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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020



Early development discourse emerged on acknowledging the fact of unevenness of capitalist growth, with underdevelopment syndromes persisting in large parts of the world simultaneously with advanced economies recording high industrial growth. The general observation was that persistent gap in development indicators between advanced and lagging economies would not mend automatically with time. In other words, although it appears that some of the social and economic symptoms of underdevelopment resemble the past of advanced economies, they may not logically transform into the present of those economies and, therefore, asymmetry, structural dependence and strategic intervention crept into economic analyses of making and unmaking of under-development. The central problem was to transform economies by moving people from low-productivity segments to high-productivity activities. Spontaneous innovation of technology, facilitated by competition that would continuously replace less productive processes, requires the creation of capital relations, and industrialisation epitomised the process of rapid diffusion of development. In developing countries, transition was subject to attaining autonomy from the imperialist powers and, in many cases, the post-colonial state became an active protagonist in mobilising capital, infrastructure and technology, initiating an independent path of industrial development. There were successes and failures which had been analysed from different perspectives including the view that failures manifest the limitations of the ruling combination who were hesitant to fully utilise the potential of redistributive justice. But more importantly, over time, the discourse of development was increasingly subsumed into the neoliberal doctrine which essentially establishes overwhelming faith in the market.

From such a perspective, societies or economies are nothing but neutral containers and the role of respective states should be restricted to facilitating free flow of inputs and outputs according to price signals. Its fascinating attraction seems to flow from the ‘objectification’ of social relations that are reified as an uncompromising verdict of market, as the rational choice for efficient allocation of resources and rewards to factors. Hence, solution to the problem either of inequality within countries or of divide between advanced and developing countries at the global level have relied on the cardinal faith that through free flow of factors, and because of the instinctive impulses of private gains, disparities in productivity and, therefore, of returns to factors would eventually be wiped out.