Skip to main content
Read page text

Page Text

MASS URBAN MIGRATION & UNEMPLOY.MENT "F,conomic growth", a purely quantitative concept without any qualitative determination, cannot be accepted as a rational objective of policy. The problem is how to obtain healthy growth. Experience shows that there are types of economic growth which spell increasing misery for ever more people and destroy all social cohesion. Many "developing" countries already suffer from internal economic divisions which are euphemistically called the "dual economy", where there are in fact two. different patterns of living as widely separated from one' another as two different worlds. It is not a question of some people being rich and others being poor, both being united by a common way of life: it is a question of two ways of life existing side by side in such a manner that even the humblest member of the one disposes of a daily income which is -a high multiple of the income accruing to even the hardest working member of fhe other. The social tensions arising from the "dual economy" are today evident in many, if not all, of the "d~veloping" countries. Again in passing, it may be mentioned that tendencies in this direction are recognisable even in the "richest country in the world", the United States, which have moved President Johnson to declare a "War on Poverty" to rescue from misery some 38 million Americans! It appears therefore that immensely strong forces of a disruptive kind are being let loose by certain modem developments of the economy. America may deploy massive wealth to cope with them; but how are the "developing" countries to master them without massive wealth? The experts rarely refer to the twin evils of mass unemployment and mass migration into towns in the "developing" countries. . When they do so, they merely deplore them and treat them as 'transitional'. Yet there is no evidence at all that time alone will be the great healer. · In case after case unemployment is greater at the end of a Five-Year-Plan than it had been at the beginning. · India is a case in point and so is Turkey. Developing countries "cannot include the goal of full employment among their immediate planning targets", says a recent study published in the In~mational Labour Review. They cannot, so it is argued, because they are short of capital. : As they cannot conquer unemployment, so the~cannot conquer mass migration, and as their towns grow to an ever more monstrous size they tend to absorb what little capital there is just to maintain more people in misery. There is need, it seems, for some fresh thlnking. It might help to remember certain fundamental truths, such as the undeniable fact that "capital" consists primarily of tools and machines, the purpose of which is to save work, or to • lighten it, or to enable people to accomplish more through it. : A lack of capital, therefore, should not mean less, but on the contrary, more work for people - more work, albeit less productive work. :Even work of low productivity is more troductive than no_ work at all. Why should we accept that "lack of capital" makes unemployment inevitable'? Lack of capital today means lack of modem machinery. Was there mass unemployment before the advent of modem machinery? Was there a mass flight from the land in the now-developed countries before the industrial revolution? To pose these questions does not mean to solve the problem as it faces us today, but it may help to make a constructive solution visible. It would seem that the primary task of the "developing" countries - and also of the givers_ of foreign aid - is to go straight into battle with the twin evils of mass unemployment and mass migration into cities. This means First that workplaces have to be created in the areas where the people are living now, and not primarily in metropolitan areas into which they feud to migrate; Second that these workplaces must be, on average, cheap enough so that they can be created in large number without this calling for an unattainable level of savings and imports; Third that the production methods employed must be relatively simple, so that the demands for high skills are minimised, not only in the production process itself but also in matters of organisation, raw material supply, financing, marketing, and so· forth; and Fourth that production should be largely from local materials for local use. These four requirements can be met only

(a) if there is a "regional approach" to development, and (b) if there is a conscious effort to develop what might be called an "!intermediate technology".

SIZE AS A CRITICAL FACTOR

A given political unit is not necessarily of the right size as a unit for economic development. If vast and expensive population movements are to be avoided, each "district" with a substantial population needs its own development. To take a familiar example, Sicily does not develop merely because Italian indust.ry, concent.rated mainly in the North of the country, is achieving high rates of economic growth. On the contrary, the developments in the North ·of Italy tend to increase the problems of Sicily through their very success by competing Sicilian trocluction out of existence and draining all talented and enterprising men out of Sicily. If no conscious efforts are made to counteract ·these tendencies in some way, success in the North spells ruination in the South with the result that mass unemployment in Sicily forces the population into mass migrat.ion. Similar examples could be quoted from all over the world. Special cases apart, any "district" within a country, if it is being by-passed by · "development", will inevitably fall into mass unemployment, which will sooner or later drive the people out. In.this matter it is not possible to give hard -and fast

9

Skip to main content