Saturday, September 19, 2009

From an old article on development

The Ideology of Philonthrophy :
"The ideology of the dominant developmental theory stands in clear relief in Latin America. Bodenheimer writes how the theory devalues the importance of class differences, thereby practically eliminating the problem of stratified power relationships. An analysis of the problems of Latin America that ignores the importance and implications of widening social-class differences is, to put it generously, myopic. But because the theory is dedicated to the concepts of order and stability, and because class conflicts invariably threaten these, the dominant theory is ill-equipped to raise the possibility that only a radical reorganization of existing social relations can lead to meaningful development. Instead, the theory "projects a pious hope that development can be achieved without paying the high cost of removing the social and economic obstacles, that the impoverished masses can somehow be upgraded without infringing on the interests of the established elites." 82 Such an attempt is consistent with the foundations' sincere efforts to alleviate the misery of the masses through gradual, ameliorative reform, while at the same time leaving society's direction -- at home and abroad -- in the hands of a carefully nurtured elite.

DiBona's study of the impact of Western development theory in India reaches similar conclusions. 83 He notes the influence on Indian educational planning of the American economists of the human resource school, particularly Schultz, Harbison, Myers, Denison, Anderson, and Bowman. Their emphasis on the training of high-level manpower for developmental purposes has influenced Indian economists to argue in favor of generous funding for institutions of higher learning. Because of the scarcity of resources available in the Indian economy, however, this emphasis on higher education has led to reduced levels of support for primary education, particularly in rural areas. The vast majority of Indians, of Course, are village dwellers. The increasing proportion of educational expenditures on higher education -- which is generally available exclusively in urban areas -- only widens the gap between the urban elites and the rural peasantry.

An increasing number of commentators have raised questions about the direction of conventional developmental theory, its efficacy, and its impact on traditional societies. Ford Foundation vice-president Francis Sutton has noted the inability of this theory and of existing Western social science to address the problems faced by most developing countries, particularly the establishment of "governments that have extensive control over their economies and are broadly socialist in character." 84 Former Secretary of State Kissinger, in discussing the overthrow of the regime of the Shah of Iran, recently alluded to a problem of conventional development theory. "The enlightened view," he said, "was that there was a sort of automatic stabilising factor in economic development. That has turned out to be clearly wrong." "

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