Economist Samir Amin deciphers the latest CIA report on the state of the world. He shows that intelligence agency experts still see a single view only: the American model’s dominance. In the first part of two, Samir Amin described the experts’ capitalist blindness.
The United States’ establishments’ experts are interested solely in the “possible” choices of the ruling classes of “countries that matter” (China in the first place, then Russia and India, then Iran and the Gulf countries, and finally, Brazil).
Europe, does not, in their opinion, exist (and they are certainly correct on that score), and because of that, will inevitably, necessarily, stay aligned with Washington’s choices. The illusion that the CIA experts construct about the Gulf countries is instructive: “rich,” these countries must “matter,” the fact that one may be rich and insignificant (which I believe to be the case for those ruling classes) does not seem “imaginable” to them.
Nonetheless, I had written an amusing critique of Dubai’s project before its inevitable collapse. Their fears concerning Iran, on the other hand – not for its “Islamist regime,” but because this great nation does not agree to be resigned – are justified.
Europe and Africa Forgotten
A dash of racism certainly persists in the judgments these experts make about the future of Africa and Latin America.
Africa will never matter and will remain open to the looting of its resources. The only problem as far as they’re concerned is that here the United States (and their subordinate European allies) will, from now on, find themselves in difficult competition with the appetites of China, India and Brazil. The fear is not without foundation.
But the possibility of a South/South relationship associating “emerging countries” (China, India, and Brazil) with Africa in a somewhat different way than the relationship of classic imperialist looting and the possibility that such a relationship could contribute to bringing Africa out of its situation as a “marginal” (“programmatically excluded”) region to finally enter the era of industrialization does not seem worthy of consideration to them.
For its part, Latin America still does not concern Washington. The sole “emerging” country – Brazil – will remain “well-behaved.” The model of irreversible integration into a space dominated by the United States that Mexico illustrates seems to them the continent’s inevitable destiny over time.
Revolutionary “advances” (Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia) are considered doomed to failure. Consequently, the “scenarios” outlined in the report inform us more about the limits of the thought now dominant in the United States than about the possibilities of that thought’s realization.
The Specter of the “Yellow Peril”
The first of these scenarios is devoted to a striking victory by China, imposing itself as the new “hegemonic power,” pulling along in its wake a renewed Russia (that is, one that has succeeded in diversifying and modernizing its industry and, specifically, its leading edge industries based on a competitive education system and has consequently emerged from a situation in which it was solely an oil and gas exporter), an autonomous but resigned India, and an Iran (“Islamist” or not ) that has become the dominant Middle East actor.
The victorious “Shanghai Conference” will reduce NATO to the status of an impotent – even ridiculous – alliance, definitively forced to relinquish its plans for “military control of the planet” and its interventions under the pretext of the “war against terrorism.” The Shanghai alliance would guarantee China and India access to 70 percent of Middle East oil and gas production.
This – outrageously overdone – image fulfills an obvious ideological function. It’s all about waving the specter of the “Yellow Peril” to mobilize Europeans, even Arabs (especially in the Gulf) behind Washington’s plan for resistance. The image is overdone because China (its ruling classes – however “pro-capitalist”) has no goal to impose itself as the planetary “hegemonic power.” Beijing is sufficiently realistic to know that would be an insanely unrealistic goal.
On the other hand, and precisely because China knows the means it may deploy to impose respect for its rights (among which, access to oil) on the United States, Europe and Japan are limited, Beijing could imagine that its power to do so would be strengthened should China succeed in pulling the whole of the South along with (and not behind) it.
The second “scenario” is devoted, on the other hand, to the resounding failure of the “Shanghai Plan,” the collapse of the ephemeral BRIC group, the straight line rise in the China/India conflict, the stagnation of Russia and the abortion of Iran’s nationalist project. None of this is strictly impossible. Yet this “total” success of the United States is too like what Washington would desire to be credible.
Another Social Perspective
The analysis I propose – in counterpoint to Washington’s flights of fancy (and many others inspired by the same patterns of thought) – is based on other principles of reflection, openly associating those to goals for the “transformation” of the world (that is, of the social order within the countries involved and, simultaneously, of the international balance of power between them) one hopes to promote. The method demands that one make way for “another social perspective,” one that responds to working classes’ and countries’ interests.
A “better world” involves both social equilibria more favorable to the working classes within each nation in the system and a negotiated international order more favorable to the “emerging” and “marginal” countries of the South. The sole question to ask, therefore, is: what are the possible agents that may act in this direction and what strategies are they capable of deploying to that effect?
In this spirit, the “North/South conflict” and the struggle for the socialist overtaking of capitalism are inseparable from the peoples’ perspective, even though they are “dissociated” de facto in the strategies deployed by the ruling classes of the South currently in command posts.
Every “advance,” however modest, though partial and fragmented, that goes in the direction of our hopes and desires must be sustained. For example, a reorientation of development giving more space to internal markets and less decisive importance to exports. For example, a strengthening of South/South cooperative relationships.
But it remains necessary to go well beyond what we see begun here and there in response to the crisis, especially in so far as the new South/South cooperation is concerned. That will have no meaning unless it allows those countries still “excluded” (in Africa especially) to enter the age of incontrovertible industrialization.
Associating the strengthening of social progress within nations to progress in the autonomy of international relations necessarily involves democratic progress.
But in this case, democratization passes through class struggle, the only means by which the working classes are able to impose their own greater participation in real decision-making powers, and not through strengthening of the power of the “middle class,” obtained through “western-style” representative democracy, the only kind, obviously, United States’ establishment experts know.
Samir Amin is a Franco-Egyptian economist born in 1931 who specializes in the economics of development.
Translation: Truthout French Language Editor Leslie Thatcher.