Post-WWII First-World discourse has dominated the academic, economic, political, and public sphere ever since the ascension of the United States as a world superpower and the globalization of the world economy. The foremost international financial regimes responsible for the spread of this discourse (the European Union, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc.) have ensured the firm entrenchment of its principles. Collectively, they have produced a medley of experts whose training and geographical positioning vis a vis the developing world gave them the position to draw conclusions on this area regarding its level of development. These experts also contrapose their development to that of more advanced developed countries. This way of categorizing the modern world into regions of development and underdevelopment has created paradigms characterized by the strictest dichotomy between the U.S. and Europe against Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
The discrepancy between the developed world and developing world is what the political and economic theorist Arturo Escobar discusses in book, Encountering Development. “Development,” Escobar argues, is the most palpable manifestation of the Western discourse on the rest of the world. The post-WWII American vision of Third-World countries was, and is, one of underdevelopment, poverty, unchecked famine, disease, backwardness and economic stagnation. As more developmental experts produced knowledge on the problems of these regions, they simultaneously created a representation which contrasted underdeveloped economies to the modernity and industrial superiority of the West.
However, Escobar maintains that such a view of the developing world is invariably “a top-down, ethnocentric, and technocratic approach," which automatically shifts these parts of the world up and down along imaginary axes of “progress”. In other words, the developing world has been unilaterally defined, represented, and ranked on a world scale of material success without any regard for the possible legitimacy of variant economic models or systems of social organization within the developing world itself.
Moreover, the development theory of these financial regimes reinforces the inferiority of native populations by simultaneously admitting the possibility of their advancement along Western-styled judgments of prosperity while denying these people the ability to achieve this success on their own, in their own way. One of the most pervasive prejudices of development is that the countries in the developing world are all too technically backward to understand its own necessities, and that “In the process, they [developmentalists] deny the capacity of people to model their own behavior and reproduce forms of discourse that contribute to the social and cultural domination effected through forms of representation." Thus, the developing world is forced to recognize the hegemony of the discourse which developed countries have created for it.
Escobar concludes his book by discussing how various developed world financial regimes have created the developmental discourse itself and how different forms of knowledge are produced. Even though discourse on development is itself subject to modification and internal contention, and even if "development" is looked upon in a variety of ways, the fundamental relationship between the components responsible for creating the discourse of development remains unchanged.
Therefore, the problem facing the developing world and the hesitance of the developing world to accept locally generated alternative perspectives to development is “that as long as institutions and professionals are successfully reproducing themselves materially, culturally, and ideologically, certain relations of domination will prevail; and to the extent that this is the case, development will continue to be greatly conceptualized by those in power."
Whether it is through institutional training (Escobar mentions, for example, the Food and Nutrition Policy and Planning, and the Inter-Agency Project for the Promotion of National Food and Nutrition Policies, primarily as developmentalist manifestations of the way to combat world hunger), or the incorporation of minority regimes, such as women and rural workers, into the development paradigm, the discourse of development is, and continues to be, a discourse of power relations at the highest of levels.