10 October, 2006

"Developing" VS "developed":
words are bullets

Thailand’s highly developed musical culture – most Thais participate in community music, much of which requires considerable skill. This group played at a festival in the Doi Suthep temple near Chiangmai.

Personally, I don't like the term ‘developing nation’. It’s patronizing. I can spot many ways in which Thailand, for example, is more ‘developed’ (as in ‘mature’) than Australia. The term ‘developed nation’ is a linguistic fiction pulled out of the sleeve of so-called ‘developed’ nations in order to maintain their economic 'poll position'. Why else was the term ‘First World’ coined… and who coined it? Why is the UN headquartered in New York? Anyone who believes that the rich countries are benevolently trying to assist the poorer ones to ‘catch up’ isn’t quite the full quid.

If you observe the tiny percentage of Australia’s budget earmarked for International Aid, the reality begins to come into focus. Even then, that small sum isn’t necessarily donated – often it has ‘strings attached’ arrangements so that a great percentage of it boomerangs straight back to Australia… it’s just a form of enforced investment in attractively packaged to look like Aid. The figures make rich countries appear kind and generous: after all, appearance matters more than reality in the ‘grab’ media.

To an un-analytical person, the trumpeted announcement of “ten million dollars of International Aid in 2006” (inevitably by a politician in a marginal seat) sounds like an unimaginably large sum of money. It would be perceived as much less impressive if it had been re-phrased as “Australians each gave only 50 cents of International Aid in 2006, half of which has ‘strings attached’.

I look at the bad behaviour of many Western countries from the USA to Australia, from Denmark to Israel, and wonder why the rest of the world would want to copy them in the first place. Beats me.

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