chapter  3
29 Pages

The rise of industry in a world periphery

ByJohn Dickenson

The early economic development of Latin America is generally interpreted as part of a process in which the continent was subservient to the interests of a capitalist core in Europe and North America. Though the form of such dependence varied, from a colonial linkage c. 1500-1810, via mercantile empires from 1810 to 1890, to that of peripheral capitalism, Latin America was categorized as part of a periphery or semi-periphery to the world core region of advanced capitalism, in which the dynamism for economic change lay outside, rather than within the continent. In an international division of labour, the periphery functioned as a supplier of primary products for the core, and as a market for its industrial goods. During the colonial period, economic control was exercised directly by the metropolitan power. Later, control was indirect, via foreign investment in productive activity, trade and infrastructure. Even where, in the era of peripheral industrial capitalism, manufacturing developed, it was claimed to be in the interests only of the national elite, or of multinational companies (MNCs), to fulfil their needs for resources, cheap labour and markets.