Andre Gunder Frank

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Contextual Quotes


"Frank contends that the rise of Western societies is a-historical blip in an otherwise Asian-centered economy. As Frank's research challenges, for example, the Marxist and Weberian theories on the rise of capitalism as well as Wallerstein's world-systems analyses, there is no doubt that his work, at a minimum, continues to intrigue, provoke and excite scholars in multiple fields. Frank's research also impacts world-systems scholars by suggesting that they examine the world as one world system, rather than the current search for several world-systems, as he is critiquing theories of Eurocentrism and even the concept of capitalism."


"Frank's research teaches us that the contemporary world system is part of a continuous fivethousand year-old history. His analytical focus upon coercion and imperialism, rather than the dominant theories on the rise of the west over the past five hundred years, led him to expose the hegemonic facade of Eurocentric, Western ideology. Critically, among all of his new insights, Frank's latest book also explains more deeply how imperialism and coercion continue to dominate the world system. In extending Bergesen's important discussion regarding world system versus world-systems in a larger context, we can now comprehend more precisely Frank's intellectual legacy. And, we can understand more clearly major ideas and controversies in Frank's prior work, which are important in understanding more fully his final book on the world system, edited posthumously by Robert Denemark. Gunder Frank's by-line, We have met the enemy, and it is US, is more than irony. Rather than viewing capitalism as the defining enemy, he increasingly focused upon coercion and imperialism (Lauderdale and Harris 2008). In his life-long participation in social movements he revealed the internal contradictions of many movements in which progressive leaders employed the same coercion and rigid hierarchies at the local level, which, at the globallevel, they despised and viewed as major sources of injustice (Lauderdale 2006). Frank's writing and participation in such social movements exhibited his life-long concern with equality before efficiency."

- Pat Lauerdale [1]


==Differences between world-systems theory and Andre Gunder Frank's perspective]]

Al Bergesen, in his essay World-System Theory After Andre Gunder Frank, aptly explains the differences between world-systems/PEWS (WST/PEWS) theory and Frank'sperspective of the world economy.

Bergesen (2015) notes:

- "To do this, begin with a sense of the world economy as economic relations between continents, which means relations over large bodies of water, which are achieved by shipping. In the 21st century as in earlier ones, 90 percent of all international/world economic activity transpires through shipping ...

This brings us to the theoretical challenge of Frank:

If the world economy has to be between continents, which by definition is more about trade than production, and if world trade relations historically preexist the emergence of the capitalist mode of production, does this suggest that the modern world-system is not, in fact, based upon the capitalist mode of production, but is part and parcel of a much larger and historically longer world economic system of multilateral trade relations?"


War Domination and the Politics of Economy

Pat Lauerdale:

Frank's analyses reveal the complexities and manifestations of the world economy that enable certain states to dominate successfully and by what processes. In attempting to examine the nature of economic and social oppression, Frank profoundly revealed their connection with war. He points out that war, for example, historically provided many dominating states with profits. Such profitability is likely to continue, therefore war is likely to continue, and the investments by imperialist states to protect their military strength and security have historically buttressed their foreign trade dominance.

If .. colonies could not pay their debts to the empire, they literally paid with their blood. ... Frank (2014: 120) examines numerous examples of this non-symbiotic relationship. He explains that the triangular exchange among Britain, China and India was related to the Opium Wars in the 1800s between China and Britain.

- Such conflict... was precipitated when, to contain the opium trade, the Chinese government deliberately confiscated and destroyed large shipments in actions analogous to that of the erstwhile Bostonians who dumped British tea into their harbor. In both cases, the main reason for doing so was not any great dislike of tea or opium, neither for consumption, nor morally nor politically, the latter at least not directly so. Instead, the big problem for the Chinese was that they had traditionally been the world's largest inward importer of silver, but payment for more and more opium invoked a greater and greater outward re-export of that silver. Since domestic taxes remained payable in silver, lower domestic supplies raised its price relative to copper cash and other commodities, thereby impoverishing many people so that the opium-for-silver trade then posed a political problem. Nonetheless, foreigners still had to work within and not outside of or against the Chinese Canton System. So, in the First Opium War a small flotilla of Britishall-metal ships, built especially for river navigation, easily defeated the Chinese and set up the first of the unequal treaties."