The Monty Python guide to development: part 1 – politics

And now for something completely different.

No matter what your social station or what time period you lived in – from the milkman to the politician; from the investment banker, king, and revolutionary or peasant land worker – lampooning was distributed roundly and equally in all directions.

And who says that challenging globally inequalities and (under)development is the providence of annual report reading anoraks and international policy specialists alone?

Everyone was fair game for parody by the Monty Pythons (a 4 piece comedy troupe made up by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam). Their surrealist style is still as cutting and immediate now as it was thirty years ago in their BBC TV series from 1969-1983 and in the ‘historical’ films The Holy Grail (1975) and Life of Brian (1979).

The Pythons aren’t dead! They were just resting.

This is the first in a short series of posts on the Monty Python sketches most relevant to international development issues, inspired and with thanks to a recent Twitter conversation initiated by Duncan Green (Oxfam, GB). **health note: some of the clips contain profanities and are very likely to offend.


Good governance and accountability: “come see the violence inherent in the system! Help Help!”
A debate on types of government: Monarchy v Anarcho-syndicalism

Colonial legacies and institutions
aka what have the Romans ever done for us?

An essential guide to social movements and coalition building
Brought you by the People’s Front of Judea.

Debating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF): “Is this a 5 minute argument or the full half hour?”
Or what it might look like according to the Pythons.

Empowering groups can be hard work!
“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy. Now, go away!”

Class politics – maybe we have it wrong?
Turning class politics – between rich and poor – upside down.

Note: Coming next week: economics.