Development and socialism in Samir Amin: a southern perspective (by Abdellatif Zeroual )


15 December 2020

A Communist at an early age, Samir Amin maintained an organic link between his political commitment and his theoretical reflections until his death. He always thought « that the intellectual struggle is a political struggle »[1] and that « theory and practice are [thus] inseparable »[2]. This « posture » finds its source and expression in the adherence to a Marxism that is open to both the contributions of the social sciences and the lessons of the various struggles for the liberation of the oppressed and the dominated. His theoretical contribution to the problem of development/subdevelopment was thus from the outset part of a commitment to an alternative to capitalism.

According to Samir Amin, development « as conceived by the dominant bourgeois thinking is a dependent capitalist development for the benefit of a local minority, to the detriment of the popular classes, which it impoverishes »[3]. 3] Whereas it should be, according to him, for the benefit of the latter (the working classes) « in material, political and moral terms »[4] and « in a socialist perspective »[5]. Amin makes clear that socialism « is not capitalism without capitalists »[6] or « a more efficient mode of production than capitalism, which would allow for a higher rate of growth and a more equitable distribution of income »[7]. 7] Rather, it is « a higher stage of human civilisation »[8]. In Samir Amin’s thinking, there is an organic link between development and the transition to socialism.

The objective of this article is precisely to interrogate this organic link between development and transition to socialism in Samir Amin’s thought by attempting to answer two questions[9] :

1- How did he theorise this link and in what context?

2- How has his thinking on this link evolved over time?

We begin by presenting the particular context in which Samir Amin’s thinking on this issue was born, then we discuss its theoretical foundations before turning to his evaluation of the Russian and Chinese experiences. We will conclude with the latest developments in this reflection.

Read the full article: