You are part of the leadership of a popular movement that has just seized power in your country. Your commitment is not to bourgeois nationalism, but to socialism. You are from a country that had been under colonial rule and then neo-colonial subordination or else from a country that was not formally colonised but nonetheless experienced the full weight of imperialism. Your economy is in tatters, its raw materials drawn out of the country, its people reduced to labour on the global commodity chain gang. Your country has not been able to forge an independent foreign policy, nor a capacious social policy. A popular upsurge that began with an anti-IMF riot brings you to power. The window of possibility for your government has begun to close just as its opens.
What will you do?
The US ambassador – accompanied by a delegation of local representatives of monopoly capital firms and the local oligarchy – comes to see you and your comrades. This gaggle of important people flutter about, coming to ensure that your government will set aside its grand promises to the people and – after some mild transfer payment schemes to tackle the terrible poverty – will resume the status quo. After all, says the US ambassador, the status quo has been good for the country. The FDI flowed in, the IMF report of its staff visit has been productive, the GDP is high, the currency is relatively stable and the oligarchy – well, the oligarchy has been the pride of the nation. The ambassador wags a finger in your face – arms deals have to be signed, military agreements have to ratified. The boat is on an even keel, says the ambassador. No sense in rocking it.
You knew that this delegation would come to see you. Nothing they say or do surprises you. Countries like yours – countries of backwardness (takhalluf) – do not control their destiny. Colonial rule altered the structure of politics and economics as well as of society. Old notables had been side-lined or absorbed into the new world where they become merely representatives of forces that lived elsewhere. The new elites that emerged represented the interests of themselves certainly, but also of external forces – not their own populations who had been reduced to rubble by the plunder of colonial rule. Poverty came alongside illiteracy and disease. Backwardness was not the fault of your culture, but of this imperialist history. Your movement came out of the slums, where the bulk of your people live. They have spoken to you. They have given you their programme of action. They want you to act.
When your people won independence or overthrew your monarchy fifty years ago, the new elites seized power. They offered up your raw materials and your workers for rock bottom prices, as long as they got a cut of the profits. That is what they had won independence for – to increase their share of the theft. This large-scale bribe was then replicated down the class ladder as your country became a country of bribe-taking rather than social initiative. No development could come to your country, whose social advancement was blocked by structural obstacles such as the terms of trade for your primary products and your reliance upon finance from the old colonial powers. Your rich minerals and rich agricultural products find their prices fluctuate and remain low, while the prices of manufactured goods that you import from the imperialist powers increase. The gap between these two leaves your public exchequer in permanent debt. You borrow money from the banks of the imperialist countries and you use their currency for your international trade – both drawing you in to what you know is the imperialism of high finance. Underdevelopment is the only development that your country experiences.
Your group of revolutionaries had spent the decades under the clouds of IMF warfare studying the ‘unilateral adjustment’ thrust upon your country. You discover Samir Amin, who gives you that concept of unilateral adjustment. It means that the policy framework for any government of your country will be channelled by rules devised elsewhere, rules that benefit the old colonial powers and impoverish your own country. Even socialists are trapped by this unilateral adjustment. Structures such as unequal exchange and old-fashioned plunder vampirically diminish the wealth of your country. Your country was forced to adapt to the needs and interests of the old colonial powers. You can never be free.
This is the moment for you to test the theory of delinking – the concept you absorb from Samir Amin. To delink is not to break from the world and isolate oneself. Isolation is not possible. If you do break with the unilateral adjustment, you will either be overthrown in a coup or a military intervention in the name of saving civilians or you will be under sanctions and embargos for decades. You do not want to isolate yourself. You are an internationalist. To delink means to fight to set an alternative framework for your relations with the world, to force others to adjust to the needs and interests of the working-class and peasantry in your country and in other countries. Delinking, you read in Samir Amin, means to ‘modify the conditions of globalization’.
fucking hell, this is so good
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