Editorial from ROAPE Volume 5 Number 13
Special Issue on Nigeria
In speech at FESTAC (Festival of African Culture), General Obasanjo described most African countries as ‘trading outposts’ staffed by commercial, bureaucratic, technical and intellectual agents of their foreign imperialist principals. NLC2; World Bank Marxist debates on the political economy of underdevelopment have centred on the question: can capitalism promote development? That is, can capitalism reproduce in Asia, Africa and Latin America the expansion of the productive capacity of human labour which it carried out in Europe, North America and Japan. In the English-speaking world, the terms of the debate were set by Frank's Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America. He challenged Marxist orthodoxy on two points. Firstly, he argued that capitalism had underdeveloped Latin American economies and was incapable of developing them. It was not feudalism, but capitalism, that was to blame for the impoverishment and backwardness of Latin America. Secondly, as Fanon had argued in The Wretched of the Earth, Frank saw the bourgeoisie of the underdeveloped countries as accessories to imperial capitalism, unable to challenge the foreign control of the means of production, distribution and exchange and, in particular, of the monopoly of technology exercised by multinational corporations. Politically, the Cuban Revolution had shown Frank the way forward (a way previously charted by the Bolshevik and Chinese Revolutions). Only through a socialist revolution could a people take control of their national resources and develop them to their own benefit. Such a revolution required a popular alliance of workers and peasants in opposition both to the local bourgeoisie and to imperialism. No independent national bourgeoisie opposed to imperialism existed, or could exist within the framework of imperial monopolies.