Recommended Reading for "Cuban Twitter" Critics: Development as Freedom

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Critics of U.S. policy toward Cuba have tried to use the sensationalist reports about the Zunzuneo program ("Cuban Twitter") to renew their attacks on USAID's democracy programs.

Amid their fake outrage, they pose the rhetorical question:

Why is a development agency administering a democracy program?

The answer is simple:

Because "freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its principal means." 

That quote is from Harvard economist and Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen.

It's from his book, "Development as Freedom," which should be recommended reading for those critics who pose the question above.

Here's the book's Introduction:

Development can be seen, it is argued here, as a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy. Focusing on human freedoms contrasts with narrower views of development, such as identifying development with the growth of gross national product, or with the rise in personal incomes, or with industrialization, or with technological advance or with social modernization. Growth of GNP or of individual incomes can, of course, be very important as means to expanding the freedoms enjoyed by the members of the society. But freedoms depend also on other determinants, such as social and economic arrangements (for example, facilities for education and health care) as well as political and civil rights (for example, the liberty to participate in public discussion and scrutiny). Similarly, industrialization or technological progress or social modernization can substantially contribute to expanding human freedom, but freedom depends on other influences as well. If freedom is what development advances, then there is a major argument for concentrating on that overarching objective, rather than on some particular means, or some specially chosen list of instruments. Viewing development in terms of expanding substantive freedoms directs attention to the ends that make development important, rather than merely to some of the means that, inter alia, play a prominent part in the process.