Can the World Bank be Fixed?

Not really. If the goal of development assistance is to foster autonomous development, then most aid and “help” is actually unhelpful in the sense of either overriding or undercutting the autonomy of those being “helped.”  The two principal forms of unhelpful “help” are social engineering and charitable relief.  The World Bank is the primary example over the last half century of the failures of social engineering to “engineer” development.  Frustration over these failures, particularly in Africa, is now leading the Bank and many other development agencies towards the other form of unhelpful help, namely, long-term charitable relief.  The paper outlines some of the reasons for the failure of socially engineered economic, legal, and social reforms both in the developing world and in the post-socialist transition countries.  Finally, the argument [given at book length in Ellerman 2005] is summarized in five structural reasons why the World Bank cannot be “fixed.” This is a reprint from the Post-Autistic Economics Review (Sept. 2005) which can be accessed directly and free of charge at:

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