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Romilyn M.

Balbieran
MS Community Development
AERS 265 Integration Paper No. 2
Neo-Colonial Modernization Theories

Ain’t Altruistic Aids: Underlying Self-Interest in the World of Development

Last year, I found myself in awe of Netflix’s Black Mirror series. As it shows realities
with advanced technological milestones from the present, it also focused on humanity’s
declining relational quality. One of the most disturbing episodes was Black Museum. In a
gist, three different people were offered to be either implanted with device in them or a
technological effort be done to someone in their family. All of these offers assured them that
it will be to their advantage. Their lives’ quality will be improved. However, all ended up in a
havoc of messed up families and careers. This fiction though at the end of innovation epic fail
spectrum, shows truth when it comes to the study of development. In this integration paper, I
aim to discuss how those who seem to have a hold of a certain type of advancement has
potential influence over those who do not have it. Development ‘help’ is rarely for the sole
benefit of the one who receives. The giver has perceived its gain turn out even before doing
so.

The readings have repeatedly shown us how the West has placed itself superior to the
rest of the world due to its industrial progress. Even this presumption before the second world
war assumes Western dominance. The force is for other nations to be like them. In this sense,
there is promotion of themselves. Sense of achievement is an economic growth patterned to
the presupposed progress from premodern to industrial. Given the true nature of social
change that it is context based and dynamic, impossibility of genuine reproduction is evident
anyway. This pressure to be sound and appear Western is an example of how such influence
is to actually contain the probability of a rise of nations stronger and coherent due to its
understanding of its uniqueness and utilization of its own resources, not in a communistic
sense.
No nation starts empty-handed. A strength, an advantage is always present. Even if
the ‘developed’ makes it seem like they are helping, these leaders are strategic and tactical.
What is extended as help can be of help to them as well.

Since it was also the West who promotes the liberalization of trade, the outcomes
were also for their good. Foreign trade put those in economic advances in further progress
while some of those who adapted SAPs turned out to be poorer than before. Not all kinds of
help lead to better lives.

In my previous work as a research associate for an NGO, I found an example of the


point above. The foundation I worked at serves as a technical secretariat for assistance
coming from USAid to do the planning and evaluation work for DPWH. Most of the program
were concerned with infrastructure, specifically the development of local roads. It has been
seen that some of the projects are delayed or in stagnation due to right-of-way concerns.
USAid then funded that a formulation of the DPWH Right-of-Way Acquisition Manual. This
serves as a basis of all the execution when it comes to either settlement or expropriation. The
funding can be seen as generosity but it is also for the ease of their own road projects to push
through. Even this had its gaps due to the non-congruence of the manual to previous legal
provisions. This is a small-scale example of external influence due to funding to policy.

World Bank’s report on the East Asian Miracle is critiqued as well due to mainly
attributing development to free trade. If one would think critically about it, their influence is
due to their capability to fund studies on the matter.

A development effort on the other hand is truly altruistic when the foundation is the
recognition of anthropological uniqueness and not social stratification at a global level. It is
also when entrepreneurship is not seen as a deviant and rather not be discouraged. Attention
to local industries is given for exportation hence this supports the diversity of sources within
while strengthening the economy through international trade.

Finally, the discussion above does not suggest for a total abandonment of
foreign-assisted programs. The point to be taken is that there should be greater emphasis on
empowerment in those who are the grassroots level. This way, development is not tainted too
much by ethnocentrism or reductionism.
The move away from defining development as merely economic growth can return to
the Third world a cultural pride in their own progress as nations. Though it is inevitable that
assistance is in accordance to the motives of those who give it, a state must first hand
recognize what it will bring about and would entail to them as a debt of gratitude.