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Development Agencies

Is the Anti-Politics machine still a good critique of the aid business?

Duncan Green's picture

Just been re-reading a great 6 page summary of James Ferguson’s 1994 classic critique of the aidindustry, The Anti-Politics Machine. Read this and ask yourself, apart from the grating use of the term ‘Third World’, how much has changed?

‘Any question of the form ‘what is to be done?’ demands first of all an answer to the question, ‘By whom?’ The ‘development’ discourse, and a great deal of policy science, tends to answer this question in a utopian way by saying ‘Given an all-powerful and benevolent policy-making apparatus, what should it do to advance the interests of its poor citizens?’

This question is worse than meaningless. In practice, it acts to disguise what are, in fact, highly partial and interested interventions as universal, disinterested and inherently benevolent. If the question ‘What is to be done?’ has any sense, it is as a real-world tactic, not a utopian ethnics.

Closing the Gap Between Climate Change Science and Public Opinion

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The global policy community seems unlikely to take drastic steps with regard to climate change any time soon. Politicians remain hesitant about taking action, although scientific consensus on climate change is overwhelming. It’s happening, it’s happening now, and it will cause massive damage. And it’s mostly caused by humans. Public opinion, on the other hand, is far behind the science. Are politicians unwilling to impose dramatic measures to slow down climate change because the public is unwilling to pay the cost – yet? Are they kicking the can down the road because the people are not yet willing to fully embrace the fact and the consequences of climate change?