Politics of the Poverty Shock in Developing Countries

Daniel T Osabu-Kle


The ancient Greeks conceived of development as an immanent and cyclical movement towards and from the fulfilment of a potential. It implied a natural and intransitive process within an entity which an agent cannot impose on an object. This view of development began to change when Europeans considered it their burden to civilize Africans after five hundred years of their enslavement of the same Africans. It ended in 1949 when President Truman’s ‘Point Four’ reinvented development as a transitive process that an agent can perform on an entity, and called for investment of the inexhaustible technical knowledge and capital available in the developed world in the underdeveloped area of the globe. Despite the invention of development to eradicate poverty, famine and endemic hunger constitute the plight of scores of millions of people in the world. This article supports the view that the architects and adherents of the invention of the development have so paid lip service to eradication of poverty that development has become a process for making the rich richer and the poor poorer. It discusses the political definition and measurement of poverty, the causes of poverty, the politics and strategies advanced for solving the poverty problem, and explains why development has failed to eradicate poverty in the third world. Instead of being eradicated, poverty has been politicized in both developed and developing countries with liberal democracy and the market ideology as part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The scenario is such that expecting the rich nations to help eradicate poverty in the third world is similar to expecting the blind to lead the blind, for even in the rich countries, liberal democracy and the market have failed to eradicate poverty.


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