Author Archives: seeamandaj

States and Governments: Facilitators or Impediments to Development

“The fight against corruption is the other modernization, whose necessity makes itself felt at the hour of going forth to compete in the world, of attracting foreign investment. The rest of its liberalizing efforts probably depend on its success.” (El Negro Mapa de la Corrupcion)


 I want my votes back

Martinussen, Ch. 24

Mainstream thinking: preference for existing bureaucratic organizations, public or private

Very few theories: emphasize the role of individual citizens as independent actors.

Class theories: do focus on people

People-Managed Development: Development starts with and controlled by civil society (Martinussen, p.332).

Guy Gran is a central theorist of this paradigm. He critiques bureaucratic governance and current development strategies because they are based on neoliberal principles (i.e., favoring free-market capitalism). He believes a) much of the world’s misery can be traced to the interests of the economic and political elites, and b) no government will engage in sustained mass development unless the poor are sufficiently powerful to force such policy.

Development via people happens when a) The poor are aware of their situation (this is conscientisation à la Paolo Freire), b) barriers that prevent the poor from having influence on decision-making and participation are eliminated, and c) people are organized into small “base communities” to ensure horizontal decision-making and ensure consensus (similar to Jean-Jacque Rosseau, 1712-1778)

Decentralization is key because is requires that decision-making powers are transferred to the local citizens. The rationale is that participation + decentralization = the release of dormant resources that will sustain a process whereby basic human needs are satisfied.

External Catalysts for people centered development are required to a) facilitate the processes and b) provide technical training to chosen members of the local ‘target’ groups. Gran prefers NGOs (rather than gov’t) because NGOs are less bureaucratic, better at grass roots work, and more flexible.

Chambers claims that people from the rich industrialized countries are generally unable to play decisive/catalyst roles.

Opposing view: Both researchers and practitioners with first-hand experience from development co-operation reject Gran’s positive assessment of what external development agent can achieve.

Critique of People-Managed Development: Small community projects and other small-scale efforts are not rejected, but are increasingly seen as only one type of intervention among several others, and there is increasing awareness of the need to integrate these into much more comprehensive macro-economic and macro-political strategies (Drabekk, 1987; Korten, 1990).

“Bad governance in a small country” -Collier

The maximum rate of economic growth possible is 10%, but decline can occur rapidly. Some countries get away with having poor systems because governance and policies interact with external factors, creating different opportunities. For example, coastal Bangladeshi exporters “simply need an environment of moderate taxation, macroeconomic stability, and a few transport facilities” to thrive, in contrast to Chad, which relies on money from oil and outside aid, and so depends on proper governance of these resources.

Why is bad governance so persistent?

  • Leaders gain from it, so they keep citizens uneducated and ill informed.
  • Those who are knowledgeable often leave, and reformers are suppressed or put in jail.
  • Also, the IMF coerced governments to adhere to certain conditions when giving loans, so there is a stigma to reform.

What helps generate a turnaround of a failed state? Three things: large population, higher proportion of people with secondary education, and recently emerged from civil war. After civil war, politics are changing anyway. Democracy does not seem to help policy turnaround, but impetus for change comes from within society and takes a critical mass of educated people. The average length of time to get out of being a failed state is 59 years.

To sustain a turnaround, there are six characteristics that matter:

Good—higher country income, larger population, greater proportion of educated population

Bad—leader in power longer, country experienced favorable shift in terms of trade, recently emerged from civil war

The economic cost of being a failed state builds each year and negatively impacts growth of neighbor states. The estimated cost of a single failing state to itself and its neighbors is around $100 billion, which equals what its turnaround is worth. External support/intervention raises chance of turnaround, but it costs money.

“Making government institutions work better” -Klitgaard


Free-market reforms limit the role of the state, but it is still active in regulating certain industries characterized by economies of scale in nonrenewable resources, as well as transportation and infrastructure, education, public health, and dealing with poverty.

The reasons governments fail and corruption emerges:

  • Objectives are multiple and vague
  • Measures of performance are incomplete and inaccurate
  • Technologies for providing public services are ineffectual, and tasks to be performed are not well defined
  • Motivation and coordination are lacking because of fixed civil service rules, inability to hire and fire, and weak incentives linking pay to performance, corruption, and waste
  • Authority is unclear and fractionated with many levels of bureaucracies and politicians

Corruption is the misuse of public office for private ends. It can be large or small scale, licit or illicit, systemic or sporadic. It can be initiated by a public servant or the interested citizen and includes promises or threats. Sometimes it is helpful, but almost always it is harmful; it stunts economic growth, undermines political legitimacy, and demoralizes officials and citizens.

Klitgaard approaches corruption not as the moral failures of individuals but as structural failures of information and incentives. People ascribe corruption to many things, but pragmatically, government officials have a motive for corruption when they cannot live on what they are paid, when the payoffs for being corrupt are large, and when the chances of being caught and punished are small. They have a monopoly in relation to the public without accountability.

Each public official (agent) must weigh the “moral cost” of being corrupt, as well as the risk of being caught and punished. He will accept the bribe if:


Each aspect of the calculation can be altered through government policy. Bonuses can be offered for discovering corruption to help augment pay, organizations can change their “culture” and institute a code of ethics to alter moral costs and satisfaction, size of bribe can be lowered by reducing monopoly power and discretion of individual officials, governments can amp up enforcement of catching corrupt officials to increase risk, and introducing stiffer penalties reduces corruption.

The prevention, discovery, and prosecution of corruption is costly. Justice Plana of the Philippines employed a three part strategy to reduce corruption in his Bureau of Internal Revenue: establish a new performance evaluation system and link incentives to it, collect information about corrupt activities, and punish the highest level violators (“big fish”) to set an example.

The best way to gather information:

  • Find “heroes” in the organization who are clean and have them examine offices for evidence of corruption and inefficiency
  • Convene inquiry commissions
  • Use undercover agents
  • Devise indirect measures of corruption
  • Involve the public through various measures (like hot lines, civic committees, and citizen oversight boards).

Citizens are a valuable source of information, provide outside trustworthiness and competence, and are a sustainable constituency against corruption.


Bad governance and the bottom billion: Paul Collier talking about bad governance and development in many developing countries, mainly those in Africa. He invites us all to be “ambassadors:”

President Barack Obama talking to Nigerian students about the consequence of bad governance on the issue of terrorism and Boko-haram-Islamists in Nigeria:



This is an interesting map of corruption around the world:

An article from the Department for International Development in the UK about what they are doing to help other countries be better run and more accountable:

Helping Countries Combat Corruption: The Role of the World Bank:



  1. What makes someone a good catalyst? Who should people look to in organizing the poor and marginalized into a cohesive bloc?
  2. Should wealthy countries invest in turning around failed states? Why or why not?
  3. Corruption is a central issue in popular uprisings. The UN said “the larger the public sector, the greater the scope for corruption.” Free markets, free press, democracy, and separation of powers help curb corruption, but “the greatest enemy of corruption is the people.” How have we seen this evident in recent news? What are other ways besides protesting that individuals can fight against corruption?
  4. Do you think corruption is generally caused because of greed and immorality of individuals, or is it caused by the system?
  5. If you were living in a country where bribery was expected and considered acceptable, would you use bribes to get through the system? If there were no way around it, would you feel guilty?

Marxism and Neo-Marxism


Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
(Marx, from the “Introduction to the critique of Hegel’s philosophy of right,” 1843)


Marxism analyzed the development of societies based on economy, industry, and capitalism with emphasis on class conflict.  It stated that capitalism enforced exploitation of workers (paid below the value of their labor) by the bourgeoisie who pocketed the economic surplus.

The common thread in Neo-Marxist theories is that imperialism and colonialism (past and present) are viewed as the most significant development-impeding factors in the Global South. The theoretical roots point to internal class conflict and external domination of industrialized countries. (Martinussen, 1997)

Paul Baran: emphasized nationally controlled industrialization rather than dual economies.  Developing countries tended to have small industry and large agricultural divisions of economy.  The inequality of class and distribution of power and economic surplus prevented the kind of development that could compete globally. He believed the solution was government control and ownership of heavy industry as well as enforced internal conditions of equally distributed power.

Andre Gunder Frank: believed that Third World countries (satellites) should focus on internal trade rather than feeding their resources to capitalistic merchants (metropoles).  He blamed colonialism around Third World countries for perpetuating poverty in the satellites; therefore it would be critical for them to de-link from the metropoles.
– Delinking, Decoloniality & Dewesternization

Samir Amin: contrasting to Frank’s external exchange theories, concerned with more internal focus, specifically the production processes.  Autocentric reproduction: self-reliant in process and goods produced.  Peripheral economy: dependent on the world market. Overdevelopment of exportation lead him to focus on internal cooperation, similar to Baran’s perspective.

Arghiri Emmanuel’s Theory of Unequal Exchange: The unequal rate of labor costs in international markets yields exploitation of workers in peripheral countries through lower pay. This results in significant transfer of value/capital from poor to rich (periphery to centre) and perpetuates underdevelopment. His theory is a challenge to the neoclassical assumption that trade is advantageous for all parties involved.

F. H. Cardoso, D. Senghass and U. Menzel moved away from the notion that countries could be generalized as one type of economy.  Their economies should be seen as differentiated by internal systems. This negated the idea that there was one central, one-size-fits-all strategy for development.  Internal studies held the direction for change.

I. Wallerstein: held a wide-angle, historical view of underdevelopment and capitalism.  His theory was not born from classical dependency theories, but does incorporate some of its ideas. He emphasized global conditions and where each country falls in the systems of economy and politics: the center, semi-periphery and periphery.


Warren: theory held to the Marxist views of unequal and exploitative systems, but paradoxically believed that capitalism would end dependency.  He believed capitalism to be an inherent stage in the process toward socialism.

Africa’s next boom: Internal/Independent development in Africa
“…democracy is encouraging governments to invest in education. Education is helping growth and investment, and that’s giving budget revenues, which is giving governments more money, which is helping growth through education.  It’s a positive, virtuous circle.”

Jesus and Marx Compared (Parker Palmer article): While originating in different assumptions about reality, Marx reminds us of dimensions of Christianity that Christians have a habit of forgetting:

  • Marx believed that the intellectual and institutional forms of religion were the opiate of the people, thereby “drugging” the masses into accepting an unjust status quo. Similarly, Jesus and many Biblical prophets tried to give voice to the living experience of God against the dead forms of their times.
  • Marx critiqued the wealthy’s complacency towards the poor and oppressed; Jesus placed an emphasis on economic justice for the poor (e.g., Luke 6:20; Matthew 19:24).
  • Marx advocated for the ideal of a classless society. The church in Acts 2:44, to borrow a phrase from the socialist movement, gave according to ability and took according to need. If the church is a harbinger (and a hope) of things to come, then the eradication of economic injustice is an essential sign of God’s kingdom.
  • Marx decried our enslavement to “false consciousness”, i.e., our bondage to free market capitalism, and proclaimed revolutionary class struggle as the road to liberation. Jesus decried our bondage to sin — not least its economic form — and proclaimed that liberation would come as we submitted to God’s justice, mercy, and love.

As Thomas Merton puts it, Marxism and Christianity alike want to shatter our illusions, reveal our true condition, and empower us to act in ways that will win our liberation.



There is a common presumption that Marx held a disdain for ethics.  This assumption leads to the exclusion of Marxist theory in the global justice debate, which arguably results in an incomplete dialogue.  Professor Lawrence Wilde wrote a paper on the ethical underpinnings of Marx’ social theory, arguing that there is an ethical gravity to Marx’ conception of the ‘self-realized social being.’    He answers some interesting questions to his ideas in this video:

Within his ideas, Wilde proposes that in Marxist theory there exists a strand of eudaemonistic ethics – “a system of ethics that evaluates actions in terms of their capacity to produce happiness.”  Wilde suggests that Marx’ animosity towards moral discourse was a strategic decision related to the societal conditions of his time – that an emphasis on morality in 19th century political discourse would have taken away from the crucial business of exposing the pitfalls of capitalism, and marred the effectiveness of resulting political strategies.

Waking Up

Class consciousness is the awareness a social class possesses of itself.  Perhaps the problem with the world now is that we don’t have class consciousness in the proletariat.  Before action can occur, a “class” needs to be aware of where it stands or what its ranking is.  Without this consciousness, people are not aware that they are being exploited or trampled upon by another.

It seems to be ingrained in the American mentality that a capitalist society is the only way to successfully develop.  This mindset, however, supports the refusal to acknowledge that there is a class system and such an acknowledgement would be breaking the very idea of there being capitalism in action in the USA.  Perhaps there is a fear of the feeling of powerlessness that comes along with recognizing you are a part of the lower or working class, but an acceptance of this reality would allow the “have-nots” to harness the knowledge of their position and use it to do something that implements social change as Marx advocated for.

Let’s Go Global

In the past, country borders have restricted the dialectic cycle described by Marx.  In today’s global market, the dialectic cycle exists in the economic system and the borderless concept of globalization would logically infer that the cycle, too, is borderless.  With this in mind, the idea of class can be enlarged to a global scale – core, semi-periphery, and periphery/upper, middle, and lower.  It could therefore be possible for the “have-nots” to implement some sort of revolution because they have been pushed to the very limits of what they can provide.  The gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” has been widening and once we hit an economic crisis (in an all-encompassing global sense), such a revolution may become inevitable.  There is now so much more availability for the “have-nots” to become involved with social change that a revolution may look different from before – whereas the previous idea of a revolution was violent, nowadays it could be the Third Way with passive resistance.


  1. The idea of Marxism revolves around class struggle between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”  Do you think there is a global class system, and is there a way for them to rise up in a dialectic?  How does a “class” become self-conscious?
  2. Now we’re all part of the same global economic system, do you think it would be possible for there to be a global revolution (like the Russian revolution but on a world-wide scale)?
  3. In today’s global dialogue, there is a demand that people’s needs need to come first.  How do we justify these demands from within a capitalist system?
  4. We have been depleting resources continuously and many people are saying we are at a pinnacle of social change.  If we take the Marxist view that social change happens due to the tensions between classes in the same society that are at odds with each other, do you think we will be seeing increased social change because of this struggle?  Have we already seen some of this beginning to happen?  Are WE a part of that social change, by choosing to take a program such as ICD?



Harish Manwani, the COO of Unilever, talks about the need to add a fourth element to Capitalism – “Responsibility.”

Essay critique on “Dependency” Concepts

Delinking or Globalisation?

Kerala’s Democratic Communism: Kerala (India) was the first state in the world to democratically elect a communist government in 1957. Many of its social indicators are on par with the developed world and it has the highest human development index in India. It also has the highest literacy rate (more than 90%) and life expectancy in India, lowest infant mortality, and lowest school drop-out rate.  Amartya Sen holds up Kerala as an example of Human Development and its history is communism (and Christianity). But many today are questioning how sustainable it is.

The Kerala Model