On Wed, 08 Mar 2000 13:45:54 -0500, Chris McCullum wrote:
>Many persons in a position of power - whether it be the military,
>guerillas, or paramilitary troops DO NOT want the poor
>- or any of their rivals - to have access to additional
>resources. Providing such resources - if not thought through carefully
>ahead of time - can end up doing much more harm than good.....
Agree completely. The central dynamic is this --- most insurgents do
*not* want to improve life for peasants. Their primary interest (as for
most on the left) is POWER, and peasant discontent is a key element of
support for that power. The necessary power vacuum arises from disorder
and discontent, so anyone working to improve life is threatening the
disorder on which the movement depends. Therefore an enemy, and
therefore a target.
I've done development work in guerrilla areas of three Latin American
countries, and I'm more at ease 100 km behind guerrilla lines than in
the decaying areas of American cities (because I've got guerrilla
smarts, and I don't have street smarts...), but I have no illusions
about the potential risks. Nearly two dozen of my colleagues --- the
locals who do the *real* work in all this --- have been murdered since
1990, every single one of them by insurgents who purported to be on the
side of the peasants my colleagues were actually helping.
And come to think of it, you could probably build a pretty strong case
that the dynamics of decaying American urban areas are broadly similar
to much of the developing world. In the case of cities, it is the
politicians and bureaucrats who talk about helping the poor --- and
propose endless programs that usually have the opposite effect --- who
are attempting to retain their grip on power by indirectly maintaining
the very discontent they claim to address.
In *either* of those cases, if you genuinely wish to increase people's
self-reliance, you had darn well better watch your six, and pay
especially close attention to those who *talk* the empowerment game but
stand to benefit personally from maintaining the status quo.
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