Motivations for development

Paul Collier argues against the emotional approach to development taken by some activists and NGOs:

To date policy towards the bottom billion has been driven predominantly by guilt: America’s guilt about slavery, Europe’s guilt about colonialism. Unfortunately, guilt is an appallingly bad basis for action. It leads into the headless heart: the belief that we should ‘atone’ by charity. But its worst effects are within the bottom billion: these small societies lack the intellectual scale to free themselves from our mental models…

Guilt has seldom been an effective driver of change: in the rich countries we are likely to get far more impetus from the tried and tested psychology of enlightened self-interest. A world in which the bottom billion continue to diverge from the rest of mankind bequeaths to our children a legacy of insecurity for which their pampered lives will make them ill-prepared.