Samir Amin: Comrade in the Struggle

Commentary No. 479, August 15, 2018

I first met Samir in the early 1960s. I had read his early works, and they resonated with me.

I was passing through Dakar and asked if we could meet.
I don’t think he knew who I was or had read any of my writings.

Nevertheless, he graciously invited me to dine with him.
Very few of his admirers worldwide ever mention his graciousness.
For me, it is one of the key elements of his personality.

As soon as we began, we found how close were our views.
We both believed we were living in a capitalist world.
We both felt we had to organize to destroy it.
We both believed that Marxist thought remained essential.
But we both thought it was not a dogma and needed to be updated.

Shortly after that, I met Gunder Frank. He had read a draft of what would become volume I of The Modern World-System.
He was enthusiastic and offered to write a blurb for publication.
Then I met Giovanni Arrighi and found he too shared our views.

Giovanni, Gunder, Samir, and I thus became the so-called Gang of Four. We wrote two books together, in a special format.

Each book contained four individual chapters, giving our views on the topic. The books contained a common introduction that related the premises we shared. There was also a common conclusion indicating our differences.

The intention was to show that we agreed on something important. I’d say this was about 80% of the way. In treating our differences, there were various pairings on all the questions. Samir and I agreed the most.

Samir and I remained in very close contact in the subsequent years. He lived in an airplane circling the globe. I did not have his energy. But I remained always his comrade in the struggle.

There is only one struggle. We must transform the world.