A failed project of Westernization: Modernity and Development By Imran Nazir

A failed project of Westernization: Modernity and Development By Imran Nazir

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From morning to evening we frequently hear the word development once and more. It has not become a buzzword of our days overnight without much effort behind it. Human civilizations have tended to outstrip past ruins rather than looking back in search of development and progress. End of the Second World War has brought a new reality with new power dynamics and connectedness in human civilization. With the leadership of USA, development has reached another stage unlike previous time. This development is highly politicized with all-encompassing efforts to bewilder the minds of people with hypes and tricks. It was an extension to European modernity and enlightenment as a whole. A large number of scholars with the help of media are dedicated to this project of westernization in the name of so called growth and development. This article will try to lay down theoretical school of development and its wide criticism of deception.
A failed project of Westernization: Modernity and Development By Imran NazirToday’s development concept has been driven from the concept of modernity. Proponents of modernity tend to judge themselves as modern and traditional society as barbaric. Unquestionably those proponents are originated in highly developed countries namely west. Traditional values, norms, attributes, practices seem inadequate to deal with post world war realities. So in order to be modern, habitants of barbarous society should leave their backdated beliefs and practices and follow the developments of modernity. USA predominantly shaped world order and norms after the World War II. Creation of World Bank, IMF and GATT later WTO are the core pillars of US economic architect. These institutions have promoted the ideas of modernity in economic sector. Spreading development has become the center aim of these institutions. They became the preachers of modernity with scholarly justifications. Massive industrialization, investment, privatization, savings are seen as growth generators which would end all problems of developing countries. As a result of these ideas for development prescription, IMF and World Bank started launching structural adjustment policy in 1970s and 80s. Structural adjustment policy refers to a set of economic reforms that a country must adhere to in order to secure a loan from the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank.These reforms comprise of cutting expenditure in education, health and social care, and designed to promote free trade, privatization and deregulation from state intervention. Economists seating Washington gave hope developing states a bright hope of development. States primarily accepted them as friendly policy but ruthlessly backfired to those policies. Reforms were not appropriate in developing states what western economists seemed to be perfect. Worldwide protests and demonstrations were shown against the IMF and the World Bank. At the same time protests against development projects like dam, bridge, transportation construction. Thousands of depressed and agitated people were killed by state authorities. Many South American countries went bankrupt and unable to pay loans once taken from the IMF and the World Bank. Recent bankruptcy of Greece is a recent example of these loans tragedy. Conditionality of international financial institutions was very selfish and reflection of one sided views of the West. Economists living in air conditioned rooms and apartments in Washington could not grasp the reality of rural Africa or southeast India. Progress and development backfired by the attempt of Westernization. Despite disastrous failures, the smell of Western modernity still inebriates people around the world.
A failed project of Westernization: Modernity and Development By Imran NazirIt is time to assess the reasons behind failure of the West to establish modernity in developing countries. Few remarks can be drawn from critical point of view broadly. Initially the modernity concept is Europe and Atlantic region centric. So its premises on development cannot be employed everywhere. Modernization theory is driven by positivist epistemology. They think that the social realities can be examined by objective view of natural science. That is why they ignored developing countries’ realities as a whole. It is tough for an African to study without government subsidy. Since education is the most effective tool to eradicate poverty and raise living standards, so how can those unable to buy education expecting progress in their life? One size fits for all view is problematic. This is what happed in this westernization project.
A failed project of Westernization: Modernity and Development By Imran NazirNeglecting local traditional norms and practices is another irrationality of modernity. French Revolution, industrial revolution and American war of independence bear different realities which do not fit with all parts of the world. For saying Indian subcontinent was society centric where European countries were more centralized state centric. So the policies of modernity born in western society should not replicate in other regions. Edward Said attacked west for its bird’s eye viewing of East. Context is crucial to grasp an event. People in Africa or Asia have different kind of modernity which is identical. Social norms, beliefs and cultures are created in long term process which cannot be transformed overnight. Modernity promotes cultural racism in its efforts to captivate other regions of the world. Western writers like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida have raised question about European enlightenment which is also guided by irrationality and self-profiting norms. “Clash of Civilization” by Samuel P. Huntington is another western project to demonize other cultures. Especially Islam was posited to central position to this cultural battle and west seemed to be superior among all. Fareed Zakaria in his book “The Post American World” rightly pointed out that the rise of the rest beyond western society is happening because of self contradictions of west. Capitalist consumerism and fetishism are products of modernity. Modernity is killing itself. In Edward Said’s Words “the others” are struggling and gaining to assert themselves. We have already learnt how modernity backfired in the Middle East. Saudi will fall in that list very soon. Modernization of MBS is out of context. He might have pay higher level cost for undermining traditions. After all, People are very much disturbed about West for its interference around the world.

Author of this paper is studying International Relations at University of Dhaka.