The world has experienced tremendous developmental progress since time immemorial. A great number of personalities and events have contributed either directly or indirectly towards this end. The notion of development has acquired various perspectives throughout the long period of time in the world. Sustainable development can be defined as the process of improving the welfare of human beings through the enhancement of quality of life and social well being which ensures the satisfaction of their various needs and wants (Rist 10).
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This essay seeks to discuss, in summary, the content of chapter four found in Gilbert Rist’s book, “The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith.” It will highlight President Truman’s perspective on development, the concept of underdevelopment, US supremacy, development as a recent invention, and finally the age of development.
In this chapter, the author focuses on how the concept of development came into existence. He concentrates on the events that followed the end of the Second World War, especially in Europe and the United States. During this period, efforts were made to reconstruct Europe and save it from the ruined state caused by Nazism (Rist 69). This period saw the launch of the Marshall Plan in Europe.
The supreme authority in the US could not ignore the then dynamic changes that were taking place virtually everywhere. In 1949, President Truman, during his Inaugural Address, outlined the four points that the US was determined to pursue (Rist 70).
Firstly, its support for UN Organizations, the use of the Marshall Plan to reconstruct Europe, and thirdly, the creation of NATO with an aim of countering the security threat from the Soviet. However, the fourth, which was the need to extend America’s technical assistance to other parts of the world, was considered a public gimmick since it was in contrast with the first three.
On being sworn in as the president of the United States, Rist notes, Truman introduced the term, underdevelopment, as a new concept of regarding the impoverished regions of the world (Rist 72). This terminology brought up an entirely new way of understanding development, where, it was to be brought into existence rather than happening intransitively. Underdevelopment, on the other hand, was to be regarded as occurring ‘by nature’ with no one to blame.
The new perspective led to the stratification of nations in the North and South orientation on the basis of developed and underdeveloped states. As a result, struggle for the elimination of the status quo through accelerated economic growth emerged (Rist 74). The author discusses the perceived steps necessary for development and that all nations seeking to be developed must go through. This includes persistent internal hard work (Rist 75).
North America has asserted itself over time as the world’s super power. In its attempts to decolonize the world, the US brought about a new way of imperialism as it sought new markets worldwide. This was made easier following its triumph during the WWII.
The author points out how North America exploited the loopholes in the concepts of development/underdevelopment to ensure a sustained supremacy in the world (Rist 76). Rist proposes that the use of Point Four and its well crafted structure was meant to exploit the concept of development and promote America’s dominion internationally in the name of a new paradigm shift (Rist 77).
Furthermore, the introduction of the term development and the new ways in which it was to be interpreted helped a great deal in bringing a new age of ‘Development’ in the world (Rist 78). America managed this move through the contents of Point Four. Many nations were convinced of the ‘good intentions’ that the US had for them. This era saw the growth in the need for economic expansion, ‘underdeveloped’ independent and colonized states alike (Rist 79).
The essay has highlighted the author’s ideas concerning the history of development from a western perspective to a global belief as brought out in chapter four of the book. It has mainly centered on President Truman’s Inaugural Speech, the introduction of the underdevelopment concept, the dominion of the US, the crafting of a new paradigm and the subsequent era of ‘development.’
Generally, the author criticizes the whole concept of development as an intelligent way used by the western states over time to deceive the international community.
Rist, G. The history of development: from western origins to global faith (2nd ed.). Zed Books, 2002, Pp. 10, 69-79.