Non-Western Theories of Development in the Global Capitalism Era

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-4-113-122
Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), 6, Miklukho-Maklaya Str., Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation;
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University), The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation;
St. Petersburg State University, 1/3, Smolnyi Str., St. Petersburg, 191060, Russian Federation

Received 31.08.2020.

Acknowledgements. The article has been prepared at RUDN University and supported by a grant of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR). Project no. 19-111-50655 (Expansion) “Non-Western Theories of Development in the Age of Global Capitalism”. The author also expresses his sincere gratitude to P. Bond (University of the Western Cape, South Africa), T.M. Gavristova (YarSU), E.N. Grachikov (RUDN University), Li Yan (CASS, China) and V. G. Shubin (Institute for African Studies, RAS) for their valuable comments.

Abstract. This article is devoted to the evolution of non-Western theories of development in the epoch of global capitalism, i. e. after 1990. It describes in detail what is meant by this concept – models of socio-economic development, alternative to the Western neoliberal paradigm and associated with the modernization of non-Western countries, primarily in the “Global South”. Periodization of these approaches is given in connection with the process of decolonization (early 1960s), the end of the bipolar world, and the strengthening of China (since 2010s). Two main directions of such theories – neo-Marxian tradition, as well as post-colonial and anti-colonial studies – are shown. The author concludes that the “non-Westernness” of post-colonial studies is conditional, while anti-colonial and neo-Marxian studies are very much intertwined. The article shows the role of such organizations as CODESRIA and Third World Network in shaping the intellectual development agenda of the Global South. It traces the evolution of neo-Marxist approaches to development of the poorest countries, which originated in Latin American structuralism, American neo-Marxism, the works of J. Galtung and W. Rodney. By the early 1980s, the world-systemic approach was already dominant, its representatives were relatively capable to explain the collapse of the socialist system, and also made attempts to describe the growing influence of China. Nevertheless, the theory of the transnational capitalist class that emerged in the 1990s and 2000s was more successful from this point of view. The article investigates the phenomenon of an emerging confrontation between China and the United States in the ideological field – for the influence on leftist intellectuals around the world, and shows the main resources of both sides in this conflict. Special attention is paid to Postdevelopmentalism that developed in the 1990–2000s in line with postmodernist approaches; both strengths and weaknesses of this concept are presented. In conclusion, the author summarizes that neo-Marxist approaches play a key role as the major alternative to neoliberal capitalist development in the countries of the “Global South” while national modernization theories are lacking in the non-Western countries.

Keywords: development, modernization, Global South, non-Western theories, postcolonial studies, neo-Marxism, dependency theories, world-system theories, transnational capitalism, social movements, post-development


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For citation:
Degterev D. Non-Western Theories of Development in the Global Capitalism Era . World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 4, pp. 113-122.

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