Most of Andre Gunder Frank’s early work on the nature of underdevelopment focused on one region: Latin America. Here he broadened his canvas and traced the world-wide effects of the process of capital accumulation from the period just prior to the discovery of America to the industrial and French revolutions. It is Frank’s thesis that “the world has experienced a single all-embracing, albeit unequal and uneven, process of capital accumulation centered in Western Europe,” which has been capitalist for at least two centuries.
In this successor volume to the widely read Dynamics of Global Crisis, the authors engage in a provocative discussion of the history and contemporary dilemmas facing the movements that are variously described as antisystemic, social, or popular. The authors believe that these movements, which have for the past 150 years protested and organized against the multiple injustices of the existing system, are the key locus of social transformation.
Preeminent theoreticians of the world economy set out their understanding of the long-term dynamics of global capitalism.
Why, while Europe, North America, and Australia have developed, have Africa, much of Asia, and Latin America remained underdeveloped? Andre Gunder Frank sets out to answer this basic question by showing how world capital accumulation has led to the differentiation of these regions within the single world-embracing economic system. Unequal exchange between regions, combined with the differential transformation of productive, social, and political relations within regions, has led to the capitalist development of some areas and to the underdevelopment of others.
In his second book, Andre Gunder Frank expands on the theme presented in his influential study Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America. It is the colonial structure of world capitalism, in his view, which produced and maintains the underdevelopment characteristic of Latin America and the rest of the Third World. This colonial structure penetrates everywhere in Latin America, forming and transforming all its features in obedience to its own imperatives and thereby imposing upon the region those characteristic features of poverty and backwardness which are not primarily the remnants of an ancient “feudal” past but the direct products of capitalism. This development of underdevelopment will persist, therefore, until the people of Latin America free themselves from world capitalism by means of revolution. The Cuban Revolution is thus viewed as the first effort in a continent-wide revolutionary process direct against both imperialism and the national bourgeoisie.
The four essays in this book offer a sweeping reinterpretation of Latin American history as an aspect of the world-wide spread of capitalism in its commercial and industrial phases. Dr. Frank lays to rest the myth of Latin American feudalism, demonstrating in the process the impossibility of a bourgeois revolution in a part of the world which is already part and parcel of the capitalist system.