Courtesy Reuters

Nationalism vs. Economic Growth

The United Nations "development decade" will go down in history not as a period of spectacular economic growth but as one of sluggish and laggard progress, marred by socio-economic chaos, political upheavals, coups d'états and mass discontent with the entrenched establishments. Political upsets in Algeria, Syria, the Congo, Nigeria, Ghana and Indonesia have been some of the outstanding cases. Others less conspicuous and less internationally significant have occurred all over South America, Africa and Asia.

Many political analysts have been too ready to explain these overturns in terms of internal political shifts toward socialism or capitalism, the left or the right, the West or the East. Often they have linked them to power plays between the United States, the Soviet Union and Red China, with the outcome frequently interpreted as a "clear gain" for one and a "serious setback" for others.

Oftentimes, however, when a Western-oriented régime in a country receiving American aid is toppled by internal subversion or disguised foreign aggression, the presence or continuation of American aid is held responsible. On other occasions, when a similar pro-Western régime which has not been aided by the United States is overthrown by opposition from within or without, the absence or lack of sufficient U.S. support is considered the villain. In the one case, the United States and other Western countries are blamed for inadvertently or irresponsibly fomenting dissident elements by supporting an unpopular, illegitimate, dictatorial, militaristic and corrupt government; in the other case, they are blamed for failing to support progressive, democratic, liberal and occasionally anti- monarchical forces.

The purpose of this article is, first, to question simplified explanations of recent revolts in terms of ideological orientations or big-power machinations; second, to bring into sharper focus some of the more fundamental factors which may not seem immediately responsible and are perhaps more easily overlooked; and, third, to discuss certain conditions under which a developing country can combine an ideologically neutral course with progressive economic policies to achieve

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