Friday, April 13, 2007
The hot topic of the World Bank and the IMF is corruption in development countries, and dissolving it is currently a conditionality for them to receive financing from the West. How ironic that Mr. Wolfowitz is now apparently corrupt himself. To think that his arrogance was at the least ethnocentric, (which is a human flaw we are all guilty of, I'm afraid), but it was hypocritical at best!
Secondly, Wolfowitz is one of the orchestrators of the war in Iraq, which is supposedly implementing 'democracy'. How can anyone legitimately impose something that they cannot give a good example of themselves? Wolfowitz' practices have been far from democratic, especially considering they occurred during his 'rookie' days, it seems these kinds of practices were previously institutionalized at the Bank. It's really these kind of 'turn-a-blind-eye' attitudes that make me sick when it is coming from an institution that is demanding 'good governance' and 'transparency' from those that are financially dependent on their 'generosity'. It seems that the more power and money are consolidated, the less democracy and transparency there is. And who foots the bill? The little guy. The environment. The animals.
Echoes in hollow words
Yet meaningful if rejected
And somehow so fulfilling
When they ring true
Are these the formalities
We are bound to?
Or the pleasantries that
Bind us to social reality?
If we do not abide,
Do we find ourselves alone?
Is it because we are so unimaginative
That we cannot invent new protocol?
Must there be protocol at all?
Anthropologists strive to be wary of ethnocentrism, as the application of a ‘universal’ scale to evaluate societies, such as the GDP, is irrelevant and a large obstacle for anthropologists whose goal it is to understand societies from within. The focus of development has often been named ethnocentric because of such measurements. Esteva states that the concept of development itself implies a positive change, from inferior to superior, from worse to better, with individualism, technology, mass consumption and wealth at the top of the ladder. For two-thirds of the world population, he points out, the concept of development, and therein its polar opposite ‘underdevelopment’, is a reminder of what they are not.
Continuing in the logic of modernity, the UN launched the fashionable ‘Human Development Index’, which adds a ‘humanitarian gloss’ to the ethnocentrism of the all-important growth of the GDP as a sign of progress and economic development. The Human Development Index is a pretentious and condescending instrument. Its arrogance rests on the assumption that they know everything about everyone, about how people everywhere should live, what is best for them, and look down on them if they do not meet these expectations. It is derived from an attitude of superiority, assuming another person's inferiority. It is this attitude that offends me, it is this attitude which legitimizes and perpetuates discrimination. Discrimination of any kind, whether it be racial, sexist or otherwise, is most often based on ignorance and misunderstanding. This is not something we should tolerate from anyone, not to mention an institution such as the UNDP.
Yet to this date the HDI is being taken seriously as a way to 'measure' societies, and thus their worth. Can the UNDP get off its high horse please, and take a look at ground level?