help sustainable development

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Jun 9 06:52:21 MDT 2000

>OK then so what does your "programme" say about the sustainable development
>phenomenon Lou?
>And how does your use of the term differ from the way the World Bank, USAID
>and DFID use it these days?

First of all, when the World Bank gives lip-service to the term sustainable
development, it is not because they read some book somewhere and were
persuaded that the old development model was obsolete. Rather it is because
peasant and indigenous peoples have been protesting loudly and persistently
about how such a model has been at their expense. Take the Narmada dam, for
instance. This project, typical of the kind that World Bank financed in the
past, would have left thousands of small farmers landless while harming the
environment and assaulting esthetic and spiritual values embodied in the
Narmada river. (Yes, I know--the only object that LM regards as beautiful
is a sports car. But other people don't see it that way.)

And who would have benefited from this dam? The agrarian
bourgeoisie--that's who.

Now there are forces who have come to the aid of the Narmada protestors who
are not socialists and who tend to see the solution to the world's problems
in what can only be described in Ghandian terms. Obviously this is not the
same thing as the Congress Party in India which is gung-ho for projects
like the Narmada dam.

As socialists we view sustainable development first of all in class terms.
As long as production is based on private profit, there can not be
sustainable development. The evidence of this is all around us. My
alternative to both the Narmada dam and its Rostow-leaning friends at LM is
the kind of development that is being undertaken in Cuba today. Forced by
the collapse of the USSR to explore alternative energy and fertilizing
sources, Cuban agronomists are beginning to rethink a lot of practices. To
see a discussion of their ideas and its promise for other countries, go to

Louis Proyect

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