The Communist Foreign Trade System. F. L. Pryor. Allen & Unwin, 293 pp, 40s.
This scholarly and painstaking work on the structures and evolution of ‘the other common market’ shows how far the Comecon countries have to go in order to evolve a common strategy which takes account of the individual interests of each country. Well into the mid-1950s the incompetence of Communist planning remained its most striking characteristic. An imprortant point which arises from the work are fears of countries like Rumania that Russian-dominated planning works to keep under-developed Communist countries as under-developed suppliers of raw materials to the more advanced Communist countries in a sort of Soviet tutelage expressed by a pricing system based on capitalist world prices which notoriously disfavour primary producers. One point which is made is that the position of the weaker Communist countries is strengthened to the extent that they manage to diversify their trading relations outside the Comecon area. A basic work for those interested in the economic development and relations of the Communist bloc. t.w.
Corruption in Developing Countries. Ronald Wraith and Edgar Simpkins. Allen & Unwin, 208 pp, 30s.
The authors of this interesting work on a delicate subject are concerned to avoid easy moralizing on the subject of ‘the scarlet thread of bribery and corruption’ that runs ‘through the fabric of public life in newly independent States’. To do this, the bulk of their work is, in fact, not concerned with contemporary developing nations but with one of the earliest developing nations—‘Britain up to the 1880s’—in order to discuss the lessons which British development towards an ‘uncorrupt’ society has for countries like Nigeria—to which the other part of their book is devoted. Understandably enough, their recommendations remain at the level of bourgeois commonsense and within the perspective of British (i.e. capitalist) development. In a list of ‘cures for corruption’ at the end of the book, we find, apart from ‘the passage of time’, and the spread of education, ‘the further growth of the professional class’ and the strengthening of ‘elements in the middle class’. Apart from the fact that demographic pressure makes a slow capitalist solution economically unviable and politically impossible, one should point out the very rapid and very radical elimination of corruption in what was one of the most corrupt societies on record—China. Fixing their eyes on Britain, the authors are incapable of this. They have produced valuable descriptions of corrupt societies but the scope of their political and sociological imagination by no means measures up to Dumont’s Afrique Noire est Mal Partie (reviewed NLR 19) to which it provide a useful (Anglophone) supplement. Students of English history will find it perhaps more useful than will students of contemporary Third World history. t.w.