who will be next World Bank President What will they do


Modernization or Westernization?. Many in the world see the World Bank as a tool of the West, in general and the US in particular, to Westernize the developing world under the slogan of modernization and development.

The "technical Assistance" of the bank , or as George Will put it: " the euphemism for being required to adopt the social agendas of the rich nations' governments that fund the bank", is the sweetener or bait to get developing countries , especially middle income countries, to apply for loans from the World Bank to fund projects that the private sector may not be willing to finance.

The question however, does modernization mean westernization?. Can non-western countries develop along different paths and according to different social and political tracks than the west? Or must they become westernized to achieve economic and human development?. Could the failures and corruption that plagues world bank projects be a result of this ideological and cultural bias?

Is there one model of development for all? Or can a society be developed, and even modern, but not westernized?

what are your thoughts

A Washington source ~ May 13, 2007


Let's start from first premises:

There is am implied assumption that 'Modernization', and/or 'Development' is a good thing that everyone wants.

What if we are to begin a debate by asking whether that is indeed a shared ideal and/or goal?

The next step will be to ask, suppose a people decided that they do not want this, do they have the option of 'opting out' of the game? If no, why not?

Night ~ May 13, 2007, 05:33 PM

I am a WB staff and I believe "non-western countries SHOULD develop along different paths and according to different social and political tracks than the west". However, until when people like Wolfowitz and Riza (she is known for he radical reasoning, for her westernization is the only way) it will be impossible to get the WB on a more "culturally relativistic" path.

WB staff ~ May 13, 2007, 07:11 PM

East or West? North or South? The East West divide was Political and Economic and the ideological distinction was one of socialist "Eastern Block " and the "West". After the collapse of the Soviet Union many of the countries are modernizing to become part of the "West" (East and West Berlin are now just Berlin). Many of countries are waiting to enter the EU and rejoin "western civilization" Geographical distinctions do not matter that much: Japan is in the Far East but when it comes to technology and modernization seems to be in the far Far West. Singapore and Thailand, Economic Zones in China, Bangalore in India also present some problems. They are in the exotic east but are they modern and "western". These days the East/West distinction seems to have more ideological and religious connotation but Dubai is one of the most modern countries. Maybe the difference is North and South. Or rich and poor. Perhaps it does not matter? Help, I lost my compass and am a little lost.

A Little Lost ~ May 13, 2007, 07:46 PM

Theoretically, at least, the Bretton Woods institutions should be responding as much as any other UN agencies to the 1970 General Assembly resolution known as the Consensus.

That resolution was to represent the great watershed divide in all UN technical assistance (an archaic term, by the way) and in particular it said: countries must be sovereign when it comes to deciding their end-points and needs. Bottom-up, of you like. (The Consensus also created the UN agencies in their present form etc etc.)

UNDP and several dozen UN agencies took this very seriously throughout the 70s and 80s and many countries tried to have a self-determined planning framework into which "technical assistance" would plug. Ministries of Planning were generally leaders in this.

In the 80s the Bank introduced the highly top-down structural adjustment loans which (Washington Source, your second para has it back to front) more or less REQUIRED the countries to accept experts as part of the deal.

By the 90s the Bank had moved from a very small and quite humble player in this arena to the very largest player of all, and had pretty much shot the intent of the Consensus to ribbons.

Seriously undermined, self-determined development planning for national capacity more or less fell by the wayside, projects became more top-down than ever, and the Bank's proteges, the Ministries of Finance, had pretty well sidelined the Ministries of Planning and their capacity-building propensities.

Meanwhile in the, ah, how to put this, more developed world, methods have got VERY much better for capacity building, institutional change, human development, stuff like that.

Countries really can now double their development speed if top-down is put on hold and bottom-up takes over again.

It seems easy enough to reverse recent history, now that there might be a rethink beginning:

(1) Let the countries get back to following the intent of the 1970 Consensus and take over complete determination of their ends and their means.

(2) (a) Push the Bank back into being basically a bank, rather than the Swiss army knife of development it tries to be now, or (b) have the Bank learn a thing or two about national self-determination and modern capacity building, and align accordingly.

(3) And countries should network themselves like crazy; ten or 20 countries working together to put in similar systems is THE most powerful development approach on the face of the earth. Not only would that double the pace of development; it would probably halve the cost.

Peter Quennell ~ May 13, 2007, 09:05 PM

This is funny :-), just a diversion from all the seriousness


Rajeev ~ May 13, 2007, 09:57 PM

I agree with Peter. The ascendance of more autonomous middle-income economies with their own agendas, particularly in Asia and South America, suggests that "positive nationalism" as prophesized in John Raulston Saul's 2005 book " The Collapse of Globalism" (good review: http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2005/08/04.html) will emerge from the rubble, as nation-states and individual communities increasingly reject imposed top-down expertise by transnational privatization consultants tarted up in the form of conditional development aid.

mcworld ~ May 14, 2007, 01:16 AM

I'm a bit puzzled by Will's saying: " the euphemism for being required to adopt the social agendas of the rich nations' governments that fund the bank" Does the Bank really push social agendas (since Will is a republican, substitute for "social agendas" the term contraceptives, family planning, and HIV/AID eduction. Remember they believe you should keep women dumb, naked, and in the bedroom creating more "souls" for Christ.)

Isn't the Bank really in the business of being the "pusher" more of an economic drug? Namely, debt and unbridled capitalism. How come the Bank doesn't push the Scandinavian model, or the Lieontieff central planning model of Germany instead of the manifest destiny and invisible hand of capitalism, which has no spiritual or transcendent side, just crass materialism?

nirk ~ May 14, 2007, 04:52 AM

The op-ed written by Sebastian Mallaby in the Washington Post "Endgame at the World Bank"
of Monday, May 14,2007 provides a well reasoned perspective of the main issues. We will all benefit lf you can find room to link some of these well informed and balanced views. That will add value to the discussion.

Lycanthropologist ~ May 14, 2007, 04:37 PM

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