The radical interpretation of the Latin American context

Dora Longo Bahia, Black Bloc, 2015 Silkscreen on fiber cement (12 pieces) - 39,5 x 19,5 cm each


To break with underdevelopment and dependence LA will have to break with capitalism

The Marxist version of dependency theory (TDM) emerges as a global critique of both conventional theories of development, which are still prevalent today, and the conceptions of segments of the left, such as the former Communist Parties. This view, seeking the interaction of dependent capitalism in its specific articulation with the world economy, breaks with various methodological reductionisms and spatially reinterprets capitalist development, generating new categories of interpretation, considering that the capitalist development of this region should be understood from the double vector : cycle of reproduction of local capital and expansion of the capitalist world economy.

The dependency category allows viewing the internal situation of peripheral countries as part of the global economy, being a fundamental complement to the Marxist theory of imperialism, the nexus of the process of expansion of capitalist centers and their world domination. Thus, developing propositions or laws internal to peripheral capitalism is a relevant point in the theoretical contribution of this perception to the contemporary capitalist world. This exercise transcended the conventional theories of development that proposed to explain the economic situation of our countries as a mere result of alleged slowness or failure to adopt efficiency standards characteristic of the central countries.

From the analysis of the constitution process of a global economy formed by the interaction of national economies in a world market, it is noted that the relations produced by this market are unequal and combined: unequal because the development of certain parts of the system occurs to the detriment of others. other parts and combined, since trade relations are based on monopoly control of the market, which entails the transfer of surplus generated in dependent countries to dominant countries.

Financial relations, from the perspective of central economies, are based on loans and the export of capital, which allows them to receive interest and profits, thus increasing their domestic surplus and strengthening their control over the economies of other countries. It is worth remembering the mountain of wealth that Brazil, and the other Latin American countries, annually transfer in the form of payment of interest on state debts: in the case of the USA, the Debt/GDP ratio in the period 2010/2015 is above 60%, but the interest/GDP ratio is below 1,5%, much lower than the Brazilian case, where the interest/GDP ratio is always above 4%, despite the Debt/GDP ratio being, on average, 56,7%, well smaller than the US[I].

This logic expresses an export of profits and interest from peripheral societies to central ones, part of the surplus generated domestically and leads to a loss of control over its own productive resources, something that is linked to the characteristics of subservience of this bourgeoisie to the imperialist bourgeoisie. In this sense, for these relations to take place, dependent countries generate large surpluses through the overexploitation of their workforce. This results in structural limitations of their capitalist development, but centrally in an abusive way of using and exploiting their peoples, culturally, morally and physically. Uneven, associated, combined development explains and accentuates the structural form of capitalism in the global economy.

Latin American countries relate to capitalist centers through a structure established from an international division of labor, in which the production relations of peripheral nations are transformed or recreated to guarantee the expanded reproduction of dependency. From the point of view from the center to the periphery, Latin America's participation in the international market contributed for the axis of accumulation of the imperialist countries to move towards a new technological cycle, or a new spiral of accumulation. It is worth noting that in recent decades, the characteristics of dependency have changed and intensified the contradictions between centers producing high technology and peripheries, increasingly dispersed, producing natural resources, a pattern of productive reprimarization evidenced in the largest Latin American economies.

The center-periphery relationship is based on an “unequal exchange”, as dependent countries export basic products that do not require the introduction of technology developed internally to expand accumulation, where production is based on mechanisms of superexploitation of the workforce or on the intensive extraction of natural resources.

The bourgeoisies of dependent economies, faced with the process of unequal exchange, find in the increase in the exploitation of labor a mechanism that allows for an increase in the mass of value available for export. The historical form of super-exploitation capitalism is based both on the intensification of exploitation, but also on differential technologies that make possible both the expansion of surplus and changes in technological relations favorable to world capitalism. In this way, the super-exploitation of the worker is an essential characteristic of production in dependent countries and the essence of the contradictions and forms of political regimes prevalent in these countries, but without stopping localized technological advances, such as in agribusiness and in large-scale mines.

Given the conditions to subject the worker to such a situation, it can be concluded that the execution of three mechanisms: the increase in work intensity, the increase in working hours and the reduction in worker consumption, beyond the humanly desirable limit, have their essential characteristics .

The conditioning elements of dependence cause a strong structural outflow of resources, biotic impoverishment, leading to recurring problems of external strangulation and restrictions to growth. As a result, the only way that internal capital accumulation in the dependent economy can proceed is by increasing its production of surplus, even if a growing portion of that surplus is appropriated and therefore accumulated externally, the remainder can sustain a dynamic of internal accumulation, albeit restricted, dependent and based on increasing degrees of social misery.

The overexploitation of the workforce does not, in principle, pose obstacles to the internal accumulation of capital, by restricting the consumption of the workforce, because its realization dynamics may depend on the external market and/or on a consumption pattern that privileges the middle and upper strata of the population. From this dynamic of capital accumulation, dependent capitalism can grow, bypassing its external constraint.

However, this dynamic brings with it inevitable consequences of dependence: regressive distribution of income and wealth, associated with growing marginality and violence, something that deepens in this new ring of the spiral of dependence, breaking it goes beyond institutional disputes requires radical struggle in the streets of Brazilian cities and countryside. Breaking with underdevelopment requires breaking with capitalism and projecting another global society: socialist and solidary.

*Jose Raimundo Trinidad He is a professor at the Institute of Applied Social Sciences at UFPA. Author, among other books, of Criticism of the Political Economy of the Public Debt and the Capitalist Credit System: a Marxist approach (CRV).



Jose Raimundo Trinidad. An Agenda of Debates. In: TRINDADE, JRB Agenda and debates and theoretical challenges. Bethlehem: Paka-tatu, 2020.

Ruy Mauro Marini. Dialectics of Dependence (1973). SADER, Emir (orgs). Dialectics of Dependency: an anthology of the work of Rui Mauro Marini. Rio de Janeiro: Voices, 2000.

Theotonio dos Santos. Dependency Theory: Balance and perspectives. Selected Works. V.1. Florianópolis: Insular, 2015.




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