Excerpts: The Travesty of Development

“To keep indefinitely walking on, along a zigzag course of change, is negative and barren. A mere procession of notes does not make music; it is only when we have in the heart of the march of sounds some musical idea that it creates song. Our faith in the infinite reality of Perfection is that musical idea, and there is that one great creative force in our civilisation. When it wakens not, then our faith in money, in material power, takes its place; it fights and destroys, and in a brilliant fireworks of star-mimicry suddenly exhausts itself and dies in ashes and smoke.”
– Rabindranath Tagore in Creative Unity, 1922

‘Development’ is dominantly perceived in the world today as modern technological advancement that creates greater material comforts and ‘quick fixes’ to take us away from an earlier era portrayed as ‘backwardness’. This backwardness of largely the ‘underdeveloped’ and ‘developing’ countries by this definition is marked by poverty, destitution, starvation, deprivation, hunger and mal-nutrition, illiteracy and social evils, disease and large-scale unemployment. In this way, ‘development’ has been heralded as a lofty ideal, where the ‘underdeveloped’ and ‘developing’ countries should catch up with the ‘developed’ countries and the later should keep developing further. In an era in which globalisation has made deep inroads, one of its remarkable successes has been to unite the world with a sweeping consensus it has manufactured across diverse regions on this dominant perception of development. Travesty refers to something that fails to represent the values and qualities that it is intended to represent, in a way that is shocking or offensive.

Like the ‘Covid vaccines’ that are supposed to protect us from a ‘highly dangerous and mutating virus’ that would otherwise cause untold misery of dangerous disease and wipe out the human population, the ‘side-effects’ of the ‘development idea’ have also been widely deliberated. But the benefits of the ‘development idea’ ranging from its purported saving from drudgery of physical labour, savings in time and many other benefits such as greater connectivity, we have been told, far outweigh the ‘side-effects’ just as it has been claimed for the ‘Covid vaccine’. 

Just like the ‘Covid vaccine’, ‘development’ in the aftermath of the Second World War was presented as a panacea for many a ills plaguing the human society, especially for the erstwhile ‘savages’ of the Enlightenment era or the ‘subjects and slaves’ of the Colonial era. They now had a more benign classification as ‘underdeveloped’ and ‘developing’ countries, also clubbed together as Third World and Global South. So wide and popular was its appeal that very soon development was elevated to the status of a new religion and it was made mandatory for every political regime around the world, or they would face the wrath of the newly anointed gods of development and its clergymen. Its adherents traversed diverse ideologies and in most parts of the world, human suffering was equated to lack of this kind of development. To the extent that even more of newer advances of ‘development’ was also considered as the antidote for the ‘side-effects’ even as they kept growing and getting out of control.

Wolfgang Sachs is a researcher, writer and university teacher in the field of environment, development, and globalisation. Sachs is the principal author of Fair Future: Resource Conflicts, Security and Global Justice and Sustainable Germany in a Globalized World, both major studies produced by the Wuppertal Institute. Sachs is also a member of the Club of Rome, a lecturer at Schumacher College and an honorary professor at the University of Kassel, Germany.

In 1992, Sachs wrote a seminal series of essays for the New Internationalist called ‘Development: A Guide to the Ruins’. In this he describes the ‘development idea like a ruin in the intellectual landscape’ and uncovers the foundations of this ‘towering conceit’ to see it for what it is: ‘the outdated monument to an immodest era’. 

Just about when the Covid Pandemic was ‘officially’ discovered, in February of 2020, he wrote an obituary of the ‘development idea’ that he has been researching over several decades. Over a billion vials of the ‘Covid vaccine’ have been injected into the bloodstreams since,  in order to stop a ‘dangerous and mutating virus’ that seems so strikingly similar to what Sachs describes as the mutations of the ‘development idea’.

The concept of development, in his opinion,  lives on – and takes on new shapes as it is reframed by the United Nations, reinterpreted by the Vatican or hijacked by authoritarian populists to serve their own nationalist agenda. But, he argues now, we need to move beyond its misguided assumptions into a new ‘post-development era’ based on ‘eco-solidarity’. 

A brilliant writer, Sachs shares valuable insights that piece together thread by thread, ‘development’ as the final and the most treacherous stage of ‘colonialism’ that has spread its tentacles to far corners of the world. It is safe to conclude by now that ‘development’ has been the greatest and one of the long-lasting ‘con’ in the entire human history. 

Connecting the ‘dots’ between Spengler’s Faustian civilisation and Desmet’ s Mass Formation Psychosis, Wolfgang Sachs in February 2020 fills in the blanks with this masterpiece published in the February 2020 issue of New Internationalist titled ‘The Age of Development: An Obituary’, just when the Mass Formation Psychosis around the Covid virus was being manufactured as the last desperate act of the Faustian civilisation in its death throes. Hannah Arendt was prophetic in her proclamation of Totalitarianism as dissipative and self-destructive. Eric Wolff connects the remaining ‘dots’ and traces it back to the venerated Harvard University through its handiwork the World Economic Forum. 

“‘Development’ is one of those zombie categories that have long since decayed, but still wander around resembling a worn-out utopia. Apparently buried long ago, the concept’s ghost is still haunting world politics. Despite the huge upheavals in world affairs recently, all of a sudden development appears to have made a comeback.

The new breed of authoritarian leaders are now enthusiastic about development, for example. Yet, with the rise of national populism, the idea of development no longer plays an inspiring, forward-looking role, as it did in the days when nation-states were being decolonized and even at the time of deregulation of global markets. The Trumps and the Bolsonaros, the Erdoğans and Modis of this world still believe in development, in so far as that means large projects, mass purchasing power and unregulated movements for corporations. But, besides being authoritarian and xenophobic, they are declared enemies of the environment.”

Survival now, NOT Progress

“That era is over: development is more often about survival now, not progress. The SDGs are designed to guarantee the minimum level of human rights and environmental conditions. No more and no less, but the sky-storming belief in progress has given way to the need for survival. The papal letter Laudato si’ disregards the keywords ‘development’ and ‘progress’, whereas the Paris climate deal is meant to avoid catastrophes and wars.”

A World Power in Search of a Mission

“Wind and snow stormed over Pennsylvania Avenue on 20 January 1949 when, in his inauguration speech before Congress, US President Harry Truman defined the largest part of the world as “underdeveloped areas”. There it was, suddenly a permanent feature of the landscape, a pivotal concept which crammed the immeasurable diversity of the globe’s south into single category: ‘underdeveloped’. For the first time, the new world view was thus announced; all the peoples of the earth were to move along the same track and aspire to only one goal: development.

And the road to follow lay clearly before the President’s eyes: “Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace.”

Old World Order – A de facto American Colony 

Development meant nothing more than projecting the American model of society on to the rest of the world. Truman really needed such a reconceptualisation of the world. The old colonial world had fallen apart. The United States, the strongest nation to emerge from the War, was obliged to act as the new world power. For this it needed a vision of a new global order.

The concept of development provided the answer because it presented the world as collection of homogeneous entities, held together not through the political dominion of colonial times, but through economic interdependence. It meant the independence process of young countries could be allowed to proceed because they automatically fell under the wing of the US anyway when they proclaimed themselves to be subjects of economic development.

Development was the conceptual vehicle which allowed the US to behave as herald of national self-determination while at the same time founding a new type of world-wide domination: an anti-colonial imperialism..

Post-Development – Weaponization of Everything

After development died in the early 1990s, its remains were weaponised. The Old World Order was in a free fall with bouts of paranoia interspersed with hubris, ignorance and vanity. Its first attempt at a massive conceit was the self-inflicted 9/11 terror attack with simultaneous implosions in the basement of the World Trade Centre towers just as the planes struck. As America’s credibility was falling in the eyes of the world and its own people, this was followed by the bombing of Iraq in search of the Weapons of Mass Destruction that its intelligence sources knew were not there. They have only been emboldened to carry out more brazen crimes against humanity – the latest one being the highly deceitful use of a pandemic prevention protocol as a trojan horse to launch a global scale bio-psycho-spiritual warfare. 

Their key agenda with the Covid warfare is to depopulate Earth of nearly 7.5 billion humans, 90% less than the human population of 8 billion to meet their targeted population of 500 million humans by the year 2030, which they believe is Earth’s carrying capacity in the current scenario. 

In normal circumstances, human society would see this as cold blooded mass murder, genocide and pogrom that would erase the memories of Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, Pol Pot and Mao Tse Tung. But the materialistic developmentalists are remorseless and have been running scot-free despite the humongous scale of their crimes against humanity.  

One of the resounding claims of the materialistic developmentalists from the anthropocentric viewpoint, paradoxically, has been that it was worth the ecological cost as development was improving the quality of life for large swathes of mankind, uplifting them from the depths of poverty, deprivation and backwardness and most emphatically, their claim has been to increase the average lifespan from 30 odd years to about 80 years with better quality of life and human development indicators. This was already achieved in the Developed countries, the First World or the Global North and rest of the world, consisting of underdeveloped and Developing countries were to aspire for the same.

The obvious question that arises is this : 

How did humanity land itself in such a treacherous and murderous Ponzi gamble? 

How did our checks and balances fail so miserably?

When was the last time when the leading scientists felt that humanity was so close to extinction in the entire known history? 

Another World is Possible

In Creative Unity, written a century back in 1922, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore elucidates: 

“Through creation man expresses his truth; through that expression he gains back his truth in its fullness. Human society is for the best expression of man, and that expression, according to its perfection, leads him to the full realisation of the divine in humanity. When that expression is obscure, then his faith the Infinite that is within him becomes weak; then his aspiration cannot go beyond the idea of success. His faith in the Infinite is creative; his desire for success is constructive; one is his home, and the other is his office. With the overwhelming growth of necessity, civilisation becomes a gigantic office to which the home is a mere appendix. The predominance of the pursuit of success gives to society the character of what we call Shudra in India. In fighting a battle, the Kshatriya, the noble knight, followed his honour for his ideal, which was greater than victory itself; but the mercenary Shudra has success for his object. The name Shudra symbolises a man who has no margin round him beyond his bare utility. The word denotes a classification which includes all naked machines that have lost their completeness of humanity, be their work manual or intellectual.

They are like walking stomachs or brains, and we feel, in pity, urged to call on God and cry, “Cover them up for mercy’s sake with some veil of beauty and life!””


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