What is Emancipatory Development?
Understanding the Proposed Framework of Resistance
“Behind every great wealth or fortune is an even greater crime.”
A Great Crime
What if a crime of enormous magnitude was being carried out in the most sanctimonious and white washed paradigm imaginable?
Perhaps in the name of social justice, gender equity, human rights and democracy. A great and unnatural pillage of humanity and planetary resources being carried out as a civilizing, modernizing mission. Preceding at such an alarming rate that 5 in 7 humans were as of 2015ce reduced to varying degrees of miserable serfdom and the climate itself was being altered, rendering the ecosystem hostile to life. What if an international web of small clustered elites were via their accumulation of wealth concentrated in several developed nations. And these elites we able to not only shape the dominant socio-political discourse; they were able to carry out their expropriation by calling it “development.”
The Development Enterprise as we understand it began after the Second World War with the 1948 implementation of the Marshal Plan . The intention of this far-reaching US Aid investment was to keep war-ravaged Western Europe from being absorbed into the Soviet sphere. Development subsequently evolved into a far more expansive international architecture. Its newly stated intention within the Cold War context was to modernize & industrialize the former colonial, third world and later the Post-Soviet nations. Packages of civilian and military aid were coupled with technical assistance. Non-governmental organizations proliferated generally around poverty alleviation and cause specific programs. The United Nations ratified a wide range of human rights instruments as rapidly escalating armed conflicts accelerated in almost every nation in the developing world. By 2014, there have been 15 confirmed acts of Genocide by International Law since 1945, 37 total if you include acts of democide (Rummel, 1998). Environmental degradation has resulted in expanding disastrous climate change (Nordhaus, 2013).
There are over three billion human beings living at or below $2.50 a family a day that are worth as much in their collective assets as the top 83 richest people on earth (Oxfam, 2014). It is believed that over 29.8 million people still live in chattel slavery (Global Slavery Index, 2013). That number might expand tenfold were we to incorporate low paid, race to the bottom type assembly plants and bonded labor. While the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals have supposedly ‘halved global extreme poverty’, ‘doubled human access to clean water’ and ‘halted new infection with HIV-AIDS’ divested of all the many political, economic and religious superstructures the results of the development enterprise are highly underwhelming. Largely unmeasured, unaccountable and top down in implementation; if not an outright architecture to maintain former colonial relationships between states referred to as dependencies (Rist, 2002); development lacks to a growing body of humanity whatever moral imperative it once enjoyed.
Development today is a highly subjective and amorphous field that lacks measurement or even an agreed to verifiable definition (Rist, 2007). Within the ranks of this vast and ambitious undertaking are bright eyed idealists; ego maniacs; missionaries, spies; colonialists, national patriots and aspiring revolutionaries. Economic opportunists are everywhere. As well as wolves in sheep’s clothing who in pursuit of bare national & self-interest leave not a scrap for the future. This global enterprise of unprecedented scale relies upon various competing theories of change and remedy, constantly in antagonism. That the needs of the present generation do not outstrip the prosperity or availability of future generation’s needs; juxtaposed to a Kuznets curve positing that rising inequality precedes equity. Concentration on Sen’s maximization of agency & capability; or breaking physical and mental dependency via Paulo Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed. Does one glorify the United Nations and multilateral big-push theory and Sachs’ Millennium Villages or endorse Easterly’s social entrepreneurial searchers and the Monterrey Consensus. Does the future look to John Smith via ‘Free Market Fundamentalism’ or to the ghost of Karl Marx? Human Rights or human needs; the ‘ease of doing business’ or the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. Capacity or capability? Do developing nations borrow from the World Bank or BRICS; is the worldview of the practitioners shaped by World Economic Forum or World Social Forum. Where do we ultimately place priority and resource mobilization; within the social, the economic or environmental sphere? Does work actually set people free? No one knows, or can know, the answer to any of those questions. Largely due to a total lack of objective and transparent data .
We must refuse to accept the validity of government statistics being produced by governments that cannot meet the most basic social services such as feeding, housing and providing healthcare and education for their people. We must also reject systems of Monitoring & Evaluating any data that are carried out by the same institutions that the data reflects performance upon. The World Bank in 2001 conducted a massive participatory study of poverty where tens of thousands of people living below $1.25 a day were asked what could be done . When the UNDP in 2014 asked similar questions to over 1 million people about the ‘world they wanted’ it was still obvious; the interests of the powerful few, the narrow interests of the oligarchic elites persist in smothering the voices of the poor, silencing all calls for change and imposing upon us all the vision of acceptable development, modernization and social progress (Piketty, 2014).
Underlying all this chaos and urgency is the objective reality that over 4 billion human beings are living in varying degrees of wretched deprivation, dying miserably before their time (World Bank Data/UNDP 2015). There is a very harmful dual untruth being perpetuated by majoritarian development actors in the United States and Europe. It is based on a dual illusion that has been furthered by big media apparatuses and financed by the corporate, business & banking sectors which also fund the various political parties in high office with direct bribes, indirect bribes and campaign financing.
Later we will introduce a cruel and insidious “Dual Illusion”; part and parcel is the dual un-truth contained implicitly.
The first part of this great un-truth is that human progress is a proven fact upon the ground; that the world is gradually getting freer, safer and more equitable; exemplified by indicators such as trade statistics, GDP and the Millennium Development Goals . This is the world view offered by TED Talks pundits, the neo-liberal theories of economist Jeffrey Sachs and revisionist academics such exemplified Steven Pinker. That poverty is ending and violence is ever decreasing.
The second part of the untruth is that capitalism and globalization are the drivers of this equitable progress and that market forces are ultimately good for the poor. The so-called ‘hard data’ that we have on hand does not well substantiate either highly muddy illusion. Both of which are paradigm hallmarks of a North Western development consensus which has for too long been operating unaccountable to all those it claims to serve, while attempting to maintain a monopoly on development and its discourse. We cannot reasonably prove in a scientific and objective way that Walt Rostow’s “Modernization Theory” is actually even occurring. We cannot prove that global violence, war and conflict is markedly decreased from unestablished, and largely un-kept statistical base lines from all the ages before 1848 (most of world history); and most importantly; we are being intellectually coerced (and coddled) by Western academics, politicians and economists to embrace a growth-obsessed, econometric free market fundamentalism simply on the basis of the competing ideologies battle field defeat .
The famines, gulags, atrocities and repressions used to chronicle the civil warfare transitions from backwards feudal and peasant societies to 20th century socialist incarnations are direct exacerbations of top down socio-economic transformations in a state of perpetual cold and hot proxy war with the Western capitalist system. Russia and China have without a doubt gone in the course of less than one hundred years from being defeated, long victimized semi-feudal peripheral powers to super power hegemons and serious core contenders (Wallerstein, 2004)(Amin, 2006).
There can be no clear and absolute measurement of the data being generated to verify progress in the Human condition despite what various experts attempt to claim. The numbers on hand at the United Nations and World Bank are supplied by statistical ministries in a variety of highly non-transparent [if not overtly corrupt and incompetent] national governments aggregated to produce results that do not tell full or even partial truths. Despite what is being claimed at global conferences; we do not actually have much valid comparative data on the human condition before 1848 (Foucault, 1988). At the 2013 Interaction Forum, the broadest confederation of American development NGOs and Humanitarian actors, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres admitted, “We are not entirely prepared”. More conflicts, deeply entrenched poverty, coupled with the targeting of aid workers will occur alongside decreases in funds and the impacts of global climate change. Yet, across the western development enterprise, almost all of the Western and white-washed academia and technocracy seem to agree that the very worst of human civilization is behind us (Pinker, 2013). Climate change and gender equity are to subsume talk of structural human rights achievement and class warfare as the acceptable development discourse.
There still is massive disagreement regarding the hierarchy of immediate needs for those 5 billion human souls that live on less than USD 10 a day; 4 billion at below $4 per family per day. 3 billion of which live on less than USD 2.50 a day; and 1.2 billion on less than USD 1.25 the number of which living in Sub-Saharan Africa which may in fact have in the last decade doubled (World Bank, 2015). The economist Thomas Piketty argues in his 2014 book Capital in the 21st Century that not only has there never been such wealth & income inequality ever in recorded history; but that at present rates oligarchic wealth accumulations are increasing and ultimately highly destabilizing to both markets and democracy.
The question remains one of enlisting actual participation and empowerment, not governance. Will listening to the ‘voices of the poor’ be a meaningless slogan or a set of specific instructions to those invested in actually achieving equality? Will development amount to economic enrichment of existing elites, corrupt governments and be the political aid carrot to the military stick; or will development mean emancipation from poverty and a tool kit to achieve freedom from long running structural violence (Goulet, 1971).
Development economist Amyarta Sen believes that development is a means to achieve freedom and freedom is achieved by enabling human capability. Jeffery Sachs believes poverty can be eliminated though coordinated action via a big push style global Marshal Plan. Banerjee & Duflo argue that not until randomized control trials drive interventions are we truly transparent and accountable. Many denounce development itself as a neo-colonialist scheme (Amir, 1973) and regardless of your political tendency one must admit the same actors of the North West dominate. OECD countries are theoretically bound to be giving 0.7% of GDP in direct foreign aid, to be matched by 0.3% via private sector charitable giving. However all rich, high HDI nations seem to prefer the 2002 Monterrey Consensus; to invest in trade related infrastructure. A regular buzzword in the enterprise is ‘Capacity building’, but this is often limited to technocracy and management training going directly to the government/public sector. Throughout the development and humanitarian sector coordination is irregular, local participation is largely dictated top down, and dependency is fostered beholden to national political directives, or just simple failure to meaningfully empower the so-called beneficiaries.
Development cannot easily be grouped by proponent origin geography, but a grouping of tendencies in methodology can be identified from their sources. It is important to remember that Development is not purely about donor and beneficiary nations; there is a clear linkage between internal national developments of a governments own population and external projection of its development paradigm. Development fosters dependency inherently; citizens dependent on government services and developing nations dependent on developed ones; their economies wide open their resources and cheap labor reserves ripe for picking.
There has emerged in the developing world a variety of effective means to break that dependency and unleash the human capability Amyarta Sen was referring to. Southern Development (Bangladesh, India, Cuba and Tanzania) is often categorized by utilization of micro-finance as credit base for social programs, encouraging self-reliance, directing investment internally and promoting massive capacity investment via vocational training in vital services. In the experience of Eastern Development (emanating from Russia, China, Israel and Iran); development focuses on construction of fixed infrastructure, long term investment in education & health, large scale/ long term cultivation of local leadership capacity and highly replicable localized mass training.
As opposed to Northern Development (Advanced Welfare States) largely concerned and successful with their own citizens development; and Western Development (emanating from the European Union and the United States via the OECD) that focuses predominantly on excess asset dumping, promoting market deregulation and free trade policy, augmenting perceived comparative advantage, supporting widespread privatization; and in the era of Gates philanthropy pushing disease surveillance, availability of inexpensive pharmaceuticals, women’s literacy [and inclusion in the work force] as well as advancing shallow policy changes in socio-political culture and asserting entrepreneurship when and where ever it can be advanced.
Within local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Social Movement Organizations (SMOs), trade unions, religious intuitions and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) of the so-called Global South , but in actuality economic dependent periphery; maximized human resources are often the primary asset they have to work with. Cut off from mega donors, domestically or abroad and often from services typically provided by government; innovation has been the key to community survival, which has superseded international external development strategies rarely aligned with political realities. A result of that innovation is the understanding that development is best implemented through indigenous knowledge, through local control of the means of development; and through investments in skills and training called Mass Capacity Development (MCD) .
Our movement is being driven by development programs initiated in the Global South/Periphery , but the theoretical construct is Eastern in origin (Rist, 2011). The world is divided into 216 economic, quasi-national zones. While it would be largely accurate to state that the core of the world system lies in the global North and West; it would be wildly inaccurate to think this is a static reality. There are multipolar challenges coming from the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and India. There are a myriad of shifting paradigms in development methodology.
Particularly those activities occurring in Cuba, Bangladesh, but also in New York, India, Israel and Iran. While this may seem a highly irregular data set the following findings are emerging that will revolutionize the system of Development Capacity Building. To transform the enterprise completely from one, which focuses on barely meeting human needs to one that generates human rights achievement via mass capacity.
From Cuba we have seen some of the largest medical deployments in human history; an estimated 50,000 medical workers and comparable number of teachers and construction workers (Feinsilver, 1993). A full 40-60% of Cuba’s GDP is generated providing healthcare, education and construction of infrastructure to the developing world. Its population is 99% literate and has better health indicators than the United States.
Bangladesh has facilitated the birth of the world’s largest NGO BRAC. Over 102,281 people (BRAC, 2012) employed in a massive hybrid system that cover 70-80% of its own operational needs though social industries. That runs major businesses, micro creditors, schools, health services and paraprofessional training.
The Acumen Fund in New York has set up over 82 major social enterprises in the global south through their implementation of patient capital.
Israel has developed sophisticated training systems in health and agriculture to generate functional cohorts. Its state formation itself was a demonstration of parallel state development. Introducing from abroad the piecemeal part of an unrecognized or supported state.
Iran has made incredible progress through an innovative system of community health workers called the Behvarzan; it has also demonstrated via Hezbollah in Lebanon its ability to rapidly introduce Para State functionality and security in a war zone.
Beginning in 2008 India via the Indian Skills Development Corporation has set out to provide vocational training to millions of it is citizens via a vast public-private partnership.
The true “economic miracles” of the last twenty years were not those countries which followed the advice of Washington Consensus; they were not the captive Asian Tigers ; they were China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ethiopia who generally ignored the basic elements of the Washington Consensus completely (Rodrik, 2002).
There should be no mistake that development is highly complex, perhaps the most ambitious undertaking of human civilization; an organized and sustained campaign to alleviate massive human suffering and injustice. However, whether we in the North West wish to admit it or not; most of the leading causes of underdevelopment were & are the direct result of social, military and economic polies initiated by developed nation governments (Blum, 2003).
We must operate in the realm of realpolitik, but we must also draw definitive lines between what is in the interests of the long suffering masses of humanity verses what is done in our own so-called national interests, to secure the lifestyles and wants of the developed world at the expense of the majority of the species. Mass Capacity Development is not adversarial. It does not pit nation against nation or posit a new utopian political order. Instead, modular vocational development is the great leveler that allows all who are willing to engage in productive social enterprises to have doors open to their advancement. It places development back in the hands of the community while engaging the recommendation that development and aid are best directed not at state systems but towards striving masses yearning to acquire a means to fish. Dependency is not broken with a ‘leaky begging bowl’ but with the skills and training to invest in ones future (Escobar, 1995).
The Development Enterprise has regularly circumvented the local populations of the developing world by focusing aid into the opportunistic private sector, often corrupt public sector or via foreign dominated and culturally hostile NGOs. Development too often ignores the capacity of local people and focuses on the capacity of increasingly failing states (Collier, 2007).
Throughout the history of development since 1948 the politics, economic needs and priorities of the North West have not only shaped the way we are taught to view human progress, but also tethered more than half the human race to the most wretched and deplorable living conditions imaginable.
The concept of multi-disciplinary vocational/ technical paraprofessional training coupled with the formation of civil service enterprises (CSE) is seemingly anathema to North-Western development, but remains at the fore front of South-Eastern/ South-South development exemplified by Russia, Cuba, Israel, Iran, Bangladesh and the People’s Republic of China. Responsible elements within the global development enterprise must become not only “accountable to those they serve” but work actively to break all forms of foreign dependency; especially in this a new era of unstable Multipolarity.
The future of development must assume a marked departure from the imperatives of the former colonial powers as well as those emerging hegemons that are effecting core shift from ‘West to Rest’ via the BRICS. The gross human rights violations and structural injustices that have been perpetrated via the world system have resulted in 3.5 billion humans living below $3 per day, 45 active low, medium and high intensity armed conflicts (Kaldor, 1999) (Uppsala, 2015), vast deterioration of our climate via CO2 emission and unprecedented wealth concentrating the worth of half the human race in the hands of just 83 individuals (Oxfam, 2015). The perversity of this reality bears it being repeated.
This thesis via its interpretation of several eastern theoretical frameworks; organizational case studies and direct RCT field implementation of the suggested approach recommends that the blue print to emancipatory development via human rights and justice lies no longer in hands of the North-Western powers that have for 500 years demonstrated both their tendencies toward proliferation of both conflict and exploitation (Wallerstein, 1974). Nor does it fall evenly into the three sectors (private, public and NGO) that so far have failed to meaningfully deliver development to more than half of the species.
The micro-problem is the wholesale refusal to admit ‘development as a political act’, the inverse of interstate warfare. A system of theory, technology and praxis carried out upon a targeted population group. The macro-problem is that those that designed the architecture of the development enterprise had no intention of relinquishing their power differentials or their own hyper-development .
This manuscript will build upon these Eastern and Southern case studies and demonstrated praxis to outline a bold new methodology of development called Mass Capacity Approach (MCA). I will then illustrate the applicability of this modal for proliferation in all four sectors of the enterprise. It will draw on historic as well as contemporary examples to demonstrate the validity of development efforts to achieve equitable societies and human rights security through Parallel State Theory (PST); the demonstrated development paradigm that allows communities to fully control the terms, planning and implementation of their own development.
The solution to this series of overlapping, multi-dimensional problems which have yielded the contemporary tapestry of mass human rights violation is a massive investment in fourth sector human capacity via the trades and professions most needed to alleviate this highly systemic injustice. To wean humans off unnecessary dependency; political subservience to local elites often directly linked to the economic domination by foreigners.