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Edited by Jonathan Michie
Chapter 24: Kicking Away the Ladder – Globalisation and Economic Development in Historical Perspective
24 Kicking away the ladder – globalisation and economic development in historical perspective* Ha-Joon Chang 1 Introduction To most of those who govern the global economy today – the developed country policy-makers, international business leaders, and the international economic organisations (the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO) – the solution to the problem of economic development is obvious. What the developing countries need, they argue, is the ‘good’ economic policies and institutions that the developed countries themselves used in order to develop – such as liberalisation of trade and investment and strong patent law. Their belief in their own recommendation is so absolute that in their view it has to be imposed on the developing countries at all costs, through strong bilateral and multilateral external pressures. As is well known, there have been heated debates on whether these policies and institutions are suitable to the developing countries. However, the curious thing is that even those who are sceptical of their suitability rarely question whether these are the policies and the institutions that the developed countries actually used in order to become rich. The historical fact is, though, that the rich countries did not develop on the basis of the policies and the institutions that they now recommend to, and often force upon, the developing countries. In this chapter, I will establish this fact and draw from it some implications for today’s debates on globalisation and economic development. But before doing so, let me rst critically examine what I call the ‘ofcial history of...
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