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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 - Is Progress Inevitable Part 2 - January 30.docx

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Saul Cohen

January 30, 2013. Lecture 4 – Is Progress Inevitable? Part 2 Today  The Thaba-Tseka Development Project o Why did they get it so wrong?  Five key ideas about progress and development  Surely Nature is “Natural” o Class Activity: My houseplant o Video: Second Nature World Bank vs. Oxford  World Bank Report paints a picture of a people without history, untouched by modern economic development  Oxford outlines a rich history with successful economics and agriculture  So why did the World Bank get it so wrong?  They ignore what they cannot change o Wage labour NOT agriculture is dominant o Not “resource poor” (natural and ahistorical) but “resource exploited” (politics and history) o Wage labour exploitation in South African mines  “Black labour”/slave labour was exploited  Working hard and in unsafe conditions, not being paid what they deserve o “For this reason, agricultural concerns tend to move centre stage and Lesotho is portrayed as a nation of “farmers”, not wage labourers. At the same time, issues such as structural unemployment, influx control, low wages, political subjugation by South Africa, parasitic bureaucratic elites, and so on, simply disappear.”  Cannot entertain these factors as the cause of the problem because they can’t actually do anything about them  What they CAN do is provide experts on agriculture and city planning/infrastructure and make improvements there  They ignore what they cannot understand o Complex, differentiated state and people  There are multiple layers of complexity; divisions of ethnical groups, political/party groups, class groups, etc. o Internal political party politics  Terrain in which they are attempting “development” is inherently political, despite pretending that development is not political  Party in power as control over situation, has power to change things, opposing party doesn’t o Development = a political tool, some benefit and some do not  Cannot tell a political party how to rule its country  Blame the victim o E.g. cattle mystique  Lesotho clung to cattle when it isn’t too beneficial  They tried to convince the Lesotho to give up/change their attitude about cattle  Proposed ideas like replacing them with better/stronger cattle, reducing the number to ease strain on the grass/overgrazing, better ways to feed the cattle, etc.  Makes sense in their cultural context/world view; represents the man’s place at home instead of the inconvenient idea of leaving their wives and children and homes to go work in the mines  Important symbol of place at home as well as security for retirement  Also cattle give the man freedom to make decisions on his own terms, whereas with money they would be pressured to share o To be developed, you have to be on the primitive side of the spectrum  Illiterate, unhealthy, disease, uneducated, without water, etc.  Then when development doesn’t work, blame the victim (you’re too illiterate, too uneducated, too unhealthy, etc.) o Development failure seen as not being development’s fault  When a project is sent out to “develop the farmers” and finds that “the farmers” are not much interested in farming, and, in fact, do not even consider themselves to be “farmers”, it is thus easy for it to arrive at the conclusion that “the people” are mistaken, that they really are farmers and that they need only to be convinced that this is so for it to be so.  So, what did the project do? The Anti-Politics Machine o In this perspective, the “development” apparatus in Lesotho is not a machine for
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