A Global Failure

Maldevelopment – Anatomy of a global failure
Samir Amin, Ed.
United Nations University Press, 1990

You can always trust the U.N. As the rest of the world was ending the Cold War and welcoming globalization, the United Nations continued prattling in pseudo-Marxist pseudo-intellectual hooey. Two excerpts follow.

The first is a contorted non-defense of OPEC price manipulation. More important than any argument it makes is the realization that allowing a sizeable fraction of governments to make oil be their main source of revenue leads to clap-trap like this. Almost incomprehensible, it argues that most OPEC dollars went to the west anyway, and the Oil Shock was mis-named and completely coincidental. It is from Chapter 2, The decade of drift: 1975-1985, Structural costs; the stakes; the struggle for the NIEO [New International Economic Order].

The claim of the NIEO coincided with the most serious post-war crisis. It was even argued that the oil price rise – the first (and as yet sole) indicator of the implementation of the Third World programme for the NIEO – was the ’cause’ of the crisis. A veritable campaign was orchestrated on this theme in 1973 and 1974, using every kind of argument and despite all the facts: the beginning of the international monetary crisis and the appearance of US external deficits since the mid-1960s, the precedence of stagflation, the scale and persistence of inflation rates irrespective of the calculable increase attributable to oil, the (still massive) placing of oil revenues on the Western finance markets, the modest role of petro-dollars in comparison with the movable assets of the transnationals in speculative fluctuations, and so on. The campaign has of necessity long hung fire: erosion of the oil price in the 1 980s and the reversal of the conjuncture (‘the end of the era of OPEC’) have never allowed it any funkier take-off.


The second is best read after Thomas P. M. Barnett’s weblog and The Pentagon’s New Map commentary. While some our trying to create a free global world, others prefer ghettoization. Few things are worse than infantilizing entire nations. But that’s what the U.N. does. The quote is also from Chapter 2, in particular The efforts of radical African nationalism: adjustment or delinking?

The discouraging prospect afforded Africa by capitalist expansion explains the frequency of the rejections and the high level of effort to ‘do something else’, to escape the simplistic logic of capitalism. But at the same time the objective conditions caused by this historical legacy make the task particularly difficult. This difficulty could be expressed in the formulation that the especially unfavourable external factor is combined with fairly unfavourable internal factors that have been largely shaped by that very external factor.

The response to the challenge of our age that we propose is celled ‘delinking’. The concept is to some extent half of an equation ‘adjustment or delinking’.

We shall not expand here on the theory of delinking but, to avoid any misunderstanding, say merely that delinking is not synonymous with autarky but only subjection of external relations to the logic of internal development (whereas adjustment means binding internal development to the possibilities afforded by the world system). In more precise terms, delinking is the refusal to submit to the demands of the worldwide law of value, or the supposed ‘rationality’ of the system of world prices that embody the demands of reproduction of worldwide capital. It, therefore, presupposes the society’s capacity to define for itself an alternative range of criteria of rationality of internal economic options, in short a ‘law of value of national application’.

Searching Google for “law of national application” reveals one result — that page. Fortunately this attempt at world sabotage seems unsuccessful.

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