Why you can't develop a nation
11th June, 2000
Gard Binney examines the need for an alternative to the dominant development paradigm of globalisation.
One of President Clinton’s favourite phrases is ‘growing the economy’. You can grow tobacco, and you may be able to grow a moustache, but I’ll be darned if you can ‘grow’ the economy. The economy can be boosted or improved, but it cannot be grown. That is one of those annoying examples of illogical and grammatically incorrect newspeak which has permeated Wall Street and Fleet Street in the last days of the 20th century.
Another prime example of this latter-day linguistic laziness is the use – or abuse – of the word ‘development’. You can develop a film or a rash, but you’ll have a tough time developing a nation. Yet it is hard to turn on the telly or open the papers these days without reading some reference to the urgent need of developing nations. And if what we mean is nations ‘developing’ – a word ineluctably tainted with condescension - the question arises: from what to what? From an agrarian society steeped in centuries-old communal traditions to a stressed-out, high-tech, dog-eat-dog existence with traffic congestion, urban sprawl, high crime rate and everybody hooked up to the internet and desperately clutching a cell...
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