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New Left Review I/19, March-April 1963


Roger Murray

Agronomy and Society

Historically, as well as logically, “development” precedes “underdevelopment”: the condition of the one was to a large extent the creation of the other. Whatever the importance of continental distinctions in social structure and civilization in the medieval period, it is clear that the steady expansion overseas of post-Renaissance Europe not merely discovered, but created a “new world”. The violent penetration and rupture of traditional pre-capitalist societies, and the subjugation of the economic life of the greater part of the world to the profit impulse of the Western bourgeoisie constituted the fundamental reality of the 16th–20th centuries, irreparably separating them from what had gone before. The various forms of European intervention themselves provoked the complex of dislocations and contradictions which we term under-development and which are original to this epoch, qualitatively different from the backwardness of the civilizations contemporary with feudal western Europe. Consciousness of this fact today throughout the Third World is a phenomenon of the utmost importance, a capital moment in the struggle for decolonization and the achievement of an authentic national existence.

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