The cultural aspects of power in the world are given little attention next to political and economic influence, but culture prescribes many of the basic notions we take for granted.
‘Development is not concept with universal recognition. Many languages have no equivalent according to Gilbert Rist. Many assume that we in America are the most advanced society. We are of the human race, having reached a biological complexity unmatched, having taken the road of agriculture, and civilization which led toward the greatest age of technological and scientific advancement in history. With some good intentions the West have imagined that this is the natural course and path for the rest of the world; and such has been the policy for decades. Reflecting in a paper titled “The Myth of Development”, Vincent Tuckers writes, ”After more than three decades of development, many areas of the world are worse off today than they were thirty years ago, despite development programmes and aid. Millions of Africans suffer and die from starvation and malnutrition. In the face of such failure, deterioration and destruction, we cannot persist in talking about development as the harbinger of human emancipation.”
The failures to develop and predicaments which arrive from successful ‘development’ such as extreme resource consumption are leading to a paradigm shift in our view of development, and what development truly means.
Tucker also notes that in this process development has become seen as “objective reality, and evolutionary necessity”, while “all other world views are devalued and dismissed as ‘primitive’, ‘backward’, ‘irrational’ or ‘naive’.”
At the same time, the notion of development and progress are needed, both in places entrenched in poverty, and corruption and in places with diminishing health and happiness.
Development is therefore tied to human needs and the human psyche, the health of society on which individuals depend and the health of ecosystems.
The Genuine Progress Indicator is an example of the measurement of development which may be more useful than indicators such as pure G.D.P.