|Commentaries and Analyses
The Washington Con…
AMSTERDAM, Mar. 1 - Global poverty drowns in the enormous blanket which ‘Washington’ throws over it. The discourse betrays the detailed complexities of our biggest crises yet. Broad, vague terms like ‘Third World’, ‘Global Poverty’, ‘Development’, flood the catastrophe that it already is. The quest for a consensus continues. Economic failures of anything contrary to ‘Washington’s’ advice, force the world back to Washington, as if it must have consensus. Without it, the debate worries that it floats aimlessly out to sea. A consensus on development in any form creates a feeling of control, a rudder so to speak. But is their really one solution, to a problem that affects every nation, every culture, every geography, every society on earth? Is it not possible that the ‘cure’ to poverty lies partly in the social sciences too? The ‘Washington Consensus’ deals strictly in economics, it presumes that what is good for one is good for another. Which nation does it champion as their empirical evidence of the ‘bestness’ of the policies which it suggests? The World Bank in its 2000-1 World Development Report, ‘Attacking Poverty’, defends Washington, by claiming that it is not the policies themselves which are a problem, but rather the implementation of those problems. It claims that donors who use aid conditions to implement the desired policies are, ‘...performing poorly in influencing policy’. This must surely be the last place the World Bank can hide with regard to the lack of success of the Washington Consensus.
Statistics add to the vagueness of poverty. We find ourselves dealing with obscene units of ‘Least Developed Countries’, ‘Other Low-Income Countries’, ‘Middle income countries’ and ‘High income countries.’ Are these supposed to useful units in dealing with poverty? These groupings suggest that Afghanistan and Lesotho have the same policy requirements in order to achieve ‘development’ because they share a similarly disastrous growth rate, despite the uncompromising differences is history, religion, culture, geography, and in every other social sphere. What is more, is that this approach must presumes that the wants of these two vastly separated nations and peoples also be the same.
©2004, Zambezi Times