The many arenas of development are vigorously contested these days, as indeed are the very philosophy and practice of development as a whole. ‘Development’ has become a somewhat tired word, the memory of the circumstances surrounding its birth having largely faded into the mists of time. The urge for rapid economic and social development for all was born out of the ashes of the Second World War and driven by, variously, the need for European reconstruction, an alternative economic model to that of the communist bloc and the urgency of thwarting the rapidly accelerating demands for independence in the colonies. By the 1990s, in a resolutely post-war, post-communist and post-colonial world, and in a period of accelerated globalization, the traditional development agenda, in the form of aid and integrated regional development planning, generated relatively little interest, at least among those nations and corporate interests that are the driving force behind such international bodies as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the United Nations Security Council and the G8. The global decline in publicly funded development assistance is an unequivocal expression of this change in direction, as are the deteriorating social and economic circumstances in many poorer countries and the increasing numbers of economic and environmental refugees who seek simply to migrate in an effort to improve the material conditions of their lives. Certainly there is a continuing concern with a range of issues that occupy the moral high ground, notably poverty reduction, gender equity, participation and good governance, but they are somewhat ill-defined objectives, clouded in good intentions but selectively or inadequately applied. The inevitable mix of economic determinism, applied in its most extreme, neo-liberal form to developing countries (Simon 2003: 6), and of realpolitik mean that such concerns remain minor considerations compared with an overriding commitment to unrestrained
economic growth across a world that must know no boundaries to the movement of goods, services and capital (if not of people).