Guy Gran, Development by People: Citizen Construction of a Just World (New York: Praeger, 1983).

This ambitious book seeks to serve as a guide to building new societies in the Third World (and ultimately everywhere else) based on grassroots participatory development and the democratic empowerment of non-elites. Gran follows the tradition of Branko Horvat, Ivan Illich and E. F. Schumacher in his dual critique of both capitalism and state socialism and his advocacy of the “planned market economy.” Local self-reliance and the rejection of specialization in production will be key to making Gran’s new forms of social organization work.

Students of the history of economic thought will recognize the long tradition of these ideas. Gran’s “humanistic economics” is very similar to the eclectic economic theory of John Stuart Mill and the non-Marxian European socialists of the nineteenth century, the forerunners of Fabian socialism in England and twentieth-century “social democracy” in France, Germany and Italy. This tradition rejects Marxian notions of class and class conflict, as well as the notion of socialism as a class-based phenomenon. The basic actor and unit of analysis is the individual—the “citizen” or, in the case of Third World societies, the “peasant.” Social change comes about through peaceful transitions based on the education and consciousness raising of citizens. The state will be changed, too, as citizens become educated, get organized at the grassroots level, establish “intermediate institutions” to buffer the local units in their relation to the larger society and, finally, alter the larger society itself from the bottom up (Chapter 6).

There are two very useful parts to his work. Chapters 2 through 5 present an excellent critique of the operations of the capitalist development agencies, AID, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Second, there is a rich, diverse, and up-to-date bibliography, organized both by topic and by region. Were it annotated and cross-referenced, it would stand on its own as an important and worthwhile work.

How to cite this article:

Karen Pfeifer "Gran, Development by People," Middle East Report 123 (May 1984).

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