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close this bookMaldevelopment - Anatomy of a Global Failure (United Nations University)
close this folder2. The decade of drift: 1975-1985
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe excitement of the Bandung plan (1955-73)2
View the documentThe battle for a new international economic order (NIEO): 1974-1980
View the documentStructural costs; the stakes; the struggle for the NIEO
View the documentAfrica: from the Lagos plan (1980) to the world bank plan and the United Nations Conference (1986)
View the documentDebt and the threat of a financial crash
View the documentThe efforts of radical African nationalism: adjustment or delinking?6
View the documentNotes


The 1975-85 period is one of continuing drift in the internal strategies of Third World countries and in world economic and political balance. Excitement came at the beginning with the Bandung plan, to build within the Third World a bourgeois national state with a capacity to make progress in solving the problems of underdevelopment in the framework of the interdependence imposed by the worldwide economy. History was to prove the impossibility of the plan in the light of the internal limitations of the practices of the states in question and the offensive led by the West to reject any calls for an adjustment of the international order to meet development needs at the periphery of the capitalist system. Step by step we reached the current situation that we describe as 'recompradorization' of the Third World. At the level of the international order the period is characterized by the beginning of the decline of US hegemony. But if this decline should lead almost inevitably to the reconstruction of a desirably polycentric world, what place would it hold for the Third World regions? In any event, the open crisis since the 1970s has delayed this evolution by inspiring a realignment of the West as a whole to the Atlantic pact (cf. Chapters 4 and 8).1

This is the canvas on which the balancing act of prevailing opinion is painted. After the phase of ingenuous illusions of Third Worldism came the phase of aggressive anti-Third Worldism. In this way analysis and critique of what is in fact an impasse for currently existing capitalism was abandoned, and the door was closed to any close examination of the proposals for delinked national and popular development, as the basis for a necessary reconstruction of a polycentric world more responsive to people's needs.

We shall try in this chapter to sketch the main stages of this drift that in Africa's case runs from the adoption of the rhetorical Lagos Plan of Action (1980), adhering to the logic of the battle for a new international economic order (NIEO) to surrender to the recolonization of the Berg plan (named after the American expert charged by the World Bank with its formulation). At the same time, we shall examine the internal reasons why the various African attempts at alternative development have not so far yielded any but the most sparse results.