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close this bookEssays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 280 pages)
close this folder21. Development Nemesis
close this folderPART ONE: Development and today's reality
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentI. Western development: Past and present
View the documentII. Myth and reality in development ideology, paradigms and models

(introductory text...)


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) towards Western development's theories and praxis.

In this Part One, Western development's past and present is critiqued as being too slow to change the major assumptions of outdated development theories.

Third World development as seen by the North oversells the technological approach. These countries are seen as in need of a technical fix; this leads to a foreign aid that merely provides the elements of such a fix.

Part One goes on to untangle myths from reality in development ideology, paradigms and models focusing on the present irrelevance of both old and so called "modern" development theories. In the same light, it is argued that current Western development studies have become irrelevant, perpetuating a biased pretension of objectivity and apoliticism that clearly overlooks and disregards the real constraints to development, primarily the issues of social and political power.


Le Développement Occidental, comme modèle transnational dominant de développement, a été en crise.

Sous la forme d'une révision d'opinions, cet article, en deux parties, invoque des arguments qu'illustre la nemesis (indignation justifiée) de l'auteur contre les théories et l'exercise du Développement Occidental.

Dans la première partie, le passe et le présent du Développement Occidental sont accuses d'être trop lents a changer les hypothèses les plus importantes des théories démodées du développement.

Les pays du Nord, dans sa perception du développement du Tiers Monde, exagère le rôle de la technologie comme solution. Selon eux, les pays sousdéveloppes ont besoin des "réparations techniques" ce qui conduit a une aide extérieure qui fournit surtout des outils pour une telle "réparation".

Cette première partie aussi essaye de démêler les mythes de la réalité en ce qui concerne l'idéologie, les paradigmes et les modelés relatifs au développement et questionne la pertinence de ses théories qu'elles soient désuètes ou "modernes".

D'ailleurs, on prétend que les études actuelles sur le Développement Occidental sont devenues périmées; elles perpétuent une prétention tendencieuse d'objectivité et d'apoliticisme qui ferme les yeux sur les facteurs qui vraiment entravent le développement, spécialement les questions relatives au pouvoir social et au pouvoir politique.

Western development past and present
A critique of outdated development theories
Third World development as seen by the North
The oversold technological approach in Western development
Myth and reality in development ideology, paradigms and models
Ideology and development models
Paradigms and new theories
The irrelevance of current development studies
The myth of objectivity and of apoliticism
The issue of social power
Epilogue to part I


Titles should never be more intriguing than revealing. That is why the choice of this title requires an upfront clarification. Development nemesis should be understood as righteous indignation or justified resentment with the current trends and quality of the development process in the Third World. (Oxford Dictionary, 1979, p.1912).

As a witness of our times, and judging what I see happening in Third World development -its ideology, its paradigm(s) and "new" theories, and its models- I feel compelled to add my own "j'accuse" to the growing literature in this field. But pointing fingers is the easy part; suggesting new approaches to escape the fate of maldevelopment is what I will also attempt despite the formidable rivals I am aware we have to face. Nothing short of a check-mate to some of Western development's (1) pernicious presumptions and misleading prescriptions will do. The story has to be told as it is, not as it has been romanticized.

What follows, then, is a collected assortment of viewpoints about today's development -old and new; 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).

As a presenter of viewpoints, I am an indefatigable sifter, sorter and compiler of the writings and ideas of others. I have sorted through the literature in the field of development, have selected topics that are related to this theme and woven them into arguments that illustrate my nemesis (righteous indignation) with Western development theory and praxis. I present them in a way that I hope is easily understood. My efforts have been to bring out what Gregory Bateson called "metapatterns" -the patterns that connect other patterns, but which we often fail to see in our uncritical daily lives. (Childers, 1989).

I have organized the text into five sections in two parts as follows:

I. Western development: Past and present, where I analyze some of its too-slow-to-change major assumptions;

II. Myth and reality in development ideology, paradigms and models, where I explore the doom and irrelevance of dominant old and "modern" (rehashed?) development theories;

III. The actors in today's development drama (or rather farce?), where I take a shot at our liberal development Establishment;

IV. The non-actors in today's development process, where I provide some new insights into the issues of popular (bottom- up) participation and empowerment; and

V. Development: The future, where -from a more radical perspective- I go over what I think is needed to overcome and escape maldevelopment's trends.

Part One covers sections I and II and is presented immediately herebelow. Part Two covers sections III, IV and V.