Development discourses

I’m going to be attending a class on the history of development for the next few months, and I thought it would be interesting to share some of the discussions and debates on here. The first lecture was about the meanings of development. The point was made that much of development today is informed by a liberal perspective. I’ve often been confused when it comes to liberalism. Modern liberals have to be some of the most inflexible & dogmatic people I know, but I’ve also met amazing intellectuals who are inspired by classical liberal theory. The lecturer made an interesting distinction that explains this difference. He said liberalism in the days of John Locke was quite revolutionary and leftist, whereas today it is much more conservative, especially when it comes to liberal economics.

Another important point (that Europeans seriously need to get with) is that European don’t realize how much of the wealth collected (stolen) during colonialism made Europe’s economic take-off possible. Could Europe have gone through its economic take-off without this wealth? And yet somehow Africa and the rest of the world are expected to experience the same take-off *without* having access to that much stolen wealth. Plus, to make things worse, many Europeans somehow attribute their current economic wealth to efficiency, good work ethic, good cultural values, etc; and the bad economic situation elsewhere to laziness, bad cultural habits, etc. Yes, of course it has nothing to do with colonial history. Of course.

A final interesting question is how to label non-western countries. Developing vs developed world? Third world? Global South? They all seem to have negative connotations. I especially hate the “developing” title, b/c it assumes that some countries are advanced & others are lagging behind. While this may be true economically, the developing/developed binary seems to imply more than just economics.


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