Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Rural Development

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The widespread discussion about development in general, and in less developed countries in particular, is held regardless of the diversity of traditional cultures. The following study critically examines resource management in times of declining public funding.

The Scotsman Adam SMITH (1729-1790), created the idea of a national economy with 'Of the wealth of Nations', 1776. His model is part of European history; he himself had never visited a different culture. Smith was the mastermind of mass production and believed in the idea that markets regulate themselves.

The Englishman John Maynard KEYNES (1883-1946) reacted to the catastrophic economical situation of the twenties with 'A Treatise on Money', 1946. His solution was that the state had to invest if private funding was not available. This applied to industrial countries of the time.

The German Karl MARX (1818-1883) analyses the state of his contemporaries in 'Kapital', Volume 1, 1867 and looks at the autonomy of money and its development into capital. The conclusion: the rich become richer. He only addressed the situation on the subcontinent marginally, backing his argument on little and incorrect literature; he realized his mistake, but did not react upon it, because he was only concerned with industrialized countries.

The Frenchman Frederic BEIGBEDER (1965- ), attacks the consumption-driven society in '99Francs', 2000, arguing that it is the product of the western world. The former advertising expert points out that we only value what we pay for.

These four examples only look at industrialized countries. They don't take religion, politics or society as defining factors of their arguments into consideration. The relations between people, the positions of women and children are not accounted for and therefore of no importance. The fact that these issues do play a role demonstrates how one-sided developments are thought of and written about and how they are then perceived as common knowledge.

The German Max WEBER (1864-1920) states in 'Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus', 1905, how the religion of the occident shapes the economy to such a degree that the latter turns into a religion in itself, -the truth of which can be found in many industrialized nations.

The Germans Theodor W. ADORNO (1903-1969) and Max HORKHEIMER (1895-1973) argue in 'Dialektik der Aufklaerung', 1947, that culture, by which they mean western civilization, has an inbuilt self-destructive mechanism, and highlight the boundaries. As sociologists, they don't point out the basic mistake of the exemplary country USA: unlike in European countries, one did not have to consider land rights in early economic dealings in the States.

People had to be fair-skinned; everyone else was regarded as ape-like creatures with no entitlement to any belongings. In this way production costs could be kept low, which ruined economic centers in Europe. This is reflected in literature of the time, i.e. G. HAUPTMANN or E.ZOLA.

Protestant ethics, as described by WEBER, was so successful, because fellow Christians managed to accumulate their capital by skimming the market between Europe and the United States - based on western culture. A serious debate between cultures never took place because the culture of the occident was regarded as the unquestionable benchmark.

The Frenchman Alexis de TOCQUEVILLE (1805-1859) reported in 'De la democratie en Amerique', 1835 and 1840, about his study trip to the USA. He was politically interested and thrilled about the American democratic system , which he regarded as the advancement of the French revolution.

His study does not explain how prosperity had accumulated; neither does it mention that property did not play a role in the beginnings. This does not mean to be little his efforts.

When we think of great classics of the occident, such as Thomas HOBBES (1588-1679), and his 'Leviathan' from 1651, or John LOCKE (1632-1704) with 'The Treatises of the Government' from 1689, or the Frenchman Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) with 'Du contrat social', 1762, or the Englishman John Stuart MILLS (1806-1873) with 'On Liberty' from 1859, - we realize that other cultures play absolutely no part in their works.

We note in amazement that even representatives of other cultures argue on the basis of thinkers and philosophers of the western world!

This is not surprising because the elites of other countries were educated within the western system without questioning its values. On the contrary, they were and still are busy helping to ruin their traditional cultures. They don't believe that their own culture might be of economic value and follow the example of their western teachers, in whose countries traditional culture can only be found in museums or in form of artificial events with purely economical purpose.

Karl Marx's ideas are finally on the right path after years of misunderstanding. When he writes about the lowering of wages by the capitalists in order to employ cheaper labor, he could not foresee the situation in developing countries of today, but the result remains the same.

We are on the way to - this time global - impoverishment? In our era of globalization, when presidents are encouraging a dialog between native activists and foreign investors, it is time to question these campaigns in the light of history.

European nations boldly and coldly divided the African hemisphere in about 1889. Africa was turned into a massive formation of colonies, without consulting the people concerned. On the one hand it wouldn't have been in vogue at the time - this expression is used specifically and deliberately; on the other hand: the people concerned were underdeveloped.

A side note: when the colonization of the new world began, the land was deserted; there were no people around, - apart from a few 'primates' (see above).

An after effect of the French revolution was the liberation of South American colonies from Spanish reign. This chronological head start compared to the African developments contributed to the creation of different kinds of mistakes. However, at the time confidence prevailed as they were looking up at their role models in Europe - we know today that these role models were mirages.

The partition of what is known today as Spain and Portugal in the 16th century was a fine symbol of faith - with disastrous after-effects. It appears that it is unnecessary to ask those who are concerned when it comes to matters of faith.

If we look at the present situation in the western world with a distance, we can see the following state of affairs:

1. The amount of jobs is declining; - production is transferred to countries with cheaper labor.

2. Unemployment rates in industrialized countries differ due to creative methods of presenting the statistics when in fact living conditions are deteriorating.

3. Decreasing taxes reduce the possibilities of governments; libraries, theatres, etc. have to close down. The after-effects are declining amounts of funding for international organizations and for bilateral projects.

New product ideas fail due to global developments. Whether a product is already in the making or still in the planning stages, it is much cheaper to manufacture in Asia (or China respectively).

This matter of fact ought to result in a return to traditional roots and to a reshuffle of production methods in a way that it would not be profitable for industrial manufacturing. Besides, only a unique product, characteristic of its region will make a profit.

It is therefore paramount to rethink the strategies in order to secure a future outside of industrial manufacturing in times of dwindling public funding.

Creativity is key when production costs become too high. The saying rings true that even a fool can make things happen with lots of money, but a lot of intelligence is required to tackle the opposite scenario.
A good example for this: the foundation of a university requires considerable funds from public as well as private sources.

Tax money is involved directly or indirectly in any case. In the past one could count on an annual increase in tax income in central Europe. But what happens if a new situation occurs, like stagnating, or even declining public income?

In Keynes' and his successors' times the (pseudo-)solution was to raise a credit from the state. Others believed in saving, which usually didn't pay off in time.

Meanwhile a lot has changed in global economics - other countries are producing much cheaper, even industrially. The cutback on jobs and the movement of labor, as well as the relocation into cheaper countries suggest themselves, as taught in second semester business studies. It pleases the shareholders and shifts problems, just like it was practiced in the past.

But times have changed, and what used to be practical and appropriate is not suitable anymore, a radical rethink is necessary.

Let's return to our university example. The planning would probably be completely different if one was aware of possible difficulties in establishing a new university. One would consider running costs from the start. There's a technical chance to optimize costs on a higher level through facility management - the insider knows, it's all about minimization!

In practical everyday life, the politically active only needs to make use of a consulting team to procure missing and unpleasant arguments, as learnt in second semester business studies.

Shrinking systems with declining income need to rethink radically - as mentioned before - but how? The establishment of network systems can help to cut down on capacities. In our example of a new university, the logical step would be to get existing institutions to take part in a collaborative project, rather than investing huge sums. These co-operations allow for a reduction of expenses and help both parties: the - formerly - private, now state funded university provides the framework; the affiliated institutions provide their space and benefit from the university status.

Both parties can exist quite independently. The local market can be used to produce alternative equipment in the case of technological start-up difficulties, rather than having to import machinery. The use of alternative technologies linked with a social network system is an important precondition for the necessary changes. It is a solution for the time after the economic growth hysteria. The 'neutral' rediscovery of traditional cultures and practices is vital to solve problems of the presence.

We should honour the ones we need, at least for the short term! This is difficult at times. It is a relief to know that one cannot generalize, everyone's different after all. In this case we shall discuss a certain kind...
The wealthy like to hang out in so-called service clubs. Those who have gained prosperity through honest actions can confidently miss out on this. But the 'hardworking' individuals who trick people into investing their money under the pretext of safety should be struck by something - if not by lightning! One can obviously argue that the consulters carry some responsibility as well, since 'it needs two to tango', which is true. In this case however, we have our sights on the selected few of the service clubs. Projects are funded with their help, - humanitarian help is written all over their flagship events that serve mainly to promote themselves. The humanitarian aspect is not so altruistic if it allows for a hefty tax reduction.

Short-sightedness and thoughtlessness lead to these kinds of image boosting PR events, the root of the problem is forgotten.

One can throw a party once a year for example, invite a lot of poor people, provide something decent for them to eat and to drink, maybe even have a conversation, one can feel good about oneself and demonstrate sympathy for the underprivileged at the same time.

One can also provide a lot of machinery for poor people living in problematic areas, so that they can use more electricity and enjoy life.

If one was to look at the roots of the problems, one would have to question one's own existence! Could that seriously be the way?

Obviously not! One therefore confines oneself to reaping profits and consoles one's conscience by giving some of it away. After all, one is a good human being and the world is meant to see that.

Long time ago, in the Middle Ages, one could pay for one's indulgences. Getting to heaven was costly. One did not want to miss out. These days, developments in politics, society, economy and religion mean that a minority can live like it is heaven on earth.

Therefore it can only be right and cheap to share some of the reaped. So that certain elites can show how they are doing good deeds. The poor are to blame for their situation anyway, but we want to show that we haven't forgotten them. But please, don't step closer, or it might get critical...

Author Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch, Voluntary Director, TTTC TGD (and CAT) can be approached here:

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:47 AM,


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