Development as a Buzzword - Gilbert Rist

Essay by nirvana2University, Bachelor'sB-, October 2007

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For years we have believed in development to be the key to resolving poverty and the prerequisite of prosperity. Gilbert Rist shows the widely accepted theories and strategies, and their inability to transform the world. In his article Development as a buzzword, Gilbert Rist sets himself the goal to reveal the true meaning of development, something that remains to be quit elusive and vague (Rist 485). He succeeds extremely well in achieving this objective. In the beginning of the article, Rist explains how the meaning of “development” is still elusive and vague and how its meaning depends on how its used. Over the years it has become a “buzzword” that has been tied to any issue focused on created a better standard of living, such as agriculture, poverty reduction, and industrialization (Rist 485). This “buzzword”, however, he refers to as toxic. He explains that development is like a hard drug that you would get a “buzz” from.

It creates an illusion of paradise, and the larger the dose, the more addicted and delusional you will become (Rist 485).

Rist then goes on to explain how this assumption that “development” is the answer to all the worlds problems, came to be. In Point Four of his inaugural speech, President Truman announced that he will extend assistance already granted to Latin America to the poorer countries in the world, thereby marking the beginning of the "Development Age" and "a new way of conceiving international relations (Rist 485-486).

After this “development” became widely accepted as the ‘prerequisite” to prosperity and although there was little attempt to properly define the word, there was an “unquestioned assumption that development, whatever it was, could lead to improvement in the situation of poor people”(Rist 486) and any measure related to foreign investment, well digging, etc, became part...