Debating Foreign Aid: Right Versus Left

Foreign aid is a complex international institution which, over the years, has experienced a number of transformations. Most of these changes, however, cannot be understood outside the ideological environment in which they were engendered. Building on this analytical insight, the article argues that the debate on development assistance has always been framed in terms of an opposition between forces of the Right and forces of the Left. The first part of the article explains how the very definition of aid has been influenced by the Right-Left opposition. The second section uses the Right-Left distinction to re-examine the key stages in the history of the aid regime. The third part summarises the assessment that the Right and the Left each make of a half-century of development assistance. Finally, the conclusion discusses the significance of this contribution to the study of aid and international relations.