“Self-Reliance: The Communal Past as a Model for the Future” is the eighth chapter in the book by Gilbert Rist The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith. This chapter is a collection of captivating thoughts about the theory of self-reliance, its peculiar features, and paradox that attracts that attention of many people in the sphere of business and market relations.

The author chooses a powerful way to introduce and disclose the essence of self-reliance by means of a clear evaluation of experiences and the analysis of the achievements that are characterized by self-reliance. The main idea of the chapter is to prove that “the history of development merges with the history of the progressive destruction of self-reliance” (Rist 125). In order to comprehend the essence of this phrase it is not only necessary to comprehend how development happened and to evaluate self-reliance as a theory but also unite these concepts together and find out their strengths and weaknesses.

Summary of the Chapter and Ideas

To improve the general situation in many countries of the South, the discourses concerning obligatory modernization and independence were used during the 1960s. People had a hope to change the situation and achieve the necessary improvement, but those times created many difficulties for people.

In the chapter under consideration, the example of the Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere, is used to demonstrate how the theory of self-reliance was applied into practice and what outcomes of this attempt were. From the very beginning, certain points deserve reader’s attention because the application of this theory “tries to formalize, coherently and exhaustively, the mode of life that has prevailed on earth since the dawn of humanity, but at the same time presents this as a discovery bringing an indubitably new element to debate on ‘development’” (Rist 125). In 1961, Tanganyika gained its independence, and, as a new country on the world arena, faced considerable challenges on internal and external levels. Export and important of good underwent certain changes, and the government needed to takes the steps to re-evaluate the situation and be able to cope with challenges. However, what the country did not want to accept is different kinds of foreign aid because “independence means self-reliance” (Rist 128), and an independent country should find another ways to achieve prosperity but not accept the gifts of the others. With the help of this example, the author of the chapter represents a perfect list of ideas, which describe what self-reliance should never be and what main bases of self-reliance theory are.

Writer’s points of view about the subject

In this chapter, the writer’s views are perfectly identified. He does not want to accept the idea of self-reliance as something purely bad or purely good. This is why the analysis of the ideas and experience take place at first. Gilbert Rist admits that self-reliance is one of the theories that is able to stimulate creativity and value confidence, to promote people to accept the existing factors and environment, and finally, to involve different forms of development that is so obligatory to society. However, the idea that someone may practice self-reliance and someone fails to practice it put this theory under a doubt.

This is why the future of this theory is not clear, and the author underlines that much still depends on the way of how society can accept the idea of self-reliance and the conditions, under which it may develop to its full extent.

Works Cited

Rist, Gilbert. “Self-Reliance: The Communal Past as a Model for the Future.” In The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith. New York: Zed Books, 2002.


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