I’ve blogged a few times before about paternalism in conservation and development. Despite its fallbacks, and pejorative associations, paternalistic is a label I happily apply to myself, because I think it is both accurate, and highly relevant to the successes in which I have been involved up to now. However, it most certainly does have its limits, and one must be constantly on the watch for over-doing it.
As I have argued before, I think just about all aid is inherently paternalistic, so it is not surprising that paternalism is rife within the conservation and development worlds. But I also think it is highly prevalent because that is what practitioners are used to: it has become the default way of thinking for many, and in that lies many dangers. However, these self same practitioners can be highly critical of paternalism when it is done to us, even when, in fact, we might benefit from it; something we would do well to remember when our own paternalistic instincts generate unexpected resistance.
Advice: the gift that is so much easier to give than to receive.