By Stephen G. Bunker
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Underdeveloping the Amazon exhibits how various extractive economies have periodically enriched quite a few dominant periods yet gradually impoverished the full area via disrupting either the Amazon Basin's ecology and human groups. Contending that conventional types of improvement dependent virtually completely at the ecu and American event of commercial construction can't practice to a local financial system based on extraction, Stephen G.
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Additional resources for Underdeveloping the Amazon: Extraction, Unequal Exchange, and the Failure of the Modern State
As Asian and African colonies became formally independent nations and as Latin American governments sought to encourage “import-substitution" in dustrialization as an escape from the vicissitudes of fluctuating terms of trade (Furtado, 1970; Prebisch, 1963; Booth, 1975), theories of mod ernization responded to the sociological question of what forms of social organization and collective beliefs or attitudes might provide the necessary conditions for enhanced production and capital accumu lation in industry and commercial agriculture (Smelser, 1963; Hunt, 1966; Eisenstadt, 1964; Lemer, 1968; Inkeles, 1971).
Greater amounts of any extractive commodity can be obtained only by exploiting increasingly distant or difficult sources. Though tech nological innovation may reduce costs of some extractive processes in the short run, unit costs of extraction will continue to rise in the long run. Therefore, when extractive systems respond to increased external demand, they tend to impoverish themselves (1) by depleting non-selfrenewing resources or (2) by exploiting self-renewing resources beyond their capacities for regeneration, thereby (3) forcing the unit cost of extracted materials to rise so high that the development of synthetic or cultivated alternatives in other regions becomes cost effective.
Because extractive location responds to different factors than does pro ductive location, the discovery of valuable resources may well occur on land with no declared ownership, with little or no previous com mercial value, and subject to public, rather than private, domain. For all of these reasons, access to resources is of greater import in extractive economies than is actual possession or ownership of land. Rapid in creases in the commercial value of natural resources may severely dislocate prior social and economic relations governing possession and use of land, especially when these relations are only tenuously inte grated into wider market systems (Bunker, 1979).
Underdeveloping the Amazon: Extraction, Unequal Exchange, and the Failure of the Modern State by Stephen G. Bunker