|Maldevelopment - Anatomy of a Global Failure (United Nations University)|
|7. Inter-African and south-south co-operation|
There is a fair amount of truth in the argument that the Balkanization of Africa and the Arab region is an additional obstacle to any form of development, a fortiori development to match the challenges of our time, and leaving integration in worldwide development without any alternative and hence making de-linking impossible. Although such an argument is often put forward as an excuse, co-operation - or integration with the outlook of constructing vast autonomous areas, if not great unitary states - is no substitute for the preliminary internal changes required, even of small and medium size countries, to begin autocentric national and popular development.
Africa - even in its existing states - is not unaware of the fact that for small states the impasse is real. In the continent as a whole there is no shortage of institutions, attempts and plans for co-operation. Alongside the national efforts to escape from the rut, shown earlier, efforts at mutual support and co-operation have been undertaken even before the 'South-South' theme took over from the failure of the NIEO. Moreover, these attempts at co-operation are based on solid historical and ideological foundations: pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Arab League have taken the initiative in creating numerous institutions, established subregional confederation schemes (based, it is true, on 'common market' principles, such as ECOWAS in West Africa), organized common fronts for the struggle against their adversaries (such as the SADCC in the face of South Africa), systematized Afro-Arab co-operation (which by volume is the largest South-South co-operation plan).
The results, so far, have been meagre and below the minimum required to launch en 'alternative development'. The reasons must be analised: micro-nationalisms and an inappropriate ideology of nation? Colonial inheritance? Drift in the system of international relations?
Despite appearances colonialism did not unify the countries and regions it conquered. It fragmented them.
The colonial development, to which the whole of the African continent was subjected, did not create economically integrated areas anywhere in Africa. But within the geographically vast colonial empires, unification in the liberal capitalist - meaning of the word was perfectly achieved in the threefold sense of unified markets for commodities, capital and labour.
The goods in question that circulated freely were, however, products of metropolitan industry, and the capital too was from the metropolis. This space was organized as the periphery of another system; it was not organized in terms of itself. It cannot, therefore, be called an economic area as this can exist only if it is organized in terms of itself. Here the flow of exchange of goods and capital of internal origin was negligible, sometimes even in comparison with what it had been before colonization. Integration in the space dominated by the metropolises disaggregated the embryonic organization of the national space.
There is no analogy between the gradual establishment of a national economic space, in the framework of the European nation states during the development of capitalism gradually integrating provinces in a space organized in terms of itself, and the kind of formal space colonization constituted in its empires. In fact the colonial spaces were a series of micro-regions bundled together and unequally developed according to the needs of the metropolises at successive stages of the latter's evolution. The result is that some regions developed at one stage of development were later abandoned because they were no longer of interest. The imperial geographic area was a patchwork of these micro-regions integrated in the light of the needs of metropolitan capital at various stages of evolution some were 'prosperous' and others - exploited at an earlier stage and then abandoned - devastated.
Since the colonial development brought no integration of the space, this geographical area could, at independence, be chopped up quite arbitrarily. There was no economic need to prevent this arbitrary chopping-up of the space. The empire might be chopped-up and each piece survive, if not develop, without creating any great difficulty for the colonial and neo-colonial economy. In these circumstances further break-up is always possible at the periphery of the system. It is easy to blame it on local, political, ideological or ethnic forces with centrifugal effect. It is often suggested that, for example, Africa broke up thanks to micro-local interests, wrongly designated as tribalism here, or micro-nationalism there. The explanation is false, since it overlooks that it was this organizational form of the geographical area dominated by the metropolises that created these centrifugal forces. In this geographical area, the micro-regions enjoying 'prosperity' at a stage of colonial development have no interest in dragging in their wake the areas devastated and those as yet undeveloped. It is not surprising in these circumstances that it is the 'prosperous' micro-regions who have been the source of the break-up. Cd'Ivoire for example in what had been French West Africa. Elsewhere this kind of colonial development set up embryonic social forces that would become the bureaucratic bourgeoisies in the administrative capitals. These bureaucratic bourgeoisies had an interest in shutting themselves up into tiny states of which they would be masters. It is often said that the Africans are sympathetic to large economic units, but that external forces are opposed to them. This is incorrect, since with the exception of the most backward segments of foreign capital, corresponding to primitive stages of colonization, big international capital is not hostile - on the contrary - to the organization of large economic 'unite', as long as they are conceived in its style. This does not mean that we should renounce the objective of economic unity, but that we must see it differently. Certainly, colonization of Africa was as a whole primitive colonization, entrusted to the most backward segments of capital (especially in regard to the French colonial empire) such as colonial trading companies descended from the mercantilist era and the slave trade. For the operation of such a system, it was of little account whether or not there were organized economic units, as there was no industry at this stage of colonial development there was no problem of markets. The centre of gravity of dominant capital is, however, shifting from these backward segments to the multinationals who do have an interest in the organization of large units in order to establish viable industries benefiting from the opening of more extensive markets.
The large space that we must conceive in the prospect of autocentric development has nothing to do with this kind of economic unit. The classic approach, in terms of monetary and customs unions and African common markets, does not meet the demands of a development policy since it accentuates regional inequalities within Africa and social inequalities within each region. Obviously, the most deprived countries are naturally opposed to this kind of neo-colonial integration. It is understandable that, in West Africa for example, the interior savannah countries have no interest in sacrificing their own development to this kind of so-called African unity.
Any analogy between the European common market and any possible common markets in Africa is quite meaningless. The European common market is organized between countries that have already reached the same stage of development and are able to compete. For these countries it is a matter of organizing a unit that already virtually existed, whereas for the African countries it is a matter of creating a unit that has no existence at all. It is a totally different problem. On this issue we have no more than the embryo of a theory, that of the handling of space around transport routes through the simultaneous and complementary installation of basic industries, for example.
From this angle, the great autocentric space is a precondition for Africa's advanced development: a necessary but not sufficient condition, since if this space is differently organized, as the periphery of a space dominated by foreign capital, it will have no developmental effect of itself but will, on the contrary, have the effect of accentuating the inequalities. What are the achievements and plans under way for African integration? We have first what was maintained of the colonial system, particularly the monetary unions in the Franc zone. These monetary unions are often defended on the grounds of being 'better than nothing'. But these are not units that will permit autocentric development of the monetary zone. As conceived by the metropolitan power, these units merely alleviate the management costs to the dominant metropolis by balancing the deficits of some components with the surplus of others. This is no more than a modality of management by the imperial system as has been shown.
As for the customs unions inherited from colonization, they are breaking up one by one for the obvious reasons indicated.
The assessment of positive achievements is unpromising. There are some tentative beginnings here and there, not through industrial integration, still a long way away, but more modestly through a minimum of collaboration in the installation of industries. It is very far from the demands of the creation and organization of an integrated economic space.
At the same time, note must be taken that significant discussions on the creation of monetary unions with autonomy in regard to the exterior, and of payment unions that might begin a genuine process of integration, have gradually been dropped since the 1970s. This is an example of the drift considered above.
The conclusion is that it is impossible to conceive of the creation of an economic space in Africa in a liberal framework, founded only on rules of competitiveness and profitability. Such a space would serve only to maintain and heighten the inequalities of underdevelopment. The alternative lies in planned organization of the space in terms of the prospects for long-term autocentric development.
If the Third World peoples are to meet the challenges of our time they have no option but to establish relatively broad solidarity groupings, well equipped in natural resources, able to prevent the subordination that their economic and financial vulnerability encourages, and even to give pause to a possible military aggressor. But their history and heritage in ethnic, cultural and linguistic terms, and their inheritance of frontiers and statist institutions, could serve as serious handicaps to this reconstruction. The Arab world embraces a vast geographical space that enjoys all these favourable conditions. Provided of course that what the Arabs call the 'Arab ration' becomes a reality. Aspirations for Arab unity - if there is an aspiration and whose? (of the peoples? of states and governments? of bourgeoisies? of intellecutals?) - are, in general, badly received in the West, whether they are regarded as utopian, unrealistic, or ludicrous, or whether they are regarded as a 'threat', the revenge of 'Muslim fanatics' on 'European Christianity'. Despite such prejudices, the achievement of Arab national unity is not only possible and desirable, but even objectively necessary in the interest of the Arab peoples. This 'historical necessity' is, however, no more inescapable than another, and more serious fact: that the Arab peoples are not currently embarked upon this path.
We shall not again go over the ground of the roots of the Arab question, discussed in its historical dimension in The Arab Nation, nor the issues arising from the theory of nation, discussed above. We shall say only: (i) that Arab unification in its heady early days rests on a material base, the centralization and circulation of surplus effected by the hegemonic state-class of 'merchant warriors'; (ii) that the subsequent fragmentation and decline were precisely the results of the disappearance of this system of centralization and circulation of surplus: (iii) that this contradictory heritage results in a 'nation' in two stages: a real potential of building a unified Arab nation (in Arabic qawmiya) already in possession of an essential instrument in common language and culture, and the parallel need at the inferior stage to recognize the reality of 'sub-nations' (in Arabic, watan), broadly corresponding to the main states of today.
There are serious obstacles to the achievement of this aim of unification. First, the interests of the hegemonic blocs constituted on the basis of existing states, which, as elsewhere in the peripheralized Third World, have no other ambition that that of attempting to 'adjust' individually to the demands of the world system. These 'adjustments' provoke inter-state rivalries and underlie some of the regional hegemonic aspirations. The relative and unequally distributed financial prosperity brought by oil exacerbates these negative trends. But there is also the obstacle of the Euro-American Western geostrategic concern to prevent by all possible means the emergence of this strong nation on Europe's southern flank. To the extent that Egypt is the kernel of the potential Arab construct, there has been a constant in Western policy - from Mohamed Ali at the beginning of the 19th century to Sadat: to smash any attempt to build a strong Egypt. The West did not create a full-fledged State of Israel for any other reason.
In the face of this challenge, two modern Arab ideological currents have looked towards unity. The Ba'athist current put forward the thesis of the priority of unity over social transformation (socialism in principle). History has shown that bourgeois nationalism (for this is what it boils down to) cannot under the circumstances of the contemporary challenges replicate what was possible in another age and other circumstances (in Germany or Italy). The Nasserist current from a neighbouring stance drew the lessons of the failure of the only real attempt at unification (the United Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria from 1958 to 1961), and began then to understand that the only social classes capable of carrying forward a unitary plan were the popular classes. But for complex reasons peculiar to the history of Egypt and of Nasserism, it did not succeed in overcoming the obstacles along the path to socialist construction and a strategy of de-linking from the world system, the only viable alternative to the impossible 'adjustments'. Meanwhile' imperialist aggression, through the Israeli attack of 1967, put an end to the experiment before it could make further progress and become irreversible.
The popular ideological reaction following this failure, and the recompradorization underway in the Arab world, is not currently part of a prospect of socialist and unitary supersession. We come back to our analysis of the 'Islamic renaissance', the form this reaction takes. Here for the sake of brevity let us recall only: (i) that the Muslim religion, like any religion, is susceptible to various interpretations, reactionary, conservative, progressive and revolutionary; it has in the past been able to adapt to social evolution and nothing prevents it from continuing to do so: it might even adapt to a secularization of society; (ii) the medley of contradictory tendencies within the global current dominated by fundamentalism is simultaneously evidence of a rejection of the prospect of compradorization that is all capitalism can offer and of the historical crisis of the socialist alternative; and (iii) that in the state, the current of Islamic revival, far from strengthening the prospect of Arab unity, works against it and offers nothing but sterile escapism.
The people do make their own history, but sometimes they do it badly. The challenge the Arab peoples must take on lies right in front of them.
When the United Nations was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War, the decolonization process had not yet begun and the African and Asian states represented there could be counted on one's fingers. But within a mere five years, the Asian and Arab states with formal independence constituted an 'Arab-Asiatic' group that aimed to speed up decolonization, of Africa in particular, through support to the liberation movements. At Bandung in 1955 the principles of the solidarity of the peoples and states of the Third World were systematically formulated. The Asian-African conference declared its full support of the principle of self-determination of peoples and nations. It rejected the 'an/i-communist' blackmail of the United States that, in the name of 'Atlantic' solidarity in the first cold war, tolerated colonial wars and/or systematic repression on the part of the old colonial powers, Britain and France in particular. The Asian-African conference also refused to subject their independence to the conditionality of arrangements of collective defence to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers (of the kind the United States was actively promoting against the Soviet Union and China). The conference was in favour of 'positive neutrality' that precluded going further into a Soviet sphere of influence as the price of freedom. On these foundations various formal and informal organizations for Afro-Asian co-operation were established - the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization in Cairo and the All-African Peoples Organization in Accra - in 1958.
The decade of 1955 to 1965 saw the greet years of Afro-Asian co-operation in general and Arab-African in particular. It was a question of mutual political support, where independent states and national liberation movements took their place side by side. This decade was the period of the great 'wind of change' that obliged colonialist Europe to yield: after an attempt to lop off one of the heads of the movement, through the tripartite Anglo-French-lsraeli aggression against Egypt in 1956, it tried to limit concessions in North Africa to independence for Tunisia and Morocco (1956) and deny it to Algeria, which, therefore, was ravaged by colonial war for Bight years (1954 to 1962), gave way to the United States to take over from France in Vietnam (from 1954) and finally, in 1960, Europe chose to accelerate the accession of sub-Saharan Africa to an independence that was steered into the hands of its 'friends'.
The conflict between the radical nationalist political forces and those that emerged from European concessions, from 1960 to 1963 divided Africa into the
Casablanca group and the Monrovia group, particularly on the issue of the former Belgian Congo. As we know, the fusion of the two groups in 1463 was the origin of the OAU, whose members went on to decide to accept the colonial boundaries and the Balkanization of the continent, and non-interference in each other's 'internal' affairs, and to support only the liberation movements of the colonies not yet freed (the Portuguese colonies, Rhodesia. Namibia and South Africa).
It was in this atmosphere that the first plans for intra-African, intra-Arab and Arab-African co-operation took shape. It was a matter of extending the political solidarity of the liberation movements into a new economic cooperation between the states liberated from colonialism, and refusing the surrender to the neo-colonialist prospects offered by the West. The cooperation was highly selective and involved only the radical nationalist states: Nasserist Egypt, promoter of the movement had a crucial place, alongside independent Algeria (from 1962), Nkrumah's Ghana. Sekou Toure's Guinea, Modibo Keita's Mali, and Nyerere's Tanzania. As for the neo-colonial regimes, they were not interested in principle, as they regarded 'Western aid' as satisfactory and spurned co-operation 'between the poor' who, in their view, had nothing to give each other.
By contrast, the radical nationalist states nurtured a vision of the total liberation of Africa and the Middle East that would pave the way to overcoming the handicaps inherited from the past and colonization, 'underdevelopment' (understood as dependence on imperialism and not as 'backwardness and poverty'), and the break-up into more or less artificial states, vulnerable by virtue of their inadequate size. Nasser's pan-Arab language and Nkrumah's pan-African language, far from being absurdly utopian, were rather evidence of the perceptiveness of these historic leaders. The co-operation envisaged was not limited to 'financial add' to one another. In view of the general poverty of the states in question such aid played only a secondary role in the strategies, policies and co-operation programmes.
Two sides of this overall co-operation strategy were envisaged: the constitution of a common front against the imperialist West, in order to strengthen the negotiating position of the partners and reduce their vulnerability: the gradual construction of a regional society better integrated through the development of its internal complementarities and leading at least to partially overcoming the asymmetrical and unequal North-South relations.
Undoubtedly, the plans for 'common fronts' against the West rarely went beyond the embryonic stage: exchange of views did not lead to the founding of effective producers' associations (only OPEC' was to emerge later, at a different conjuncture). Likewise, the shared plans for technological exchange and exploitation of (mining, agricultural and industrial) resources, such as those for integrated transport systems, rarely went further than the drawing board. The conjunctural circumstances were not promising: it was still a time of easy growth and to some it seemed a softer option to follow the line of least resistance, to promote the traditional exports to the West and to import from it the means to launch industrialization. But this shows the limitations of the radical nationalist regimes of the time.
Some positive achievements were initiated at the time in many areas. The exchange of students and specialists, popular congresses and conferences of professional associations, encouraged an Afro-Asian internationalism whose significance it would be wrong to underestimate. Political and military consultation gave this co-operation a sense of direction. In terms of economic results - construction of industry and infrastructure, increase of trade - a great many positive steps were taken. The partner states were largely influenced by the models of co-operation offered by both the USSR and China: long-term credits on soft terms, repayment in kind from the output of completed projects, and so on.
This co-operation cannot be isolated from the context of the internal politics of the radical nationalist partners, or escape a judgement that includes the limitations and contradictions of these systems. The latter may be characterized by a latent internal conflict between the trend towards evolution in a progressive social manner and the trend towards reinforcement of conservative social forces hankering after a bourgeois national state. For the components of the national liberation movement from which the radical nationalist state had emerged had not yet come into direct confrontation. The indecisive and contradictory content of the development policies pursued under these circumstances reflected this latent internal conflict. In fact, as we have said above, what we have called the 'Bandung plan' was essentially geared to the construction of a bourgeois national state, in the sense that on the one hand it sought control over internal accumulation and on the other it conceived of this within a 'global interdependence' (in fact the pursuit of integration in the world capitalist system) freed of the inequalities inherited from colonization. This plan was in opposition to the tendency towards a more or less well-defined national and popular plan that would have entailed a genuine de-linking in the way we have defined it, and opened the long chapter of the history of a transition capable of bolstering the gradual trend to socialism. The subsequent events confirmed the thesis that in our age the crystallization of new capitalist centres (the definition of the content of the bourgeois national plan) was impossible in the Third World in general, and the Afro-Arab region in particular. Even before the global crisis brought the dismantling of national bourgeois attempts, the drift, from the mid-1960s, had already doomed these experiments hastily dubbed as 'socialist'. With the fall of Modibo Keita and Nkrumah and the Egyptian defeat of 1967, the first wave of this Afro-Arab co-operation was played out.
The bourgeois national plan was, in fact, in operation for only a brief period. Even be for the opening of the crisis of the early 1970s its historical limitations were fairly apparent.
With the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and the beginning of the European construction, the neo-colonialist pressure of the Common Market took over from the old colonialisms. African states, only freshly independent, became 'associated' with the community, and subjected their vision of development to the imperatives of European strategy. The African radical nationalist states themselves accepted the terms of the Yaoundonvention (followed by the Lomonvention) without too much bother; those in the Maghreb tried to extend the 'advantages' of the opening-up of the French market to their traditional products or to those of their new industry (especially textile sub-contracting). At the same time, this new European 'friend' pursued its policy of open or concealed support to the old Portuguese colonialism, the apartheid regimes in South Africa. Rhodesia and Namibia, and Zionist expansion.
Africa, in the OAU, also continued its support to the liberation movements of Portuguese and southern Africa. But the results of these liberation struggles did not appear until later (1974: independence of the Portuguese colonies; 1980: independence of Zimbabwe) and in incomplete form as, South Africa to this day maintains its destabilizing intervention without Europe gainsaying... As for Israel, it pursued its intervention south of the Sahara on behalf of the United States: it took the 1967 war to see it provisionally and partially hounded out of the region. In Asia, neo-colonial dependence was less strongly felt, although the Vietnam war dragged on to 1975 and the countries to the south and east of the Arabian peninsula did not achieve independent status until the end of the 1960s.
The gradual gaining ground by the dominant conservative forces in Africa, the Arab world and Asia, alongside the collapse of radical national experiences, would at the same time encourage new currents attaching more significance to North-South relations than to South-South co-operation.
The overt crisis in the system from the 1970s accelerated the process of decomposition of the bourgeois national plan of Bandung. A global realignment of the West behind the United States was detectable and - on the excuse of debt and through the IMF and World Bank - this intervention proposed imposing on the Third World countries the now familiar 'readjustments'; the latter have no room for the demands of autocentric development at national, regional or collective level. Simultaneously the Soviet Union was subjected to the arms race imposed by the United States in the latter's strategy of counterattack to re-establish its hegemony and to impose an Atlantic pact realignment on Europe and Japan through the blackmail of East-West conflict. For this reason perhaps, the Soviet Union appears to have gone generally on the defensive. The penetration they achieved by providing defence for Angola and Mozambique threatened by South African destabilization, and by intervening in the conflicts of the Horn of Africa, from 1975, is rather limited and possibly provisional. In the Middle East, obviously, its presence has been largely marginalized by Egypt's about-turn since 1973.
In turn, the general retreat of the Bandung spirit encouraged the resurgence of various ideological and political currents and ambivalent and even dubious strategies. For example, it enabled Saudi Arabia to give the 'Pan-lslamic' current an airing it could not have achieved while Nasser was on guard, as he would not allow it to counter militant, unitary pan-Arabism. The current would give rise to such institutions as the Islamic Bank that would really take off a while later. It also permitted illusions as to a 'common front' of the Third World countries, regardless of their regimes and internal options, that would be able to force upon the West a revision of the terms of operation of the world economic system. This illusion was no doubt fuelled by the victory gained by OPEC in 1973. This was indeed a victory for the Third World: for the first time in history, the countries of the periphery were able to intervene effectively - and collectively - in setting the price of a significant raw material. It was of no great consequence from this point of view that the regimes principally benefiting by this victory were conservative. It was of no great consequence too, that OPEC reached this conclusion by able exploitation of a conjuncture of internal conflict in the Western world (the United States discovering that readjustment of the oil price could serve their interests in competition with Europe and Japan).
The limitations and ambivalence of what would be built in this framework were too often lost sight of, in the light of a euphoria that subsequent events would show to be unfounded. The regrouping of the non-aligned and Third World countries in 1975 to present an overall plan of reform of North-South relations, under the name of New International Economic Order, is a sign of these illusions. The West's predictably implacable opposition to the attempt hastened the later decomposition of the Third World.
As was to be expected, this decomposition accentuated the internal conflicts within the Third World. Some of these are of longstanding and not necessarily the exclusive product of the colonial heritage and great power manoeuvres. But it is not by chance that it is in the African and Arab region - the weakest and most exposed of the Third World - that we find a huge number of these conflicts: the Horn of Africa, Chad. Western Sahara, Iran-lraq, civil war in Lebanon, rivalry of the two Yemens, amongst others.
Expansion of Arab-African co-operation comes exactly within this period of ambivalence, from 1973. The connection between this blossoming of cooperation end 'oil prosperity' - from 1973 to 1985 ending, perhaps, in the crumbling of OPEC underway -is an obvious factor. A study of this cooperation brings out its general characteristics, perhaps three in all.
First, it is a matter of substantial programmes, by far the most impressive throughout the Third World.
Second, it is all-round co-operation, meaning that it embraces all the African and Arab countries, regardless of their political regimes and internal and international ideological and social options. The financial institutions established within the framework of overall co-operation between the OAU and the Arab League (BADEA among others) are evidence of this all-round conception of the co-operation. It is distinct from the selective co-operation of the 1960s.
Third, it is programmes essentially with access to substantial funds derived in the main from the 'oil surpluses' of the 1970s. This 'advantage', however, also has its negative side. It has contributed to distorting the outlook on genuinely alternative South-South demands, rather than complementary to North
South demands, just as it has encouraged well - or ill-founded expectations of boundless financial 'wealth' from the oil-producer countries. It is hardly surprising to note that little attention has been given to the sharing of nonfinancial resources (expertize, possibilities of technological research) and to increasing trade within the group of countries concerned (with priority for development of agricultural, mining and industrial complementarities, loan repayment through increased trade).
There are varying opinions on the positive features and shortcomings of these programmes for Afro-Arab co-operation. The analyses available, whether global or by sector and country, allow room for this. Our personal opinion is that the principle of South-South co-operation is always positive of itself, whatever the limitations and shortcomings in any particular example. It is, nonetheless, necessary to bring out the concrete characteristics of the projects implemented through the co-operation in question, and on this basis to assess the significance of this development for a liberation we see as synonymous with autocentric development for the states concerned, individually and as wholes or part-wholes. The battle for genuine South-South co-operation requires this.
From a formalist point of view, it is acceptable that the choice of projects put forward for financing by Afro-Arab co-operation is of concern only to the beneficiary states. This choice is bound to depend on the character of the internal development strategies. The latter are often questionable, that is, from our point of view, not leading as systematically as possible to an autocentric structure. But it is accepted that the Third World countries have the right to determine their own options and, on principle, interference by the agencies of the North is ruled out; although they do, in fact interfere, as we can see from the constant statements by the World Bank. It should be said then that mutual aid between Third World countries should follow the same principle of scrupulous regard for sovereignties. But putting the issue in these terms removes from the discussion the real terms of the alternative: all-round, or selective co-operation between countries embarked upon economic liberation from their dependence on the North? We are not entirely convinced that the all-round choice of Afro-Arab co-operation is the best. Perhaps a more judicious recourse to choices (if possible) would have avoided certain disappointments. The bottomless pit of Zaire is a good example of the waste that international co-operation sometimes accepts. Some circles want it for particular political reasons (the cynical view, for example, that the stability of the regime is more important than improving the living standards of the people affected...). In principle, this kind of reasoning should not be used by readerships in Third World countries, on the assumption that they do not have an unwarranted hankering after imperialism. Some Third World countries may share Western views and follow the same guidelines. But then it is hard to believe they can imagine a South-South link other than one intended to reinforce the North-South link.
If South-South ties are still as they are (and the same is so of Afro-Arab co-operation and of other forms of regional Arab and African interaction), there are numerous factors on both sides of the divide: the countries (mostly of OPEC) financing this co-operation and its beneficiaries (tine 'poorer' African and Arab countries). So far, the co-operation has not brought any appreciable increase in complementary trade flows. The explanation is that neither side is engaged on policies of de-linking in the sense we have given the term. Neither side envisages reference systems of internal prices (and a profitability measure of options intended to strengthen the autocentric character of their development) as distinct from those governing the 'rationality" of the world capitalist system. This shortcoming is manifest in the respect shown for 'World Bank strategies' that they try to reproduce in the imitative detail of cooperation conventions. It was shown above how Arab aid to the countries of the African Sahel financed projects largely drafted by the 'donors' (the 'friends of the Sahel': the West, with the World Bank at its head) and playing no part in the prospect of autocentric development for the region. In these circumstances the increase in financial flows from the Arabs was matched by a reduction in those coming from the OECD countries and institutions. A fine example of the implementation of the currently fashionable Euro-Arab-African 'trialogue': carrying on doing with the money of others (the OPEC countries) what you had been doing with your own (from the OECD)!
Afro-Arab co-operation is, however, a major objective necessity for the economic liberation of this region of the Third World. The reason is that the African and Arab region is, as has been shown, the weakest and most exposed of any in the modern Third World.
The bourgeois national plan - still dominant on the African political scene and in the Arab world - is, therefore, from the start doomed to lead to nowhere except permanent failure. If, in Asia and Latin America the margin of possible adjustment to world development is still broad enough to contain the expectation (or illusion) of bourgeois national crystallization, in Africa and the Arab world there is almost no such scope. More than elsewhere there is a stark alternative: going forward quickly to a national and popular plan or perishing (sometimes in the literal sense, through famine).
The fragmentation of the region into tiny states (as compared to Asia and Latin America) heightens the vulnerability and lessens the chance for any of them in isolation to escape. There are, however, objective elements to strengthen Arab-African unity, with origins in history (the objective foundations of pan-Arabism and pan-Africanism) and in the fact that the region as whole is dealt with in a similar manner by a common adversary, at an economic and strategic level and with the same instruments of intervention (South Africa and Israel).
The challenge is easily defined, although difficult to overcome. Kwame Nkrumah and Gamal Abdel Nasser will remain prophets of our age for having initiated this consciousness. Unfortunately. Afro-Arab co-operation began to peak after the two of them had gone.
The idea that solidarity of the peoples of Asia and Arica would lead from mutual support in anti-imperialist struggles to positive economic collaboration in alternative moulds to 'dependence' and unequal North-South exchange, dates back to the Bandung conference (1955). The Non-Aligned Movement also adopted as one of its constant themes of word and deed the promotion of South-South relations. After the failure of the North-South negotiations over the plan for the NIEO, the South-South theme had a new burst of life, tinged-since the end of the 1970s - with a certain ambivalence, as Faysal Yachir has noted, since co-operation between Third World countries had the same role as that previously belonging to the NIEO, such as transfer of technology, opening of new industrial markets and availability of financial resources, leading to the adoption by the '77' of an agenda reproducing all the topics of North-South relations.
The sum of recent developments in South-South economic relations is far from insignificant. The facts are well-known and we borrow the essence of conclusions in Yachir's excellent study (La cooperation Sud-Sud, une alternative?, Dakar, FTM, 1983).
At the level of international trade, the salient fact of the past two decades or so is certainly the emergence of new countries as exporters of manufactured goods. Nowadays, the share of these countries - the so-called 'newly industrializing' - accounts for more than 10% of world trade in industrial goods. These exports are sent to the South and to the North (where they compete successfully against some well-established industries, such as textiles, and even some new industries, such as electronics, provoking neo-protectionist responses, despite the liberal language). The annual rate of growth in South-South trade - 15% since the mid-1970s - is far and away the clearest indicator of all the rates of growth in international trade. This not insubstantial change in the structure of world trade, reflecting the evolution of the new international division of labour, is, however, a factor for only a restricted number of countries, as 80% is accounted for by five countries of East and South-East Asia (a 'gang of four' - Korea. Taiwan. Hong Kong and Singapore - and then to a lesser degree. Malaysia) and four large Third World countries (India and Brazil and to a lesser extent Mexico and Argentina).
A close examination of the new factors will show that they differ from both the 'old' South-South trade or some other new phenomena related to the strategy of relocation by the multinationals.
There were some South-South exchanges as part of the former division of colonial labour. In Africa, for example, the Sahel region, as a 'second-rank' periphery, traditionally supplied food exports (livestock and cereals) to the first-rank periphery in the adjacent coastal areas. These flows were accompanied by massive migrations from the interior to the coast that, in the space of half a century (1930-70), changed the proportion between interior and coastal population from two-thirds and one-third to half-and-half. But this kind of complementarily belonging to colonial and neo-colonial spatial arrangements is declining, as we have noted.
There are further South-South exchanges that are expanding and entirely due to the multinationals' strategies of relocation. In addition to an import substitution role, the small industries controlled by foreign capital in such countries as Cd'Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, and so on, in Africa, Colombia and Costa Rica in Latin America, the Philippines and Pakistan in Asia, now export their surplus output to neighbouring territories. The explosion of the processing industry based on cheap manpower in the 'free zones' (of which Tunisia is a good example in the Arab region) is also part of this 'controlled relocation'.
The boundary between this second kind of South-South exchange and that originating in the 'nine powers' mentioned above is difficult to trace. A high proportion of the export of manufactured goods from the nine countries is, in fact, by subsidiaries of multinationals of the North. This is mainly the case for motor cars, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, 60% to 90% controlled by foreign multinationals in Latin America (including Brazil) and to a lesser extent in Asia (especially in regard to Korea and India).
In the mid-1970s, the latter factor inspired a thesis of 'sub-imperialism'. This was to some extent an expansion of phenomena that were not entirely new. In Africa the volume of exchange between South Africa and the countries of Southern Africa was of the same kind.
If this factor of the emergence of the 'nine' in world trade deserves special attention, it is perhaps precisely because it reveals new trends in the international division of labour. More than 40% of the manufactured goods of the 'nine' are producer goods, vectors, as we know, of technology transfer. Most of these exports come from three countries - India, Korea and Brazil which are also in the forefront of Third World exporters of engineering, sometimes more appropriate to Third World markets than the goods of their competitors in the North, just as these three countries are in the forefront of the emergence of 'Third World transnationals'. This phenomenon cannot be reduced to the simple effect of relocation controlled by the North's monopoly capital. There is some conflict - albeit at the mercantile stage - between capitals from North and South. It is a conflict that fuels the thesis of qualitative diversification within the Third World.
By contrast, South-South capital flows have not so far opened up any really new prospects. Direct investments of capital are still negligible despite the combined efforts of the OAU and Arab League to encourage direct investment by the oil-producer countries in other countries of the Arab-African region. The investments represent a substantial portfolio. But they are almost entirely the sole concern of the OPEC countries and are entirely placed on the financial markets of the North. The only South-South financial flow of any consequence is represented by aid from the oil-producer countries - principally the Arabs - to African partners. This flow accounts for 80% of South-South capital transfers and has already reached a level, for certain beneficiary countries, comparable in order of magnitude with the flow of traditional aid supplied by the OECD countries.
The South-South migration of unskilled workers or brain drain of skilled workers is also limited to the impact of the oil boom, while the old migratory flows, linked to the colonial division of labour, are exhausted.
What conclusions can be drawn from these facts?
The economic relations between the newly industrializing, and the other Third World countries resemble in some ways the North-South relations. In the nature of things, the former's exports have to be competitive and hence operate within the structure of the world capitalist system's prices. If there is unequal exchange in North-South relations the same thing will occur in South-South relations. But the same could be said of interventions by countries of the East on the world market. Despite the restructuring there is some advantage in the new developments, if only to the extent that the NlCs, unlike the Western countries, cannot fit their trade into global economic and political imperialist strategies. The emergence of this kind of exchange between NlCs and other Third World countries is, in any case, one of the favourite arguments of the proponents of the theory whereby the concepts of centre and periphery should be abandoned once and for all, as it has been proven that the Third World countries can develop within the framework of worldwide expansion and even compete successfully against the countries with the longest tradition of industrialization. Other Third World countries' failure to do so would reflect not the imperatives of the world system but unfavourable internal factors for which they are themselves to blame. The sharp differentiation within the Third World would provide evidence of the mistakes in the theory of international polarization implicit in capitalist expansion.
This takes us rather quickly to the conclusions we have already discussed above. The South-South link as it is, in fact extends the unequal Norh-South relations, without the beneficiaries of change among the countries of the Third World having real access to the closed club of the imperialist centres. There is an enormous amount of evidence in support of this conclusion. The surplus of the NlCs on exchange with the Third World compensates for the deficit on their trade with the North and allows a speeding-up of import of equipment by the NlCs. These imports carry a technological dependence behind which - as the debt experience has shown - stands a financial dependence that the NlCs cannot escape. The NlCs as exporters of technology to the rest of the Third World are intermediaries, unable to innovate but only to absorb. Beyond these purely economic considerations, the impact on the character of the state in the NlCs and the social effects of their development are pan of the worldwide expansion (these effects are, as we have seen, heightening and not reducing internal social inequalities). This impact strengthens rather than denies the thesis of polarization reproduced by world capitalist expansion. That is why I have suggested regarding the NlCs as the true periphery of tomorrow, and not as 'semi-peripheries' on the way to crystallization into new centres, while the rest of the Third World countries - especially the fourth world, in a more recent coinage - are the areas laid waste by this expansion.
There are variations and shades of meaning within this overall schema. Relocation is not necessarily and entirely 'controlled' by the monopolies of the centre, according to a simplistic schema of 'redeployment', as it would be if the multinationals' strategies could be operated without any hindrance. But the industrialization of the NlCs as it is, is closer to this form of relocation than to that foreseen by the NIEO. The latter aimed to establish autocentric industrialized national economies and to breathe new life into world trade. Within the framework of relocation without autocentric national and popular crystallization there are various strategies, each with its particular characteristics. Brazil is an example of relocation without progressive social transformations (so far at least, and it is the tragedy its young democracy is facing): Korea an example of relocation from a more socially balanced starting point: India an example of relocation grafted on to a strategy with some elements of de-linking (and hence led into a new contradiction between the path of further de-linking and that of relocation and incorporation into the worldwide expansion). In all three cases a strong and interventionist state gives the lie to the 'world Bank' language of liberalization.
We are brought back at this point to what we have been saying about de-linking, as the central axis of national and popular autocentric thrust. As long as we operate within the framework of the structure of world prices (and the South-South link has yet to escape), as long as the strategies internalize this structure (through the criteria of profitability in force), industrialization in our time can only be a relocation incapable of effacing the structural characteristics of peripheral capitalism (that is, an increasingly unequal internal social distribution, in contrast to that typifying the societies of central capitalism where the distribution is stable). To change direction it is essential to adopt alternative criteria of economic rationality, de-linked from those that operate in the worldwide framework. A South-South link that would support autocentric national and popular policies and give them more scope demands this de-linking. It is still a long way off.
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