I’ve been working for some time on the question of Israeli military sales. I found Esther Howard’s article, “Israel: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” (MERIP Reports 112) invaluable. However, I have uncovered two minor errors which might mislead others using it as a source.

The more substantial one occurs on pages 19 and 20. Howard states that “Israeli Military Industries holds production licenses from Fabrique Nationale Herstal in Belgium and NWM Kruithorn of the Netherlands for the production of Uzi submachine guns and Galil automatic rifles. These weapons were developed in Israel to meet Israeli specifications. The patents were then sold to European manufacturers, who in turn granted production licenses to Israel.” This may well be true; however, the only source cited is Ignacio Klich, “The New Arms Carve-Up,” in South (April 1982). What Klich says is that the European companies are licensed by IMI to produce Uzis and Galils. It would be good to clear this up.

The other point, much less significant, is that the date of the last reference is incorrect. Instead of December 17, 1981, it should be December 17, 1982.

Steve Goldfield
San Francisco

I very much enjoyed your September 1983 issue in its range and depth of treatment of Third World development problems. I would like, however, to comment on Fred Halliday’s overrating of Bill Warren’s work.

Warren’s so-called theses are based on a one-sided favorable view of capitalism and supported by sets of highly aggregated data. Even Halliday questioned the value of the sweeping generalizations he makes, based on these data. But what must be equally criticized is the attitude which underlies the method. There persists among Western writers, Marxists included, the notion that it is somehow possible to speak about the Third World as an undifferentiated mass. There is no Third World, except in a manner of speaking; there are regions, countries, classes and so forth. I would have appreciated it if Halliday had expressed his displeasure with this form of Western ethnocentrism whose mirror image, Third World nationalism, he so consistently disfavors.

Second, Halliday triumphantly reminds us that Warren advanced a “particular critique” of Third World socialist regimes, and that Warren “was hostile to the naive views about delinking and decoupling associated with Samir Amin.” Halliday may want to pay homage to this teacher, but why does he feel it necessary, in order to elevate his status, to offer such offhand remarks about others? Amin’s contribution, irrespective of whether one agrees with its thrust, is indisputably significant; surely it surpasses the thin work of Warren. Yet while Halliday finds delinking associated with Amin “naive,” he considers Warren’s advocacy of unchecked linking—i.e, an open door policy —only “trenchant.”

It is not just a matter of adjectives or decorum. Warren and Halliday are singularly unimpressed by the Chinese and Cuban experiences based on rural development, and a temporary delinking with international capitalism. Certainly, there are numerous problems in both countries. But one must look at the conditions in the countryside in Pakistan or Bangladesh, El Salvador or Haiti to appreciate their accomplishments. If China relinks now, it does so cautiously, with its feet on more solid ground. Even the World Bank recognizes that the “Chinese achievement…is no longer in question.”

There is a deep-seated attitude and political orientation at the heart of Warren’s and Halliday’s (and some other Marxists’) criticism of “premature socialism,” as Warren calls it. It is predicated upon contempt for the peasantry and a corresponding idolization of the proletariat. After all, it was Marx who called French peasants potatoes in a sack. Why must people first be turned into miserable proletariat and slum dwellers so that their progeny may enter the promised land of “mature” socialism? Marx himself grew ambivalent about this problem when considering the revolutionary situation in Russia. One hundred years after Marx, having accumulated knowledge about colonialism, premature socialism and unchecked capitalism, one would like to think that Marxists would have resolved this ambivalence differently!

Nor are the conclusions of Warren accidental. His whole edifice is built on the premise that capitalism is a progressive economic, political and moral system. In his writing, Halliday tells us, there is a “curious absence of moral outrage” about capitalism, a sentiment expressed even in the “most pro-capitalist sections of the Communist Manifesto.” The absence of outrage may strike us as curious, but more importantly it is what distinguishes a Marx from a Schumpeter. A student of development cannot but hear, in Warren’s voice, echoes of Rostow, Lewis, Meier and the rest of the capitalist crew whose theories have already been repudiated, even in development economics textbooks.

The political implications of Warren’s formulations are equally off the mark. Should leftists join the boards of multinationals and international banks, or become businessmen in the Third World to quicken the pace of capitalism? Halliday himself was forced to patch up or cut by half every one of Warren’s contentions. Yet he concluded that Warren’s work represents a “forceful theoretical and empirical” challenge to the orthodoxy of underdevelopment on the Middle East left. Perhaps the orthodoxy has to be challenged, but it is a peculiar thing, this celebration of Warren’s capitalist fundamentalism.

Sharif S. Elmusa
Washington, DC

How to cite this article:

"Letters (November/December 1983)," Middle East Report 119 (November/December 1983).

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