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You want to save the World?


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The power, prestige, and corruption of the international aid business



“Although it is the subject of pious literature, and it is credited with saintly and humanitarian motives, foreign aid often keeps strange and brutal company. In Mexico and Zaire, in the Philippines and Haiti, thieves and murderers, psychopaths and cheats have all been among its bedfellows. Elsewhere it has consistently bestowed its favours among the big battalions. Big corporations, big and wasteful projects, big, ambitious, absurd development plans, big ideas, and big bureaucracies have all flourished thanks to aid’s bounty. Meanwhile, local-level initiatives, relevant and realistic strategies, and the energy and enterprise of the poor in the Third World have been ignored…


“To continue with this charade seems to me to be absurd. Garnered and justified in the name of the destitute and the vulnerable, aid’s main function in the past half-century has been to create and then entrench a powerful new class of rich and privileged people. In that notorious club of parasites and hangers-on made up of the United Nations, the World Bank, and the bilateral agencies, it is aid – and nothing else – that has provided hundreds and thousands of ‘jobs for the boys’ and that has permitted record-breaking standards to be set in self-serving behaviour, arrogance, paternalism, moral cowardice, and mendacity. In the same time, in the developing countries, aid has perpetuated the rule of incompetent and venal men whose leadership would otherwise be utterly non-viable; it has allowed governments characterised by historic ignorance, avarice, and irresponsibility to thrive; last but not least, it has condoned – and in some cases facilitated – the most consistent and grievous abuses of human rights that have occurred anywhere in the World since the dark ages.


“In these closing years of the twentieth century the time has come for the Lords of Poverty to depart…” (back cover)

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