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Remembering Wallerstein's Remedies.
by Adam Starr
13 March 2002 21:29 UTC
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Hello WSN World,

In light of the explosion of debate that has occurred
over the last couple of days (which I believe is
healthy), I've found myself not entirely satsified
with my arguement. Upon consideration of how impliment
policy based upon World System Theory, I found myself
up at 2 o'clock in the morning searching through my
personal "library". Alas, I came across a short
reading by Wallerstein that was not only amusing but
directly related to my concerns. Perhaps his argument
was far too complex for me and "zipped" right over my
head,  but I believe I was able to grasp his basic

I came across the book, "The Underdevelopment of
Development: Essays in Honour of Andre Gunder Frank"
(Sage Publications, 1996). In it was a short essay
written by Immanuel Wallertein entitled,
"Underdevelopment and its Remedies".

Wallerstein addresses the issue of development in the
post-1945 period and how 'core - periphery' relations
have been dominated by American hegmony. While the US
emphasized privatization and capitalist mode of
production, thhe only counterhetoric was collective
"socialist development" by the USSR. However, with the
onset Keynesianism, both sides of the iron curtain
agreed that there needed to be some form of state
intervention. Thus, the pattern of dpendency emerged
within the "aid" forum as Developed countries began
providing programs for the less developed.

As we all know, by the late 1960's the American
development model had a profound impact within the
left academia with the emergence of the Depentistas'
Dependency Theory and World System Theory and there
seemed to be an optimism that real change might occur
breaking the chain of dependency. This didn't happen
and we find our selves today looking back and asking
'what happened'?

In adressing this, Wallerstein states that there,
"...is the view of those who think that things have
not, on the whole, been getting better but that it is
possible (possible, not certain) that they could do
so." (p. 357-8)

He then goes on to ask the question, "what needs
changing? It seems very clear to me that it is our
world-system, which is a capitalist world-economy,
which is hierarchical and polarizing, racist and
sexist, and unfundamentally undemocratic." (p. 358)

As a system, the "capitalist worl-economy" is subject
to erosion and eventual collapse due to the nature of
systems. He elaborates bt saying, "...cyclical rythms
generate secular trends that, in turn, over a long
run, create impossible dilemmas (contradictions) that
cannot be surmounted and that must lead to the
disintigration of the system." (p. 358)

Therfor, since the system will eventually collapse due
to the processes above, should we sit around and wait
for it to happen? Wallerstein says, "Not at all!" (p.
358) A political strategy and viable policies are
needed to impliment such a disintegration and allow
for the transition of a new one. Such a strategy
begins from two premises:

1.) The capitalist world-system needs changing.
2.) This system will change regardless, but will the
next system be "better or worse".

Wallerstein suggests that such a strategy needs to be
implimented in three phases: immediate, middle run,
and long run. The immediate should invole mass
mobilization against the world-system in such a way
that it is stressed. The middle and long run needs to
overload the system There are two ways to do this:
take the rhetoric of freedom literally (free world,
free market, etc.) and to take the economic
self-interest seriously (increase in wages and the
erosion of profit margins). Finally, the long run
should involve utopistics - serious engagement towards
the creation of future system.

If there are those that have taken my comments and
criticisms seriously and are interested in engaging in
such a debate for the 'development' of a 'system' 
bringing the 'theory' back to the 'world', I recomend
this reading. I would like to hear further thoughts on

I believe such dialogue is of vital importance as to
the current "world crisis". For those of you that
believe in the importance of engaging in further
world-system histrorical analysis, please continue to
do so, but I ask that you also contribute what
insights you may have towards viable policies. For
those of you with world experience (committees,
development projects, program directors and other
various agencies outside the University), what do you
believe are practical applications towards such

Who's up for the challenge?

Adam Starr

Adam T. Starr
Undergraduate of Political Science, UVic
3009 Quadra Street, Victoria, British Columbia
V8T 4G2 Canada
(011) (250) 472-1223
adam@hornbyisland.com or reunitedhornby@yahoo.com

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