Development criticism: Wikis


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Development criticism refers to criticisms of modern technology, industrialization, critique of capitalism and to criticisms of globalization . A closely related, overlapping concept is anti-modernism. Development critics see modernization as harmful for both humans and the environment. Development-critical movements represent a wide range of critiques, including appeals to tradition, religion, spirituality, environmentalism, aesthetics, pacifism, agrarian and anti-agrarian virtues.



Happiness is one of the themes of development-critical writings. Modern societies, according to development critics, do not help individuals reach happiness despite their goal-oriented complexity, perhaps because of the amount of labour time. In their view, happiness may be harder to reach in modern society than in primitive ones.

Often development critics criticize concepts used in modern societies, such as poverty and other welfare-related conceptualizations such as the human development index and gross national product. They say such concepts make the life of primitive or alternative societies look misleadingly dull to modern people. Modern societies apply subjective standards for welfare universally and (mis)judge other societies by them, for example, greater longevity is seen as an objectively good thing. Development critics often regard attempts to develop non-developed societies as a cause of misery and trouble, and thus recommend that development projects should be cancelled. Some even see the word "development" as negative and think that it represents conceptual imperialism.

Development criticism as a concept is not older than the modern concept of development. However, many thinkers in the past are seen as the precursors of development critics. An early and outspoken critic of the secular aspects of modernism was Pope Pius IX, whose Syllabus of Errors (1864) condemned many aspects of modern culture, including freedom of religion and the separation of church and state; this provoked the Modernist crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. Another famous critic of modern life in the nineteenth century was the writer Henry Thoreau, who preferred living in the woods to living in the city.

The best-known development critic is Mohandas Gandhi, who heavily criticized modern technology and many other characteristics of western culture. Like many other development critics, he recommended local food production for local consumption rather than for trade. Similar thinkers often criticize contemporary globalization.

Some development critics are politically left-leaning while some favour ideas such as pacifism and local-level democracy; though there are notable exceptions (for example, Ted Kaczynski supported local-level democracy, while supporting violent revolution against the system and its agents to achieve it).

Radical traditionalists (and the Traditionalist school of philosophy as a whole) oppose democracy, pluralism and liberalism. Notions of "progress" from both left and right wing politics are problematised or even rejected, saying that they're detrimental or even false. They also see both Marxism and fascism as part of the same modernist creature, where anti-fascist resistance is just pulling the other tentacle of the octopus and not realising it's part of the same body (a metaphor used by Aristasians).

Although development critics are mostly humanistic, some are misanthropists who blame human nature for the destruction of the environment. Black metal often expresses a misanththropic view with, especially, NSBM taking a strongly anti-modernist stance in its lyrics, shaped by people like Julius Evola.

Some religious organizations—the Roman Catholic Church for example—have from time to time taken anti-modernist and development-critical stances by criticizing modern technology or other principal characteristics of prevailing societies. For example, the church condemned the steam engine as the work of the devil. A condemnation that the Italian poet and senator, Giosue Carducci, seized on in his Hymn to Satan, in which Satan embodies progress and free thought challenging the dogma of Catholicism[1].

In modern academic discussion, proponents of post-development and other post-modernist lines of thinking have been advocates of development-critical views. Among academic disciplines, development criticism is most closely connected with development studies and anthropology. If developments only increase expectations, and fail to deliver, many believe they are unnecessary.

Famous development critics

Economic, political and social models advocated by development critics

Publications associated with development criticism

See also


  1. ^ Hymn to Satan, in which Satan is used as both a metaphor for progress and personified as a steam engine bringing progress and free thought to the masses.

Development-critical literature

  • Arturo Escobar: Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, Princeton University Press 1995, ISBN 0691001022
  • Gilbert Rist, The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith, Expanded Edition, London: Zed Books, 2003, ISBN 1842771817
  • The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, ed. by Wolfgang Sachs, London: Zed Books, 1992, ISBN 1856490440
  • Oren Ginzburg: There You Go! ISBN 974-92863-0-8
  • Mohandas Gandhi: Hind Swaraj (1909)
  • Ivan Illich: Tools for Conviviality (1973)
  • Post-Development Reader[1] (Zed Books, ed. Majid Rahnema, 1997), ISBN 1856494748
  • No Place of Grace: antimodernism and the transformation of American culture 1880-1920, 1994, ISBN 0226469700
  • Henry Thoreau: Walden (1854)

External links



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