, and their different political-economic projects. In Latin America there is a relay from the landowner to the commercial bourgeois and manufacturing-industrial to the extent that it is the latter that become directly interested (due to their processes of valorization and accumulation) in the insertion of modern industrial processes and the shift from agro-export models to the creation of internal markets. In one place or another, they are sectors opposed to the landowning hegemony (not by progressivism, but by capitalist competition), only with very different political consequences: the defense of democracy in opposition to authoritarianism in Latin America, and the fight against autocratic fragmentation and the establishment of (backwards) democracy in Africa and the Middle East. Now, here comes the failure of the attempts of industrialization and creation of internal market in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, as part of the failure of 'Welfare' models in general in the world (although we can not deal with it here, they owe it to themselves to the increase in the organic composition of capital and the fall in the rate of profit), and its different responses in each of its contexts: in Latin America that failure leads to the rise of neoliberalism: the commercial bourgeoisie and lumpen-bourgeois opts for economic liberalization as a way to enter that real subsumption of work in capital (independently whether it is through democracy or dictatorship, or independently of the existence of a strong public sector). It can be said that the 'progressive' boom that the independence bourgeoisie had in opposition to the colony is lost once it achieves the economic liberalization that gives it political and economic hegemony, but not the purely real subsumption (and therefore, the possibility of developing an internal industry and market), which in a second moment  means the change of baton for the interest of inserting purely capitalist relations from the landed landowner to the bourgeois industrial-manufacturing and commercial fractions interested in expanding their trade from the agro-export model to the industrial model itself (industrialism and import substitution of the twentieth century). The third moment would be the very defeat of the attempt of those commercial and petty-bourgeois (or manufacturing) sectors in their project to industrialize and create internally distinct capitalist markets in Latin America. In Africa and the Middle East there is the same failure, but with a radically different configuration: the post-colonial nationalist and independence movements are defeated and opt for the same economic liberalization that is part of the Western neoliberal ideology, only because of the configuration of the commercial capital, and its various relationships with agriculture and manufacturing, etc., causes the State to pass from clientelism (the State used basically to protect the interests of landowners and village chiefs to obtain political support on the part of the state), to a privatization and direct commercialization of the international capitals with the landowner or village head (the fall of the international aid funds mediated by the African or Middle Eastern states, and the passage to direct commercialization with the landowner and communal rentier and merchant chief). In both cases, the bourgeoisie undoes (as part of its own process of economic degeneration) its progressive political interests (which opposed it to colonization, for example, and in search of independence, etc), not because they are economically delayed, but precisely because they seek to advance the real subsumption and the purely capitalist forms of development. The small-bourgeois (commercial / manufacturing in Latin America, or state rentier in Africa and the Middle East) struggles for its own accumulation and valorization, which puts it at the forefront of industrialization, import substitution, nationalism and growth of the State sector in opposition to the landowner, just as in the past, it was the landowner (in Latin America) who fought for economic and political liberalization, and the state rentier (Asian and African) for the industrial organization from the State. The progressive character of the autochthonous lumpen-bourgeoisie of the peripheries only occurs depending on its own stratification with respect to the landed oligarchy, its own interest in expanding its own process of valorization and accumulation in competition with that of the agro-export model, and it is only in that struggle of 'fractions' that it acquires 'progressive' features. In a way, one could say that nowadays neoliberalism, privatization and the destruction of the public sector are not a rupture with the 'progressive bourgeois' that Stalinism and the entire Stalinist left dreams of, but in fact the continuation of his own tendency (something that reformism, of course, completely ignores),to the extent that they believe that this neoliberalism will allow the development of this real subsumption and the leap from the commercial and predominantly manufacturing sector to an industrial one with a developed internal market. Of course: this only improves the capitalist accumulation within certain limits, and not the development of the industry or of an internal market. What happens is that they believe that the growth of their own interest in accumulation by itself implies this 'development'. Or even: there may not even be an interest in an industrialization and an internal market proper (in the face of its failure in the 20th century), but simply by its own particular accumulation and by the control of the State. This means that capitalist accumulation becomes diametrically opposed to the interest of producing a republican democracy in Africa and the Middle East, or of maintaining republican states of law and without going back to dictatorships or authoritarianism in Latin America (Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras , etc).They are unequal processes but based (relatively and with great differences) by the same process of insertion of capitalism.

19- Contradictory (dialectical) movement of multiple lines of development: the landowner promotes the development of real subsumption in the defense of latifundio, but precisely for the same reason, stops industrialization and the creation of an internal market that allows the exit of the agro-export model, and the consolidation of a 'developed' (industrial) capitalism; in opposition to the original accumulation of metropolitan countries, where the penetration of real subsumption in the countryside implies at the same time the development and transition from manufacturing to industry, etc. All the variables: rent in money, exit from the mode of simple mercantile production, primitive accumulation, the parcels regime, formal and real subsumption, are in a state of transition, an intermediate stage between the commercialization of all economic relations, and the development of a modern and self-sufficient market. This is the stunted character of the capitalist development of the colonized and peripheral countries of the globe. But this does not mean that it is simply the 'terms of trade' or an external imposition (as dependentism or world-systems would want) that explains dependency, but also the consequences of this international division of labor (between "industrial" and "agricultural" countries) in the form of the internal production of the colonial regions. That is, the peripheral regions studied here do not develop an internal market (they are basically dedicated to import what they consume and to export what they produce) nor can they move on to industrial development, etc., not only because of imperialist planning that decides that so be the international division of labor (although this is real),but also by the type of economic-political configuration that colonial subjugation itself produces within the countries: a commercial and agricultural capital unable to make the leap to capitalist industrial production.


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