Development & Underdevelopment

    "Underdevelopment is not lack of or insufficient development, as many people tend to think. It is a product or subproduct of development. Underdevelopment derives inevitably from the colonial or neo-colonial forms of economical exploitation which still imposes itself in many regions of our planet."

Third World countries are underdeveloped not because of natural reasons but mostly because of historical facts - because of the power of circumstance. Unfavorable historic circumstances, specially political and economical colonialism which kept these regions aside from the rapidly growing world economy.7

Underdevelopment is not the lack of development. It is the result of an ill-guided kind of universal development. It is the abusive concentration of income - specially during this historic period dominated by capitalist neo-colonialism, which is responsible for much of the underdevelopment in the world today: the regions that are direct political or economical colonies.8

Underdevelopment is a product of misuse of natural and human resources which will forcibly deviate regions from economical expansion and avoid social changes needed to join human groups in a integrated economical system. Underdevelopment and hunger can only be eliminated from the face of earth through a global development strategy which will mobilize production means in the interest of the community.4

One of the greatest mistakes was to consider that the process of development everywhere should be equal to the model of the rich western countries. A sort of ethnocentrism made development scholars base their theories on classic economy, which ignored regions with different social-economical realities from those of western capitalist economies; ignored a growing socialist economy and a supply and sales network every else in the world. Whatever remained, was left to sociologists and folklorists.7

These immense social differences between people divide the world economically in two: the rich world and the poor world; the world of well developed and industrialized countries and the world of the proletariat and underdeveloped countries. This economical gap splits humanity in two groups that are unable to understand each other: the group that doesn't eat, made of two-thirds of the world's population and that lives in the underdeveloped areas and the group made of the remaining one third, in the rich countries, that doesn't sleep, afraid of the uprising of the hungry.6

One of the most constant and permanent facts of the terrible social tension predominating nowadays is economical unbalance with its many consequences of social injustice. One of the greatest threats to world peace is the economical difference between economically well developed countries on one side and insufficiently developed countries on the other. This discrepancy becomes greater each day, intensifying social unconformity, giving way to restlessness and uneasiness and promoting political and ideological conflict.6

Underdevelopment is not exclusive to these countries: it is an universal matter which can only be solved with universal solutions. To live in wealth while two thirds of the world are plunged in misery is not just dangerous - it is a crime! The social tension experienced today is mostly a result of social injustice, for the dominated people became aware of the social-economical reality of the world. We are living through a special period in human history. A period of explosive changes, where the psychological explosion of the exploited population is almost as dangerous as an atomic explosion.8

It is pressing that a new economical balance be established in the world, for the gap has to be closed. Without this, it will be very difficult to reach a true and reassuring peace among men. There is no other international task as hard, but on the other hand there is nothing as promising for the world's future then the economical development of the areas where geographical and natural resources are relatively unexploited.6

More then ever world peace depends on economical balance. Social security is more important then arms-based national security.8

Development cannot be assessed only on the basis of expansion of material wealth or economical growth. Development also means a succession of deep social changes which should inevitably accompany the technological transformations. The concept of development is not merely quantitative. It includes qualitative features of the human groups touched by it. To grow is one thing; to develop is quite another. In more general terms, growth is easier. To develop in a balanced way is much harder.9

A very common question is if development means becoming less human. The formula championed by the western economies is to maximize profits through a frantic search for wealth, but maximizing mental power would enrich and enlighten the life of men faster then anything else.8

The developmental issue in Third World countries - and even in the other countries which are still underdeveloped in many aspects - is more of a matter of the character of man. If industrial revolution dominated the nineteenth century, today we should be under a cultural revolution, which could create a culture capable of finding true solutions for the great problems of humanity.8

Underdevelopment is a kind of uneducation. Uneducation not only of the Third World, but the whole world. To bring it to an end, people have to be educated and their community spirit has to be well developed. They have become deformed everywhere. Only a new kind of mankind will dare to think, dare to reflect and dare to take action against injustice. Only then will men be able to develop an economy truly based on human development and balance.8

The development contradictions are many. Development means mutation and discipline at the same time. But discipline will often jeopardize mutation. Societies that reached high degrees of development take conservatism as the ideal models upon which other societies should base themselves, thus stagnating the will to change.8

To face the aspects of the fight against underdevelopment in isolation seems outdated, for the traditional formulas, the isolated measures and the limited concessions do not suffice. The seriousness of the problem requires the approval of urgent global and convergent strategies on the part of developed countries as well as by those undergoing development.7

There is only one true development: the development of man. Man as an agent for development; man as a beneficiary of development. Human brain is the producer of development. It is the life of man that will blossom through the use of products made available through development.8

Agenda 21 is the main paper resulting from the United Nation's Conference for the Environment and Development - UNCED/ Rio 92. (1992) - Chapter 1
Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being.

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