Assignment: Caribbean and Latin America
“Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America,” Nkrumah wrote, “imperialism simply switches tactics.” Nkrumah called for solidarity among the former colonial peoples, railing against the “extended tentacles of Wall Street” and Washington (in particular, the Pentagon and the CIA) as the “very citadel of neo-colonialism.”
However, all such attempts to bring about solidarity among the LDCs were doomed to fail. As memories of colonial rule fade, the anti-imperialist rhetoric that resonated throughout much of Africa, Asia, and Latin America has lost its relevance. More than half a century after independence, blaming the old overlords for new problems no longer rings true. Official corruption and mismanagement are widespread and well-known facts. Even more telling is the fact that some former colonies are racing ahead and others are sliding into the abyss.
The West countered neocolonialist ideology with its own capitalist ideology, extolling the virtues of freedom, democracy, and commerce. The fact that capitalism grew out of the Western experience and was tainted by its close association with colonialism made it a hard sell in the Third World. But strategic grants of foreign aid and trade concessions, and the implicit or explicit threat to intervene militarily, provided the West with a good deal of leverage nonetheless.
The Idea of Development
What exactly does development mean in a global economy undergoing such rapid change? For better or worse, the definition is based on the Western experience and the yardstick in common use is a Western measure of economic and political success. That doesn’t make it good or bad, right or wrong, but it does raise questions about its applicability and acceptability outside the West.
In the least developed countries, the vast majority still do not enjoy access to education, jobs, health care, or the other good things in life that are the hallmarks of modernity in the West. Moreover, few LDCs have governments that are accountable, stable, and clean (as opposed to corrupt). Although some of these countries have made great strides while others continue to languish, even the most successful continue to have massive poverty and unemployment rates.
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