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24 / 09 / 2004
Samir Amin, economist: “The spread of capitalism has turned humans into merchandise”

The Forum’s “141 Questions” (139): “Globalization: Inevitable? Controllable? Replaceable?” The Egyptian economist, Samir Amin responded that the current model of globalization “is avoidable and is not at all desirable.” He pointed out that a different world can be achieved through “alterglobalization, because it creates a framework that is conducive to social progress and defends cultural diversity.” As for the role that Europe plays in international affairs, Amin said that, “his policies do not have a common strategy” and that “his current projects reaffirm his neo-liberal principles.” He accused the US of questioning the basis for international law by “taking the liberty of waging preemptive war against any peoples they consider dangerous.”

This evening at the Haima Stage, Samir Amin (1931), economist and director of Third World Forum, an international institution that reinforces intellectual efforts and relations between countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, pointed out that globalization—“a phenomenon that is nothing new”–widens the gap that separates different social sectors. He stated that the current globalization model “is avoidable and is not at all desirable.” He stressed that a different world is possible if the we walk the path of alterglobalization: “It is a system that leads to difficult debates, but that creates a framework that is conducive to social progress and the defense of cultural diversity. The inequalities that result from each of the stages of capitalism can be corrected by making negotiable interdependence the starting point.”

Amin criticized the fact the "the spread of capitalism makes human beings into merchandise. He emphasized the fact that, "we have to go beyond the re-appropriation of human values, those that, for example, favor the recognition of cultural diversity."

He accused the United States of undermining the international law that came about after World War II and meant the victory of democracy over fascism: "The United States have taken the liberty of waging preemptive war against any peoples they consider dangerous, from an economic or political point of view. This is the return of Hitler and means the erasure from history of all of democracies' triumphs."

As for Europe's role in the international context, he said that up until now the European Union has only stood out for being a single market with a single currency: Europe has not gone beyond that. It has no global strategy. Its current projects reaffirm Neo-Liberal principals." He also said that Europe allows the US to maintain a military presence around the world and criticized the fact that they trust their security in an organism like the NATO: It's as if Europe has delegated the position of minister of foreign affairs to a US general. European independence applies breaking NATO.

Samir Amin is one of the more important neo-Marxist thinkers of his generation. He studied politics, statistics and economy in Paris. From 1957 to 1960, he worked in the Egyptian administration for economic development. From 1960 until 1963, he was a councilman for Mali’s government. In 1970, he was appointed as director of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, the headquarters of which are in Dakar, Senegal. He is currently the director of Third World Forum, an association comprised of intellectuals from Africa, Asia and Latin America that is aimed at strengthening intellectual efforts and relations between third world countries. The headquarters are also located in Dakar.