Alternatives to development

Post-development has vehemently rejected the idea of development (in the Western sense, though). And it is but logical that when you reject something, you propose an alternative. And post-development calls for alternatives to development. This is actually opposed to alternative forms of development which we talked about previously. There are three prominent alternatives: community economiesagency of practitioners, and focus on wealth.

 

In community economies, the discourse is shifted from a deficits-based to assets-based. The discourse puts focus on what communities have, rather than what they don’t have. In this way, post-development thinkers call for alternative economies centred on non-capitalist community development. Development is basically in the hands of the community itself, and not on external forces.

 

In talking about the agency of practitioners, post-development thinkers approach the fluidity of hegemony and create a space for agency. They view development work as a political process and those who practice development are agents for change. Conversely, this creates an opportunity to challenge those who wield power. Therefore participatory approaches (especially the revolutionary types) are very important in this discourse.

 

Finally, another alternative is to focus on wealth. This alternative basically questions the consumption patterns of the wealthy (and therefore has links to environmental critiques). In a way, this discourse accuses the wealthy of greed – having to consume most of the world’s resources without leaving a sustainable amount for the rest of the world. It is this greediness that kept the Third World in misery.

 

Sounds nice aye? But these alternatives seemingly uncritically celebrated rural societies, therefore depicting culture as a static. Is post-development and its so-called alternatives a new ideology or just a new set of jargon to describe the old ways of development?

 

I personally think that post-development works better in the field that it could on paper (refer to the post re: Buen Vivir in Ecuador). There are things that look good on theory but fail on practice, and vice versa. One thing I could note though: why not try it to see if it actually works?  And probably, post-development could work as a tool in advancing other notions of development?

Post-development in action: Buen Vivir in Ecuador

La transición de Ecuador de una economía basada en el mercado a una economía social y solidaria ha allanado el camino para el progreso continuo de la mayoría, si no todos, los ecuatorianos. Yo personalmente he visto cómo el presidente Correa fortaleció el país con la implementación de Buen Vivir.

A esto se añade el hecho de que Ecuador fue el primer país en reconocer los derechos de LGBT, así como los derechos de la naturaleza, no será una sorpresa si Ecuador repente se convierte en el líder mundial en el reconocimiento de los derechos humanos.

(“Ecuador’s gradual shift from a market-based economy to a social and solidarity economy has paved the way for continued progress for most, if not all, Ecuadorians. I have personally seen how President Correa strengthened the country with the implementation of Buen Vivir. Add to that the fact that Ecuador was the first country to recognize LGBT rights as well as the rights of nature, it will not be a surprise if Ecuador suddenly becomes the world leader in recognizing human rights.”)

 

That was the words that my good friend Martin Navarrette (who is half-Filipino/half-Ecuadorian and is currently taking his masters degree in Agricultural Economics from the Universidad Agraria de Ecuador in Guayaquil) told me when I asked about how Ecuador fares in well being among South American nations. Obviously he was very proud about how his paternal country (his father was born in Cuenca) has transitioned to a country whose residents were mostly living a good life.

 

“Aquí, en Guayaquil, aunque no todo el mundo es rico en términos económicos, nadie se queja (Here in Guayaquil, although not everyone is wealthy in economic terms, no one is complaining),” he added.  Of course, I don’t actually know whether he’s telling the truth or not, but I’d always give him the benefit of the doubt; for one he’s on the ground in Ecuador. But I think most of his statements are just testaments to how Buen Vivir became a successful policy in the country.

 

Buen Vivir, literally “good living”, is a Latin American based project that has its roots deeply entrenched in post-development theory. Some people would actually argue that Buen Vivir is post-development theory swinging into action. The ‘project’ (if you would like to call it that way) involves a wide range of stakeholders and actually embraces the rich cultural diversity of Latin America, not only its Spanish heritage but as well as its indigenous heritage such as the Quechua, Aztecs, Olmecs, Maya, Aymara, among others. Together with this acknowledgement of indigenous heritage is the recognition of past practices influencing the current living conditions of the people.

 

Ecuador was one of the first Latin American countries to embrace Buen Vivir. In 2007, social democrat Rafael Correa succeeded acting president Alfredo Palacio as president of the country that recently saw a wave of protests that eventually led to the ouster of retired Col. Lucio Gutierrez as president in 2006 (Palacio took over Gutierrez’s presidency as an interim). In 2008, Correa called for a Constituent Assembly whose main task is to address Ecuador’s poverty. The Assembly responded by drafting a Constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by the public majority.

 

The 2008 Constitution of Ecuador is a historic one, worldwide, in the sense that it was the first one to explicitly recognise rights of the environment, right to die with dignity, right to love and be loved, right to free time for contemplation, , right to food, drug liberalisation, same-sex relationships, and gender identity. These newly recognised rights are added to the list of universally accepted rights as set out in the Geneva Convention (e.g. right to education, right to healthcare etc.). And the original universal rights were further strengthened by the Constitution. Case in point: Ecuador was the first country in the world to constitutionally remove tuition and other user-fees. Starting in 2012, admission to all 29 public universities in Ecuador will be based on an aptitude test.

 

But has Buen Vivir did wonders for Ecuador economically? President Correa seemed not to be too keen on economic indicators. In an interview, he explicitly stated that he was after the well-being of his people, that his country’s youth get educated, that his people will receive adequate healthcare, and that his country has adequate food to eat.

 

This is the Latin American concept of Buen Vivir. This is post-development in action. We are so engrossed with the Western model of development that is based on economic growth and indicators that we forget that human development is very important to progress. For Latin America, and especially Ecuador, human rights and dignity come first before economic progress. And I should say, Ecuador has actually made a huge economic turnaround since 2008 when they started implementing Buen Vivir.

 

Again in the words of my friend Martin,

Lo que me pareció mejor en Ecuador que debería ser emulado en las Filipinas es el hecho de que los derechos humanos y la dignidad debe ser lo primero antes de progreso económico. Elevar primero los niveles de vida de las personas antes de que se jactan de un aumento del crecimiento del PIB, las tasas de inflación bajos, y las tasas de desempleo baja.

(“What I found best in Ecuador that should be emulated in the Philippines is the fact that human rights and dignity should come first before economic progress. Uplift first the living standards of the people before you boast about increased GDP growth, lowered inflation rates, and lowered unemployment rates.”)

 

Viva Ecuador.

A review of post-development and its alternatives to development

Introduction

The dramatic turn of events towards the end of the twentieth century – the reunification of Germany, the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, and the gradual ascent of China as a global superpower, to name a few – have significantly altered the way development is viewed. The collapse of communism has almost discredited most left-wing ideologies, while capitalism has been viewed as not living up to its promises (Parfitt, 2011). These events opened a plethora of new concepts and ideas which consequently gave rise to a new paradigm of development now known as post-development.

Pioneered by the likes of Sachs, Escobar, and Esteva, post-development took its cue from the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault (Brigg, 2002; Ziai, 2004). Post-development scholars have used Foucauldian concepts to ultimately reject the notion of development; it is viewed, in a Foucauldian sense, as a ‘particular discourse which does not reflect but actually constructs reality’ (Storey, 2000). Furthermore, post-development thinkers view development, especially the Western model, as a globalised bureaucratic force explicitly capitalist in agenda (Lie, 2008), used by the global North to perpetuate the global South’s dependence towards them.

Just like any other forms of discourse, post-development theory is not spared from its share of both supporters and critics. Whereas the critical literature offers a plethora of critiques of post-development theory, ranging from the somewhat sympathetic to the scathing, most of the supportive literature centre on the idea that development has failed the world. This paper aims to present a critical examination of the alternatives to development as suggested by most post-development scholars. Specifically, this paper attempts to present the following arguments:

  1. There are no actual alternatives to development.
  2. Since there are no alternatives to development, post-development is just a reactionary critique to development.
  3. The ‘alternatives to development’ highly favours resistance and not emancipation.
  4. Post-development has turned into a mere language game.

 

No actual alternatives

In their rejection of the entire paradigm of development, post-development scholars have argued for finding alternatives to development rather than alternative forms of development.  But rather than explicitly suggesting what these alternatives are, post-development thinkers pointed out that alternatives to development should offer the following characteristics as enumerated by Escobar (1991):

“a critical stance with respect to established scientific discourse and … a rejection of the ethnocentric, patriarchal, and ecocidal character of development models; a defense of pluralistic grassroots movements, in the  belief that these movements, and ‘new social movements’ in general may be providing a new basis for transforming the structures and discourses of the modern developmentalist states in the Third World; and a conviction that we must work toward a relation between truth and reality different from that which has characterized Western modernity in general and development in particular.”

This then begs the question: how can one reject a particular concept without actually presenting any substitute or alternative? Though Escobar’s arguments on offering what characterise an alternative to development may seem persuasive (as are the arguments of other post-development pioneers such as Sachs and Esteva), a closer examination of the arguments would reveal that such a line of thinking constitutes only rhetoric and no constructive propositions. A more sardonic argument against the lack of alternatives of post-development was provided by Pieterse (2000). He viewed that post-development theory is a paradox in itself; and the proposal to find alternatives to development is ‘misleading and misrepresent the history of development’. He further suggested that the term alternatives to development ‘is a misnomer because no such alternatives are offered’.

Ziai (2004), however, points out that since the emergence of post-development there are several alternatives to development, albeit fragmented, if not under-reported in literature, such as community solidarity and direct democracy. However, these alternatives are merely a reminder of previous criticisms of development such as the accounts of self-reliance and community development (Aguilar, 2005; Sidaway, 2007).

But is the lack of clear alternatives the real dilemma? The ambiguity created by the lack of clear alternatives to development is addressed not in literature discourse, but in actual application of the theory in fieldwork. This implies that the alternatives to development actually vary from society to society, contrary to what critics of post-development expects.  McKinnon (2008) has used the Foucauldian concept of governmentality in her work in Northern Thailand and identified where the concept would prove to be not useful. Janzen (2008) has employed grassroots techniques while working with the women of Agabaya in Bolivia, which she found helpful in empowering local people while remaining respectful of local culture. Similarly, the historical analysis made by Grischow & McKnight (2003) of Ghana and Uganda found local empowerment as a means of employing post-development alternatives in the field. These examples provide rough evidentiary support to the argument that post-development scholars have actually suggested alternatives to development centred on decentralised power, grassroots movement, community solidarity, and empowerment at the local level.

Essentially, post-development theory suffers not from the lack of clear-cut alternatives to development, but from ambiguously defined suggestions. The lack, or at least ambiguity in definition, became evident throughout the discourse because 1) post-development in itself is resistant rather than emancipatory in nature (Pieterse, 2000); and 2) post-development thinkers have applied the term ‘development’ to only the Post-WWII ideologies of development (Matthews, 2004).

 

A mere reactionary critique to development

Post-development is succinctly clear in its rejection of the entire development paradigm. More specifically, it rejects the ideologies put forward by modernisation and neo-liberal theories that flourished during the Post-war era. Post-development thinkers view that development, with its link to modernisation, becomes an avenue for the West to impose its dominance over the developing world. Rapley (2004) describes the origins of post-development thought as a ‘series of discreet innovations emerging from varied intellectual traditions, albeit mostly on the left.’ But is this rejection validated? Or is it merely a reactionary critique to the notion of development?

The previous section notes that despite the strong rejection of post-development to the notion of development, it has failed to provide clear alternatives to the notion they are rejecting, or have, at best, provided an ambiguous proposal for such. Again, the failure to provide clear alternatives led critics to dismiss post-development thought as merely a critique, but is at least presented constructively, which development practitioners should carefully take into consideration (Ziai, 2004). Pieterse (2000) sees where the problem lies: post-development has used discourse analysis as an ideological platform and not just a methodological basis; his argument reflects what he sees as Escobar’s broad and oftentimes improper use of discursive language.

A much stronger argument than the claim that post-development is merely a critique of development is that post-development’s criticisms against the concept of development are nothing new. Kiely (1999) argues that the set of criticisms put forward by post-development thinkers are ‘already evident within critical writings and thinking about development.’ Pieterse (2000), probably one of the staunchest critics of post-development, argues that post-development criticisms towards development are already espoused in both dependency theory in terms of seeking autonomy from external dependency, and alternative development (as opposed to alternatives to development) in terms of radically critiquing mainstream development.

 

Resistance over emancipation

Along with the argument that post-development, in offering alternatives to development, became a mere reactionary critique rather than a completely different ideology is the criticism that post-development and its alternatives to development espouses politics of resistance rather than emancipation. This argument was put forward by Pieterse (1998), in which he argues that post-development is ‘premised on an awareness of endings, on the end of modernity.’

The concept of resistance as espoused by post-development theory is largely attributed to the works of Foucault. The Foucauldian concept of resistance is viewed as a standalone concept independent of the notion of emancipation; Holloway (2002) argues that:

“in Foucault’s analysis, there are a whole host of resistances which are integral to power, but there is no possibility of emancipation. The only possibility is an endlessly shifting constellation of power and resistance.”

Pieterse (2000) sees this use of resistance as ‘quasi-revolutionary’ in the sense that it does not espouse class struggles in the same way as Marx had, but advocates firm resistance to capitalism. In this light, post-development is seen to engage in the ‘romanticisation of resistance’ (Abu-Lughod, 1990) in the sense that it ‘celebrates diversity which may be politically progressive in neither intent nor capacity to effect change’ (Storey, 2000). Moreover, the favour towards resistance over emancipation of the alternatives to development is linked to its reactionary nature. Parfitt (2011) argues that in its rejection of modernisation, and subsequently modernisation’s emphasis on planned and managed development, post-development essentially creates ‘a reactive position [that] is couched in terms of protest at the destruction that planned development entails’.

Post-development scholars, however, have started to present counterarguments to what Pieterse has forwarded. Kippler (2010) has argued that new social movements ‘are a sign of the fragmented postmodern society that we live in and… are contributing towards emancipation from the homogenising global project of development by repoliticising collective life.’ Furthermore, McKinnon (2007), through her study of the discursive practices of development professionals in Northern Thailand, showed how post-development practice can be conceptualised where ‘social justice and emancipation can coexist alongside the messy realities of development work.’

 

A language game?

The issue of resistance over emancipation that plays out in the debates over post-development is essentially linked to the way post-development proponents use language. Critics are quick to point that post-development thinkers are oftentimes ‘sloppy and indulgent’ with their use of language (Pieterse, 2000). Even post-development thinker’s critique of the notion of development shows evidence of the misuse, if not abuse, of language; in this light, critics argue that post-development, in their rejection of the concept of development, has actually standardised the very idea by allowing the idea to encompass only the modernisation theory of the Post-war era (Matthews, 2004; Lie, 2008).

Post-development’s dependence on Foucault’s discourse analysis strategy has essentially backfired on its proponents. Pieterse (2000) has lamented on how post-development has seemingly resorted to a mere language game rather than an analysis. The overuse, if not misuse and abuse, of Foucauldian concepts and language placed post-development in a position wherein power ‘does not simply emanate from the state or institutions, but is to be found in everyday, local, and self-evident relations’ (Ziai, 2004); this Foucauldian view of power effectively gives rise to the post-development idea that power has to be decentralised and must remain at the local level. Furthermore, post-development espouses a view of power in a Foucauldian sense as ‘the more or less stable, yet continually renegotiated, coagulation or ossification of sets of relations (Brigg, 2002).’ Ironically, less radical critics of post-development gives a more fundamental view of how proponents of post-development have misused language. Parfitt (2011) notably used the Derridian concept of il n’y a pas de hors texte, or being imprisoned within discourse or language, to describe post-development thinkers’ use of language in the discourse.

 

Where to now?

After giving much thought about the criticisms to post-development theory, one would rather ask: where does development discourse go from here? If post-development theory has vehemently rejected development as an entire concept, and these criticisms present post-development theory as a rather problematic school of thought, how would discourse move forward? The reality that there is a lack of alternatives presented by the proponents of post-development effectively provides the answers to these questions.

The less scathing criticisms of post-development offer their proposals to post-development in the absence of the school of thought’s clear alternatives. Storey (2000) is rather theoretical in his approach. He recognises the political value of the post-development and proposes that rather than insisting on the alternatives to development, post-development should focus on ‘contributing on the increased awareness of the social context of discourse formation’. Development is both a discourse and reality, and though post-development thinkers may point out the ills of this notion, one cannot just simply dismiss the successes it was able to generate throughout the course of history. In this light, it is wrong to assume that, in post-development terms, development is ‘singular, hegemonic, and invariably negative’ (Storey, 2000).

In a more constructive approach, Jakimow (2008) proposes the notion of a reflexive development that is centred on approaches that:

“reflect on development processes, challenging previous assumptions and instilling dynamism in discourses; incorporate multiple voices through a critical view of power relations; facilitate the creation and actualisation of multiple approaches at the local level; and create opportunities for these local imaginings to be synthesised at regional and global levels to enable a better understanding of global issues and advocate for the transformation of global regimes.”

The reflexive approach to development proposed by Jakimow puts the knowledge agenda of development discourse in a pivotal position, which effectively becomes a foundation for ‘alternatives to engage with the mainstream’. She further argues that ‘as a normative approach, reflexive development becomes a frame of reference for a process, rather than a strict criterion for implementation’.

 

Conclusion

Post-development theory, as a school of thought in the discourse of development, is a rather radical view of how development played out in the course of history. Proponents of this school of thought have convincingly and vehemently rejected the very notion of development and proposed that alternatives to development should take its place. But rather than clearly proposing what these alternatives are, proponents, notably Escobar, ambiguously provided what characteristics these alternatives should have. It is this ambiguity that has given rise to several other criticisms against post-development theory and its so-called alternatives. Most notable of these criticisms is that the lack of alternatives actually renders post-development theory as a mere reactionary critique to neoliberalism and modernisation theories rather than a separate school of development thought on its own, noting further that even the criticisms put forward by post-development thinkers are nothing new. Furthermore, in offering these ambiguous alternatives to development, post-development has been seen as favouring resistance to development without the notion of emancipation. Lastly, in the absence of clear alternatives to development, post-development has been seen as reducing itself to a mere language game by overusing, if not misusing and abusing, Foucauldian concepts in which the theory has anchored itself on.  In the theoretical sense, post-development offering alternatives to development has shown potential. But for it to fully maximise its potential to effect social change, it needs to be ‘more than just a critique and counter-critique… development debate must remain relevant to development practice to maximise the potential for each to influence the other’ (Jakimow, 2008).

 

References:

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Post-development: rejecting the notion of development

Towards the end of the twentieth century we saw a series of upheavals that have reshaped history forever – the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, and the ascent of China. The fall of communism gave strength to neoliberalism and modernisation across the globe, but with the strengthening of these market-based nuances outlook for development started to drop. A new school of thought then emerged, questioning the very notion of development.

 

This school of thought is called post-development, which rose from the heels of three “postist” theories: post-modernism, post-colonialism, and, most significantly, post-structuralism (the theory actually anchors itself too much on the concepts put forward by French philosopher Michel Foucault). Post-development thinkers have used Foucauldian concepts to ultimately reject the notion of development; they view development as a discourse and a globalised bureaucratic force. 

 

For post-development theorists, development can be viewed in four aspects – as discourse, violence, neo-colonialismand failure. Essentially, post-development theorists claim that because of these four aspects, development has been seen as marginalising or dichotomising certain sectors (e.g. Western realities become universal, aspects of cultural, environmental, and human violence, etc). Post-development sees development as a discourse embedded with power relations, and that it has caused more pain and violence than emancipation. Ergo, development is merely an extension of capitalism. Post-development is seen as revolutionary, visionary, and reformist.

 

But is post-development a valid critique of mainstream development? Or is it just a reactionary critique? Critics of post-development would argue that post-development is merely another rundown critique of mainstream development and is just a language game. Some would even argue that post-development proponents have overused, misused, and abused Foucault’s concepts to further their own ideas. 

 

But then again, post-development may just be as strong as mainstream development is when it comes to uplifting the statuses of the poorest of the poor. The succeeding posts will look at how post-development argued for alternatives to development, as well as how post-development played out in the field. 

But for now, I’d like to leave us with a question: How “post” is post-development? 

Neostructuralism: neoliberalism in disguise?

Post-World War II Latin America served as the stage of among the most prominent economic and political upheavals in the Western Hemisphere – a series of hyperinflations, military coups and dictatorships, civil unrest. So it comes as no surprise that Latin America would give rise to a new school of economic, political, and (probably) development thought.

 

Rising from the heels of structuralism and dependency is the school of thought called neostructuralism and is characteristically implemented in the economic policies of especially Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, and Argentina. Neostructuralism, though mainly a critique of neoliberalism, keeps the market-friendly characteristic of neoliberalism but has more concern for the environment (kind of a response to the limits to growth previously put forward). It calls for a minimalistic role for the state, more of a guidance role rather than an interventionist, and has a deep concern for poverty issues. Conversely, it is populist and mildly nationalist.

 

The buzz of neostructuralism started with Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s foreign minister from 2000-2003, and Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Brazil’s Minister for Strategic Affairs (around the same time as Castañeda). They placed themselves in a brutal opposition towards the Washington Consensus, as both ministers favour an expanded social service sector with the aim to eradicate poverty in Latin America. The rest of the region followed suit. Castañeda even furthers this as a distinction between the Latin American left that is ‘modern, open-minded, reformist, and internationalist’ and the Latin American ‘other’ which is ‘nationalist, strident, and close-minded’.

 

Sounds good aye? But if you notice the rhetoric used by neostructuralism, isn’t it just neoliberalism in disguise, or worse, neoliberalism back with a vengeance? The continued reliance on the market and free trade, the call for globalisation — all are neoliberalistic elements with a twist: the added rhetoric of reform using buzzwords such as poverty, inequality, welfare, and sustainability. Filipino sociology professor Walden Bello actually described that neostructuralism is about ‘social management’ and not ‘social liberation’, as it actually failed to address issues of gross inequality, class relations, and class structures. 

 

And with the continued utilisation of neostructuralism in Latin America, the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who is hugely anti-neoliberal, might be spinning in his grave right now. 

When smaller is better

Mainstream development practice is all about size: the bigger the better. Sure, large scale development projects effect the macroeconomic environment of a developing country, but do these successes trickle down to the smallest of the citizenry? We always hear national governments boast of economic growth, increase in GDP, upgrades of credit ratings, among others, but are these ‘economic miracles’ felt by the citizens, especially those in the lowest levels of society?

 

Alternative development critiques this mainstream thinking of development by stressing the need for redistribution rather than growth. Though this school of development thinking has no coherent theory, it vehemently points out the failure of mainstream development practice. Aside from redistribution, alternative development stresses for local initiatives, meeting basic needs first, human-centred development, community participation and self-reliance, and sustainable development.

 

Alternative development believes that “small is beautiful”. No need for those large-scale projects that oftentimes benefit the upper realms of society rather than the most needy. And since this area of development thinking works its way through the grassroots, it has emphasised mostly on participation and assets- and rights-based development.

 

We often hear of the saying ‘great things start from small beginnings’. And this is probably what alternative development is aiming for. National progress via grassroots development. Economic progress by empowering the local. Building up these small things will lead to one large-scale development project that will not only benefit the upper realms but also the lower realms of society.

 

This school of thought is probably the hipster among the society called development thoughts.

 

Structuralism: Is Latin America a success?

In the developing world, Latin American countries are among the best economic performers. This performance may be attributed to structuralism, which Latin America adopted during the 1950s, through the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) 

The structuralist view of economics takes it cue from the structuralist perspective, which employs the centre-periphery model and requires an appreciation of different historical structures. Structuralism implies that development is turned inwards, and, in a huge contrast to neoliberalism, the state has a role to play. 

As we observe, Latin America is performing well compared to its developing world colleagues. In fact, the United States has never belittled the economic potential of Latin America, and has always kept the region in tabs on its foreign policy. Large Latin American banks, such as the Banco Santander and the BBVA, operate inside the United States (the latter is even one of the biggest sponsors of the National Basketball Association). 

However, this outstanding economic performance is largely beset by escalating political instability (Latin America has been besieged by military coups since the beginning of the 20th Century), worsening peace and order situations (Mexico and Venezuela have the highest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere), and the widening gap between rich and poor. With these things in mind, I dare ask whether structuralism has actually worked in Latin America.

Economic structuralism takes its cue from an eponymous theory in anthropology, which states that “elements of human culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure” (Blackburn, 2008). We can deduce from this definition that the structuralist approach emphasises the importance of taking into account structural features in doing economic analysis.

One thing that came to my mind in thinking why structuralism might have worked for Latin America is one thing – Latin American countries have mostly similar structures, politically and economically. This may have been brought about by a shared history and language.

However, did structuralism actually work?

During the last lecture, we talked about some problems that arose from structuralism. And all problems during one time or another were present in most Latin American countries. To make my point: despite richness in resources, most Latin American countries are still net importers of capital goods. Also, sometime during the 70s-80s industrial efficiency in Latin America are at low levels. Countries experienced high inflation; Bolivia even suffered from hyperinflation in the 70s-80s, while Ecuador had to abandon the Ecuadorian peso and is now trading using US dollars. Most Latin American companies are foreign-owned, and unemployment levels are still soaring.

 

On paper, structuralism is a good theory, but implementing it in real-life situations, especially the economy, is a daunting task. What might have caused Latin America’s failure in structural economics is the lack of political will to do so. Regime changes, intervention from foreign forces, and weak peace and order policing have made structuralism do more harm to Latin America than it supposed to do good.