Colonialism and Cultural Diversity
The damage of colonialism to the cultures of the underdeveloped countries is permanent and cannot be reversed or repaired with latter-day, pious rhetoric about respect for indigenous cultures. Colonialism disrupted the continuity of traditional institutions and methods that were used for generations to independently provide the economic needs of local populations, replaced them with Western methods, and ensured their permanence with arbitrary territorial boundaries and a central government. Colonialism permanently changed the orientation of these cultures, as it remade their economies and institutions in the image of the West. (chapter 7)
A persistently underdeveloped country (PUC) is not an economy that has the option to choose between whether it should develop like the West or not to develop like the West. Colonialism already made that choice. Colonialism has already made these countries Western economies, on paper and in practice. These countries were remade by force in the image of the Western economy as a condition of colonialism. On Independence Day, the colonialists handed over a Western economy, complete with government administration, public institutions, a bureaucracy, civil service, legal system, law enforcement, military, education system, healthcare system, monetary system, etc. These imposed systems were not later disbanded after the end of colonialism. Neither were the arbitrary territorial boundaries. Instead, the boundaries defined by colonialism have been embraced and enforced by all available means, including war. The imposed institutional systems have been expanded, and additional ones from the West have been voluntarily adopted and implemented as the ideal. (chapter 7)
Malfunctioning Western Economies
Therefore, a persistently underdeveloped economy is a Western economy that is malfunctioning. Persistent underdevelopment happens to be what you get when a Western economy is permanently not operating properly. For such an economy, the best iteration and definition of success, in terms of human well being, is the standard we see in the developed countries. Such a country is underdeveloped to the degree by which its operation, as a whole and in detail, do not meet these standards. The more its operation differs from the standards of the developed countries, the more underdeveloped the country is. (chapter 7)
Because these standards have not been consistently met does not make them false or optional. Instead of debating the standards, we offer a way to meet them consistently and systematically. This is the only way to make real development happen, and it is a cruel joke to suggest that some unknown alternative way exists.
High productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and competent managerial leadership. These are the factors that the developed countries have in common, the things that separate them from the underdeveloped, what we call “resonance.” A PUC is in a permanent state of underdevelopment because its economy is not operated with the efficiency and effectiveness that meets the needs of the Western economy that it is. The ideas and concepts of the Western economic model which it embodies are not effectively implemented on a consistent basis. Moreover, Western higher education, the only means for providing this effectiveness, has proven useless for the purpose. (chapter 7)
The call for indigenous culture preservation is therefore a call for the preservation of the poverty, hopelessness, instability and humiliation of persistent underdevelopment. It is a call for people to remain indigent, dependent, and unable to help themselves. It is a call to keep using the inadequate means of a damaged local culture to meet the demands of a modern Western economy. It diverts the attention of the world away from what is needed to address persistent underdevelopment, and it is one of the ideas that have made acceptable the ineffectiveness of university education for development. (chapter 7).
Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.