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Original Citation Western people have, over the past three centuries, confidently applied their own understandings and forms of organisation to the rest of the world.
They have done this in the sure knowledge that these represent the most advanced, developed and sophisticated of all forms of understanding and organisation available to human beings.
To introduce those forms to non-Western people has been to start them on the road to development, short-cutting the historically long and thorny route taken by Western Europeans in achieving their advanced state of organisation and understanding. Amongst the important influences on governments and people in Third World countries have been the reification of 'the state' and 'the people' in most discussion of Third World nations and peoples and the formulation of governmental policies based on that reification.
This reorganisation has usually been undertaken as an exercise in 'modernising' non-Western communities.
The modernisation thesis, 2 espoused in various forms and with various emphases by most development specialists over the past fifty years, has been an optimistic one. It has assumed that, for those nations which genuinely and consistently implement the necessary social, political and economic changes, transformation into modem industrialised countries is inevitable.
The state has been assumed to be a self-existent entity, separate from the communities which it controls, and able to impose necessary changes, however radical, on its populace.
Important responsibilities placed on new nation-states by these specialists have included establishing those institutions necessary to economic development, and providing the social and political climate necessary to stimulate self-interested, competitive material accumulation, leading, it is assumed, to an inevitable 'take-off into self-sustained economic growth' cf Rostow Because most political and economic theorists and practitioners believe that 'traditional' societies are being transformed into modern societies, with traditional features destined for oblivion, Third World communities have been regarded as transient.
Problems encountered by 'traditionally orientated' individuals and communities are assumed to be, in large measure, consequences of this shift to modernity. So, rather than focusing on the social problems of such communities, one needs to step up the pace of modernisation.
Third World governments, it has been believed 3 should, therefore, in the face of the breakdown of law and order and social cohesion in traditional communities, more rigorously implement those measures which will transform them into industrialised communities, with all the advantages of such a transformation.
The dissolution of the old is a necessary precursor and concomitant of modernisation and the state should keep its eyes firmly fixed on that goal, not deviating to attend to problems which are inevitable, but transient consequences of moving toward it.
Various solutions have been proposed to combat underdevelopment. Central to these solutions is the role assigned to the state as the 'engine of development'.
Until recently, it was thought that an authoritarian state could better perform 'developmentalist' tasks. In recent years, the state has been invested with the capacity to move toward democracy, which presumably will lead to socioeconomic development. The belief in the state is reinforced by the call to 'bring-the-state-back-in', according to which the state and its policies reflect almost autonomous institutions and the actions of those occupying these institutions.
As Max Weber claimed of Western government, relationships are transformed into objective, instrumental, depersonalised forms. Politicians are not directly responsible to and identified with the people they represent and not directly in control of the impersonalised institutional bureaucracies through which government policies are carried out.
In the Third World, these presumptions are difficult to sustain. Political activity is not separate from other forms of activity, and those with political power exercise it personally. That is, government, both in formulating policy and in the delivery of services is personalised.
And, for people who live in communities where it is both natural and proper for leaders to be personally connected with their followers, this personalisation is unexceptional.Dear Twitpic Community - thank you for all the wonderful photos you have taken over the years.
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