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In the emerging ‘post-Washington Consensus’ era, neo-liberalism is searching for alternatives that once again emphasise the state. Yet neither Latin American dependencia nor East Asian developmentalism – two development models actually practised ‘on the ground’ – shares the basic assumptions of the liberal, rationalist state. First, there persists a significant ontological divide over the purpose of the state. Developmentalists and dependentists advocate deep, dynamic state agency rather than the hands-off, liberal, ‘night-watchman’ state. Second, development theory has unfolded within a modern liberal framework of science, democracy, the interests of US foreign policy, and increasingly a commitment to poverty alleviation. Dependency and developmentalism reject these neo-liberal benchmarks in the interests of state consolidation and autonomy. The persistence of dependentist and developmentalist understandings of the state precludes a uniform, post-neoliberal reversal in development theory back to the state.

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