chapter  1
40 Pages

The Doctrine of Development

The concept of development is a historical legacy. In the course of the evolution of its meaning, it has assumed a defi nitive, if amorphous, eco-nomic connotation in the current usage of the word: improvement of the economic status of the society, widening of the individual’s life opportunities, betterment of the quality of life. But this connotation is historically linked to, and rooted in, particular interpretations of the 19th century theories of biological evolution and social progress. Th e origin of the modern connotation of development may be traced to Ernst Haeckel’s description of the ontogenetic development of an organism (from the fertilized ovum to adulthood) as progressive, unidirectional and preordained process of physiological change. His study of embryonic development provided the ideological metaphors of social developmental hierarchy and later served to nourish racist and imperialist ideas associated with the notions of development and progress. Haeckel, who coined the word ‘ecology’, was to become – a century later – one of Nazi Germany’s major ideological fi gures for racism, nationalism and imperialism.