The Northern and Southern spheres of humanity have never been as divided as they are today, and as they could continue to become. What Gérard Winter sees as the main obstacle to positive change is a set of clichés combining to create an erroneous perception of poor and under-developed nations. Examining the statistics collected for one village in Africa, for example, he finds that they all revolve around a Western definition of subsistence. The results, therefore, are skewed, and come out looking much more negative than they should. Look at the same village using a combination of social sciences, a “pluridisciplinary approach” and you find vitality, progress, subsistence, and lack of poverty. This is an inspired, measured, and passionate re-telling of the story of the South, and of how we came to have the perception of it that we have today. If we continue to despair that we will ever see positive change in the poorer nations, this could lead not only to a gradual neglect of the South, but also a total estrangement. There is danger of a whole other order if this happens, putting the North’s own survival at risk.
Gérard Winter : Gérard Winter, economist and graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique, is director of research at the Institute of Research for Development, where he was the director general for six years. He is a member of the High Council for International Cooperation.