The nearly two decades elapsed since publication of "The Liberal Virus", Samir Amin's essay-length missive on the American imperial project and the ways it might be undone, have further confirmed some of his premises while seeming to falsify some of his conclusions. A book written in the immediate shadow of the Iraq invasion, Amin's justifiable hatred and disgust for the American-led system leads him to look for hope in some strange places. The "Paris, Berlin, Moscow" alliance, already on-its-face unlikely, now seems an impossibility in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war. But beyond this provocative and memorable suggestion for a new alliance, this book offers other insights on Amin's view of the twenty-first century 'liberal world order' and how it might be challenged.
Chapter 1: The "Liberal" Vision of Society
THE GENERAL IDEAS which govern the dominant liberal vision of the world are simple and may be summarized in the following terms:
Social effectiveness is equated by liberals with economic efficiency which, in turn, is confounded with the financial profitability of capital. These reductions express the dominance of the economic, a dominance characteristic of capitalism. The atrophied social thought derived from this dominance is “economistic” in the extreme. Curiously, this reproach, wrongly directed at Marxism, in fact characterizes capitalist liberalism.
The development of the generalized market (the least regulated possible) and of democracy are decreed to be complementary to one another. The question of conflict between social interests which are expressed through their interventions in the market and social interests which give meaning and import to political democracy is not even posed. Economics and politics do not form two dimensions of social reality, each having their own autonomy, operating in a dialectical relationship; capitalist economics in fact governs the political, whose creative potential it eliminates.
Apparently, the most “developed” country, the one in which the political is actually conceived and practiced entirely in the exclusive service of the economy (of capital, in fact)—obviously the United States—is held to be the best model for “all.” Its institutions and practices should be imitated by all those who hope to be contemporary with the world scene.
There is no alternative to the proposed model, which is founded on economistic postulates, the identity of the market and democracy, and the subsumption of the political by the economic. The socialist option attempted in the Soviet Union and China demonstrated that it was both inefficient in economic terms and antidemocratic in the political sphere.
In other words, the propositions formulated above have the virtue of being “eternal truths” (the truths of “Reason”) revealed by the unfolding of contemporary history. Their triumph is assured, particularly since the disappearance of the alternative “socialist” experiments. We will all truly arrive, as has been said, at the end of history. Historical Reason has triumphed. This triumph means then that we live in the best of all possible worlds, at least potentially, in the sense that it will be so when its founding ideas are accepted by everyone and put into practice everywhere. All the defects of today’s reality are due only to the fact that these eternal principles of Reason are not yet put into practice in the societies that suffer from these deficiencies, particularly those in the global South.
The hegemonism of the United States, a normal expression of its avant-garde position in using Reason (inevitably liberal), is thus both unavoidable and favorable to the progress of the whole of humanity. There is no “American imperialism,” only a noble leadership (“benign” or painless, as liberal American intellectuals qualify it).
These “ideas” are central to the liberal vision. In fact, as we will see in what follows, these ideas are nothing but nonsense, founded on a para-science — so-called pure economics — and an accompanying ideology — postmodernism.
Chapter 2: The Ideological and Para-Theoretical Foundations of Liberalism
On "Imaginary Capitalism":
THE CONCEPT OF CAPITALISM cannot be reduced to the “generalized market,” but instead situates the essence of capitalism precisely in power beyond the market. This reduction, as found in the dominant vulgate, substitutes the theory of an imaginary system governed by “economic laws” (the “market”) which would tend, if left to themselves, to produce an “optimal equilibrium,” for the analysis of capitalism based on social relations and a politics through which these powers beyond the market are expressed. In really-existing capitalism, class struggle, politics, the state, and the logics of capital accumulation are inseparable. Consequently, capitalism is by nature a regime in which the successive states of disequilibrium are products of social and political confrontations situated beyond the market. The concepts proposed by the vulgar economics of liberalism—such as “deregulation” of the markets—have no reality. So-called deregulated markets are markets regulated by the forces of monopolies which are situated outside the market.
Economic alienation is the specific form of capitalism which governs the reproduction of society in its totality and not only the reproduction of its economic system. The law of value governs not only capitalist economic life, but all social life in this society. This specificity explains why, in capitalism, the economic is erected into a “science”—that is, the laws which govern the movement of capitalism are imposed on modern societies (and on the human beings which form those societies) “like laws of nature.” In other words, the fact that these laws are the product not of a transhistorical nature (which would define the “human being” vis-à-vis the challenge of “scarcity”) but of a particular historical nature (social relations specifically characteristic of capitalism) is erased from social consciousness. This is, in my opinion, how Marx understood “economism,” the unique characteristic of capitalism.
Love this quote:
The effective response to the challenges can only be found if one understands that history is not governed by the infallible unfolding of economic laws. It is produced by social reactions to the tendencies expressed by these laws which, in turn, are defined by the social relations within the framework in which these laws operate. The “anti-systemic” forces—if one wants to refer to this organized, coherent and effective refusal to the unilateral and total submission to the requirements of these alleged laws (in fact, quite simply the law of profit characteristic of capitalism as a system)—make real history as much as the “pure” logic of capitalist accumulation. These forces govern the possibilities and the forms of the expansion which then develop within the framework that they have organized.
Amin sees postmodernism (roughly characterized as "suspicion towards universalism" without a "true critique") as supporting ideology of contemporary liberalism:
The ideological discourse of postmodernism is sustained by these regressions. Recuperating every common prejudice produced by the disarray characteristic of moments such as ours, it methodically lays out, without concern for overall coherence, one argument after another encouraging suspicion towards the concepts of progress and universalism. But far from deepening the serious critique of these expressions of Enlightenment culture and bourgeois history, far from analyzing their actual contradictions, which are aggravated by the obsolescence of the system, this discourse is satisfied with substituting the impoverished propositions of liberal American ideology for a true critique: “live with your time,” “adapt to it,” “manage each day”—that is, abstain from reflecting on the nature of the system, and particularly from calling into question its choices of the moment.
The praise for inherited diversities proposed in place of the necessary effort to transcend the limits of bourgeois universalism thus functions in perfect accord with the requirements of contemporary imperialism’s project of globalization, a project that can produce only an organized system of apartheid on a world scale, sustained as it is by reactionary “communitarian” ideologies in the North American tradition. What I qualify as the “culturalist” retreat, which is at the forefront of the scene today, is thus implemented and manipulated by the masters of the system, just as it is equally often seized upon by the dominated peoples in confusion (under the form of so-called religious or ethnic fundamentalisms). This is the “clash of barbarisms,” as Gilbert Achcar has written, giving Huntington’s thesis a self-realizing character.
The world system has not entered into a new “non-imperialist” phase that is sometimes characterized as “post-imperialist.” On the contrary, it is by nature an imperialist system exacerbated to the extreme (extracting resources without effective opposition). The analysis that Negri and Hardt propose of an “Empire” (without imperialism), in fact an Empire limited to the Triad—that is, the three major regions of capitalism, the United States, Europe, and Japan—with the rest of the world being ignored, is unfortunately inscribed both in the tradition of Occidentalism and in the currently fashionable intellectual discourse. The differences between the new imperialism and the preceding one are found elsewhere. Imperialism in the past was multiple (“imperialisms” in conflict), while the new one is collective (the Triad, even if this be in the wake of United States hegemony). From this fact, the “conflicts” among the partners of the Triad are only minor, while the conflict between the Triad and the rest of the world is clearly the major one. The disappearance of the European project in the face of American hegemonism finds its explanation here. Furthermore, accumulation in the prior imperialist stage was based on the binary relation between the industrialized centers and the non-industrialized peripheries, while in the new conditions of the system’s evolution the opposition is between the beneficiaries of the centers’ new monopolies (technology, access to natural resources, communications, weapons of mass destruction) and peripheries that are industrialized, but still subordinated by means of these monopolies. In order to justify their thesis, Negri and Hardt need to give a strictly political definition of the imperialist phenomenon (“the projection of national power beyond its frontiers”), without any relation to the requirements for the accumulation and reproduction of capital. This definition, which stems from vulgar university political science, particularly of the North American variety, eliminates from the start the true questions. Their discourse deals with a category “empire” placed outside of history and thus happily makes no distinction among the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, British colonial, and French colonial empires. No care is taken to consider the specificities of these historical constructions without reducing them to one another.
Bit about neoliberalism's relation to the state ("not at all suppressing the state, but liquidating only political practice, thus allowing it to fulfill other functions") especially on the mark here:
The influence which the Empire thesis has gained in the opinion of the Western left, and among youth, derives entirely, in my opinion, from the harsh observations it makes about the state and the nation. The state (bourgeois) and nationalism (chauvinistic) have always been rejected, and rightly so, by the radical left. To assert that, with the new capitalism, their decay is beginning can only be pleasing. But, alas, the proposition is not true. Late capitalism certainly puts on the agenda the objective necessity and possibility of the withering away of the law of value; the technological revolution makes possible, in this context, the development of a network society; the deepening of globalization certainly challenges the existence of nations. But obsolescent capitalism, by means of a violent imperialism, is busily annulling all of the emancipatory possibilities. The idea that capitalism could adapt itself to liberating transformations, that is, could produce them, without wanting to, as well as socialism could, is at the heart of the American liberal ideology. Its function is to deceive us and cause us to forget the extent of the true challenges and of the struggles required to respond to them. The suggested “anti-state” strategy unites perfectly with capital’s strategy, which is busy “limiting public interventions” (“deregulating”) for its own benefit, reducing the role of the state to its police functions (not at all suppressing the state, but liquidating only political practice, thus allowing it to fulfill other functions). In a similar way, the “anti-nation” discourse encourages the acceptance of the role of the United States as military superpower and world policeman.
Chapter 3: The Consequences: Really-Existing Globalized Liberalism
Amin here talks through a few different major consequences of the American project/liberal virus, including a discussion of the modern rural/peasantry problem and how it would end up if liberal market relations were pushed even further:
An additional twenty million modern farms, if given the necessary access to important areas of land (taking it away from peasant producers and undoubtedly choosing the best soil) and if given access to the capital markets that would enable them to acquire the proper equipment, could produce enough to replace the peasant production currently purchased by solvent urban consumers. But what would become of the billions of these noncompetitive peasant producers? They will be inexorably eliminated over the course of a few dozen years. What is going to become of these billions of human beings, already for the most part the poor among the poor, but who can at least feed themselves, somehow or other, though rather poorly for a third of them (three-quarters of the undernourished in the world live in the rural areas)? Fifty years of any more or less competitive industrial development, even given the fantastic hypothesis of a continual growth of 7 percent per year for three-fourths of humanity, could not possibly absorb one-third of this reserve. In other words, capitalism is by nature incapable of resolving the peasant question and the only prospect it offers is a planetary shantytown of five billion human beings “too many.”
In the Marxist camp, only Maoism grasped the magnitude of the challenge. And that is why those critics of Maoism which see in it a “peasant deviation” prove, by that very assertion, that they do not possess the necessary tools to understand the nature of really-existing (always imperialist) capitalism. They are satisfied with substituting an abstract discourse on the capitalist mode of production in general.
What to do then?
It is necessary to preserve peasant agriculture for the entire visible future of the twenty-first century. This is not for reasons of romantic nostalgia for the past, but quite simply because the solution to the problem is found by going beyond the logic of capitalism and becoming part of the long, secular transition to world socialism. Thus it is necessary to design regulatory policies for the relations between the “market” and peasant agriculture. At the national and regional levels, these regulations, specifically adapted to local conditions, should protect national production, thus assuring the indispensable security of food at the national level and neutralizing the food weapon of imperialism. In other words, delink internal prices from those of the world market—as they should be—by increasing the productivity of peasant agriculture, which is undoubtedly slow, but continual, thereby allowing control over the population transfer from the countryside towards the cities. At the level of what is called the world market, the desirable regulation probably should occur by means of interregional agreements, for example, between Europe, on one side, and Africa, the Arab world, China and India, on the other, thereby responding to the requirements of a development which integrates instead of excluding.
Introducing his concept of "low-intensity democracy", as well as a warning about this form of democracy potentially degrading even further (it is not clear whether he sees this as a possibility for Global South, North, or both):
But that is not the only possibility of hiding the divergence between democracy and the market. If, in a concrete historical conjuncture, a fragmented movement of social criticism has been weakened because there appears to be no alternative to the dominant ideology, then democracy can be emptied of all content which restricts and is potentially dangerous for the market. It becomes a “low-intensity democracy.” You are free to vote as you choose: white, blue, green, pink, or red. In any case, it will have no effect; your fate is decided elsewhere, outside the precincts of Parliament, in the market. The subjection of democracy to the market (and not their convergence) is reflected in political language. The rotation of those in government (but not those in power), always called upon to do the same thing—that is, obey the market—has taken the place of the alternative—that is, a clear choice between socially different options and perspectives. Everything that has been said and written on the double dilution of citizenship and class consciousness into the spectacle of political comedy and the consumption of commodities is contained in this separation between the political and the economic.
This is where we are today. It is a dangerous situation because, with the erosion of the credibility and legitimacy of democratic procedures, it could very well lead to a violent backlash that purely and simply abolishes those procedures altogether in favor of an illusory consensus founded on religion or ethnic chauvinism, for example. In the peripheries of the system, democracy, which is impotent because it is subject to the brutal demands of a savage capitalism, has become a tragic farce, a democracy without value; Mobutu replaced with two hundred Mobutist parties!
The contradiction between the individual and the collective, immanent to every society at all levels of reality, was overcome in all social systems prior to modernity by the negation of the first term, that is, by the domestication of the individual by society. The individual is thus recognizable only by and through his/her status in the family, clan, society. The terms of the negation are inverted in the ideology of the modern (capitalist) world: modernity affirms the rights of the individual over against society. This reversal is only the preliminary condition of a potential liberation, because it simultaneously liberates a potential for permanent aggressiveness in the relations between individuals. Capitalist ideology expresses the reality of this by its ambiguous ethic: long live competition, may the strong win. The devastating effects of this ideology are sometimes limited by the coexistence of other ethical principles, largely of religious origin or inherited from earlier social forms. As these barriers break down, the one-sided ideology of the rights of the individual can only result in horror. There is a striking contrast here between, on the one hand, American ideology which grants to individual liberty an absolute priority over social equality (extreme inequality is, as a result, accepted) and, on the other hand, the European ideology which attempts to link the two themes together without, for all that, being capable, within the context of capitalism, of resolving the contradictions. The attachment of the citizens of the United States to the right to bear arms—with all the well-known disastrous consequences—is the extreme expression of this concept of barbaric liberty.
Chapter 4: The Origins of Liberalism
The concomitant birth and development of modernity and capitalism are not the products of chance. The social relations characteristic of the new system of capitalist production implied free enterprise, free access to markets, and the proclamation of the untouchable right to private property (which is made “sacred”). Economic life, emancipated from the political power which dominated it in regimes prior to modernity, is made into an autonomous domain of social life, driven by its own laws alone. Capitalism replaces the traditional relation in which power is the source of wealth with the reverse relation which makes wealth the source of power. But so far, really-existing modernity, whose development has remained enclosed within the framework of capitalism, is ambiguous on this question of the relation between power and wealth. In fact, it is based on the separation between two domains of social life, the management of the economy, which is entrusted to the characteristic logics governing the accumulation of capital (private property, free enterprise, competition) and the management of state power by the institutionalized practice of political democracy (rights of the citizen, principles of a multiparty system, etc.). This arbitrary separation vitiates the potential emancipatory power proclaimed by modernity. The modernity that has developed under the limiting constraints of capitalism is, as a result, contradictory, promising much more than it has been able to deliver, thereby creating unsatisfied hopes.
Amin's view of the principal (but disappearing) political/cultural difference between Europe and the US:
On the basis of this observation, I would venture to explain one of the differences, still visible today, between American society and culture, on the one hand, and European society and culture, on the other. The operation and interests of dominant capital in the United States and in Europe are probably not as different as sometimes suggested (by the well-known opposition between “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” and “Rhenish capitalism”). The conjunction of their interests certainly explains the solidity of the Triad (United States-Europe-Japan) despite the secondary commercial conflicts which can and do oppose one part of the Triad to the others. But the decisions and choices of society, the social projects that inspire the spirit, even implicitly, are fairly different. In the United States, liberty alone occupies the entire field of political values without any problem. In Europe, liberty is always counterbalanced by an attachment to the value of equality with which it must be combined.
American society despises equality. Extreme inequality is not only tolerated, it is taken as a symbol of the “success” that liberty promises. But liberty without equality is equal to barbarism. The many forms of violence that this one-sided ideology produces are not the result of chance and are in no way a ground for radicalization; on the contrary. The dominant culture of European societies has up to the present day combined liberty and equality with less imbalance; this combination, moreover, forms the foundation of the historic compromise of social democracy. Unfortunately, it is true that the evolution of contemporary Europe is tending to bring the society and culture of the continent into harmony with those of the United States, exalting the characteristics of the latter into models and objects of an uncritical and overwhelming admiration.
The political culture of the United States is not that which took form in France beginning with the Enlightenment and then, above all, during the Revolution and, to various degrees, marked the history of a good part of the European continent. The differences between these two cultures are more than visible. They break out during moments of crisis, resulting in violent oppositions (such as whether or not to respect international legality on the question of the war against Iraq).
Political culture is the product of history viewed over a long period of time which is always, of course, unique to each country. On this level, the history of the United States is marked by specificities which stand out from those that characterize history on the European continent: the founding of New England by extremist Protestant sects, genocide of the Indians, slavery of the Blacks, development of “communitarianism” associated with the successive waves of immigration in the nineteenth century.
The particular form of Protestantism implanted in New England made a strong impression on American ideology which has continued right up to the present. It was the means through which the new American society began the conquest of the continent, legitimizing it in terms taken from the Bible (the violent conquest by Israel of the Promised Land, an incessantly repeated theme in North American discourse). Thereafter, the United States extended to the whole planet its project of realizing the work that “God” had commanded it to carry out. The people of the United States see themselves as the “chosen people”—a synonym in actual events for Herrenvolk, to return to the parallel Nazi terminology. And this is why American imperialism has to be more barbaric than its predecessors, who did not proclaim themselves to have been given a divine mission.
Of course, the American ideology in question is not the cause of the imperialist expansion of the United States. The latter obeys the logic of capital accumulation, whose (completely material) interests it serves. But the ideology is perfectly appropriate. It confuses the issue.
Above quote begs the obvious question of why this Herrenvolk idea should not be identified with Europe as well, considering the continental legacy of colonialism and fascism, which is much more extensive than just the "aberration" of Nazism.
The successive waves of immigration have played a role in reinforcing the American ideology. The immigrants are certainly not responsible for the misery and the oppression that precipitate their departure from their former homes. On the contrary, they are victims. But the circumstances—that is, their emigration—lead them to renounce collective struggles to change the conditions common to their classes or groups in their own countries and result in an adherence to the ideology of individual success in their adopted land. This adherence is encouraged by the American system, to its own advantage. It retards the growth of class consciousness which, having barely begun to mature, must face a new wave of immigrants which, in turn, aborts any political crystallization. But simultaneously this migration encourages the “communitarianization” of American society, because “individual success” does not exclude the inclusion of the immigrant into a community of origin (the Irish, the Italian, etc.), without which the individual’s isolation could become unbearable. Here again the reinforcement of this dimension of identity—recuperated and encouraged by the American system—is done to the detriment of class consciousness.
The ruling class of the United States has developed, in these circumstances, a complete cynicism, disguised by a degree of hypocrisy that every foreign observer notes, but that the American people never see! The use of violence, in extreme forms, is implemented every time it is necessary. All the radical American militants know it: to sell out or be murdered is the only choice left to them.
The American ideology, like all ideologies, is “worn away by time.” In “calm” periods of history—marked by strong economic growth accompanied by satisfactory social effects—the pressure that the ruling class must exert on its people is weakened. From time to time then, according to the needs of the moment, this ruling class “reinvigorates” American ideology by means which are always the same: an enemy (always external, American society being declared good by definition) is designated (the Empire of Evil, the Axis of Evil) enabling the “mobilization” of every means destined to eliminate it. Yesterday it was communism, which, through McCarthyism (forgotten by the “pro-Americans”), made the Cold War possible as well as the subordination of Europe. Today it is “terrorism,” an obvious pretext (September 11 strongly resembles the Reichstag fire in this respect), which causes the real project of the ruling class to be overlooked: securing military control of the planet.
The avowed objective of the new hegemonist strategy of the United States is not to tolerate the existence of any power capable of resisting the injunctions of Washington. To carry out that objective, it seeks to dismantle every country that is deemed to be “too large,” so as to create the maximum number of failed States, easy prey for the establishment of American bases ensuring their “protection.” Only one state has the right to be “great,” the United States, according to the last three presidents (Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush Junior).
By "Latin Americanize" here should we assume simply creating puppet regimes?
The American global strategy pursues five objectives:
1) To neutralize and subdue the other partners in the Triad (Europe, U.S.A., Japan) and minimize their capacity to act outside of American control.
2) To establish military control through NATO and “Latin Americanize” the former parts of the Soviet world.
3) To establish undivided control of the Middle East and Central Asia and their petroleum resources.
4) To dismantle China, ensure the subordination of other large states (India, Brazil) and prevent the formation of regional blocs which would be able to negotiate the terms of globalization.
5) To marginalize regions of the South that have no strategic interest for the United States.
More precisely, one of the major weaknesses of American thought, resulting from its history and its ideology, is that it has no long-term vision. This thought is embedded in the immediate about which it collects an alarmingly large quantity of data. It believes that it can clarify its immediate choices exclusively through the analysis of the “present,” always judging the “past” as irrelevant (the expression “it is history” is an American synonym for “without importance”). The future, in these conditions, is always conceived as the simple projection of the immediate. This is what explains the popularity of idiotic texts like Huntington’s work The Clash of Civilizations. Using the same method, a writer who would have been alive during the religious wars of the sixteenth century would have concluded that Europe was condemned to self-destruction or at least that one of the two camps (Protestant or Catholic) would succeed in dominating the whole continent.
Certainly, the fight to defeat the project of the United States will take many forms. It requires diplomatic aspects (the defense of international law), military aspects (the rearmament of every country in the world in order to meet any aggression contemplated by Washington is imperative; never forget that the United States utilized nuclear weapons when it had a monopoly of them and renounced their use when it no longer had such a monopoly), and political aspects (notably in reference to building a European presence and reconstructing a nonaligned front).
Chapter 5: The Challenge of Liberalism Today
The final chapter, where Amin describes in more detail what he sees as the potential alliances that could challenge American power.
I would give top priority here to the construction of a political and strategic alliance between Paris, Berlin, and Moscow, extending it, if possible, to Peking and Delhi. I expressly say political, with the objective of restoring international pluralism and the UN to all their proper functions, and strategic, with the objective of constructing together the military forces capable of meeting the American challenge. These three or four powers have all the requisite technological and financial means, strengthened by their traditional military capabilities, to construct such forces, before which the United States would appear much weaker. The American challenge and its criminal ambitions force this response. These ambitions are excessive and it is necessary to prove it. Forming an anti-hegemonist front is today the very first priority, just as forming an anti-Nazi alliance was yesterday.
The objectives pursued by Washington include several parts:
1) the seizure of the most important petroleum regions of the world and consequently the exertion of pressure on Europe and Japan with the aim of subjecting them to the status of subordinate allies;
2) the establishment of permanent American military bases in the heart of the Old World (Central Asia is equally distant from Paris, Johannesburg, Moscow, Peking, Singapore);
3) consequently the preparation of other “preventive wars” to come, above all aiming at large countries which are likely to assert themselves as partners with which “it is necessary to negotiate” (in the first place China, but equally Russia and India).
The realization of this objective implies the installation of puppet regimes imposed by the armed forces of the United States in the countries of the region in question. From Peking to Delhi and Moscow it is understood more and more that the wars “made in USA” definitely form a menace directed more against China, Russia, and India than against their immediate victims, such as Iraq.
The solidarity of the dominant segments of transnationalized capital in all the partners of the Triad is real and is expressed in their rallying to globalized neoliberalism. The United States is seen in this perspective as the defender of these common interests—of necessary, by military means. The fact remains that Washington does not intend to share equally the profits from its leadership. On the contrary, the United States aims to make vassals of its allies, and in this spirit is only ready to grant minor concessions to the subaltern allies of the Triad. Will this conflict of interests within dominant capital lead to a rupture in the Atlantic alliance? This is not impossible, but it is not probable.
For the moment, undoubtedly, the governments of the South still seem to be fighting for a “true neoliberalism” in which the partners from the North, as well as those from the South, would agree to “play the game.” The countries of the South will find that this hope is illusory.
Thus, it will be necessary for them to return to the unavoidable concept that all development is autocentered. To develop is first of all to define national objectives that would allow for both the modernization of productive systems and the creation of internal conditions in which those systems would begin to serve social progress. Then the forms of the relations of the nation in question to the developed capitalist centers would be subjected to the requirements of this logic. This definition of delinking (mine)—which is not the same as autarky—places the concept of development at the opposite pole from (liberalism’s) principle of “structural adjustment” to the demands of globalization, in which development is forcibly subjected to the exclusive imperatives of the expansion of dominant transnational capital, thereby deepening inequality on the world scale.
Amin ends the text with a set of hypotheses. These are the most interesting ones.
FIFTH HYPOTHESIS: The United States’ option in favor of militarizing globalization strikes directly at the interests of Europe and Japan
This hypothesis follows from the second one. The objective of the United States, among other things, aims at placing its European and Japanese partners in a subordinate position (in a position of being vassals) by using military means to take over all the decisive resources of the planet (petroleum in particular). The American oil wars are anti-European wars. Europe (and Japan) can partially respond to this strategy by moving closer to Russia, which is capable, in part, of supplying them with petroleum and some other essential primary materials.
This hypothesis strains to see the Euro/Japanese interests in a "subordinate position" - yes, maybe in reference to the US, but in relation to the world system they are obviously still on top, so why bite the hand that protects? It is not clear that US militarization "strikes directly" at their interests, but even if it does, will that outweigh the benefits they reap from a US led order? Do they see a reason to stop or seriously question this arrangement just in the hopes of gaining a marginally better position within the world system?
NINTH HYPOTHESIS: Questions relative to cultural diversity should be discussed within the context of the new international perspectives outlined here.
Cultural diversity is a fact. But it is a complex and ambiguous fact. Diversities inherited from the past, as legitimate as they may be, are not necessarily synonymous with diversity in the construction of the future. It is not only necessary to admit this, but to investigate it.
To call upon only the diversities inherited from the past (political Islam, Hindutva, Confucianism, Negritude, chauvinist ethnicities, and more) is frequently a demagogic exercise of autocratic and comprador powers, which enables them both to evade the challenge represented by the universalization of civilization and to submit in fact to the dictates of dominant transnational capital. In addition, the exclusive insistence on these heritages divides the Third World, by opposing political Islam and Hindutva in Asia, Muslims, Christians, and practitioners of other religions in Africa. Basing a united political front of the South on new principles is the means of overcoming these divisions maintained by American imperialism. But then what are and can be the universal “values” upon which the future can be built? The Western-centered and restrictive interpretation of these values legitimizes unequal development, an inherent product of globalized capitalist expansion yesterday and today. It must be rejected. But then how to promote genuinely universal concepts, with contributions from everyone? It is time for this debate to begin.
This is an interesting passage but asks more questions than it answers - would want to read more Amin on this subject.