CRISIS: IN THE THIRD WORLD by Andre Gunder Frank


Email this review


The second of two volumes dissecting what Professor Frank (Univ. of East Anglia) calls a ""world crisis"" (volume one, Crisis: In the World Economy, appeared in 1980) and attributes to overaccumulation in the capitalist West--with dire results, he here contends, for the Third World. His charges against the West, however, have often been iterated before, ""crisis"" or no crisis; and Frank's classification of Third World countries as ""intermediate,"" ""peripheral,"" ""semiperipheral,"" etc., does nothing to illuminate their problems. On the problems, Frank offers a mix of sound analysis, dubious conclusions, and no solutions. Those Third World countries that have become exporters of finished industrial goods, for example, find themselves with an adverse balance of trade nonetheless, because they must import the materials or finished sub-parts needed for manufacture. But the price of those parts, along with other Western goods, has risen through inflation. In order to stay in business, therefore, such nations (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, etc.) must keep their costs down, and that means holding down labor costs. Frank thus links the Third World's unfavorable economic position with the increase and spread of repression. In the case of the Third World countries which export raw materials, Frank excludes the possibility of successful cartels on the OPEC model--because, he maintains, of the West's control of food. Frank also indicts socialist countries, established or new, for complicity with the system. The sometimes useful discussion of Third World economies is overborne by polemic--and where all the crisis-talk is supposed to lead remains a mystery.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1981
Publisher: Holmes & Meier