Experiments in Economic Development: Changing Priorities, Varying Outcomes

Published: 2021-09-15 06:25:10
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All regions of the Global South were focusing on economic development. This movement represented a universal acceptance of modern beliefs (eg. poverty was no longer inevitable, there could be improvement to the material lives of everyone).
Economic Development – a process the growth of amd increasing of production as well as the distribution of growth to increase living standards. A central promise of all independence struggles, and increasingly a standard by which people measures the legitimacy of governments.This development was hard: it took place in societies facing divisions and challenges (see earlier listings); nations structured on a weak modern foundation as colonialism had left emerging nations with high rates of illiteracy, few with administrative experience, a weak private economy, and transport systems designed solely for exporting material goods; and the markets were dominated by capitalist governments of the West. Achieving economic transformation was thus hard despite political freedom.
In addition, there was confusion and disagreement regarding strategies for “developing economics”. The field was filled with controversy, changing policies, and heavy experimentation.
Development Economics – a branch of economics which deals with economic aspects of the development process in low income countries, involving the creation of methods that aid in the improvement of the domestic and international standings of a nation.
The state was seen as responsible for driving economic development and the masses expected state officials to spur economic development in their countries. This option was seen as successful in the Soviet Union through industrialization, it protected against the vulnerabilities of emerging economies, and it gave a foundation to the weakly developed private economy. This state-directed economy was successful in China (industrialization), Cuba (wiped out illiteracy, provided health care), and Turkey, India, South Korea and the majority of Africa (provided tariffs license, loans, subsidies, planning).
From 1970-2000 there was a collapse of support for state-directed economy, rather in favor of a market driven economy that was pressured on through the West. This change in policies (ie. reducing communist planning, privatising state-run industries, reducing influence in economic affairs) reflected the failure, mismanagement, and corruption of state-directed enterprises, but was also influenced by the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991). However, many countries still ssert state-directed development, seen in the practice of state capitalism. There thus exists a balance between state-driven actio and market forces in modern economics.
State Capitalism – a system in which the state has control of production and the use of capital, seeking profits in the economic system by buying and selling shares on the stock markets.
Brazil followed the policies from the 1930s to the 1970s. The country pushed massive industrialization, seeing growth between 1968 and 1974, and by the early 1980s the country produces 90% of its consumer goods. However, they also experienced accumulations of foreign debt through international lendings, bursts of inflation, and high levels of social inequality and poverty. In the 1980s and 1990s they adopted an export driven industrialization strategy and entered the world market.
East Asia indeed chose a strategy based on industrial production for an export market (eg. textiles, electronics, automobiles) rather than domestic consumption. These industries were initiated in the 1960s, and led to rapid economic growth and put these nations in the ranks of economic superpowers.
The emphasis on urban industrialization led to neglect and exploitation of rural areas and agriculture (known as Urban Bias) and led to criticism based on spending priorities. Women were recognized as important to agriculture and subsequently received more support and were also seen as a way to limit population sizes, and were given better access to birth control, education and employment. There were conflicts on decisions between “human capital” and technology-based projects. Issues also revolved around drawbacks of foreign aid, investments and trade.
Human Capital – investments in human potential and well being through education, technical training, health care and nutrition.
Every decision of economic development was political and revolved around winners and losers and cultural divisions (ie. regional and ethnic rivalries)
Industrialization became a global phenomenon by the early 21st century replacing the old world of Europe, North America and Japan. East Asian countries demonstrated the strongest record of economic growth (these East Asian economies were known as “Asian Tigers”). China and surrounding regions became “newly industrialized”. India became more open and expanded the middle class. Oil producing countries were able to reap huge profits.
Regions in Africa, Asia, and the Arab world were different as they showed declining standards of living (by 1960s) and lowering average income (43 of Africa’s poorest nations, income dropped by 25% which was below the start of independence). In the early 21st century regions in Africa
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began to see economic growth, an expanding middle class, capital to spend, and international investments. This period in Africa has been referred to as “Africa rising”.
The differences in performance can be tied to variations in factors like grier ahpy, natural resources,m colonial experiences, political stability and social equality, economic policies, population growth rates, and involvement in the world economy.
Microloans* shows women in Bangladesh making an installment payment to a bank in 2004. The Grameen Bank pioneered the method of lending modest loans to impoverished people to start small businesses propelling economic growth and shrinking of economic disparity.
Snapshot: Global Urbanization, 1950-2014* is a table showing the world’s largest cities and their populations, comparing the year 1950 and 2014. In 1950 29.6% lived in urban areas, while in 2014 it rose to 54%. These new highly populated urban areas developed in the Global South.
Experiments with Culture: The Role of Islam in Turkey and Iran
The quest for economic development represented the embrace of modernity in scientific outlook, technological achievements and focus on material values. As developing nations of the Global South were exposed to cultural traditions from the West and their own distant histories, they found the uneasy relationship fereej older traditions and modernity with the West. This balance and its experimentation were key in the Islamic world, and Turkey and Iran represented different approaches.
After WWI, turkey emerged from the fallen Ottoman Empire led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He sought major transformations within his nation, and built off the ideas of past 19th century Ottoman reformers.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) – Turkish general; fought off foreign forces trying to disband Ottoman empire in WWI. He sought to transform his country into a modern, secular and national state. He greatly admired European Enlightenment thinking and wanted its benefits for his nation.
Atatürk sought to remove Islam as a political instrument and to transform it into a personal and private realm. He even sought to broaden access to the religion by translating the Quran and making the call to prayer in Turkish.
Atatürk largely ended the political role of Islam: the sultan became powerless as the Islamic tradition isolved and Turkey became a republic; the caliphate (leadership in Islamic world) was abolished, religious schools and areas of religious value were closed and outlawed; secular law codes were imposed, replacing the sharia; pre-islamic Turkish culture was celebrated as the foundation; and the Arabic script was removed in favor of a western style alphabet.
Sultan – a muslim supreme ruler; in the case of Turkey, the leader of the Ottoman empire
Caliphate – a state under the leadership of an Islamic steward, the system that allowed Ottoman sultans to claim leadership in Turkey
Sharia – the Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet, describing both religious and secular duties as well as penalties
Traditional dress and headwear were abandoned in favor of western style clothing (mainly men). Women began to set the tone for fashion by abandoning their own traditional dress.
Atatürk believed that women’s rights were an essential piece of modernity. Polygamy was abolished; women were granted equal rights in divorces, inheritance and child custody; and in 1934 women gained the right to vote. This was all state-directed feminism, rather than a response to women’s demands.
These reforms represented a cultural revolution, and were faced with opposition. After the death of Atatürk, many reforms were diluted or rolled back (eg. call to prayer returning to Arabic, an
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Islamic party government, military protection for secularism mimishied, etc.) The secularism that Atatürk pushed for persited in Turkish life and provided a major element for public protests in 2013.
Westernization in Turkey* shows Atutürk appearing in elegant Western style clothing in 1929. His dress symbolized his country’s break in the traditional Islamic ways of living.
Iran took a different direction in its response to modernization. Under the rule of Shah Mohammad Renz Pahlavi (r. 1941-1979) the country began a successful and secular modernization effort. In the shah’s revolution, there was: land distributed to impoverished peasants; women granted the right to vote; investments in rural health care and education; industrial projects; and opportunities for workers to profit in these industries.
There was still resentment to this progress: small merchants were threatened by Western imports, religious leaders lost control of religious institutions and education systems, and rural migrants faced rising costs and uncertain employment (see Urban Bias). The government was repressive against out-speak, and thus religious centers and leaders became places of opposition against the shah’s regime. The Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini emerged at a time of urban demonstrations, strikes, and defections from the military, finally forcing the Shah out.
A cultural revolution in 1979 followed, in the opposite direction of Turkey, instead towards the Islamization of public life. The government became the Islamic Republic, with a parliament and elections, but really run by Islamic clerics and headed by Khomeini. A Council of Guardians (legal scholars) interpreted the constitution, supervised elections, and reviewed legislation with one form of Islam in mind. 1,800 executions occurred in 1981 as opposition to the regime and its strong Islamic ties.
Ismla Izlation occurred on all levels of society: the law becoming purley Islamic (ie. the sharia), with new competent judges; education was being redesigned and purified in the Islamic ways (June 1980, rewriting of curriculum); pre-Islamic Persian literature and history being put aside in favor of their new revolution; the Frasi language being adapted with arabic equivalents.
Women became prominent in the Islamic revolution, as they did in Turkey. By 1983 they were forced into wearing the hijab by enforcement from militants. Sexual segregation was imposed in all forms of public life, the legal age of marriage was loved, and women no longer had divorce rights. Yet, they supported the revolution and soon found greater opportunities for employment and higher education than before.
Hijab – a modest head-to-toe covering for Islamic women
Women and the Iranian Revolution* pictures a woman dressed in a chador walking past a poster of Khomeini. One of Khomeini’s goals of the revolution was to enforce a more modest and traditional dress code for women.
The Turkish cultural revolution was an internal affair, while Iran’s cultural revolution focused on exploring the Islamic revolution. Khomeini called for the replacement of other Islamic regimes in the Middle East, and through connections, Iran became a model for other Islamic radicals seeking change. The conflict with Iraq (1980-1988, against the highly secularised Iraq) represented the differences between Arabs and Persians, different forms of Islam, and between as secular and Islamic driven government.
After Khomeini’s death in 1989, some elements of the revolution eased, with a more moderate government in 1997, until more conservative elements were brought back in 2005. A disputed election in 2009 revealed opposition to the rigid Islamic regime, and more moderate leadership continued in 2013. Economic modernity persisted, with oil funding the nation’s development and the pursuit of nuclear power and weapons by the early 21st century.

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