Volume 43, Number 169,
April-June 2012
The Political Economy of Development,
Post-colonial Analysis and “Bad Samaritans”
Fernando López
FINAL REFLECTIONS ( ...continuation )

Theories of institutional development based on colonial origins have been questioned for their over-generalization of the historical factors cited, their limited empirical evidence, and because the interpretations underlying the imaginative econometric models are as arguable as the idea of “good” institutions.

Compared to the idea of the colony as an interim phase, postcolonial studies highlight the role of the colonial period and relate the colonial arbitrariness and postcolonial power in societies created by the violence inherent in the colonization. They offer an alternative reading of modernity, rebuilding the colonial narrative and its powers of fabulation; they also provide a biopolitical critique of European humanism and universalism.

In the case of Latin America, the most recent studies refer to the historic moment when states were born as being the point at which their eventual shape was defined. One idea holds for most of the analyses: the colonial logic, which went hand in hand with the industrial European capitalist expansion and development, remains to this day, despite formal independence.

Another criticism found in conventional literature on development derives from the detailed analysis of the historic experience of industrialized countries in their dual elements of “good government” and “good policies.” The outlook described is radically different from the reinterpretations of the past from a contemporary perspective. The conclusion is twofold: history contradicts the propositions of the dominant discourse, and recommendations given to developing countries on economic and institutional matters constitute an attempt to pull up the ladder to prevent them achieving progress.

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