Sunday, December 30, 2012

Current Reading on Development

I am currently reading Gilbert Rist, The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith (London: Zed, 2008 [1996]). One thing I notice that he brings out is just how blind many western intellectuals were to human rights violations by socialist states during the 1960s and 1970s. For instance he notes, "A blind eye was turned to the brutalities of the Chinese regime, and the people's communes were hailed in their vitality as a reconciliation of theory and practice that was abolishing the petty-bourgeois mentality and putting into practice a new model of 'development.'" (p. 140).  He further elaborates on this embrace of Castro, Mao's Cultural Revolution, North Vietnam, the Sandinistas, and even the Khmer Rouge by left wing western intellectuals on pages 174 to 176. Now there were plenty of dictatorships supported by the US government during the Cold War such as Suharto, Mobuto, and the various military juntas in Latin America. But, there was never any intellectual cheer leaders for these regimes stressing their commitment to creating a utopia. US policy supported these regimes as a matter of rather openly naked national self interest. It was the left that dressed up things like the Cultural Revolution in China in the lofty language of "progress" and opposing the "evils" of capitalism and imperialism.

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