|Essays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 480 p.)|
|21. Development Nemesis|
|Part Two: The actors and the future of development - The era of empowerment|
Western development, as the transnational, prevalent Third World model of development has been in crisis.
In the form of a review of viewpoints, this article, in two parts, presents arguments that illustrate the author's nemesis (righteous indignation) with Western development's theories and praxis.
In this Part Two, the actors in today's development drama dominated by the Liberal Establishment are exposed.
A typology of what liberals stand for follows: their beliefs, their morals, their politics, their stands towards development. This is contrasted with what the author thinks they ought to do.
The elements of a genuine, liberating and empowering participation from-the-bottom-up are given due recognition and the plight of the "non-actors" in current development is taken as a point of departure. What it takes and how to organize participation more meaningfully in the future is explored in depth.
Progress towards any future strategy of development -that stays away from past irrelevance- will mean coming up with suggestions on what is needed to overcome and escape stale policies and present maldevelopment trends.
Relevant alternative prescriptions are explored, coming from a more critical and visionary attitude towards development.
Nothing short of a paradigmatic breakthrough is needed, together with a more committed activism that reconceptualizes the approach to Third World development making it definitely more political than technical in nature.
Le Dloppement Occidental, comme mod transnational dominant de dloppement, a en crise.
Sous la forme d'une rsion d'opinions, cet article, en deux parties, invoque des arguments qu'illustre la nemesis (indignation justifi/B>) de l'auteur contre les thies et l'exercise du Dloppement Occidental.
Dans la deuxi partie de l'article, les acteurs du drame du dloppement contemporain -dominar le "liberal Establishment"- sont dsques.
Une typologie est donnde ce qui caractse les libux: leur croyances, leur morale, leur politique, leur position vis a vis du dloppement. Cette typologie contraste avec ce que l'auteur pense du rque les libux devrait jouer.
L'article donne une position centrale aux questions de la participation authentique et libtrice des gens. Cet engagement des "non-acteurs" dans le dloppement actuel est consid comme indispensable. Ce qui est nssaire pour organiser une telle participation populaire future efficace et significative est discute en profondeur.
Il-y-aura seulement un progrdans des strates de dloppement futures si on te les erreurs du passe. Cela signifie qu'il faudra surmonter et fuir les strates rances et les tendances actuelles du "maldeveloppement".
Finalement, l'article explore des recommendations consides plus pertinentes au dloppement. Ces recommendations sont issues d'une attitude plus critique et visionnaire.
Une rupture du paradigme du Dloppement Occidental rant est nssaire. D'autre part, il faut que les acteurs s'engagent de mani plus militante aux taches du dloppement et ca commence avec une reconceptualization de l'approche au dloppement du Tiers Monde en le faisant dnitivement plus politique que technique.
Each of us, active in Western development practice (2), carries around a complex story that purports to explain how we made mistakes along the way, did bad things or were in some way "not OK" -and it is in light of that story that we justify to ourselves unfulfilling work or frustrating and disappointing results. This litany of self-blame is usually quite painful and is often buried, but it is reinforced daily by the meritocratic ideology of society at large: "you get what you deserve to get". Self-blaming is crippling and has historically contributed little to politicizing the core issues of development as is so badly needed.
It is clear to me that for the future of development, the handwriting is on the wall and is straightforward: Political we must become! The myth of apoliticism in development work is, therefore herebelow, dispelled.
I am here launching a search and a campaign for the doom of Western development as a viable (winning) approach. A nemesis (justified resentment, righteous indignation) arises when looking at the past performance of Western development. (1).
The poor in the South are tired of their poverty and their dependence and will fight back when they become more militantly aware of the real issues. Elite-controlled-so-called- democracies of the South, in tacit collusion with the North, are not fostering viable people-beneficial/gender-neutral development and will thus be challenged in the years to come.
What follows, then, is a collected assortment of viewpoints -old and new- about the actors and the future of development; they flash together without being tightly bound; they are here presented to open up new vistas, not to prove any particular preconceived point. (Lehman, 1987, p.7).
Throughout the text, I profusely use the personal pronoun we, mostly in normative contexts ("we should" or "we need to"). By it, I really mean "each of us", and "us" is intended to mean, mostly, people genuinely interested to mobilize for social change. Whether the choice of such a style gives the discourse hereunder a moralizing tone, I leave the reader to judge. But I do not deny that my message in this article is normative.
I will not here contribute to an unproductive frame of mind by holding up unrealistic standards for the development process. I will merely politicize the issues bringing them to the level I think they justifiably need to get-to in order to bring about any desirable lasting change.
3.1.A. Liberal beliefs
Western liberals like to speak of themselves as hammering steadily at problems; breaking big rocks into little ones that are easier to handle. But by coming with little to offer to the development arena, they have been breaking hammers, not rocks. (Hoagland, 1988, p.4). They are basically devoid of a utopia that can shake or stir some ardent passion in society.
According to their different styles and ethos of work, Johan Galtung classifies development workers into either politically progressive or politically non-progressive, and into intellectually flexible or intellectually rigid.
Although there is quite a bit of wisdom in this typology, it may be perhaps too simplistic. Here, I will attempt to add a few more nuances to the typology and will take the liberty to critique the more non-progressive and rigid amongst us. (Schuftan, 1982).
Liberalism, in a traditional sense, still sees itself as an ideology promoting change and argues that: a) the circumstances of social life are the result of explicable causes; and, b) those causes are graspable by reason and strongly suggest needed changes. Liberalism thus believes in the possibility of rationality in collective life, but only if the individual enjoys personal liberty. It, therefore, imposes limits on the powers governments should retain and exert. Moreover, by focusing primarily on the individual, liberalism and the liberal outlook have become almost inseparable from capitalism. In short, Western liberalism promises unlimited possibilities if individual liberty is respected and if the free exercise of the "rational" faculties is allowed. [Langley a), 1989 ]. (Note that such a stance reveals a sense of self-righteousness to which large sectors of at least the American liberals are easily prone). (Woodward, 1989).
Liberals have liberally adopted an eclectic array of Marxist jargon -but not thought- which they have tossed around for lack of clearer ideas. They seem to know better what they don't like, but not what they want to put in its place. They keep musing, although answers have not yet emerged to "what it is really all about" and where they want development to point towards. (This is not to say that liberals inclined to more utopian thinking do not continue to dream and to plan for a "different" approach to achieve a just world order). (Woodward, 1989).
There has been great technological and economic change in the last 20 years, but it has somehow not been philosophically or socially digested by liberalism. A new liberal thesis and inspiration for social change has not yet surfaced. What there is, is an air of mustiness about this aged liberalism. The question is how to move-on and accommodate changes that are inevitably coming. This requires fundamentally new habits of thought. Just mouthing the old messages, either in rejection or in affirmation, will not do. (Lewis,F., 1988, p.8).
For all these reasons, sharing beliefs with those in the mainstream poses a challenge to real progressive ideology. Liberals have a blind faith in the power of knowledge and the efficacy of good will, not being aware (?) of the antidemocratic consequences of such a paternalistic benevolence, particularly when they are used to pursue the interests of the Establishment.
Sadly, liberal tradition does not stray far beyond rather simplistic theoretical discourse: It tends to superimpose new vocabularies on established knowledge, embracing particular policy postures on behalf of particular constituencies within the existing structure. Most liberals are thus politically conservative (excuse this apparent contradiction...): Virtually all would defend the prerogatives of private property and capital to the end. (Buttel, 1987).
Liberals engage in trade-offs between awareness and security in their everyday life. Granted, a certain amount of self-deception is necessary, inevitable and normal in all of us... (Without some of the lies we construct to defend our egos, we would be unable to function...). But how much self-deception is tolerable? And for how long? Ignoring bitter realities may once have been bliss, but has no survival value in development work today, especially because it allows us to blot out the realities of our past and present failures.
That is why somebody concluded that, in the near past, Western development workers seem to have been on an unacceptable, unprecedented plateau of consciousness about the real underlying causes of underdevelopment. (Anshen, 1989, p.11).
3.1.B. Liberals and development
Are we part of a generation of compromise that has made us passionless? Has society made us that way? (Church, 1989, p.18).
Often, old-time development workers think of themselves as near saints with a mission. Their justification is that since development is for the good of people what they do must be good. The newer generation, though, does not think quite that way anymore; they made development their professional career. But despite their professionalism, they still lack the needed deeper understanding of the real underlying constraints to development and may have sometimes become just mercenaries to their salaries.
The new generation also likes to use fancy words to dress-up subversive thoughts. They sometimes presume to give advice to humanity on how to conduct its affairs although they are no wiser as mentors or worthier as examples than were the missionaries of old.
Liberals classically respond to development queries by demanding more details and by passing the resolution of problems -on to institutions ill-equipped to cope with them. (Timberlake, 1987, p.2). In the process, they have largely shown to be unable to recognize and much less to denounce the coercive use of these development institutions by the ruling elites. (Lerner, 1987).
The political economy of development is indeed not easy to unravel, but many liberal colleagues see it as a topic on which to do even more quantitative research and model building (neither being of much consequence to the feeding of hungry people...). (Buttel, 1987)
Liberals are indeed good at compressing this quantitative information often gathered from secondary sources, into tidy paragraphs using little analytical skepticism and showing a minimum of sensitivity. They sometimes pursue abstract ideas at the expense of people. And the power of ideas can and does hurt. They are too anxious to promote a redeeming and trascending Truth the establishment of which they see as their mission on behalf of humanity. They do not have much patience with the mundane, everyday truths represented by objective facts which get in the way of their arguments. These awkward minor truths get brushed aside, doctored, reversed or are even deliberately suppressed. These various pecadillos, of course, undermine the liberals' credibility.
Perhaps (or not perhaps?) because of the above, liberals have become champions of the international NGOs scene. These NGOs are of three types (or mixtures thereof):
- Thinkers: they do studies and investigations. They purportedly are in the business of advancing the quality of analytical frameworks and tools.
- Informers: They disseminate information and do advocacy giving visibilty to the problems usually ignored by traditional corporate and state-run media.
- Doers: They directly provide social services and initiate projects at grassroots level. (Hunt, 1987, p.10). NGOs of this third type be much more flexible, so that they better adapt themselves to change, varying situations, new political regimes or different financial conditions, those changes are a common feature in Third World societies. (Padron, 1990).
Liberals feel particularly at home in NGOs of the first two types.
Another cause championed by liberals is the multidisciplinary approach to development problem-solving. A multidisciplinary team is a community in which each member is paradigmatically ruled by his/her discipline of origin. Nevertheless, team members mostly share a good many solid intellectual and ideological compromises woven around the very same prevailing development paradigm that already is dominant. Although a multidisciplinary team has the capacity to perceive a whole variety of situations from different angles, its members perceive these situations as similar to previously perceived ones. They thus adopt a certain way to look at things that has been sanctioned by time and by each of their own closest peer group. In this process, symbolic generalizations, beliefs, values and models are used in a way that determines what is acceptable by peers as explanations and solutions to the problems at hand.
Multidisciplinary teams purposely try to avoid being "contaminated" by values, and that is, of course, naif. Their members appoint themselves as categorical experts. In their closet, they work and rework their old assumptions, endlessly embellishing the thought structures that explain and interpret the problem(s) in acceptable ways. (Thomas, 1987, p.23).
Multidisciplinary development teams manned by liberals are thus actually particularly good at "choreographing" the operations they recommend -to impress outsiders (and themselves). (Walsh, 1987, p.2).
Hence, we need to reject the implicit assumption, all too often made, that multidisciplinary teams are omniscient, more efficient and impartial. This, not necessarily due to political considerations, but rather due to sheer logic and pragmatism. A healthy dose of scepticism is required to judge their members' intentions, particularly if they play into the hands of status-quo and the elites. Ultimately -with or without the involvement of multidisciplinary development teams- political power will be abused to promote the particular purpose of its holders. [Schuftan b), 1988].
3.1.C. Liberals and ethics
Western development promotes the interests of the North through a calculated use of moral rhetoric and moral posturing. (Woodward, 1989).
It seems that all the more-critical-liberals succeed in doing is to simply denounce some of the more outdated underlying values of Western development. But keep in mind that they do this from within the intellectual and moral framework of concepts and methods otherwise ruling Western ideology.
Liberals are less often at odds with their own group's moral sensibilities and end up adopting a self-centered ethic that in its collective form has dominated Western approaches to development. And this is what leads to the deeply-ingrained- self-deceptions one finds in the liberals' ultimate motives. [Tikkun Editorial a), 1987]. Actually, the same self-centered ethics that has dominated Western societies leading to self-interest-above-all is actually the ideological underpinning of capitalism. (Van Dyk, 1987).
Given their privileged position in capitalist societies, liberals do have the political power to implement their ideas, only that the latter do not often enough speak to the basic level of collective human needs. They too often get stuck with a commitment to an abstract concept of individual rights and get deluded and blinded by this individualistic ideology. For too long, they have been subjected to an intense psychological and ideological conditioning pointing in that direction.
On the other hand, societies are deeply rooted in very concrete social, historical, ergo political contexts. Hence, in today's world, commitment to change coming from ethical imperatives alone does not fuel great social movements anymore. (Lerner, 1987).
Moreover, Western development has succeeded in defining a deceivingly moral framework in which concessions made by the assumed beneficiaries of development appear not as an ultimate surrendering, but as "sacrifices in the name of a common good" that is neither common nor good. (Gomez, 1988).
Consequently, it is not enough to encourage the articulation of a shared moral vision, because it leaves us unable to consolidate this vision into moral outrage and that outrage into political power. A point in case is that of Western voluntarism and charity: neither ever succeeded in really helping the chronically distressed solve their problems in the long-run.
There is a social need for commitment beyond ethics, and individuals with insight recognize this need and pursue such an endeavour.
The beginnings of a new world-view and of a global ethics more closely linked to a political perspective will not come from destroying the old morals, but rather from building on what is most universal and genuinely democratic in the old creed. However, if such a doctrine -to which too many amongst us are all too ready to pay lip service only- is to become a reality, it will require a veritable mental renaissance among our peers. (U Thant).
The job facing us for achieving a just world order is thus primarily both educational and political, with the ethical dimension serving as an underlying shared frame of reference. (Laursen, 1989, p.35; Schuftan, 1987).
3.1.D. Liberals and politics
The ideology of the "extreme center" is what ordinary, decent liberals operate- on most of the time, displaying a disquieting homogeneity of perspective. In development work, they pay obedience mostly to expediency, because they do not feel comfortable participating in the social struggle; they thus close ranks with the forces of conservatism. (Woodward, 1989; Henriquez Neudel, 1988; Gomez, 1988).
As we have already discussed, many development workers have put some distance between politics and their pursuit of individual self-realization. We know they have not abandoned their moral quest for a better society, but they have missed changing themselves in their political outlook. And those who have never been challenged to understand the structural changes needed to achieve development in capitalist-dependent societies end-up framing their own politics in narrow external terms. They often remain unwilling to act on their correct intuitive belief that something must be done to at least restrain the power of dependency-perpetuating capitalism to shape economic life in a more promising direction. (Lerner, 1987).
What I see missing is the courage of liberals to stand-up and fight for their own sparks of enlightened vision. This unwillingness to fight for a vision stems from the lack of an ideological commitment to the needed drastic changes to bring about genuine, poverty-redressing development. [Tikkun Editorial b), 1987, p.11].
Sometimes, liberals do get involved in perfectly "reasonable" activities in no conflict with a life of commitment to equity principles. But, on the other hand, quick disillusionment too often leads them not into more limited-scope or manageable, still committed activities, but instead into a professional life devoid of any active political engagement. The liberal paradigm easily falls into an inarticulate strategic vision of the future. It too often leads to opting for symbolic acts of resistance to injustice devoid of any plan for how that injustice might ultimately be remedied for good.
Let's face it, in liberalism, prestige of the intellectual depends on laying claim to being rational and apolitical. Therefore, liberals move away from politics and towards "reason". But the "catch-22" is that, what one calls "reason" is a political question; reason rests on a particular ideology. (Peller, 1987).
Apoliticism fosters laissez-faire in crucial areas of development while concentrating sometimes on minutiae... And laissez-faire is no base for generating any kind of public philosophy.
It would seem that deliberate efforts are made by the liberal community to prevent debate on macro and political issues relating to the ultimate aims of society. This is achieved by purposely focusing the debate primarily on narrow operational sub-problems found in the implementation of development projects.
There is no consistency in the way in which liberals relate to political ideals in general. They seem to mostly pursue a politics of status instead of pursuing a politics of socialization. For liberals, the pursuance of particular purposes and objectives depends on how questions of status are resolved (including their own...). (Woodward, 1989).
It has been said that it is actually easier to change consciousness by changing behavior than to change behavior by changing consciousness. Accommodative changes of consciousness -those adopted just to keep-up with the times- invariably lead liberals not to wipe out the hypocrisy in their behavior and praxis, but just to improve the quality of it. (Henriquez Neudel, 1988).
Recent world history, as framed by the predominant Western ideology, has played a major role in creating some of the fragmentation in liberalism which we have been addressing.
It is liberals who have taken the politics away from ideology and placed it more in the realms of economics; they have thus made economic matters the central issue of politics! (Friedrich Durrenmatt).
The bottom line is that liberals who have shaped their outlook on development on a framework of no ideology or an ideology that strips events of their political meaning/underpinning, become disoriented and even uprooted when they discover that framework to be false, not to work or not to explain their past failures. [Langley b), 1989].
Hope alone leads to good-hearted, but unrealistic advocacy and to outcomes way short of expectations. (Harland Cleveland)
Instead of feeling guilty for problems they did not really create, liberals in development work need to adopt a new, more political paradigm. Instead of feeling angry at themselves and at the situation, they should gather the energy needed to change. (Lerner, 1987). Facetiousness aside, I ask myself, if so far liberals have not really fought for an equitable distribution of wealth and justice, should they not at least fight for an equitable distribution of the existing poverty and injustice? (Gomez, 1988).
Step one, is for intellectuals in development work to move themselves out of isolation and to identify with the victims of history. Writing about an issue is not nearly as significant as a de-facto personal commitment to the process of transformation. [Langley a), 1989]. (Beware of those colleagues of ours who prove their liberalism by writing nicely about development in places they would not live-in for a month).
Ethically, liberals need to leave behind their ethics of principles and adopt an ethics of global responsibility. (Gomez, 1988). Ideologically, liberals need to overcome the disjunctions or contradictions they encounter (or create) between what they feel and think and what they seem to do. The persistence of that unresolved fragmentation explains the ideological confusion and oversimplification in their scholarship which has caused them to cognitively ignore the ethico-political connection in the areas of knowledge crucial to their work in development. [Langley b), 1989]. We call on them to become scholar-activists beyond mere neo-populist politics and demagoguery. (Buttel, 1987).
There is no progressive politics without the masses. But not every policy intended to promote the wellbeing of the masses is progressive. (Gomez, 1988).
4.1.A. Genuine participation: what it is and what it isn'
Without genuine participation, development is like a Christmas toy: Batteries not included. (Walker, 1986, p.27).
In Third World development projects, popular participation has so far mostly been used to reinforce the patronage of the existing political apparatus. Typically, it appears first as an effort to set up a poor people's circuit in response to the aspirations raised by a populist system. It has much less been a springboard for collective mobilization of communities set up to help them master their own development.
Patronage and clientelism have been used as models of veiled political control. An example of this can be seen in the tendency of family planning workers to accept and apply crude neo-Malthusian assumptions and to preach and harangue rather than enter into dialogue with potential users.
Participation-in-the-way-the-authorities-want-it is controlled participation. It is a kind of "for them, but without them". In that sense, "public opinion" is nothing but an attempt to organize the ignorance of the community to elevate it to the dignity of a physical force.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the income distribution issue is largely ignored in participation schemes in Western development projects. Consequently, the poor never attain the power necessary to demand the share of national resources that would be compatible with guaranteeing them minimum incomes commensurate with decent standards of living, health and nutrition.
Empowerment means something more than people following instructions or being able to answer narrow questions. Empowerment is development (or vice-versa): To be empowered is to increase one's capacity to define, analyze and act on one's own problems. Empowerment is cognitive and unashamedly value-laden. It entails arriving at an understanding of the situation in which one decides for oneself that changing one's behavior is in one's own interest. Development programs, therefore, need to go beyond the technical and help empower people to overcome the structural violence they are subjected-to day-in, day-out. Why do we go-on designing programs directed at people based on the assumption that they have needs but do not have any resources, competence or views? (Kent, 1988, p.11).
In Western development, participation has actually been more an exercise of integration than of incorporation of people. Incorporation tries to make people partners in the system making them benefit from the venture(s) undertaken. This has mostly not been the case so far. The issue has rather been finding ways of integrating people into a preconceived development process. People are where they are today, not because they have been genuinely incorporated into the process as such, but because they have been integrated into the existing social formation in the country. This process has largely preserved the underlying system that appropriates and expropriates surplus value from commodity producers and workers by controlling both the supply and demand sides of the market in capitalist-dependent societies in the periphery. (Bashir, 1988).
A distinction should be made here between a reformist view and a more liberatory view of social movements. The reformist view looks at the actual conditions of an oppressed people and asks: How can we improve the conditions or lessen the oppression? A more liberatory view says: There is something about the transformation of the conditions affecting a given oppressed group that the achievement of its liberation leads to the liberation of all.
Participation as "meeting with people here and there", somebody said, is not unlike a ritual for invoking rain -and it may prove less effective... Genuine participation gives people a transformative rather than a fatalistic outlook toward the world. [Langley a), 1989]. The process of genuine participation thus calls for translating change into acceptance. (Gomez, 1988). It is about creating new community fora and meeting grounds where grievances motivate and spark effective, powerful action.
Grassroots organization, therefore, means people + leadership + ideas + a plan + taking collective initiatives + following self-deliberation + self-managing the tasks initiated; it means exercising the right to choose.
Ergo, genuine participation of beneficiaries is not to be a goal to be achieved with a project; it has to exist from the beginning, or there simply is no project! (Padron, 1990).
4.1.B. A liberating participation: why needed?
People have the right to define by themselves the kind of lives they want to live and under what conditions. (Lerner, 1987).
Felt needs should not have to wait for an opportunity. They are to create new opportunities. In other words, rights have to be taken. They are not given.
It is the poor who have suffered most in bad economic times just as it is them who have benefited least in good economic times. Therefore, why should the kind of Western development the people have been getting deserve their support? It is time to strip away the niceties of Western economic parlance and say that what has happened and is happening is simply an outrage against a large section of humanity. (Development Forum, 1989, p.15).
Historically, whenever abuses of political power have been corrected in the East and in the West, it has been through a popular movement from below. Throughout the struggles of people, these changes were made when enough people decided that the burdens of history required risks and that the demands for change could not be met by acting as if normal politics could do the job. (Falk, 1988, p.17).
Simply put, without participation, people are unable to consolidate moral outrage into political power which is the key to the type of change needed.
Constructive changes in society are almost always the product of social movements (Boyte and Evans, 1987) and only a changed society can adopt better, sustainable development strategies; Western development tends to do it the other way around... (Hatfield, 1987, p.6).
Without some modicum of political power and the ability to use it in an organized fashion, participation remains mere window-dressing. Because of this, confrontation remains a cornerstone of genuine participation. When confrontation softens and compromises begin to occur in key areas, the power base of the people tends to erode. The upholders of the status-quo play their game around these compromises.
Unfortunately, grassroot popular leadership is too often regulated, controlled and manipulated by the central political level thus, by definition, leading to a weak organizational base. What is needed for a liberating participation to flourish is a political process through which an independent local leadership can be built. There still prevail powerful dependent-dominant relationships in organized rural grassroots groups. In most places, the same dominant group controls the political and economic powers from the national to the village level. There is thus no real polarization of power between the rural poor and the elites, i.e. the power-deprived and the power-users. Such a polarization needs to be fostered through the process of participation, mainly because the silence of powerlessness keeps the needs and desires of the poor (especially rural) from being part of national political agendas. (Khadka, 1988; Daly, 1990).
On social issues, national governments do not move until they are pushed by a substantial grassroots movement. (Langley b), 1989]. Only then do they feel compelled to pay more attention to the claims of the numerically strong but economically weak. (Woodward, 1989).
Voting and other traditional social participation patterns are weak and misleading expressions of popular control in capitalist-dependent Western-type democracies. Only with a stronger de-facto control by the people comes hope.
Political participation in traditional forms of Western democracy is limited; it mostly allows to express a citizen's preference for one (or various) candidates. New forms of people's participation are thus being tried by grassroots organizations (e.g., slum dwellers associations), they all practice a much more adapted, responsive and accountable form of democracy. (Padron, 1990).
Hence, the development process's role is to help create the necessary support systems among participants for a genuine, liberating participation to emerge and for it to nurture the spontaneous local sparks of awareness into concrete actions. It is both the consciousness-raising and the actual mobilization of people that ultimately help create these necessary support systems anchored in a strong sense of identity with each other and with an emancipatory cause.
Since Third World governments/elites manifest a distressing tendency to imitate their more powerful allies, change will have to come from non-governmental sources, from those willing and able to break the spell and penetrate the mystifications that the governing class has purposefully created and perpetuated everywhere. (Woodward, 1989).
Any NGO-organized participation has to achieve what grassroots groups want, i.e. the type of actions that bring about the desired changes. The act of organizing has an instructional role per-se. Knowledge by itself does not transform reality; it is essential that it be linked to organized activity. The dialectical unity of knowledge and action must be an essential aspect of the development process.(Gianotten and de Wit, 1983).
For this to happen, the goals of development must arise from within a society and cannot be imposed by external forces. Only then does participation help the individual to understand his/her own society, turning him/her into an active agent of social change by providing him/her with a way to analyze society from within and thus with better ways to tackle its problems. (Kaci, 1990, p.4).
It is becoming more and more evident that the hope for dealing with the global development crisis rests not with the development industry, but with the great social movements of contemporary society; it rests with people who are driven by a strong social commitment rather than by the budgetary imperatives of huge global bureaucracies. (Korten, 1990).
Because only a liberating participation promotes social change and organizes the oppressed into an economic/political force, development professionals should be compelled to reject, and not just be indifferent about, projects with a passive role for people. (Gianotten and de Wit, 1983).
In summary, people have to be present at the historical processes shaping their future as thinking activists and not be maneuvered by the Establishment thinking for them. The latter only leads to the all-too-well-known pattern of resentful participation. (Paulo Freire)
Furthermore, fundamental change is not possible without conflicts with the powers-that-be. The timing for this inevitable conflict with the vested interests can often be chosen: Either the organization decides to precipitate a crisis or it faces it when times of crisis come along.
4.1.C. Participation: what it takes
To succeed, participation needs to paint a picture of the world that has inner cohesion in the eyes of the participants; it needs to offer a roadmap for purposeful and consistent action. But above all, genuine participation needs to and does legitimize outcomes. [Langley b),1989; Laursen, 1989, p.35].
I am aware that true democratic social change cannot be based solely on the mobilization of the people for their immediate concerns and anxieties and on their present, often faulty, interpretation of the world. It also requires resources and management skills! Self-reliance cannot do without resources (material, financial and organizational). It also requires a commitment to social-philosophical principles and to the effort that is needed to link political activity to those same principles. A working coalition of people has to amass independent power and bring together organization, leadership, ideas and a plan. (Posner, 1987). Participation, therefore, takes learning, agenda setting, bargaining and fostering a strong sense of collective identity. (Schuftan, 1983). Achieving this, surely requires a concerted struggle and, in today's world, it is almost a redundancy to say that the existence of established "democratic" institutions does not by itself guarantee that the poor and the disposessed are able to fight for their basic economic and social rights. (Kothari, 1988).
But the choice of social policies cannot be grounded in the values of liberal individualism only, as vital as these values may be. The emphasis must be on policies that express values of social responsibility rather than some vague commitment to community. The task is to create a broad movement or coalition based on important social values. (Posner, 1987). Only thus can development retain its deep roots in the community. Otherwise, it loses its energy and spirit. Ultimately, organized individuals have to strive for visibility in their political universe based on relevant issues, sometimes at considerable risk (e.g., a strike or a mass demonstration are acts of defiance). (Boyte, 1987).
The problem with most Western development schemes at present is that the limited participation they allow is atomized into isolated efforts effectively preventing groups with common interests and common enemies to coalesce. The need to provide rallying points for popular mobilization and for the consolidation of coalitions -e.g. linking single-issue constituencies together- should become more a part of our colleagues' agenda so as to induce them to act more decisively in this direction.
The various components of the popular movement (trade unions, small farmers' associations or cooperatives, neighborhood groups and other urban and rural organizations) find themselves too often isolated from each other: fragmented, distrustful of each other, seeing no further than their own noses... The fabric must be rewoven; social networks must be set-up to take advantage of collective past experiences. All needs to start with an assessment of what has been done so far in order to identify positive and negative experiences and salvaging what can be reproduced (the good seed) and rejecting the rotten. It is no easy task, nor will it come about tomorrow, but it must be undertaken; the sooner the better.
Participation has to foster activism within the system ("see-judge-act") and all-across the popular movement. It has to overrule the technocratic perspectives of creating a stable world by insisting on th primacy of the political process and of social mobilization over technology to achieve meaningful, lasting transformations. (Kothari, 1989, p.3). (Mind that the technocratic perspective tends to forget that people are more important than technologies, as well as being more complicated). (Lewis, C., 1988, p.6).
In sum, to be relevant, participation has to start from the people's viewpoint, from their accumulated experience and their specific present economy. (Gianotten and de Wit, 1983). To achieve this relevance, movements must also be linked to the everyday problems of people; key experiences can and should serve as a compass. (Montes, 1989).
These days, as a matter of pressure, we need popular demands to be accompanied by concrete proposals ("the problem must be solved in the following way:..."). Popular movements and actors are the ones called-upon to present positive proposals to solve the problems they know best. They should not exert pressure for the sake of pressure or in the name of empty slogans (e.g., a multi-party system). They have to challenge the context of existing policies and influence key actors and institutions at all needed levels. (Montes, 1989). From a tactical point of view, priority has to be ultimately given to the conflict most affecting the decision-makers, the one that puts most pressure on them. But this pressure has to be organized in a way that a healthy face-to-face confrontation to resolve the conflict is actually precipitated. In it, the people, effectively organized, do not only place vague demands, but offer and fight for concrete, viable alternatives.
4.1.D. Internal organization for participation
Development depends on a central source of constant renewal. The fountain of renewal spouts in a desert of sand soaking up the ground with new information as it runs from the center. Close in, the knowledge pools are constantly refilled. Further out, the new information sinks in the sand. Digging trenches to extend the flow helps little. (Brennan, 1989, p.4).
The organization of grassroots groups as pressure groups has to go through an incremental development process -developing trust, building a shared vision and, finally, establishing a strategy. By the time the strategy is arrived at, the group has such zeal and sense of mission that they are ready to take the issue to larger groups, using the same process. When organizers talk to people at all levels, people at all levels start talking to each other and problems tend to begin getting addressed before it is too late.
It is necessary for development professionals to create an excuse (or a crisis) to seek working with these groups, to listen to them, to share "secrets", build trust, share a vision and capture them in it: call this a soft revolution. In organizing movements, each of us has to use graphic vocabulary, share confidential information, share hopes and fears to create a common vision and promote trust. We have to seize every opportunity to make a point, emphsize a value, disseminate information, share an experience, express interest and show we care. Performance and contribution of as many people as possible has to be publicly recognized: ceremonies present great opportunities to do so. Use incentive programs whose main objective is not compensation, but recognition. Create the group's own culture, with its own language, symbols, norms and customs. An acculturation process begins when people get together in groups and trust and care about each other. Such a new culture is much more conducive-to and supportive-of consensus decision-making. (Hurst, 1984).
We all need to actively encourage and foster these new community fora and meeting grounds where grievances are no longer sources of defeat, but motivate effective, power-backed action, where people can learn the practices of work in common. (Boyte and Evans, 1987).
Since times have changed, we should once-and-for-all understand that participation has to be broad and has to allow participants to choose for themselves what the legitimate and important problems are that they need to be tackling.
Genuine participation has to make people feel affirmed; it has to help them deal with their real pains and with the absence of a coherent way to understand how the outside world sets limits to their possibilities. By definition, a process of participation has to provide respect and autonomy to community members. (Lerner, 1987). But care has to be taken that the organizing efforts of those seeking change do not actually mimic the views or play into the hands of the prevailing, dominant and ineffectual politics. (Moore Lappe, 1990).
Genuine (liberating) participation has to pass through a period of consciousness-raising, motivation-for-involvement and the generation of a sense-of-community and mutual-aid-support. Ergo, people have to be invited to participate in direct actions and thus practice grassroots democracy. Organizing should start as a local effort to be followed by the decision to form regional and then a national organization. [Langley a), 1989].
Practical politics, in this context, means control and empowerment for undertaking self-help actions, for lobbying and for placing concrete demands in front of authorities, even against the odds of repression. As a non-violent political duty, an organized group needs to position itself to exert active resistance to social evil. (A right exists only with a concomitant duty). [Langley a), 1989].
The battle against underdevelopment will be won by many little people doing many little things in many little places. (Lankaster, 1988).
At the root of strong, genuine participatory democracy is the need to set up legal entities that define people's rights more bindingly so as to transform millions of inhabitants into millions of equally sharing citizens. (Hardoy, 1987, p.14).
The future of this citizen's participation in development lies in the hands of ordinary wo/men, in their level of political consciousness, in their comprehension of the multidimensional and interrelated nature of the development problem(s), in their courage, their capacity to overcome fear and insecurity, their willingness to come out of their various closets and to collectively create the conditions and the compulsion necessary to change their surrounding reality.
Development professionals need to help catalize this mobilization to achieve the changes people feel are needed to bring new hope to their future. (Kothari, 1988).
Ultimate success will be measured by the degree to which one has sparked a social movement, one has raised the level of political discourse at grassroots level and one has precipitated public debate about social values, even if the latter are unpopular.
Only when these new groupings defending their own interests have a more decisive weight, will there be a significant chance for change in global political processes. Every issue brought to a vote locally at the base has the potential to generate pressures for new demands. (Woodward, 1989).
In sum, people will have to explore and try various new institutional arrangements through which their collective social needs can be achieved before choosing the most suited to them.
Only when the all-pervasive culture of silence and apathy is overcome, can popular education really start to blossom and bring about the kind of organization needed for a truly liberating development.
Many Third World countries are moving away from authoritarian regimes, but are being sold US-style democracy: Procedural, formal democracy without substance. Formal democracy alone will merely ensure continued inequality, poverty and hunger. The challenge is to go beyond formal democracy (elite- controlled democracies) to genuine participatory democracy. (Bello, 1990).
To lead development anywhere meaningful, we in the North have to first stop living in societies of trends rather than ideas (Brown, 1989, p.18). And in the South, we need real change and transformation; not just adjustment. We need economic justice; not just growth. We need democracy and accountability; not just despotism, authoritarianism and kleptocracy. (Adebayo Adedeji).
Modern Westerners make a virtue of speculating far into the next century in the realms of technology. The question is: Why not also in the realm of the social sciences?
It is in response to this question that I here present a hopefully constructive discussion of alternatives which still receive far too little consideration in development circles.
The changes deemed necessary will not come overnight nor will old forms disappear fast, but rather centers of concern need to begin shifting as soon as possible. It is a whole new generation of thinking that is needed to cope with the present development problems and riddles. A new general framework is thus actually needed to force us to get more involved in concrete and more meaningful actions that foster Third World production systems based on local initiatives whose fruits are ploughed right back into community development. (Jonsson, 1988).
5.1.A. The need for a more critical and visionary attitude
He who knows what he is looking for, better understands what he finds. (Gregorio Maranon.)
Historically, Western development first saw the arrival of infrastructure builders who attempted to set up the backbone of Third World economies. Then, in the 70s, came basic human needs backers to "(re)connect people and development". Now, we have the Greens reminding us of the environment and development. BUT we always left out the political dimension, not tackling it as the principal stumbling block to genuine development. (Berg, 1989, p.2).
That is why the first task facing us now is to unlock the many paradoxes and contradictions of the present maldevelopment syndrome and decisively handle its inherent ambiguities. (Hurst, 1984).
And because we are in a race with time, we must overcome the problems of maldevelopment before they overcome us. It is as simple and as deadly as that. (Dhital, 1989, p.6).
In this task, it is an error to equate being more radical with how totally opposed one is to the given order. Commitment to lines of analysis and action that have a better chance of changing things is more to the point. If we are serious about change, as social critics we have to be able to see not only what is wrong, but what there is to build-on. This includes being able to recognize every possible factor maintaining the status-quo that might be subject to our intervention. The constructive critic should constantly point out the contradictions and hypocrisies between theory and the actual praxis he/she encounters. (Boyte, 1987).
The picture of causality to emerge from a new line of analysis of underdevelopment in the 90s is not one of simple cause and effect. The process is to be dynamic. We just have to get away from the circularity in the analysis found in current Western development thinking. [Tikkun b), 1987; Schuftan a), 1988].
But on the other hand, when looking at the more obvious major and minor contradictions in the process of maldevelopment, the fact that our basic dialectics are failing us cannot but be emphasized enough. And here is why: Economic and social policies to achieve a people-beneficial development are determined by the prevailing political discourse. When analyzing those major contradictions, the question of power is at the center and to understand its determinants one has at least to look at the actors, the problem(s) or obstacle(s) and the process ahead.
The actors: Amongst the main actors in the development paradigm, a dichotomy can be found between those who have excess-power (or a power surplus) and those who are powerless: the excess-power lies with those who are making the decisions (and some of us act as their advisors...) and the powerlessness is found among the sufferers of those development policies that ignore them. The same dichotomy is also at the center of the dialectical relationships between the modern and the traditional sectors in national economies and between North and South in the international context.
The problem: The problem is precisely the powerlessness of the intended beneficiaries of development policies who are suffering, on a daily basis, from the prevalent conditions of social injustice and from a complete lack of equity in the development policies applied.
The process ahead: The challenge here is to escape the social and political mechanisms of ongoing disempowerment. Empowerment -as opposed to how the term has been misused and vilified for example in UNICEF's jargon which equals empowerment of mothers to giving them more control over their own and their children's wellbeing and ill-health through the mastering of a few basic techniques- was always meant to mean economic and political empowerment, precisely the one people have been consistently denied and the one UNICEF does not necessarily mean or explicitly enough address and tackle. Therefore, whenever one invokes empowerment as a must, one must first mean and then be prepared to bring it about by implementing strong measures that increase the political power, the economic power, the financial power, the decision-making power of the poorest. We are talking about measures that mobilize human and economic resources towards new ends, different from the traditional ones. (Henderson, 1990, p.72).
It is only the sequential process of Participation, Consciousness-raising, Social mobilization (or practical politics), Consolidation of movements, Networking and Solidarity that has a chance of achieving real empowerment of people. The process is not without risk due to all existing forms of overt or covert repression in the Third World.
Working hard and with dedication for development is not enough! We need not only do the things right, but do the right things, and tackling the power determinants at the roots of underdevelopment is one of those right things we have not done enough of. In development work, dreaming is OK, but being naif is not!
5.1.B. Paradigms and science: the needed breakthroughs
Understanding the new logic of an ongoing process plays a positive part in further shaping the process itself (Hegel) and this requires that we first get the "big picture" right. [Van Dyk, 1987; Schuftan a), 1988].
Applied to development, science has not been a critical science; in that sense, science has not been at the service of peoples' development; it has rather been applied as an industrialized science and at that, managed more as a business. A revolution in the system of values which development science has served is badly needed. We need a science more responsive to the needs of humankind. One that gives a fuller scenario. There is an incompleteness in our present normal development science. Something important is being left out. We have thus to think in terms of belatedly incorporating a complementary body of knowledge. Complementing science in its present form is a second kind of knowledge-seeking: being concerned with sociopolitical values that give science ultimate social purpose and meaning. [Schuftan b), 1988].
The language of development we use is itself a stiff box that reflects our cultural heritage and emphsizes some features of reality at the expense of others. We thus need to unlearn many scientific concepts and develop (or accept) even a new vocabulary and new phrases and words. Thought and language are keys to changing perceptions. (In a way, it is a radical act to look at a familiar sight in a new way...).
We need to change the present context to one in which development problems are more widely discussed and acted-upon. The purpose is not to explain only, but to explain and to test assumptions, and not bend to foregone conclusions as too often has been the case. (Hurst, 1984).
The conversations that transform an era are those conversations out of which we see things in a new way, conversations in which what we consider to be possible is altered and in which possibilities are transformed into actual opportunities, conversations that empower and enable people showing new openings for action, conversations in which new real commitments are made, in which priorities are reorganized and resources are reallocated, no matter how drastic the change. (Shift in the Wind, Hunger Project).
We, therefore, need to subject the conventional Western development paradigm that rules our present behavior to the critique of present Third World realities so as to lay down the groundwork for the emergence of a new paradigm that will bring human beings, their development and welfare, back into the center of the scientific development endeavour. [Ricketts b), 1987, p.10].
The bottom line is that we desperately need a critique of our existing agendas, an examination of how we decide to worry about a given issue. This does not assume that the current substantive problems some of our colleagues have decided to worry about are unworthy of concern, but rather raises questions about the unexamined assumptions we make. We do not need to try harder as much as we need to learn how to think differently about development. In our present development paradigm, we are confronted with a forbidden agenda that discourages such a free, "unconventional" analysis. (McDermott, 1989). (Keep in mind that based on the security of the established paradigm the elites protect their positions of power). (Morehouse, 1988, p.15).
As is true for any paradigm, the Western development paradigm offers a wide if not contradictory variety of disciplined and undisciplined speculations on the possible, the probable and the preferable. The society to be attained (or avoided) is not something that will merely happen independently of our efforts. It is something we can and must shape, and a change of paradigm is needed for that. Genuine despair is preferable to apathy in this endeavour and may actually lead to the needed replacement of the present development paradigm. Urgency forces us to postpone and to suppress our doubts and quibbles. An effort is called for to peer deeper into these various issues in order to understand, in a fresh manner, precisely what it is we think we are trying to accomplish, what means are currently at our disposal and what kinds of problems and issues will persist after we have engaged ourselves as best we can. Let's move towards considering what we think is best to do when we cannot do what we wanted to do in the first place. [McDermott, 1989; Schuftan b), 1988].
5.1.C. Politics, ideology and new global values: the keys to unlock underdevelopment
It is not enough to be opposed to mere reformism; we have to actively oppose any form of development that imposes and/or promotes it. [Langley a), 1989].
In today's world, viable solutions to our most prevalent development problems have to be acceptable, accessible, affordable and arrived at with and not for the people. In working out these solutions it is by now also indispensable that we invert the M of men to a W of women beyond mere rhetoric. It thus behoves us to differentiate between people's needs and demands and our own wants. (Williams, 1987).
Arriving at the same solutions requires that we restore the right balance between technical competence and a moral and political vision.
As a matter of fact, technical/political approaches are not to be considered an either/or proposition. We have to integrate both. Both are needed. But this unmistakably means that, as development workers, we need to enter the political arena more decisively, because it is in the latter arena where the failed Western approach to development is weakest (or "wickedest"...?).
Progressive community organizers have begun to think more in terms of ideology and larger political frameworks. They have been willing to come into conflict with those aspects of the prevailing value system which uphold the existing structure of society -i.e., racism, sexism, religious fundamentalism, tribalism, national chauvinism and the deep-rooted belief that making it is evidence of one's personal or group superiority. From now on, even short-term success will have to be defined and measured by the degree to which we have helped spark such a social movement and have helped raise the level of political discourse among people at the grassroots.
Nobody knows what brings a social movement into being, but what is needed, for sure, is the politization of the process, as well as of the wo/men of learning, of scientists, of development intellectuals and field workers so that they can portray reality more militantly and transform their anguish into anger and a search for being ultimately relevant. (Posner, 1987).
Progressive development workers' voices have been fragmented and isolated, microscopic and varied in space and context. We need to search for alternatives to create our own movement and draw closer, to forge coalitions across regions and continents and even across ideological schools in order to develop a minimum consensus package and hopefully a sense of common cause. (Kothari, 1988). In short, building on new global values will mean rejecting moral ambiguities. Together, we have to be able to consolidate and translate moral outrage into an effective political platform. [Tikkun a), 1987, p.7].
As Northeners, we should -in any way we can- contribute to the ideological debate and harbor and help legitimate the national (very often dissident) intelligentsia fighting for a non-dependent development. (Padron, 1990).
As development organizers acting as political activists we have to be willing to come into conflict with the ideology of the ruling minority as well, so as to precipitate widespread public discussion about the most inequitable prevailing social values. In a society saturated with the ethics of individualism, it is only through conflict that new, still "unpopular ideas" become thinkable. (Posner, 1987).
We thus need to politicize the boundaries that separate knowledge from superstition, truth from myth, reason from passion, fact from opinion. Rather than continue the quest to find a place that is outside politics and independent of social struggle, it is high time that we look at all the ways in which social power manifests itself across the board in shaping social events. There is a call here to demystify the ideology of power-taken-as-being-neutral in the Western development model. Rather than compulsively searching for a vantage point of neutrality, we should recognize as acts of political power the exclusion of those who are kept marginalized from all meaningful decision-making. The deconstruction of the dominant forms of knowledge (paradigms) is only the first step of a committed critical development practice. We are thus faced with the task of taking a stand. The task of politics itself is to give social meaning to what we do (or do not do). (Peller, 1987).
The problem is not whether a solution is political or not, as the conservative sectors fear. What is important is that the solution, whether political or technical, be the result of a collective analysis that raises the level of peoples' awareness about the existing structural constraints to development. In a way, we are talking about the piecing together of an ideology -in this case of an ideology leading to structural changes. (Paredes, 1987, p.5).
Here, we are not talking about an adolescent reaction to change in which politics only consists of feelings, indignation, morals, rebellion, idealism, dreams, generosity and even mysticism, but we are talking about practical politics without second intentions or a prefabricated rhetoric. Practical politics embraces a struggle to win and it unfortunately has to do so more by defeat than by convincing (from the Spanish "vencimiento/convencimiento"). (Gomez, 1988).
The explicit treatment of development as a non-political phenomenon deliberately attempts to eliminate class structure and class struggle from it and to redirect the focus mostly toward the provision of the mass consumption goods thought to be required.
What is actually needed is for all development workers to become more and more comfortable with the notion that, to succeed in the long-term, most of the following measures are thought to be indispensable:
- A fundamental restructuring of relevant institutions leading to a different ordering of the productive forces and the relations of production primarily, but not only, in the rural areas. (In this context of economic restructuring, note that there is a confusion in Western development between privatization and the selling-off of state assets (e.g. parastatals). Privatization may (and can) mean incorporation of market forces and private management in publicly owned institutions and not necessarily the liquidation or handing over of the enterprise to private hands. Moreover, there is little point in privatizing enterprises if there is no entrepreneurial class in the country concerned. At any rate, the private sector does have an important role to play in development, but as one more piece in the chess-board and not as a hegemonic force dictating all the rules of the game.
- Social changes to take precedence over or get equal attention as economic growth.
- Mass mobilization to be treated as essential in the implementation of solutions to the problems of maldevelopment.
- A strengthening of the rural economic bases supported by a popular land reform, especially in Latinamerica and Asia, but also in Africa.
- An economic policy which stresses agricultural development as a basis for industrialization. (Ruralize the urban and urbanize the rural!)
- An integration of all occupational groups with the least discrimination possible.
- Year-round, two-way transport networks for mass consumer goods.
- Short of the commodities indexation asked for by the New International Economic Order, international North-South and South-South trade to include bartering to minimize the effects of foreign exchange constraints.
- An explicit avoidance of generating imbalances between urban and rural areas, between rich and poor, between one region and another.
- Motivation of people at the work site with the introduction of tangible social and economic trade-offs. This motivation needs to be reinforced with education, consciousness raising, technical training, and the placing of social value on work completed.
- A sharp departure from the Western model of development since in the Third World the objective conditions are radically different from the West and hence the development models appropriate to the West do not fit or work poorly.
All these measures require an a-priori acceptance that development is neither value free nor a technocratic task isolated from contingent politics and from ideology. (Mengistu, 1988).