Latin American Development in Historical Perspective

Capital Accumulation through Primary-Commodity Production and Ground-Rent Appropriation

In: Historical Materialism
Nicolás Grinberg Independent Research Fellow, National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET)
Associate Professor in Comparative Economic Development, Centre for Economic Studies of Development, School for Interdisciplinary Advanced Social Studies (EIDAES), National University of San Martin (UNSAM) Buenos Aires Argentina

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The paper challenges mainstream theories of Latin American development, showing their theoretical weaknesses and pointing to their role in ideologically mediating the region’s ‘truncated’ capitalism. To that end, the paper presents an alternative view of Latin American development that starts by considering capitalist social reproduction as a worldwide process and regional/national politico-economic development as mediations in the structuring of global capital accumulation. Latin America’s specific variety of capitalism is understood to have emerged from its original transformation by expanding European capital into a place to produce raw materials under favourable natural conditions. On the one hand, this has reduced their price and that of the labour-power directly or indirectly consuming them; on the other, it has resulted in a flow of surplus-value towards the owners of those natural conditions of production. The historical development of Latin American societies has expressed the partial overcoming of that antagonistic relationship between rent-paying capital and rent-appropriating landed property.

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