I feel we are arguing the same point but from opposite sides of a coin. It seems you do not even grasp the background from which I am basing my comments. Development does not equal economic growth, just as Steve proved that economic growth can even happen when the rule of law and corruption exist, is that contributing to peace? Clearly not.
You asked “Do any of you see a realistic alternative to some form of this process (however tamed and civilized) of massive poverty alleviation through entrepreneurship and economic growth?” but I gave you the answer before: in order to make economic development work in the sense this forum is concerned - how to achieve peace - growth has to be accompanied by a fair distribution system, a sense of community, local participation in decision-making and exploitation of resources, freedom and others. These are not prerequisites to growth, they just make growth work better for more people and help combact some of the most popular problems encountered where economic growth happens (unequal distribution, individualism versus collectivity, exploitation and degradation of environment, etc).
It could be argued that even before being able to grow economically, one has to focus on education first. Education seen as the set of skills and knowledge to be able to use the resources available in order to create wealth, identify sustainable paths and use our potential to achieve different goals.
Corruption, violation of human rights and other social and environmental problems are not addressed by economic development. Money can’t buy peace in tribes or between populations or countries that decide to fight for a piece of land or a certain resource. Nor can money build a sense of community where there isn’t any, just as it’s happened in Mexico where small entrepreneurs open businesses and they choose not to pay taxes, keeping all for themselves. In Mexico it is irrelevant how many days/procedures are needed to open a businesses, plenty bride authorities. Can we relay in economic indicators to tell us how societies interact and what are the social and environmental issues? No.
In short, there is not such a direct correlation between economic growth and peace. If developed countries have been successful is because they have implemented growth with other projects that address social issues, not the other way around. In fact, plenty of projects that have been far more successful than the private sector initiatives have come from other actors whose agenda is not to increase and foster economic development as such but the empowerment of the local community. It has even been proved that some communities rather have medicine than food aid, other might only need to sustain themselves and do not want to join the global economy, are we listening to all these different meanings of what development is for people around the world? Barely.
The Sustainable Development Commission has just published a document called: “Prosperity without Growth?” where they state:
"Prosperity without Growth?represents the culmination of an extensive inquiry by the UK Sustainable Development Commission into the relationship between sustainability and economic growth. That inquiry was launched in 2003, when the Commission published its landmark report – Redefining Prosperity – which challenged Government ‘fundamentally to rethink the dominance of economic growth as the driving force in the modern political economy, and to be far more rigorous in distinguishing between the kind of economic growth that is compatible with the transition to a genuinely sustainable society and the
kind that absolutely isn’t’. That earlier report summarised evidence of a ‘mismatch’ between economic growth, environmental sustainability and human wellbeing, and
called on politicians, policy experts, commentators, business people, religious leaders and NGOs to ‘put these issues on their must-get-to-grips-with agenda, rather than defer them endlessly as tomorrow’s issues’. The Commission itself kick-started that process with a series of stakeholder workshops (held during the latter part of 2003) to discuss the report’s findings.
During 2004 and early 2005, SDC worked closely with government to renew the UK Sustainable Development Strategy. In particular, the Commission itself led the engagement process that resulted in the five Sustainable Development ‘principles’. A key element in these principles is the recognition that – rather than being an end in itself – a ‘sustainable economy’ should be regarded as the means to reaching the more fundamental goal of a ‘strong, healthy and just society’ that is ‘living within environmental limits’ ".
It cannot be simpler this time
For more information visit: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications/downloads/prosperity_without_growth_report.pdf