written by Andrea Catone (Editor-in-chief of Marx XXI Review)
Translated by Lorenzo Battisti
Beijing, May 5, 2018, huge hall full of young and old, Chinese and from all over the world. Samir Amin holds a plenary lecture for the large conference dedicated to Marx 200 years after its birth, organized by the Chinese University with over 330 speakers.
This is the last time I met him: lively and friendly as always, nothing suggested that he would leave us in a few months. Let us exchange a few words about the Italian situation and the emergence of reactionary, fascist mass movements, which he observes growing in European societies as a result of the capitalist crisis. For some years now he had been writing several articles and essays on this subject, such as the one published by Monthly Review in 2014, “The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism”.
In Beijing and China Samir was almost at home, participating several times in the international forums that in autumn the World Socialism Studies Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences organizes annually, or in the Marxist conferences that various Chinese institutes promote with increasing frequency and breadth. Samir Amin, director of the Third World Forum based in Senegal, Dakar, looked at the extraordinary development of socialism with Chinese characteristics and at the fundamental role that the People’s Republic of China can play and plays in the world in the emancipation of humanity with increasing interest and closeness in recent years, not to forget some critical remarks and notes warning about production and property relations and about the relationship between city and countryside.
Samir Amin has been well known to comrades, militants and Italian scholars since the 1960s and 70s, when, from Marxist, Leninist and Maoist positions, he elaborated the strategy of ” decoupling ” countries economically dependent from the system of world imperialism, proposing a “self-centered development”. Since those first important contributions one of the basic guidelines of his militant research emerged, and I write “militant research” for reasons: Samir was never a theoretical end-in itself, but a militant Marxist intellectual, a political organizer, a promoter of initiatives, a comrade actively engaged in the political, social, cultural struggle. He has always held firm the bar of Marxist analysis, he has always tried to read and interpret the world – to change it – with Marx’s lenses, of a Marxism that is not dogmatic or sectarian, but always firm, sharp and vigilant in its assumptions and in its theoretical system, even when he proposed updates of analyses and categories, especially in relation to the world system of imperialism and the economic crisis of the world capitalist system of the “generalized monopolies”.
For his personal history and training Samir was an anti-imperialist Marxist intellectual fighting for the emancipation of peoples subjected to the colonial and semi-colonial yoke, or the unequal exchange imposed by Western imperialism, and, at the same time, a Marxist intellectual who was at home in Paris and in the main centers of the West. From this point of view, he enjoyed the rare privilege of having a view of the world from the “South” and the “North”, with a complex and overall perspective, which translated into strategic indications. He was a militant intellectual who kept up to the last day the awareness of the necessity, for a Marxist, of a long-term strategy; he was a militant who did not intend to get lost in the maze of day-to-day tactics.
He was a scholar of economics and economic theory, but he always treated this discipline as Marx did, to whom nothing human was extraneous: not in strictly specialist terms. His numerous writings were at the same time economy, history, politics, philosophy.
He has been present, active and vigilant on the world scene for over 60 years, with his enduring communist passion, with his brilliant and at times polemical verve, and, at the same time, with an extraordinary willingness to listen and confront, to better understand this rapidly changing world, with its challenges, its possibilities and its great risks.
He wrote a lot, directly in the languages he spoke, from Arabic to French to English. In the next few days, we will be reporting to our readers on his endless production. He collaborated with many reviews around the world. L’Ernesto and then MarxVentuno, as well as the site marx21.it have hosted numerous texts that he sent us normally in French, sometimes in English, and proposed to translate and publish. Last September, Edizioni MarxVentuno published his book (which appeared simultaneously in several other languages in the world) dedicated to a reflection on the Bolshevik revolution and the future prospects of the workers’ movement and the emancipation of peoples subjected to the imperial yoke: October 17: yesterday and tomorrow. In homage to Samir, we make it available on the site, starting with the first chapter.
Bari, 13th August 2018