Since 1945, views concerning the problems of development and underdevelopment have undergone numerous and sometimes drastic changes. Such changes occurred both in developed and underdeveloped countries. The primary purposes of this chapter is to describe and explain these changes, especially those that have taken place in the economically advanced societies.
The problem is that at particular points in time views on development and underdevelopment have not always been the same in all industrialized countries. Europeans are more aware of the great disparities in today’s troubled world and appear better informed about the causes of underdevelopment.
The period 1945-1985 is divided into four ten-year periods. This periodization is an arbitrary one and that there are no well-defined “boundaries” separating one period from another.
I. 1945-1955: Period of Western Disconcern
In this period, developed countries were not interested yet with the problem of underdevelopment countries. The term ‘underdevelopment’ and ‘Third World’ had not been coined. Most of developed countries were focus on their own problems, to recover from damage that occurred because of the World War II.
Also at this period, Western countries faced the spread of communism in Europe and later in Asia, where the Chinese revolution of 1949 and followed by the Korean War (1950 – 1952). The United States adopted General Marshall’s plan in 1947 to stop the spread of communism and also to speed up the recovery of Western Europe, by providing huge reconstruction aid to its European Allies.
The colonial powers, such as Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, are the only countries which showed some interest to what is now called Third World countries. This interest was only to protect their interests as best as they could, because they faced with demands for independence by their overseas dependencies. They were more concerned about losing their investments, cheap resources and employment opportunities than in Third World problem in poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and malnutrition. Western scholars also showed little interest on problems of other country’s colonies.
II. 1955-1965: Period of Optimism and High Expectation
In this period, there were many independence movement in Asia and Africa which followed by the end of colonial era. The Third World received considerable attention, both from developed and underdeveloped countries. They believed that they should help the poor countries that left behind to catch up with the rich countries.
The developments of the new independent countries were accompanied by a large increase in the international organizations (mostly UN), many of which collected and disseminated a wealth information on Third World countries. The growing number of independent states, resulting in a vast expansion of world diplomatic relation. After become independent, Third World countries joined UN and enabling them to bring their development problems and need for aid to the attention of all developed countries.
By 1955, Japan and Europe had fully recovered from war devastation and were beginning to experience greater prosperity than ever before. From this experiences, the Third World countries assumed that they could be developed in a short time period. The rich countries were prepared to provide financial aid and send technicians to get the development process underway.
As a consequences of decolonization process in 1955-1965, the Third World had high expectation and euphoria as they had become independent states which could plan their own future and promote their own interest. It should be clear from above that around 1960 it was common to think that the only thing the less-advanced countries had to do was to follow the footsteps of the industrialized countries.
III. 1965-1975: Period of Growing Scepticism
The optimistic mood of the late 1950s and early 1960s begun to dissipate around 1963 and had disappeared altogether by 1965. The Third World countries had complained, at the newly created UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva 1964, about nature of aid programs and had expressed dissatisfaction about unfavourable trade condition. These developments set the stage for a period of growing scepticism and uncertainty regarding the process of development. The United Nations Development Decade at Midpoint, a 1965 UN publication, stated that the fact that the most Third World countries were making very little progress.
Industrial growth was concentrated in a limited number of large cities, resulting an alarming decline in employment opportunities at the rural areas. The result was a large number of rural families migrated to the cities. Another consequence was the abandoning of farmland, which lead to food shortages. Every year, prospect for development for all Third World countries were becoming smaller and causing several donor countries to cut back their aid programs.
Starting around 1965, there was highly critical towards the approach of development. Older Marxist theories of imperialism were revived and adapted to formulate the ‘dependency perspective’. As a consequences of the critical writings, many new term and concepts came to dominate the development literature.
It is clear that between 1962-1972 there was a dramatic turnabout in the way many European and North American development experts perceived problem of development in the Third World. Some lesson learned, such as complex process, diversity among Third World and entrepreneurial ability, were summarized in this period development.
IV. 1975-1985: Period of Pessimism and Reevaluation
In this period, informed people everywhere knew that there is still a huge gap between rich and poor countries, and that living conditions in the poorest countries were deteriorating. In 1974, the Third World countries demanded the creation of New International Economic Order (NIEO), based on the principles of equity, equality of all sovereign states, interdependence, common interests, and worldwide cooperation.
Since 1973, the world has been plagued by a host of problems: high energy costs, high rates of inflation, unemployment, economic stagnation, high interest rates, and rapidly growing indebtedness, especially in the Third World. In 1982, debts were accumulating faster than they were being paid off.
As a consequence of economic recession, some of rich countries were reluctance to provide development aid. Another consequence of the recession was the rising tide of protectionism in the industrialized countries. The global crisis has reduce the prospects for development, which make this period named pessimism. The debt problem is particularly disconcerting. The world economic system may become paralyzed if the Third World fail to pay their debt.
Variety of urban problems become one of the Third World countries’ concern. For instance, rapidly expanding shantytowns (slums) and widespread underemployment in the ‘informal’ tertiary sector.
Many experts have searched for alternative strategies to rise the quality of life in most Third World countries. Around 1976, the ‘basic needs’ approach become fashionable. It aims to assure every human being of having access to the necessities of life. Attention is focused on the rural areas. Attempts are made to stimulate the processing of agricultural products in villages. This strategy might not work because the Third World were concerned of the disadvantages as it would reduce industrial investment opportunities.
A variant of the approach is that of collective self-reliance. This strategy entails a form of loosely integrated economic development by a number of neighbouring countries. An example is CARICOM, or Caribbean community. One favourable aspect of collective self-reliance is the larger common market.
Over the year, the objectives of economic aid programs have undergone drastic changes. Objectives will continue to modified, depending on past experiences, definitions and theories of development, request of aid by the recipient countries, and the donor countries’ motivations.Since development is an extraordinary complex process, it is no easy task to come up with an appropriate development strategy or aid program. Development is not something that should be left up to engineers and economies. Other fields also have responsibility too. Just one particular theory cannot explain underdevelopment everywhere, so geographic differentiation precludes that one single model of socioeconomic development can solve underdevelopment everywhere.
Tugas kuliah Teori Pembangunan, lumayan kalau bisa dishare. Ini dari Buku The Third World in Perspective, karangan H. A. Reitsma dan J. M. G. Kleinpenning.