Robert Heilbroner’s essay, “Counterrevolutionary America,” is the most intelligent and forceful statement of a point of view that is widely held by writers on economic development in the Third World.’ Although Heilbroner is an economist, his conclusions rest only to a minor degree on economic expertise. Both in the article and in his earlier book-length essay, The Great Ascent,2 he fully recognizes that economic development necessarily involves massive social and political changes in addition to the changes in the techniques and the organization of production that the term connotes in its narrow sense. Heilbroner’s argument, anticipated in his earlier book but stated far more strongly and without qualification in the more recent article, is that the obstacles posed to rapid economic development by traditional values and old established ruling elites are so great that a revolution bringing to power a Communist-type totalitarian dictatorship can alone be ...
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