AfrikaYetu

An upcoming public and policy engagement non-profit consultancy focusing on Social, Political and Ecological Justice issues in Afrika. We work and stand in solidarity with communities in mineral rich areas in Afrika and other global south environments.

The Construction of Poverty ‘alleviation’ and the Fallacy of Development

download (2)Trajectories of capitalist society’s development theories have seen phases of evolution over the years. With the principle of ‘use all the resources available,’ under the barking of the capitalist neoliberal market-led economy.

In the pursuit of absolute social, political and economic power, the capitalist society’s economy have created institutions of international acclaim and utilised religion to perpetuate its agenda. Their ultimate agenda is to have all under the sun within its tele-microscopic lenses. All this is for the benefit of a mere fraction of the world’s 7 billion.

This acclaimed developmental ‘metamorphosis’ has in many ways been a raw deal for communities in the mineral rich ‘postcolonial’ environments. The metamorphosis has introduced new method of working culture as well as a new social order – a social order under the dictates of work.

This means, community members are forced to do hard yet casualised low paid jobs. Working hours are long. Each labourer is forced to take several jobs. With all that work, one can barely meet their daily basic needs. In terms of associational life, families and communities are fragmented.

Similar to the American welfare state, this ‘new’ social order has two main roles. The first role, is to keep a tight surveillance on any possible resistance and riotous actions from the ‘scum of the earth’ due to “mass unemployment, distress and disorganisation”, Piven and Cloward (1993). The second role is to identify those whose capacities would be useful to meeting the vision and mission of the capitalist society. Result: underpaid, hard casualised labour and subjugation of the communities in question – a perfect way to regulate the poor.

Such hard and underpaid labour is secured through manipulative means – the carrot and stick tactic. The capitalist relies primarily on “the mechanism of a market” – the promise of financial rewards or penalties. This is intended to ‘motivate’ men and women to work. As well, this keeps them to their occupational tasks until the irreparable happens.

In the previous discussions we saw how systematically the capitalist society used the State to establish and further its mission and vision. But the most interesting phase of the capitalist society’s development metamorphosis is found in the first 3rd of the 16th Century. They sought partnership with the Religious bodies. In this case, the Church!

In this partnership, the Church assumed oversight on business administration among communities as well as handling aid. This echoes what is happening today. Doesn’t it? As if this wasn’t enough, the Church was instrumental in neutralising dissenting voices through the doctrine of contentment. Community members were encouraged to accept their poverty and suppression from the ‘economic slave master’ of the 16th century, as it is today.

In the context of North America, and perhaps in other ‘postcolonial’ environments, the Church developed what, in my analysis, passes for the first structures of child labour.  This is clearly seen in the enactment of the 1572 statute in the then Great Britain. The Church was commissioned to take the role of ‘the overseer of the poor’ so that the “youth may be accustomed and brought up in labour and work, and then not like to grow idle rogues”.

This period presented institutionalised aid handling and the introduction of intense labour as a way to keep any commotion at bay. The tenants and land owners profited from the bloody labour of the masses. What a ‘convoluted’ and corrupt form of utilitarianism! The beneficiaries of such labour were not the labourers but tenants and landowners. It wasn’t the labourers’ ultimate happiness that mattered.

This form of exploitation is common among the large-scale farming projects in the sugar, coffee and other cash crops production and processing environments with the out-growers scheme in the developing countries.

Villadsen (2007) in his work titled, The Emergence of Neo-Philanthropy paints the most disturbing picture of how the group he calls; “propertied class” manipulated the poor into work. The space for contestation on the part of the poor was, as is now, riddled by psychological and physical torture from the oppressor’s “depraved habits” for economic gain. Such exploitation vilified the poor as well.

Contemporary example is found in the manner multinational corporations operate in the ‘postcolonial’ environments. In this case, exploitation of mineral resource plays the role of economic backbone to the bourgeoisie nations in North America, Europe, Australia and beyond.

Systemic hegemony thrives from household to the national levels through bilateral and multilateral agreements in the ‘postcolonial’ environments. Brainwashing is still on the rise as in the past and present.

Present generation are subjected to preemptive discourses. This causes individuals to question their self-worth and trying to find it in the approval of the oppressor’s self-serving ploy.  This constitutes the historical construction of poverty ‘alleviation’ and development in the ‘postcolonial’.

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This entry was posted on June 28, 2016 by in Politics & Democracy, Self-determination & Liberties, The Society.

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