4. Concepts from recent years
In recent years the discussion on development policy has
not remained uninfluenced by the economic problems and the
decline in the social consensus at our end. On the one hand,
disappointment at the results and, indeed, bitterness over
the still prevailing conditions can be ascertained. On the
other hand, the industrial countries' own interests are again
given more priority and the effects of international relations
on the employment situation are underlined. Appeals to donate,
e. g., for Africa, meet with great resonance (as if one could
buy oneself off). However, if a developing country succeeds
in achieving a break-through in the production of consumer
goods, industrial countries concerned call for import restrictions
and ..voluntary" limitations of the export quota.
The most important features of the discussion in the last
years have been its induration and polarization:
- “Alternative" groups demand the concentration
of development aid on satisfying the poor people's basic
needs. The concept of self-help and auto-responsibility
is strongly emphasized, ..development from below" is
advocated. Rural development should be based on traditional
agriculture, give up agrarian exports to a large extent,
and take into account the energy and ecological aspects.
- Other circles doubt the creditability of development
aid, at least in its effectiveness, as long as fundamental
structural changes do not take place in international relations.
They point out the problems of international trade, the
influence exercised by multinational companies, the indebtedness
of many developing countries, the ambiguity of food aid
and the increasing imbalance in the distribution of commodities
of every kind in the world.
- Others, in contrast, pass to the agenda and, undeterred
by all failures, attacks and doubts, try to do whatever
seems possible and whatever can be implemented politically.
They feel that it is important that more help is provided
to the poor people by taking small steps in the right direction
than by making long speeches.
Various groups maintain that they know the truth, and there
is a bit of it in all the arguments. However, no analysis
includes the totality of the problems. This results from the
fact that no general development theory nor universal concepts
exist which are conclusive and undisputed. The most important
insight of the recent years is perhaps that the co-existence
of poverty and surplus in the world is to be understood as
a moral problem.