Social Scientist. v 12, no. 139 (Dec 1984) p. 59.


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BOOK REVIEW

P T BAUER, EQUALITY, THE THIRD WORLD AND ECONOMIC DELUSION, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, Loridon, 1981, pp 293, ^15 (issued in paperback by Methuen University Paperbacks, London, 1982,

/;5.95)

P T BAUER is something of a rare bird amongst economists nowadays, an unreconstructed Victorian. He has over the years remained unmoved by the changing fashions that have swept economics—especially development economics—and espoused, with enviable consistency, the same ultra-conservative viewpoints. In an earlier collection,1 he excoriated development economists of the sixties for their liberal concerns with issues like poverty and social justice and for having in the process renounced what he believed were the sound old canons of economic analysis. Now, ten years later, he still sees himself as writing against the mainstream of conventional academic wisdom—as indeed a lone voice of reason in a morass of delusion and false rhetoric. And this book, in the same spirit as Bauer's earlier polemics, is essentially a vituperative attack on development economics as Bauer sees it currently practised. Characteristically for the author, little original research, and no subsantial data in support of his attack, are presented. Instead, "much of my argument rests on simple reflection, analysis or observation" (p 2) and the reader is apparently to be persuaded by the sheer weight of Bauer's voice that the current ideology of development is based on a gigantic delusion.

Any one brave enough to take on a task of this magnitude certainly deserves attention, especially when the writing is as provcative as Bauer's often is. Also, Bauer's views clearly have a wide constituency amongst the conservative economics establishment—he has been for long one of the foremost opponents of Western aid to poor countries, and his persistent espousal of non-interventionist capitalist policies has endeared him sufficiently with the Thatcherite Right to earn him a life peerage. Thus, notwithstanding his own protestations to the contrary, Bauer's is far from being an isolated voice; his writings are motivated by—and indeed reinforce—deep-seated conservative beliefs.

Nor have his publishers—clearly men after his own heart—been un-aware of potential appeal of Bauer's old-style conservatism in these revivalist days of the New Right. The back cover of the new paperback edition sings its author's praises, and the autlioiity of Amartya Sen is



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