We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate our good friend Samir Amin on the occasion of his eightieth birthday. Samir was born in Cairo in 1931, and was to become while still in his twenties one of the pioneers of dependency theory. His great work and Ph.D. dissertation, Accumulation on a World Scale, was completed in French in 1957, the same year as the publication of Paul Baran’s Political Economy of Growth. From the beginning, Samir provided a sophisticated model of dependent development. He was later to be recognized as one of the principal figures in the formation of world system theory—always, however, presenting his own distinct, third-world Marxian analysis. In the last two decades his work has focused on the transformations of imperialism associated with globalization, the domination of the triad (the United States, Europe, and Japan), and the rise of what he now calls oligopoly-finance capital. In 2010 Monthly Review Press published his crucial study The Law of Worldwide Value (an extensively revised and expanded version of his 1977 classic, The Law of Value and Historical Materialism). His recent article, “2011: An Arab Springtime?” can be found on the Monthly Review website. We plan to publish additional articles by Samir this fall. Happy Birthday, Samir!
In this issue of MR we are reprinting Stephen Hymer’s classic essay, “Robinson Crusoe and the Secret of Primitive Accumulation,” which first appeared forty years ago in the September 1971 issue of MR. It represents, in our view, one of the most important articles produced by a whole generation of radical political economists associated with the revolt against mainstream economics in the 1960s, and the creation of the Union for Radical Political Economics in 1968. Hymer, who died tragically in a car accident in 1974 at the age of thirty-nine, had early on established a reputation as the undisputed world leader in the theoretical analysis of multinational corporations—a reputation that has only solidified in the last four decades. In the last few years of his life he was closely associated with MR. His final article, “International Politics and International Economics: A Radical Approach,” published posthumously in MR in March 1978, started off with the words: “To be a radical, or to be a scientist, is the same thing; it is a question of trying to go to the root of the matter.” Most of Hymer’s writings were brought together (by the Hymer Papers Collective) in his book, The Multinational Corporation: A Radical Approach (Cambridge University Press, 1979).
The Review of Radical Political Economists (RRPE), the journal of the Union for Radical Political Economics, has been an outlet for critical economics for more than forty years. Originally the intellectual voice of the revolt of radical economists within the profession, in recent decades it has evolved into a journal that is principally oriented towards providing a peer-reviewed professional outlet with which radical economists can advance both their analysis and their academic careers. As a result, it has become less accessible to the general reader. No doubt realizing the importance of reconnecting with a general audience, as well as clarifying the journal’s own purpose, the RRPE editors have recently launched a regular series of short, non-technical articles by respected figures in the field, addressing the theme “What ‘Radical’ Means in the Twenty-First Century.” The two articles published so far in 2011 as part of this series have been by long-time MR authors: Howard Sherman, “Radical Economists in the Twenty-First Century” (RRPE, January 2011) and Douglas Dowd, “What is Coming Around the Corner?” (RRPE, July 2011).
Samir Modak, who financed and published our Bengali edition, Bangla Monthly Review, died on July 7, 2011, at seventy-seven years of age. Samirda (as he was affectionately known) was associated with the socialist movement right from his adolescence. He was first an activist in the Revolutionary Communist Party of India—a small but determined group of young radicals who wished to initiate an upsurge just after the transfer of power from British rule—and then an activist in the Communist Party of India. He remained with the official CPI after the split in 1964 but dropped his membership in 1971. Thereafter he continued working as an individual Marxist in several spheres. An avid reader of Monthly Review, and the Analytical Monthly Review, he conceived the plan of bringing out a version in Bangla. The Bangla Monthly Review, after a hesitant start, soon gained momentum and started increasing its circulation. He used to read every page of every issue of Bangla Monthly Review, pointing out the shortcomings but never imposing his own views. Never a man to hog the limelight, he always preferred to contribute his mite to the cause he had embraced in his early youth. In spite of all the odds, he kept his faith in realizing the possibility of creating a better world.