The Dialectics of Dependency: Ruy Mauro Marini
WINNER, PAUL A. BARAN – PAUL M. SWEEZY MEMORIAL AWARD
Considered one of the most important intellectuals in Latin American social thought, Ruy Mauro Marini demonstrated that underdevelopment and development are the result of relations between economies in the world market, and the class relations they engender. In The Dialectics of Dependency, the Brazilian sociologist and revolutionary showed that, as Latin America came to specialize in the production of raw materials and foodstuffs while importing manufactured goods, a process of unequal exchange took shape that created a transfer of value to the imperialist centers. This encouraged capitalists in the periphery to resort to the superexploitation of workers – harsh working conditions where wages fall below what is needed to reproduce their labor power. In this way, the economies of Latin America, which played a fundamental role in facilitating a new phase of the industrial revolution in western Europe, passed from the colonial condition only to be rendered economically “dependent,” or subordinated to imperialist economies. This unbalanced relationship, which nonetheless allows capitalists of both imperialist and dependent regions to profit, has been reproduced in successive international divisions of labor of world economy, and continues to inform the day-to-day life of Latin American workers and their struggles.
Written during an upsurge of class struggle in the region in the 1970s, and published here in English for the first time, the revelations inscribed in this foundational essay are proving more relevant than ever. The Dialectics of Dependency is an internationalist contribution from one Latin American Marxist to dispossessed and oppressed people struggling the world over, and a gift to those who struggle from within the recesses of present-day imperialist centers—nourishing today’s efforts to think through the definition of “revolution” on a global scale.