Development has become the central organizing concept in terms of which the historical movement and direction of social systems are analyzed, evaluated and acted upon. It is now a methodological principle, and analytical matrix for conceiving and interpreting social processes, a regulative idea in terms of which these processes, and the structures they give rise to, are compared, evaluated and given some sense of direction, as well as a praxeological notion for mobilizing and justifying social action in pursuit of policy objectives. As such it is the dominant myth of the current epoch. Although many alternative development theories and programmes emerge to challenge or surpass the weaknesses of their predecessors, such apparent advances obscure the enduring nature of the underlying commonality shared by such differing initiatives and which circumscribe their scope. The demands of the developmental crisis and theory diverge farther and farther from each other such that the current development debate comes to resemble more and more the scholastic debates that marked the transition from mediaeval philosophy to modern thought. The underlying commonality is that the dynamics of the world system as a whole are essentially determined by the movement of capital, namely the valorization and accumulation of capital on an ever-expanding scale. It is this process which lies behind the historical and contemporary development of the modern world-system, and it is this which developmentalism, as the philosophy of that system, expresses and subserves, resulting in unequal and uneven development as well as recurring cycles of expansion and stagnation.
In seeking to "develop" themselves via developmentalist strategies, individual countries collectively promote capital accumulation on a world scale, and hence also reproduce the contradictions inherent in the movement of capital, globally and within each of them. It is because developmentalism refuses or is unable to recognize these fundamental contradictions, which continue to intensify crisis after crisis, that is has reached an impasse. This impasse, in turn, is nothing else but the particular expression of the crisis of the world-system itself. The immobility of the philosophy is conditioned by the contradictions of the global society.
The failure of developmentalism cannot be ascribed either to lack of ideas or to a dearth of creativity. Its contributions in creating a rich and diversified economic structure have been colossal. Its failure was due to: its inability to control monetary and financial imbalances; the productive structure it generated that placed great emphasis on the concentration of resources; and the approach to development was primarily economic, thus neglecting other social and political processes.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.