File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 609


Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 20:34:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: M-I: But what do the indigenous people actually want?



James interlocuter writes:

>Namasol is an extremely influential indigenous organisation.  As noted
>it acts as the intermediary between the indigenous communities and the
>government and international organisations.  I wanted to know from the
>people of the communities how important they thought Namasol was.  I
>designed a test in which they could choose from a selection of things in
>the community for example a school, good roads, transport even
>indigenous rights.  On nearly every occasion in over the 40 people I
>interviewed from several of the indigenous communities, Namasol usually
>came last in peoples list of priorities.  This illustrated a tremendous
>wealth of difference between the organisation and the people. 


Though I have the feeling that James is pulling our chain somewhat, I think
he makes an important point.  Huntington unintentionally makes a parallel
plea in *Clash of Civilizations*; namely, that it is usually the tiny
indigenous elite that occupies the extremes -- pro and con-- in the
development drama.  The vast majority of the targeted population want a
moderate form of "modernization"; roads, hospitals, health care, and VCRs,
together with strong local autonomy on economic and social issues.  This, of
course, is quite impossible in the real world.  There is no low-calorie
development, nor some tentative Pandora's Box.  Such illusions form the
stock and trade of the NGOs.  Successful insurgencies like the so-called
"Shining Path" in Peru recognize this.

Louis Godena  



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