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Cultural Inflected Law and Development. A New Echelon of Western Arrogance. Ugo Mattei 1) War is a peace-keeping operation. A “blackmail” is a “context of conditionality”; torture is an “extreme interrogation”; a slum is an aggregate of “informally titled dwellings”. Politically correct labels in the post-modern condition, the logic of late capitalism. 2) Today development discourse is becoming “culturally sensitive”. It ostensibly abandons the uni-linear evolutionary model of social Darwinism (countries progress through subsequent stages of development) that have characterized development economics from the Rostow’s Non Communist Manifesto, through the years of the first “law and development” (despite the more public minded gist supplied by the dominant Keynesian paradigm) all the way to the post 1989 “law and economics of development” or “new law and development’ if one prefers the Trubek-Santos terminology. It adds a new horizon, in a multidisciplinary westerncentric alliance to legitimize and de-politicize the status quo: that of social anthropology. 3) Some lesson are learned from the “failure of law and development”: They failed because: a) they had too much of a superficial knowledge of the contexts of reception. b) They failed to understand the law as the main system of legitimization and centralization of power in the hands of inaccessible elites; in fact they had an artificially easy access to State authority c) They did not realize the intrinsic conservativism of local legal elites, because they took for granted the liberal atmosphere of elite US institutions, moreover working on an idealized unrealistic vision of US law. d) They were naively ethnocentric. 4) Anthropology can cure many of these shortcomings thus promising that the new post 1989 era of law and development might deliver its promises. Laura Nader poses a disturbing question for developmental “dogoodders” in a recent piece delivered at the World Bank and published on “Global Jurist”: Promise or Plunder? We answer for the latter in our forthcoming book, Plunder, When The Rule of Law is Illegal, Wiley-Blackwell 2008. 5) But anthropology does not cure, but actually worsens, the disease of development discourse. The de-politicization and the denial of a local self sufficient political process in the subordinate periphery. This is the disease of latent Western racism: Western intervention for development is needed, is required almost as a matter of necessity because of the political vacuum in which these lesser people operate. Nowhere such an attitude is clearer than in the current crisis in Darfur, often pointed at, like the Balkans and Rwanda, as evidence of the moral necessity of Western intervention. It would be impossible to find honest acknowledgement of the results of local politics in Southern Sudan, capable of reaching a deal in incredibly difficult circumstances exactly because they were left alone. We share a caricature picture of a complex political reality of an insurgency and counterinsurgency, a deeply political phenomenon. We prefer to talk about “genocide” within an essentialized vision of the good and the evil. It is a good strategy not to ask deep and disturbing questions about the causes. 6) In September the New York Times features a front page story of Imbedded anthropologists in Afghanistan and Iraq, working for the US military. There was no stir (but this is a country where any front story can be run because the sense of outrage is dead). Anthropologists, have long studied the people we then bomb (think about Ruth Benedic’s Crysantemum and Sward). Exactly like economists and lawyers they are providers of legitimating ideology for Western domination. 7) ADR has been marketed as a more “culturally sensitive” device to deal with issues of access to justice and legal professionalism in Africa. It took Martin Chanok’s work on Zimbabwe to show its connection with fears of counterhegemony. 8) US Aid has understood the importance to “get the traditional chief on board” in attempting to privatize public land in Africa in order to sell it to Monsanto for the purpose of experimentation of OGM’s, the next frontier in the science of exploitation of weak people. This is where the transnational post-colonial order is proving to be much more effective than the old colonial one, often undermined by the resistance of traditional collective models of land tenure. 9) “Structural adjustment”, the very much resisted job of economists, seems to have found a very strong allied force in “cultural adjustment”, the job of anthropologists with many ONG’s, concerned with human or women’s rights as its main agencies. But the aim is the same: social individualization for the purpose of capitalistic expansion through the construction of consumer’s needs. 10) Thus ‘Structural Adjustment” experienced a process of “cultural inflection” and changed its name. It is now known, at the World bank and IMF, as a response to its critics as “comprehensive development”. Another post-modern new branding for exactly the same policy. 11) With the help of anthropology and culture, giving a small bonus to the capitalist “left”, the discourse of development and progress become bi-partisan and thus even less political. Like their fellow, and equally ambiguous term, the rule of law they thus get beyond political scrutiny. The West reaches an even more advanced echelon of organized hypocrisy in the legitimization of plunder.