This interview originally appeared in Red Star #18 as ‘We need a new international’. Prof. Samir Amin is major revolutionary thinker with dozens of major works over forty years exploring deeply the development and crimes of international capitalism. He was interviewed by Roshan Kissoon and Chandra.
Can you tell us about yourself briefly and your views on Marxism?
I qualify myself as an activist, maybe an intellectual activist. My whole active life was deeply connected with the liberation movements in Africa during the late 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and the after; that is roughly I could say the Bandung period, starting from 1955. That struggle has changed more than any other struggle, possibly, in the last 50 years.
I was and I am an economist and therefore also a Marxist. And, I don’t recognize the qualification of neo-Marxist. I consider a Marxist as starting from Marx but not stopping at Marx. That is considering that Marx thought, laid the foundations for understanding how to analyze and how to change the world. And in that the long history, as of Marx I consider that of course Lenin and especially Mao wrote and made fundamental contributions for understanding how to change the world, taking into account the fact that imperialism has divided the world into centers and peripheries. And, created the polarization at a global level and deepened it from one period to the other. And the question of the long transition to socialism had to be dealt with in a very different way from the Eurocentric, workers vision; the traditional vision of the 3rd international.
That is about myself; I’m currently the chair for the World Forum for Alternatives. Which is a network bringing together thinkers of the world from all regions of the world, north and south, whose qualifications are to be anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, of course, but anti-capitalist more than that, however, in a non-sectarian way. i.e. admitting variety of visions of what are the efficient strategies of moving ahead beyond capitalism.
In your book “The Future of Maoism” you exchange polemics with Indian Marxist V. Nandy on Marxism. Tell us something about this:
You see, the main challenge which has been probably to raise the things overlooked in what I call historical Marxism i.e. Marxism as understood by Marx. The main weakness of that historical Marxism is that it has not ever considered the consequences of the very fact that capitalism in its global expansion from the very start, because capitalism from the beginning tended to be a global system, has created the polarization of the dominant centers and dominated periphery. And that, from periods, of course, the imperialist reality has itself changed from period to period in the sense that the way it used to be defined, it has operated, has changed from place to place. That the fact is, that polarization has continuously been created, recreated and deepened from one period to another. That fundamental fact was overlooked. I think that Marx, because he was really an exceptional person, had a feeling of that reality; however, not much more than that.
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