Samir Amin

Samir Amin (Arabic: سمير أمين) (3 September 1931 – 12 August 2018) was an Egyptian-French Marxian economist,[1] political scientist and world-systems analyst. He is noted for his introduction of the term Eurocentrism in 1988.[2]

Samir Amin
Samir Amin on the Eurocrisis at the 2012 Subversive Festival in Zagreb
Born(1931-09-03)3 September 1931
Died12 August 2018, 13 August 2018  (aged 86)
Resting placePère Lachaise Cemetery 
Alma mater


Amin was born in Cairo, the son of an Egyptian father and a French mother (both medical doctors). He spent his childhood and youth in Port Said; there he attended a French high school, leaving in 1947 with a Baccalauréat. From 1947 to 1957 he studied in Paris, gaining a diploma in political science (1952) before graduating in statistics (1956) and economics (1957). In his autobiography Itinéraire intellectuel (1990) he wrote that in order to spend a substantial amount of time in "militant action" he could devote only a minimum of time to preparing for his university exams.

After arriving in Paris, Amin joined the French Communist Party (PCF), but he later distanced himself from Soviet Marxism and associated himself for some time with Maoist circles. With other students he published a magazine entitled Étudiants Anticolonialistes. In 1957 he presented his thesis, supervised by François Perroux among others, originally titled The origins of underdevelopment capitalist accumulation on a world scale but retitled The structural effects of the international integration of precapitalist economies. A theoretical study of the mechanism which creates so-called underdeveloped economies.

After finishing his thesis, Amin went back to Cairo, where he worked from 1957 to 1960 as a research officer for the government's "Institution for Economic Management". Subsequently, Amin left Cairo, to become an adviser to the Ministry of Planning in Bamako (Mali) from 1960 to 1963. In 1963 he was offered a fellowship at the Institut Africain de Développement Économique et de Planification (IDEP). Until 1970 he worked there as well as being a professor at the university of Poitiers, Dakar and Paris (of Paris VIII, Vincennes). In 1970 he became director of the IDEP, which he managed until 1980. In 1980 Amin left the IDEP and became a director of the Third World Forum in Dakar.

Views on world order

Samir Amin expressed view on world order and international relations: “Yes, I do want to see the construction of a multipolar world, and that obviously means the defeat of Washington’s hegemonic project for military control of the planet.”[3]

In 2006, he stated:

Here I would make the first priority the construction of a Paris – Berlin – Moscow political and strategic alliance, extended if possible to Beijing and Delhi … to build military strength at a level required by the challenge of the United States... [E]ven the United State pales beside their traditional capacities in the military arena. The American challenge, and Washington’s criminal designs, make such a course necessary … The creation of a front against hegemonism is the number one priority today, as the creation of an anti-Nazi alliance was … yesterday … A rapprochement between the large portions of Eurasia (Europe, Russia, China and India) involving the rest of the Old World … is necessary and possible, and would put an end once and for all to Washington’s plans to extend the Monroe Doctrine to the entire planet. We must head in this direction … above all with determination.”[4]

He also stated:

The ‘European project’ is not going in the direction that is needed to bring Washington to its senses. Indeed, it remains a basically ‘non-European’ project, scarcely more than the European part of the American project … Russia, China and India are the three strategic opponents of Washington’s project... But they appear to believe that they can maneuver and avoid directly clashing with the United State[s].[5]

Hence, Europe must end its “Atlanticist option” and take the course of the “Eurasian rapprochement” with Russia, China, India and the rest of Asia and Africa. This “Eurasian rapprochement” is necessary for the head-on collision with the United States.[6]

Views on political Islam

According to Samir Amin, Islam leads its struggle on the terrain of culture, wherein "culture" is intended as "belongingness to one religion". Islamist militants are not actually interested in the discussion of dogmas which form religion, but on the contrary are concerned about the ritual assertion of membership in the community. Such a world view is therefore not only distressing, as it conceals an immense poverty of thought, but it also justifies Imperialism's strategy of substituting a "conflict of cultures" for a conflict between the liberal, imperialist centres and the backward, dominated peripheries.

This importance attributed to culture allows political Islam to obscure from every sphere of life the realistic social dichotomy between the working classes and the global capitalist system which oppresses and exploits them.[7]

The militants of political Islam are only present in areas of conflict in order to furnish people with education and health care, through schools and health clinics. However, these are nothing more than works of charity and means of indoctrination, insofar as they are not means of support for the working class struggle against the system which is responsible for its misery.

Besides, beyond being reactionary on definite matters (see the status of women in Islam) and responsible for fanatical excesses against non-Muslim citizen (such as the Copts in Egypt), political Islam even defends the sacred character of property and legitimises inequality and all the prerequisites of capitalist reproduction.

One example is the Muslim Brotherhood's support in the Egyptian parliament for conservative and reactionary laws which empowers the rights of property owners, to the detriment of the small peasantry.

Political Islam has also always found consent in the bourgeoisie of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as the latter abandoned an anti-imperialist perspective and substituted it for an anti-western stance, which only creates an acceptable impasse of cultures and therefore doesn't represent any obstacle to the developing imperialist control over the world system.

Hence, political Islam aligns itself in general with capitalism and imperialism, without providing the working classes with an effective and non-reactionary method of struggle against their exploitation.[8]

It is important to note, however, that Amin was careful to distinguish his analysis of political Islam from islamophobia, thus remaining sensitive to the anti-Muslim attitudes that currently affect Western Society.[9]

Samir Amin was one of the advocates of Marxian dependency theory.[10]



  • 1957, Les effets structurels de l'intégration internationale des économies précapitalistes. Une étude théorique du mécanisme qui an engendré les éonomies dites sous-développées (thesis)
  • 1965, Trois expériences africaines de développement: le Mali, la Guinée et le Ghana
  • 1966, L'économie du Maghreb, 2 vols.
  • 1967, Le développement du capitalisme en Côte d'Ivoire
  • 1969, Le monde des affaires sénégalais
  • 1969, The Class struggle in Africa
  • 1970, Le Maghreb moderne (translation: The Magrheb in the Modern World)
  • 1970, L'accumulation à l'échelle mondiale (translation: Accumulation on a world scale)
  • 1970, with C. Coquery-Vidrovitch, Histoire économique du Congo 18801968
  • 1971, L'Afrique de l'Ouest bloquée
  • 1973, Le développement inégal (translation: Unequal development)
  • 1973, L'échange inégal et la loi de la valeur
  • 1973, Neocolonialism in West Africa
  • 1973, 'Le developpement inegal. Essai sur les formations sociales du capitalisme peripherique' Paris: Editions de Minuit.
  • 1974, with K. Vergopoulos: La question paysanne et le capitalisme
  • 1975, with A. Faire, M. Hussein and G. Massiah: La crise de l‘impérialisme
  • 1976, ‘Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism' New York: Monthly Review Press.
  • 1976, L'impérialisme et le développement inégal (translation: Imperialism and unequal development)
  • 1976, La nation arabe (translation: The Arab Nation)
  • 1977, La loi de la valeur et le matérialisme historique (translation: The law of value and historical materialism)
  • 1979, Classe et nation dans l'histoire et la crise contemporaine (translation: Class and nation, historically and in the current crisis)
  • 1980, L'économie arabe contemporaine (translation: The Arab economy today)
  • 1981, L'avenir du Maoïsme (translation: The Future of Maoism)
  • 1982, Irak et Syrie 19601980
  • 1982, with G. Arrighi, A. G. Frank and I. Wallerstein): La crise, quelle crise? (translation: Crisis, what crisis?)
  • 1984, 'Was kommt nach der Neuen Internationalen Wirtschaftsordnung? Die Zukunft der Weltwirtschaft' in 'Rote Markierungen International' (Fischer H. and Jankowitsch P. (Eds.)), pp. 89–110, Vienna: Europaverlag.
  • 1984, Transforming the world-economy? : nine critical essays on the new international economic order.
  • 1985, La déconnexion (translation: Delinking: towards a polycentric world)
  • 1988, Impérialisme et sous-développement en Afrique (expanded edition of 1976)
  • 1988, L'eurocentrisme (translation: Eurocentrism)
  • 1988, with F. Yachir: La Méditerranée dans le système mondial
  • 1989, La faillite du développement en Afrique et dans le tiers monde
  • 1990, with Andre Gunder Frank, Giovanni Arrighi and Immanuel Wallerstein: Transforming the revolution: social movements and the world system
  • 1990, Itinéraire intellectuel; regards sur le demi-siècle 1945-90 (translation: Re-reading the post-war period: an Intellectual Itinerary)
  • 1991, L'Empire du chaos (translation: Empire of chaos)
  • 1991, Les enjeux stratégiques en Méditerranée
  • 1991, with G. Arrighi, A. G. Frank et I. Wallerstein): Le grand tumulte
  • 1992, 'Empire of Chaos' New York: Monthly Review Press.
  • 1994, L'Ethnie à l'assaut des nations
  • 1995, La gestion capitaliste de la crise
  • 1996, Les défis de la mondialisation
  • 1997, 'Die Zukunft des Weltsystems. Herausforderungen der Globalisierung. Herausgegeben und aus dem Franzoesischen uebersetzt von Joachim Wilke' Hamburg: VSA.
  • 1997, Critique de l'air du temps
  • 1999, "Judaism, Christianity and Islam: An Introductory Approach to their Real or Supposed Specificities by a Non-Theologian" in "Global capitalism, liberation theology, and the social sciences: An analysis of the contradictions of modernity at the turn of the millennium" (Andreas Mueller, Arno Tausch and Paul Zulehner (Eds.)), Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, Commack, New York
  • 1999, Spectres of capitalism: a critique of current intellectual fashions
  • 2000, L'hégémonisme des États-Unis et l'effacement du projet européen
  • 2002, Mondialisation, comprendre pour agir
  • 2003, Obsolescent Capitalism
  • 2004, The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World
  • 2005, with Ali El Kenz, Europe and the Arab world; patterns and prospects for the new relationship
  • 2006, Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World
  • 2008, with James Membrez, The World We Wish to See: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century
  • 2009, 'Aid for Development' in 'Aid to Africa: Redeemer or Coloniser?' Oxford: Pambazuka Press
  • 2010, 'Eurocentrism - Modernity, Religion and Democracy: A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism' 2nd edition, Oxford: Pambazuka Press
  • 2010, 'Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism?' Oxford: Pambazuka Press
  • 2010, 'Global History - a View from the South' Oxford: Pambazuka Press
  • 2011, 'Maldevelopment - Anatomy of a Global Failure' 2nd edition, Oxford: Pambazuka Press
  • 2011, 'Imperialsim and Globalization' : Monthly Review Press
  • 2013, 'The Implosion of Contemporary Capitalism' : Monthly Review Press
  • 2016, 'Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism' : Monthly Review Press
  • 2018, 'Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx's Law of Value' : Monthly Review Press


  1. "Samir Amin at 80". Red Pepper. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  2. "A Brief Biography of Samir Amin". Monthly Review, Vol. 44, Issue 4, September 1992 | Online Research Library: Questia. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  3. Samir Amin, Beyond US Hegemony? Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World, (Beirut: World Book Publishing, 2006), p 17.
  4. Beyond US Hegemony, p 17.
  5. Beyond US Hegemony, p 148-149.
  6. Beyond US Hegemony, p 148-149.
  7. page 83, "The World We Wish To See; Revolutionary Objectives In The Twenty-First Century", Samir Amin and James Membrez, ISBN 1-58367-172-2, ISBN 978-1-58367-172-6, ISBN 978-1-58367-172-6, Publishing Date: Jul 2008, Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  8. page 84, "The World We Wish To See; Revolutionary Objectives In The Twenty-First Century", Samir Amin and James Membrez, ISBN 1-58367-172-2, ISBN 978-1-58367-172-6, ISBN 978-1-58367-172-6, Publishing Date: Jul 2008, Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  9. "Comments on Tariq Amin-Khan's text by Samir Amin | Monthly Review". Monthly Review. 2009-03-21. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  10. Jal, Murzban (2018-09-01). "Remembering Samir Amin (1931–2018)". Economic and Political Weekly. 53 (35).

Further reading

  • Aidan Forster-Carter: "The Empirical Samir Amin", in S. Amin: The Arab Economy Today, London, 1982, pp. 1–40
  • Duru Tobi: "On Amin's Concepts - autocentric/ blocked development in Historical Perspectives", in: Economic Papers (Warsaw), No. 15, 1987, pp. 143–163
  • Fouhad Nohra: Théories du capitalisme mondial. Paris, 1997
  • Gerald M. Meier, Dudley Seers (eds.): Pioneers in Development. Oxford, 1984
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