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Andre Gunder Frank

Latin America at the Margin of World System History

This paper is an excerpt on only the last 500 years of "1492 and Latin America at the Margin of World System History: East > West Hegemonial Shifts 992-1492-1992" (Frank 1992a)

Introduction: The World System and Latin America

Latin America was outside the Afro-Eurasian world system until its incorporation in 1492. Then, as part of one of the cyclical upswing expansions of this world system, what came to be known as Latin America was incorporated into the same. However, Latin America was only incorporated into a subordinate and dependent position therein from which it has never emerged. Indeed, during the previous and again the present cyclical world economic crises, Latin America has been further marginalized even from its dependent position at the margin of this world system.

The year 1492 represents a significant moment in the history of what then became Latin America, the world system and its cyclical and evolutionary history. However, this date should be viewed in its proper world historical context, in which world system wide long cycles of growth both before and after 1492 seem to have given rise to the events of 1492 and their significance in the first place. These cycles have also marked the vagaries of Latin America's place in the world system ever since. Since 1492, the only constant has been Latin America's dependent position at the margin of the world system. However important Latin America's production of money for the center has been in some phases of the cycle sequence, its position at the margin of the world system was and remains most unfavorable for most of its inhabitants at the periphery. In the 20th century, Latin America has been marginalized even more from participation in the world system.

The present world system has a long and continuous history in the Afro-Eurasian "old" world "eastern" hemisphere. The world system was formed at least 5,000 years ago through the interrelations of peoples in Nubia, Egypt, the Levant, Anatolia, [Trans]Caucasia, Mesopotamia, Persia, the Indus Valley, and parts of Central Asia. Then, the world system spread out from there and grew to encompass ever more and ultimately all of the world since then (Frank 1990a,b; 1991a,b; 1992a,b,c; Frank and Gills 1992, 1993; Gills and Frank 1990/91, 1992). Competitive capital accumulation has been the driving motor force of world system expansion since its beginning. Its other main identifiable characteristics have been its center-periphery structure, long economic cycles of alternating expansion and crisis, and alternating periods of hegemony and rivalry, which also generated shifts in hegemonial centers of the world system (see especially Gills and Frank 1990/91). This world system structure and process also gave rise to the events of 1492 and their significance. During the last millennium, the hegemonic center has always moved from East to West, but only around the northern hemisphere. The hegemonic center, when there was one, moved across Asia, West Asia and North Africa (now called the "Middle East") to Southern and then to Northwest Europe (at the western fringe of Eurasia). Then, the hegemonic center moved across the Atlantic to eastern and then increasingly perhaps western North America. Now political economic hegemony, if there is again to be any, seems to continue its westward move across the Pacific back to Asia again, beginning with Japan and perhaps in the future again back to China.

During all this time and place, the economic and political hegemonic center has never been in Latin America or elsewhere in the southern hemisphere. Indeed, Latin America has been even more marginal than parts of Africa and Asia. Some of the latter participated in the center or in hegemonial rivalries in the past and were only later peripheralized and marginalized. Even then, however, Asians and Africans remained economically and politically more integrated in the world system and nonetheless maintained much more of their own culture than the native peoples of the Americas.

If what became "Latin America" had a "golden age," it was while it was effectively outside the world system until 1492. Then, Latin America was incorporated into the world system. The resulting political economic, ecological and demographic disaster that then befell its native peoples since 1492 also robbed them of most of their own culture. The incorporation of these native "Americans" and indeed the participation of many of their immigrant "Latin" American "creoles" in the system served only to despoil them of their world and wealth for the benefit of the North. Moreover, even what [in world terms] little productive economic apparatus they were able to build up for themselves now leaves them unable to effectively to compete in the world economy. At the 500th anniversary of its incorporation therein, the world system economic cycle and hegemonial shift is once more further marginalizing Latin America.

The Question of World System Break or Continuity in 1492

Adam Smith and Karl Marx both thought that the "discovery of America, and that of the passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest events recorded in the history of mankind" (Smith 1937: ). Latin Americans and Latin Americanists tend to agree. 1492 also plays a major role in the birth of the "modern world-system" as seen by Immanuel Wallerstein (1974) and previously by the present author who incorporated that date in the title World Accumulation 1492- 1789 (Frank 1978a).

More recently, Janet Abu Lughod (1989) argues in her pathbreaking book Before European Hegemony that there was a "13th century world system," but that it was a different one than that which "began" in the 16h century. For her, between the 14th century decline of the world system based in East and the 15th-16th century rise of the world system centered in the West, there occurred a "declining efficacy" and "disorganization " of "the ways in which they were formerly connected." However, these changes can and should be viewed rather as a "reorganization" and consequently as a shift of the hegemonial center of gravity in the system from East to West - but not a complete failure of the system as a whole, as she suggests. On the contrary, this temporary disorganization and renewed reorganization can and should be read as the continuation and evolution of the system as a whole.

Jacques Gernet already wrote:

What we have acquired the habit of regarding - according to the history of the world that is in fact no more than the history of the West - as the beginning of modern times was only the repercussion of the upsurge of the urban, mercantile civilizations whose realm extended, before the Mongol invasion, from the Mediterranean to the Sea of China. The West gathered up part of this legacy and received from it the leaven which was to make possible its own development. The transmission was favored by the crusades of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and the expansion of the Mongol empire in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.... There is nothing surprising about this Western backwardness: the Italian cities ... were at the terminus of the great commercial routes of Asia.... The upsurge of the West, which was only to emerge from its relative isolation thanks to its maritime expansion, occurred at a time when the two great civilizations of Asia [China and Islam] were threatened (Gernet 1982:347 [original ed. 1972]).

Therefore and even more decidedly, we must agree with Janet Abu-Lughod (1989:338) that "of crucial importance is the fact that the fall of the east precedes the rise of the west." That is, the world systemic economic and hegemonic crisis of the mid 14th century gave Europe "the chance" to ascend in the hierarchy of the world system, in the context of a new economic expansion and hegemonic reorganization during and following the crisis (Frank 1990a,b; 1991a,b; 1992a,b,c; Frank and Gills 1992, 1993; Gills and Frank 1990/91, 1992).

Beginning soon after 992, the 11th and 12th centuries and perhaps more precisely the years 1050 to 1250 were another period of widespread economic growth. The expansion and consolidation of the Mongol empire began at the end of this long period of expansion and at the onset of a new period of contraction. During the 1250-1450 period of crises, especially those of 1315-20 and that associated with the Black Death around 1348, prices declined in Europe and perhaps elsewhere. The general economic crisis spelled the decline of the Mediterranean Mallorca and Barcelona, both absolutely and especially relative to inland Valencia and Castilla and in competition with them in turn,the Portuguese. Prices also continued to decline in the XV century. As especially Vilar (1969) argues, lower prices rendered gold more valuable and stimulated the search for new sources of gold, especially in Africa. This search for gold in turn drove the exploration and traffic into the Atlantic and its islands. This expansion included the enslavement and genocide of the population and the ecological destruction of the Canaries that presaged the same across the Atlantic] and around the coast of West Africa -- and eventually across the Atlantic. At the same time, competition in these commercial ventures and the thirst for gold also helped fuel the Reconquest.

Moreover, European trade with Egypt and the Levant was conducted primarily through payment in bullion. This stimulated an even greater need for sources of bullion in the West and in Africa and the desire to by-pass the Alexandrian and Venetian middlemen if possible by finding a direct sea route to India and the spice islands. When Portugal and Spain discovered such routes, backed by Italian finance capital, the result was a drastic shift in the logistical nexus of the world system and a concomitant shift in the locus of accumulation.

In 1469, the marriage of the Castillian Isabella the Catholic and Ferdinand of Aragon united their two lands and gave further impetus to the Christian Reconquest of Spain from the Muslim "Moors." "Almost every European monarch...dreamed of finding a western passage" (Parry 1963: 174), and Isabella's Finance minister accepted an offer to try by the Genovese navigator Columbus. He also raised private finance capital in Barcelona and elsewhere but, after having been rejected by the Portuguese, worked in the service of the Spanish Queen, for whom he sought a better and cheaper way to the riches of the Orient.

The fact that the conquest of Grenada takes place the same year as the discovery of America (1492) is not accidental. The two destinies were united.... The union of Aragon and Castilla, the conquest of Grenada, the expulsion of the Jews, the Inquisition...and the forced christianization of the Muslims, events that are centered on the famous date 1492, seem not to have any relation to the problem of gold. In fact, they have a very close relation....To say that Columbus was looking for a route to the China of the Great Khan and not gold or spices is to forget that he was looking for both things at a time, just like the Portuguese when they rounded Africa.... To say that the thirst for gold was preponderant and obsessive, is unquestionable....On discovering the islands, the first thing he [Columbus] asked was, is there gold? (Vilar 1969: 59-66).

Looking back nearly three centuries later in 1776, the "father of economics" Adam Smith further observed that "all the other enterprises of the Spaniards in the world subsequent to those of Columbus seem to have been prompted by the same motive. It was the thirst for gold" (Smith 1937: 529).

J. M Blaut (1977) explained how the Western European maritime powers conquered the Americas and injected its bullion into their own processes of capital accumulation. The Western powers then used the same to gain increasing control over the trade nexus of the still attractive and profitable Indian Ocean and Asia as a whole.

The argument that after 1492 European development [of capitalism] benefitted from capital accumulation based on its exploitation of the Americas has been made often before, perhaps foremost by Smith, Marx and Keynes. My own wording twenty years ago and later published under the title World Accumulation 1492-1789 was:

In summary then, we may say that the sixteenth century witnessed the first long, sustained, and widespread quantitative and qualitative development of capitalism in its mercantile stage and the first period of concentrated capital accumulation in Europe.... The same process extended far beyond Europe to those regions or "enclaves" which were integrated into the process of world capital accumulation at this stage, especially the New World sources of gold and silver. During this sixteenth-century secular and cyclical upswing, Western Europe experienced a sharp acceleration of the process of capital accumulation.... The indigenous population of the New World suffered yet more from the contribution to the process of primitive capital accumulation during the sixteenth century.... The precious metals from the New World enabled Western European countries to settle directly or indirectly the deficit in the trade balance with the Orient (Frank 1978a: 52-53, 63).

Blaut (1992) now returns to his thesis and attempts to quantify some of the surplus contributed to accumulation in Europe by [forced] labor in the New World. The stock of silver tippled and the circulation of silver coins increased eight to ten times in the 16th century alone. Blaut argues that the this monetary flow into and through Europe is "routinely underestimated" in amount and significance. In world systemic terms, the capture of this surplus enhanced [West] European ability to compete with East Europeans and Asians -- and then to out-compete them -- in the world economy. My above cited book and its companion volume Dependent Accumulation and Underdevelopment (Frank 1978b) were my attempts to analyze this same world system development and its uneven cyclical process in its unequal center-periphery structure. However, then I still mistakenly thought that it all started in 1492, and that is why I put that date in my title.

Economic Cycles, Hegemonial Shifts and the Marginality of Latin America since 1450 / 1492

We may provisionally accept the main outlines of Wallerstein's and others' rendition of cycles and hegemonial shifts in the world system for the period since 1492: Economic expansion during the "long 16th century" from 1450 to 1600 +, the "17th century crisis," renewed economic expansion during the 18th century "commercial revolution," and the conventional dating of the economic ups and downs of the +/-50 year "long" Kondratieff cycles since the end of the 18th century. [Frank (1978 written in 1970-73) and more recently Goldstein (1988) also sought to trace these backwards into the 16th century]. We may also continue provisionally to accept the "associated" political cycles of hegemonial transition and shifts in the now European centered world system from Iberia in the 16th, to the Netherlands in the 17th, Britain [twice] in the 18th and 19th, and the United States in the 20th centuries.

These cycles and hegemonial shifts have been widely analyzed elsewhere among others by Wallerstein (1974, 1984), Modelski (1987), Modelski and Thompson (1988), Thompson (1989), Goldstein (1988), Chase-Dunn (1989), and Frank (1978 a,b). For present purposes therefore, it should suffice to summarize their impact on Latin America and its position in the world system.

The "long sixteenth century" economic and westward expansion from 1450 to 1600 incorporated the "Western hemisphere" "New World" into an millennial Afro-Eurasian world economy and system. The extraction of gold and silver from Mexico and Peru, and the production of sugar by slaves in Brazil, benefitted some Europeans enormously both at home and in competition with others in Asia abroad. The immediate cost to the inhabitants of the Americas is well known: within half a century, complete genocide in the Antilles; in one century in Mexico, the reduction of the indigenous population from 25 million to 1.5 million; in the New World as a whole the extermination of perhaps 95 percent of the original population, previously probably unheard of ecological imperialism (Crosby 1986) leading to valiant but doomed ecological movements of resistance, and of course de- culturation. As the patron of free trade, Adam Smith, observed, "to the natives, however both of the East and the West Indies, all the commercial benefits which can have resulted from those events have been sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned" (Smith 1937:). Thus, the inhabitants of the New World contributed to capital accumulation and economic growth elsewhere, but they scarcely drew any benefit from it.

The 17th century crisis offered Latin America as well as Asia some relief. It included the revival of regional and inter- regional trade in their own hands, while in Europe and the world Mediterranean hegemony declined from Portugal to the Ottomans, to be replaced by the Dutch and later by the British.

In the general expansion of the 18th century "commercial revolution," hegemony in the world system passed to Britain and world trade shifted westward across the Atlantic. The "triangular trade[s]" among Western Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and North America increasingly replaced "Oriental" trans- or circum- Eurasian trade. In the Americas, the important participants were the slave plantations in the Caribbean and the southern colonies, who again produced commodities for the center, and the merchant colonists in the northern colonies of North America. Latin America was largely marginal and marginalized, except for the export of gold from Brazil at the beginning and the export of silver from Mexico at the end of the century.

The cyclical ups and downs of the 19th century turned on a West European axis, which increasingly extended into North America. Their colonial exploitation of India contributed significantly to Britannia's ability to rule the waves and maintain Pax Britannia. Britain's decline and the challenge of the United States and Germany, and of Russia and Japan behind them, started in the Kondratieff "Great Crisis" of 1873-96.

Latin Americans had some participation in world economic and political events, but not much. The export of raw materials again increased, especially during the classical imperialist last quarter of the 19th century. Latin American infrastructure, finance, politics, society and much of its culture and ideology was shaped accordingly to support various regions' and countries' participation in this international division of labor. Parts of the Caribbean and shoreline regions exported sugar and other tropical products, produced in part by labor now imported from Asia. Brazil exported sugar and increasingly coffee. Mexico and Peru resumed their roles as mining economies and were joined by Chile. Argentina seemed to prosper exporting cheap wheat and meat for Britain and Europe, and attracted European immigrants who were attracted by real wage rates higher than those in Europe. Like Africa and Asia and especially India which supported Britain, Latin America for a long time generated a significant surplus of merchandize exports over imports, which supported the capital accumulation of Western Europe and its financial investments in the overseas settler regions of North America and Australasia to which Europe also sent its surplus labor as emigrants (Frank 1978b). Perhaps in part thanks to this contribution to capital accumulation and investment elsewhere, by the turn of the 19th-20th century the now so called "third world" accounted for some 20 percent, and Latin America in turn 1/2 thereof or some 10 percent, of total world trade.

The 20th Century Marginalization of Latin America

However, with growing industrialization in the North, the contribution of the South, including Latin America, became less necessary or useful. For during this century and especially in its second half, Latin America in particular and to some extent the third world have been increasingly marginalized from the world economy and much of world politics. The United States, Japan and Russia rose to pose economic and political challenges, but none of them had ever been part of the third world. In the next world economic crisis from 1913 to 1940/45, two world wars ere fought largely in Europe to settle the matter of hegemonic succession, and only a relatively minor part of the Second World War was fought over the challenge of Japan in the Pacific and in China.

Many parts of the third world are being marginalized. The most visible marginalization is that of Africa, whose natural and human resources were squeezed dry like a lemon, which was then discarded. However, perhaps the most dramatic recent increase in marginalization - or an accelerating process of Africanization - is that of Latin America. The relatively if not absolutely greatest pauperization is that of its once richest and most promising country, Argentina.


The participation and shares in world trade [see table] remained at roughly 20 percent for the third world and 10 percent, or 5/10 of that, for Latin America during the century 1850 - 1950. During the 1913 - 1940/45 Kondratieff B phase world economic crisis and the two world wars however, the third world share rose from 20 to 30 percent; and the Latin American share remained stable at 20 percent. This made the Latin American share decline from 5/10 to 3/10 of the third world share. Then in the postwar world economic recovery and even more so in the renewed Kondratieff B phase crisis since the mid 1960s, the third world share returned to its previous 20 percent of world trade. By then however, much of this third world share was due to the export of petroleum. For 1980, the increase in the price of oil in 1973 and again in 1979 temporarily raised the third world share to 30 percent of world exports. 15 percent, or half of these, were oil exports from OPEC countries, which did not include Mexico (calculated from United Nations 1990: 995). By 1990, the renewed decline in the price of oil had returned the third world share to 20 percent of world exports. Among these, 8 percent of total world exports, or 4/10 of all third world exports, was accounted for by manufacturing exporter from the four East Asian "Newly Industrializing Countries" [NICs] South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, who have a combined population of less than 50 million (GATT 1990:13).

In the meantime, especially during the readjustments generated by the current world economic crisis, Latin America was marginalized out of world trade flows. All of Latin America and the Caribbean, with a population of some 450 million, saw their share of world exports reduced to 4 percent in 1970 and 1980, and to 3 percent in 1990 (see table). That is less than Holland, with 15 million inhabitants and few raw materials. 3 percent of the Latin American total, or almost 1 of these 3 percentage points, in turn was from oil exports (calculated from CEPAL 1990:29 and 31). For the last two dates, the Latin American share even in third world exports has fallen to little more than 1/10th. The once proud Argentina's exports have declined to only 1/10 again of that, or 0.3 percent - that is 1/300th - of the world total (calculated from CEPAL 1990:31 and United Nations 1990:995). In 1928, Argentina alone still accounted for 3 percent or 1/30th of world exports (calculated from League of Nations 1942: 139 and 18). That is a mark of the marginalization of Latin America.

The Dilemma of Latin America in the Contemporary World System

In Latin America, the 1980s were termed "the lost decade" of development largely because, instead of continuing to grow, per capita GNP and income receded to the levels of the mid 1970s [and in Africa to that of the pre-independence level of the early 1960s]. Per capita income declines of 10 to 15 percent were common and reached or exceeded 25 percent in Argentina and Peru. Immiserization became rampant in part because of the debt service and massive export of capital to help support the banks, the financial system, and the economy generally in the North [or more precisely in the West, since the East did and suffered the same] during the present world Kondratieff economic crisis, which began in the mid 1960s (Frank 1980, 1988). In Latin America, but also in some other parts of the Third World, the 1990s threaten to become the "decade of cholera."

However in historical terms, Latin America - and Eastern Europe and the [ex] Soviet Union as well - the 1980s was a lost decade in other, perhaps even more important, ways as well. They seem to have lost the train or missed the boat of economic competitiveness in the international division of labor. Some sectors, regions or countries in North America, Western Europe and East Asia invested to upgrade their technology and strengthen their competitiveness on the world market. At the same time, all of Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and much of the rest of Asia disinvested instead. Not only did they fail to upgrade technologically. They even had to sacrifice much of their previously existing productive infrastructure and human capital, which were becoming increasingly non-competitive anyway.

Therefore, the long term cost of servicing the debt abroad may be even greater than the short term one of reducing consumption at home; for it also prevented investment in the future. The ideological claims about privatization or export led growth are largely irrelevant to these real world facts: All of these countries practiced export led [non]growth. Moreover, [often under IMF/World Bank pressure] they socialized the burden of the debt, which had been largely contracted and/or taken advantage of privately. Quite independently of ideology or anything else, the "Communist" regimes in the East and the "military fascist" ones in the South, as well as their respective successor "democratic" regimes in both have all handled their debt crises in exactly the same way (Frank 1990d, 1992d). At the same time, the debt was and remains an instrument successfully used by the West to force the South and the East to drop out of the race to compete in the world economy.

While parts of Eastern Europe may now be reincorporated or at least re-associated to a European economic community, parts of Latin America face the same future in an American Initiative to form a Common Market from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. The United States, of course, takes this initiative in its own business interest to promote competitiveness against Europe and Japan. Where useful, Canadian and Latin American raw materials, labor and capital are to fuel the decelerating US locomotive. Moreover, this American jigsaw puzzle is already being assembled piecemeal. First the US-Canada free trade agreement. Then the US-Mexico one and the trilateral ones involving the same countries. Serving as a link in the meantime, Mexico makes a trade agreement with the Central American states, a looser one with Venezuela and Colombia, and still another one with more distant Chile. In the Southern cone, Mercosur establishes ties among Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. However, these economies, and those of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia are not likely to find much place in an economic bloc dominated by the United States. Either they pose too much of a competitive threat, like Sao Paulo; or they have little to contribute beyond drugs.

Reference to the presently ongoing regionalization of the world economy and/or the emergence of regional political economic blocs centered on the United States, a German centered Europe, and a Japanese centered Asia has become commonplace (Frank 1986 and 1988 a,b). However, there would be a difference between participating in an American regional bloc from being associated to the European Economic Community or to the new Japanese "Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere." The other third world economies [including those temporarily in the "second world"] are being associated with rising central economies and perhaps even with a newly emerging hegemon in old Eurasia. However, as the world center of gravity continues its millennial move westward around the northern hemisphere of the globe, the Latin Americans on the other hand are invited to share the declining hegemony on board the sinking U.S. economic ship. This invitation, of course, is to help as much as possible still to shore up the ship's sinking fortunes.

Nonetheless, the Latin Americans have little other choice. Either they sink alone in the competitive storm of the world economy, or they salvage what they still can in association with the United States. An independent Latin American economic association is even more of a chimera now than it was in the 1960s [LAFTA], the 1970s [Andean and other Pacts], and the 1980s [SELA].

Moreover, the more some of Latin America and other parts of the third world - and indeed in the first world industrial countries themselves - are integrated into or associated with regional economic and political formations or blocs, the more will a growing number of their population be effectively and increasingly marginalized. They will form an ever growing underclass of people who are sacrificed on the altar of "development" and who fall by the wayside in the drive to maintain competitiveness, both within the economic bloc and among them in the world economy. Latin American association in a weaker economic region can only expose its people to greater sacrifices. It is one thing now to recognize that there is no escape from the world system/economy/market. The de-linking from the same, earlier recommended by the "dependentistas" including myself and still by Samir Amin (1989), has not been a viable or very fruitful policy (Frank 1991c). However, it is quite another thing to claim that "export led growth," "marketization," "privatization," etc. can and will expedite all into some sort of paradise. Old free marketeers have claimed that against all the evidence all along. Some old critics thereof - West, East, and South - now have turned into new enthusiasts for "the magic of the market." Unfortunately, it would be magic indeed if the market now suddenly were to homogenize peoples and regions after centuries - no millennia - of polarizing them instead.

In other words and ironically, a dual economy and society may now indeed be in the process of formation at this stage of social evolution in the world system. However, this new dualism is different from the old dualism rejected in my earlier writings (Frank 1967 and others). The similarity between the two "dualisms" is only apparent. According to the old dualism, sectors or regions were supposedly separate. That is, they supposedly existed without past or present exploitation between them before "modernization" would join them happily ever after. Moreover, this separate dual existence was seen within countries. The denial of all these propositions was and remains correct. In the new dualism, the separation comes after contact and often after exploitation. Benjamin Higgins (1992) writes that this has always been the meaning of his reference to "technological dualism," and that this process is by no means new. Thus, this dualism, be it old or new, is the result of the process of social and technological evolution, which others call "development." Now more and more regional/sectoral lemons are increasingly discarded after having been squeezed dry. Now this dualism is between those who do and those who can no longer participate in the world wide division of labor. To some extent, the ins and outs of this world division of labor are in part divided by the requirements and opportunities of technological "progress" (Frank 1991c).

What is a realistic prospect, therefore, is the growing threat to countries, regions and peoples to be marginalized. That is, they may be involuntarily de-linked from the world process of evolution or development. However, they are then de-linked on terms, which are not of their own choosing. The most obvious case in point is much of sub-Saharan Africa. There is a decreasing world market in the international division of labor for Africa's natural and human resources. Having been squeezed dry like a lemon in the course of world capitalist "development," much of Africa may now be abandoned to its fate. However, the same fate increasingly also threatens other regions and peoples elsewhere. Moreover, they may be found everywhere: In the South (eg. Bangladesh, the Brazilian Northeast, Central America, etc.); in the ex-industrial rustbelt, the South Bronx, and other regions and peoples in the West; and in whole interior regions and peoples in the "socialist" East, eg. on both sides of the Sino-Soviet border. Events in the former "socialist second world" East must accelerate and aggravate the marginalization of millions of people in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. As noted above, many regions there are more likely to be Latinamericanized, and some even Africanized and Lebanonized, instead of achieving the West Europeanization to which they aspire.

In Latin America, the best most people could hope for from their powerful northern overlord would be political benign neglect. Unfortunately, that has not been the recent experience in what President Reagan called his "front [not back] yard" in Central America and the Caribbean, parts of which were invaded both by him and his successor President Bush. Moreover, there and elsewhere bitter experience from Mexico to Argentina demonstrates that, however desirable national and local electoral political democracy may be, it offers the people scarcely any power to manage their economic and therefore social existence or to determine their future (Frank 1992d). The best, or perhaps only, political options open to their peoples is to mobilize in social movements to defend their economic livelihood and cultural autonomy as best they can (Fuentes and Frank 1989). A Luta Continua!


          THIRD WORLD           LATIN AMERICA           LA/TW

     Y    B    L    U    RA     Y   B   L    U    RA  

1850                     20                       10    5/10

1880 24

1900 21   16             20   

1913 22   19             20     8   7             10    5/10

1928 30   23   25        25    10   9   10        10    4/10

1938 33   25   25   25   25    10   7    9   7    10    4/10

1948      30        30   30                  11   10    3/10

1960                21   20                  7    7     3/10

1970                18   20                  4    4     2/10

1980                28*  30*                 4    4     1/10+

1990                20   20                  3    3     1/10+

Sources and Explanations: Percentages are for shares of exports, except for trade in 1850. Shares of Imports or total (export + import) trade vary one or two points, but these are rounded out anyway.

1850 Estimate by AGF from James Foreman-Peck (1983:2) citing M. G. Mulhall Dictionary of Statistics, London:Routledge 1899

Y = P. Lamartine Yates (1959:32) averages 1876-80 & 1896-1900

B = Paul Bairoch (1975:93) and for Latin America calculated by AGF from pp. 97 and 93

L = League of Nations (1942:18)

U = United Nations (1965:13) and (1990:995). The latest data are for 1988.

RA = Rounded Average of these percentage shares by AGF.

* = Exceptionally high Third World share due to temporary increase in the price of oil in 1973 and 1979.

+ = more than 1/10 but no more than 1.5/10

LA / TW = the [declining] proportion of Latin American in Third World exports/trade. For present purposes, no effort has been made to correct for the previous and now again renewed "third world" status of much of the temporary "second world."


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1988b. "American Roulette in the Globonomic Casino: Retrospect and Prospect on the World Economic Crisis Today" in Research in Political Economy, Paul Zarembka, Ed. Greenwich: JAI Press, pp. 3-43.

------ 1990a."A Theoretical Introduction to 5,000 Years of World System History" Review, Vol.XIII, No.2, Spring.

------ 1990b. The Thirteenth Century World System: A Review Essay Journal of World History Vol.I. No.2, Autumn.

------ 1990c. No End to History! History to No End? Social Justice, San Francisco, Vol.17, No. 4, Dec. 1990. ENDpapers 21, Nottingham, No. 21, Autumn 1990, pp. 52-71.

------- 1991a. A Plea for World System History Journal of World History Vol.II,No.1,Spring 1991,pp 1-28. Cuadernos Americanos, Mexico, Vol. XXX, No. 4, Dec. 1991

------ 1991b. Transitional Ideological Modes: Feudalism, Capitalism, Socialism Critique of Anthropology Vol. 11, No. 2, Summer. Published in French as "De Quelles Transitions et de Quels Modes de Production s'agit-il dans le Systeme-Monde Reel? Commentaire sur Wallerstein". Sociologie et Societ‚s Vol.XXII,No.2, Oct.1990,pp.207-19

------- 1991c. The Underdevelopment of Development Scandinavian Journal of Development Alternatives, Special Number, Vol. X, No. 3, Sept. 1991, pp 5-72. Published in Spanish as El Subdesarrollo del Desarrollo: Un Ensayo Autobiografico. Caracas: Editorial Nueva Sociedad 1991, 156 pp.

------ 1992a. 1492 and Latin America at the Margin of World System History: East > West Hegemonial Shifts 992-1492- 1992. 32nd Annual Meetings of the International Studies Association, Atlanta, April 1-4, 1992. Earlier version published as "1492 e America Latina o marxe da historia do sistema mundial: 492-992-1492-1992 es os cambios de hexemonia Leste-Oeste" America Latina: Entre a Realidadee a utopia Aula Castelet de Filosofia, Ed. Vigo: Edicions Xerais de Galicia 1992, pp. 171-212.

----- 1992b. Centrality of Central Asia Amsterdam: VU University Press for Center for Asian Studies Amsterdam (CASA), Comparative Asian Studies No.8, 1992, 68 pp. Also published as "The Centrality of Central Asia." Studies in History, New Delhi, Vol. 8, No. 1, January-June 1992, pp 43-92, and Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Boulder USA, XXIV, 2, April-June 1992.

------ 1992c. Forteen Ninety-two Once Again Political Geography Quarterly, Vol.11, No.4, July 1992, pp 386-393.

------- 1992d. Marketing Democracy in an Undemocratic Market Low Intensity Democracy: Elite Democracy in the Third World. Barry K. Gills and Joel Rocamora, Eds. London: Pluto Press 1992 forthcoming.

Frank, A. G. and Barry K. Gills 1992. The Five Thousand Year World System: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, Arcata, Calif. Vol. 18, No. 1, Spring 1992, pp

----- 1993, Eds. The World System: From Five Hundred Years to Five Thousand. London: Routledge, forthcoming.

Fuentes, M. and Frank, A.G. 1989. "Ten Theses on Social Movements" World Development XVII, 2, February.

GATT 1990. Press Release GATT/1477, 14 March 1990 previewing the annual report International Trade 1989-90.

Gernet, Jacques 1985. A History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gills, B. K. and A.G. Frank 1990/91. The Cumulation of Accumulation: Theses and Research Agenda for 5000 Years of World System History" Dialectical Anthropology, Vol.15, No.1, July, pp. 19-42. Also in Precapitalist Core-Periphery Relations, C. Chase-Dunn & T. Hall, Eds. Boulder: Westview Press 1991.

------ 1992. World System Cycles, Crises, and Hegemonial Shifts 1700 BC to 1700 AD. Review, Binghamton, XV, 4, Fall 1992.

Goldstein, Joshua S. 1988. Long Cycles. Prosperity and War in the Modern Age. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Grousset, Rene, The Empire of the Steppes. A History of Central Asia. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press 1970.

Higgins, Benjamin 1992. Dualism and Dependency in Sooutheast Asian Development. Ms.

League of Nations 1942. The Network of World Trade. Geneva: League of Nations.

Modelski, George 1987. Long Cycles in World Politics. London: Macmillan Press.

Modelski, George and William Thompson 1988. Sea Power in Global Politics, 1494-1993. London: Macmillan Press.

Parry, J. H. 1963. The Age of Reconaissance. New York: Mentor.

Smith, Adam 1937. The Wealth of Nations. New York: Random House.

Thompson, William 1989. On Global War: Historical-Structural Approaches to World Politics. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

United Nations 1965. Yearbok of International Trade Statistics 1963. New York: United Nations.

United Nations 1990: Yearbok of International Trade Statistics 1988. New York: United Nations.

Vilar, Pierre 1969. Oro y Moneda en la Historia 1450-1920. Barcelona: Ariel.

Wallerstein, Immanuel 1974. The Modern World-System. Vol. I. New York: Academic Books.

------- 1984. The Politics of the World-Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

------ 1989. The West, Capitalism, and the Modern World- System. Prepared as a chapter in Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Vol. VII: The Social Background, Part 2. Sect. 48. Social and Economic Considerations. Published in French as "L'Occident, le capitalisme, et le systeme-monde moderne" in Sociologies et Societ‚s (Montreal) Vol. XXI, No. 1, June 1990.

------ 1991. World System versus World-Systems: A Critique. Critique of Anthropology Vol. 11, No. 2, 1991.

Yates, P. Lamartine 1959. Forty Years of Foreign Trade. London: George Allen & Unwin.

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