cj#429> Seabrook: RE-EXAMINING THE LEXICON OF DEVELOPMENT

1996-01-21

Richard Moore

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Date: Sun, 21 Jan 1996
From: David <•••@••.•••> [Editor of New Dawn]

/* Written  Nov 15, 1995 by igc:twn in peg:twn.features */
/* ---------- "re-examining lexicon of development" ---------- */
RE-EXAMINING THE LEXICON OF DEVELOPMENT


To understand how the institutions of dominance established by
the North to control the South actually work, it will be
necessary to re-examine the whole  lexicon of development which
has been evolved to obscure this reality. (First of a two-part
article)

By Jeremy Seabrook
Third World Network Features

All the governments of Europe express their resolve to fight
racism.  The shameful shadow of the holocaust still lies across a
continent that once saw itself as the bearer of a mission to
`civilise' the world.

What is the remedy of those European governments in their
struggle against racism?

Economic growth and expansion, which alone, they believe, can
guarantee social peace: a constantly rising standard of living,
which is the only way to distract the people indefinitely from
such dark cultural traditions of the West.

How is this continuous process to be sustained?

It is to be accomplished as it has always been - by diverting the
wealth of the world towards the richest one-fifth of humanity.

But the four-fifths from whose resources,  labour and lands this
wealth comes are overwhelmingly non-white.  The pressures upon
their resources, environment, lives and land to service debts
contracted to the Western financial institutions -  what is this,
if not racism?

But it is racism abroad.  Not at home.  Not in the heartlands of
civilisation.  It is, as it were, delayed racism,  racism at a
remove,  racism as a consequence of economic forces: a racism
that destroys without the ugly material apparatus of
extermination deployed within the heart of Europe just half a
century ago.

Racism in Europe, it seems, can be `cured' only by exporting it.
Racism, in this way, takes its place among a multitude of other
`invisibles' that keep European trade in surplus with the rest of
the world.

To further this end, Europe, and the West, have evolved a
seamless ideological justification for their actions, as well as
a network of economic and social institutions to ensure that
global forces work entirely to their advantage.

The ideology is hidden in a treacherous vocabulary of benign
intentions, a high-sounding language of universal harmony, which
is now vigorously being promoted world-wide.

It is worth looking at this lexicon of liberation, to discover
its hidden (and real) meaning.

`Development', in the name of which millions are uprooted,
evicted from ancestral lands, removed from subsistence farming,
fishing-grounds and forests, is a concept from the Cold War.  It
was a promise made by the West to its former colonial
territories, as an alternative to the `Socialism' to which they
naturally inclined after emergence from imperial dominion.

In other words, development itself was always an alien project,
grounded in the struggles of other, stronger powers, and serving
a purpose quite different from the well-being of the countries on
which it was willed.  Development was never based upon indigenous
values, cultures and civilisations.  Indeed, these had to be
sacrificed for it to `succeed'; a process that has become more
evident now, with all former `deviant' countries, from Tanzania
to Vietnam, now intoning the mantras of `the market' put into
their mouths by officials from the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Asian
Development Bank (ADB), etc. Thus, even India renounces svadeshi
and throws its 900 million people into the arms of a global
doctrine that believes the only way for the poor to become a
little less poor is for the already rich to become immensely more
rich.

Since the death of Communism, there is little resistance to
`development'; its Cold War origins can be purged, and it now
stands, cleansed, a shining example of the good intent of the
`developed' towards the `developing': but without interrupting
its work of filtering the wealth of the world from poor to rich,
to the extent, according to Martin Khor of the Consumers'
Association of Penang, of around $250 billion a year, including
debt repayments, terms of trade, brain drain, and internal
pricing mechanisms by transnational companies.

Universal economic growth, whereby `development' is to be at-
tained, is actually an ideological instrument for domination. It
measures `wealth' in narrow monetary terms, which rigorously
exclude most of the real costs: it must do so, for to include
these within its paradigm would show that the global economic
system is too expensive and that neither the planet nor its
people can afford it.

To conceal this, the immense costs to the health, well-being, the
integrity of humanity and the human home, are inflexibly excluded
from its cold calculus of cash.  This can be to the advantage
only of those who think that economic necessity and human need
are one and the same thing.  The real economic miracle of the
West has been the achievement of prodigious
wealth which nevertheless fails to relieve poverty, but, on the
contrary, only produces strange new mutations and forms of misery
and impoverishment.

As for `aid' to the poor, it is clearly small-scale out- relief
to the industries and professionals of the countries which bestow
it in such scanty and self-serving quantities.  The most
prestigious project of the British Overseas Development Agency,
the Western Ghats Reforestation Project in India, reserves almost
one-third of its disbursements for consultancies within the
United Kingdom, a country which, having successfully ruined its
own forests 200 years ago, is now instructing the people of
Karnataka, millennial guardians of their own jungles, how to
improve on nature.

Free trade means compulsory business on the terms of the strong
and powerful.

`Globalisation' means a single world economic order which seeks
to replicate the `successes' of the rich countries in their
homelands.  But since these successes depended upon exploitation,
plunder and extraction, it is difficult to see how this can be
accomplished -  where will Ghana or Thailand or Venezuela find
the resources and the people to press into service of their
adoption of a colonial economic model?

`Interdependence' means the institutionalised subordination of
the weak.

`Population' and the concern to prevent the poor from `breeding'
(the rich have children; only the poor breed) is a substitute for
social justice, which is the most effective way of stabilising
population.

`Security' is the process of profligate arms expenditure to
perpetuate the rights of the powerful to a disproportionate share
of the world's resources.  In a moment of rare candour, the
Economist - house-journal of global capital -  admitted soon
after the collapse of Communism that `The democracies will want
to make sure that they can keep on getting the raw materials
their economies need ... To this end, soldiers must change.  For
the most part, their attention will be turned further afield,
South and East, to wars they may have to fight in distant places
... The one country to which this will come as no surprise is
Britain, whose armed forces spent the 19th century  largely on
non-European business.'

`Integration' into the world economy means the disintegration of
local ways of answering need, a dilution of variety and
diversity, the human and social equivalent of the destruction of
biodiversity on the planet: so that the extinction of the
Yanomami and the decimation of the Penan become the parallel of
the measureless loss of species in the ruined forests of Brazil
and Sarawak.

`Sovereignty' is nostalgia for an autonomy rendered archaic
precisely by global forces which tend to the dissolution of the
nation states that set them in train.

As for the other big words - no matter how noble their original
meaning - they have become devoid of substance, transformed into
blunt instruments by the dominant powers to beat the rest of the
world into submission. - Third World Network Features


- ends -


About the writer: Jeremy Seabrook is a freelance journalist and
author based in London.

When reproducing this feature, please credit Third World Network
Features and (if applicable) the cooperating magazine or agency
involved in the article, and give the byline. Please send us
cuttings.

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 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 •••@••.•••  | Cyberlib=http://www.internet-eireann.ie/cyberlib
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