Underdeveloped Experience … I
The primary characteristic of the underdevelopment up to now has been resistance to change. This resistance increases when the gulf between the underdevelopment and development widens. The process of change is more difficult for the simple reason that crossing this gulf requires time and evolution.
To begin with, this process is self destructive. As far as the daily life is concerned, or at that time scale, one cannot fill the gulf between the underdeveloped and the developed. It is impossible. This contradiction by itself is unavoidably oppressive and when it finds an ideological expression among the undeveloped peoples, it could become destructive.
The universal ideology of the undeveloped people throughout the 20th century has been the outcry against “Imperialism”. And all the national movements of the undeveloped peoples have been greatly influenced by Lenin’s extension and manipulation of Marx’s “scientific socialism”. His thesis most exemplified by its title, “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism”, became the most influential trend in the nationalist movements against the penetration by the advanced countries. This influence is carried over until today even among a large stratum of the intellectuals in the West. Marx’s view of British incursions into India as “civilizing” although brutal, gave way to Lenin’s view of “Imperialism as a special stage of capitalism”. Lenin’s view, “imperialism”, is a stage that capitalism only breeds war, is reactionary and “parasitic” throughout the world.
“Workers of the World Unite” was complemented by the appeal to the rising nationalist consciousness among the underdeveloped peoples to unite against “imperialism”, to resist capitalist incursions. After Lenin’s death a serious influence by the communists among the workers of Europe and the United States did not materialize. The Communists disappointments and setbacks in Europe and America in combination with the rising standard of life for the workers found a particular interpretation. According to this interpretation the nexus of “scientific socialism” had shifted from the advanced countries to the national struggles of the underdeveloped peoples. The task of the communists was to focus these nationalist movements against “imperialism”, i.e. any capitalist penetration. The rising intelligentsia of the undeveloped countries, tired of their daunting task of moving forward and influenced by the communists, found alliances with the most backward strata of their societies, continuously undermining their own progress.
According to the upholders of the theories of “imperialism” the miseries of 1848 British working class had shifted to the third world peoples and capitalist penetration was supposed to magnify their miseries of the pre-capitalist existence. As Marx was disappointed with his predictions, the developments in the third world disappointed the communists of the 20th century. Although the peoples of the underdeveloped countries did not see the same dramatic improvements as the workers in the advanced capitalist countries but they saw continuous improvements. The broadest measure of this improvement has been the population explosion in those countries. A continuous deterioration of their situation should have seen a declining population which did not happen. The ones more integrated into the capitalist sphere of influence, least hampered by the communists, even saw a more dramatic move forward as we have been witnessing in South Africa, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Turkey and many of the southeast Asian countries. Nationalist struggles influenced by the communists had to endure decades of dictatorial rules promoted by the most backward nationalist ideologies, blaming their stagnation on the “imperialism”. Our world is yet struggling with this problem as we have seen with the wave of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. And we have yet to ward off against the echoes of it in what is called the Arab Spring.