Anti-Politics Machine Analysis

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To what extent can Development be understood as an “anti-politics machine”?
Nowadays as in the past, many activists in the fields of the human rights approach to development – that James Ferguson regards as “the academic Left” (Ferguson 1990: 269) tout-court – have seen the state as “[…] the chief counter-force to the capitalistic logics of the market and the chief instrument for bringing about progressive economics transformations”, and by doing so “leftists have too often been willing to take statist interventions at their word and to interpret them uncritically as part of a process of ‘self-directed development’ […]” (Ferguson 1990: 269-70). Nothing is farther from Ferguson’s views, contained in his The Anti-Politics Machine (1990). According to Ferguson, the impression that “the state is just a machine for implementing ‘development’ programs, an apolitical tool for delivering social services and agriculture inputs and engineering economic growth” (Ferguson 1990: 65) is only part of the development discourse, and disguises
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That is, development works by “depoliticizing everything it touches, everywhere whisking political realities out of sight, while performing, almost unnoticed, its own pre-eminently political operation of expanding bureaucratic state power” (Ferguson 1990: XV). This expansion of bureaucratic power is ambiguously defined in Ferguson’s book, as he first regards it as an unplanned side effect, only to later state that these ‘side effects’ are the real reason behind the fact that many ‘failed’ projects keep on being subsidized (Bending, Rosendo 2006). As I hope will be clear from my example, the enhancement of administrative power under development projects most times is not at all an unplanned side effect: development issues might constitute the main point of entry for the state

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