Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why isn't the whole world developed?

TV Ontario's program Big Ideas is dedicated, so it claims, to the art of lecturing. Occasionally the lectures are in my humble opinion not exactly top notch, but frequently good content can be found. Apparently the makers of the program have a taste for the polemic, because I find a tendency to rather provocative lecturing.

Maybe also the idea is that some provocation and a bit of a polemic style are effective tools in making lectures arrive with the audience. In the competition for best lecturer, the finalist Anton Allahar and his lecture are certainly full with this quality. Even if Allahar is not really taking a position himself (at least not in this particular lecture), he does present a series of opinions on the subject at hand and goes over them in a very critical way.

The subject is 'Why isn't the whole world developed?' Big Ideas treats this as a lecture in itself, but Allahar makes it clear from the start this is just the opening lecture in a series for which this is just the opening question and an entry point to a much wider issue. It is a bit of a nasty start, making you feel shut out, but to the issue at hand, I was rather thrilled to find a couple of strong criticisms to widely held and relatively unchallenged ideas about development like ideas rooted in Social Darwinism, in the sociology of Durkheim and Weber, in utilitarian economics, in Marxism and so on. Allahar makes in his criticism no exception for any of them and produces a good variety of food for thought.

More Big Ideas:
The role and place of the intellectual,
Disaster Capitalism,
The Bad News about Good Work,
History.

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