Sources of Received Ideas about the Third World

Part of the Macmillan International Political Economy Series book series


The Acholi, a Nilotic people in northern Uganda, are wedged in a stretch between Zaire, Sudan and Kenya. The standard maps do not identify their locale as Acholi-land. I first encountered them when a fellow student invited me to his home, a mud-thatched hut, one among many surrounded by a makeshift thicket fence erected to keep out intruders, human or otherwise. Afterwards I discovered that the plight of the Acholi is told in a moving tale, Song of Lawino, by the late Okot p’Bitek, an Oxford-educated poet and novelist who directed the National Cultural Centre of Uganda. Indeed, the personal meaning of the changes stalking the Acholi, and the bulk of the Third World, is encapsulated in the lives of two fictional Ugandans; Lawino is a perceptive, uneducated woman who cries out in anguish over the new-found ways of her husband, Ocol:


Underdeveloped Country American Foreign Policy Dependency Approach Modernization School Modernization Thinking 
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Notes and References

  1. The quotations from Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1966) are taken from pp. 140, 141, 142, 155, 156, 207 and 208.Google Scholar
  2. The backdrop to Song of Lawino is the subject of James H. Mittelman, Ideology and Politics in Uganda: From Obote to Amin (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. The comments by Hugh Trevor-Roper, ‘The Rise of Christian Europe’, Listener (London), 28 November 1963, p. 871Google Scholar
  4. Ali A. Mazrui, Cultural Engineering and Nation-Building in East Africa (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1972) p. 7.Google Scholar
  5. Severeid’s remarks were on CBS Evening News, 15 July 1975. The quote from Option 2 can be found in NSSM-39, edited and introduced by Mohamed A. El-Khawas and Barry Cohen, The Kissinger Study of Southern Africa (Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill, 1976) p. 105.Google Scholar
  6. Seymour M. Hersh, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (New York: Summit Books, 1983) p. 263 describes the Nixon—Valdés meeting.Google Scholar
  7. Hersh cites material in Armando Urbie’s memoir, The Black Book of American Intervention in Chile (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975) pp. 30–3.Google Scholar
  8. Cecil Rhodes is quoted in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1973) p. 94, by V. I. Lenin.Google Scholar
  9. The same theme appears in Sir Sidney James, ‘Personal Recollections of Cecil Rhodes; 1, Some Conversations in London’, The Nineteenth Century, 51, May 1902, pp. 832; 835.Google Scholar
  10. The five phases on the road to modernization are outlined by W. W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto (London: Cambridge University Press, 1960).Google Scholar
  11. The anecdote about peasant farmers is borrowed from Philip Raikes, ‘Rural Differentiation and Class Formation in Tanzania’, Journal of Peasant Studies, 5 (3) April 1978, pp. 315–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. On the failure of modernization theory to come to grips with causality, see Geoffrey Kay, Development and Underdevelopment: A Marxist Analysis (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1975) pp. x; 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. The legacy of the modernization school is examined by Richard Higgott, ‘From Modernization Theory to Public Policy: Continuity and Change in the Political Science of Political Development’, Studies in Comparative International Development, 15(4) Winter 1980, pp. 26–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Perhaps the best book in the dependency framework is Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America, trans Marjory Mattingly Urquidi (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  15. In responding to criticism levelled by Marxists, Cardoso and Faletto conflate the dependency concept and class analysis. They surrender the distinctive features of this concept — the notion that the mainspring of Third World political economies is the exploitation of the periphery by the centre — substituting dialectical reasoning rooted in history and based on the identification of contradictions. The thrust of their analysis is therefore dependency in name only. On the origins of underdevelopment, a seminal work which informs my analysis is Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (London: Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications, 1972).Google Scholar
  16. The economic legacy of imperialism and a suggested antidote are presented by Clive Thomas, Dependence and Transformation: The Economics of the Transition to Socialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  17. This vast literature is reviewed by Ronald H. Chilcote, Theories of Development and Underdevelopment (Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James H. Mittelman 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queens CollegeCity University of New YorkUSA

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