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Libyan Writer Ghoma
الكاتب الليبي غومة

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Friday, 21 May, 2010

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APPROACHES TO DEVELOPMENT:
No Development Without Creativity and Originality!

(Part III)

By: Ghoma

"...The causes of illusions are not pretty to discover. They are either vicious or tragic. This one is both ... I mean that groups of men are vacuums. Great big empty nothings. They say we can't visualize a total nothing ... It's simple enough to fight any enemy, so long as there to be fought ..."
                                                 Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, pp. 311-12



        Since development involves society's mind and heart, from the way it percieves itself to its customery habits. It's a challenging task to enact such a re-orientation to society's total raison d'etre: from the purpose of life to the purpose of coming together. Re-ordering society's priorities and re-inventing its reason to be. It's a multi-generations project. When it was started right, eventually will lead to the desired promised land. In between the initial steps and the stage at which modernity becomes an accepted fact, a status quo, there might be some maneuvering to make. Was development a straight line, goal oriented project, or a multi-stage enterprise prone to turns and twists? In other words, is development an imperative necessity with predetermined conclusions, akin to business-like undertaking, so to speak, or rather an open-ended march subject to multiple tweakings and interpretations –that's, development would come close to the metaphor of a poem rather than an equation? Depending which paradigm was deemed appropriate for the particular society, a course of action would ensue. If the choice was for the first, the poem paradigm, as some of the nations in Westren Europe and Japan had done, it'd take longer and prone to all kinds of twists and turns. If the second, the Equation, as in the case of China, the course may be shorter but the consequences would also be no less risky. Whichever paradim was chosen, a "What" and a "How" must still be confronted. The "what" the content and the ends, must determine the "how" or the means to achive the preset ends.

        So far, the traditional course of modernization taken by most nations that made it to Industrialization, with the exception of India? took 3 to 4 generations to realize. A century-long upheavals! That's what it takes to produce a relatively new, more liberated and analytical, type of an individual. An individual whose beliefs are based only on reason and human capacity to face the unfathomable.

        The Arab World in general and Libya in particular have so far missed the citizenship stage, where the peasant and the bedouin would be turned into the proletariat. Workers aware of the duties and rights of citizenship. That was the traditional path trodded by most other nations who have made it so far to the developed stage, excep India! The petro-dollar states are, like India, an exception. They have experienced a truly historical aberration because of the so-called 'curse of oil'. Take for instance Libya. Until the 1950's was only a theoretical possibility. What took place sine the gushing out of oil was a virtual jump in the void across the gap of history, that gap bridging the prehistoric stage to somewhere in modern times. This leap in the dark has involved a tremedous diplacement of humans and their way to gain a living. Because of a lack of urban life and traditions in the country, this trail of sorrow ended in a quasai automatic grafting of village life and mores into what until then were few sleepy urban centers. The oil boom had caused cities suc as Tripoli, Benghazi, etc.- to implode into their surroundings with shanty towns. The "urban explosion" was not limited to the existing big towns, but spread to other parts of the country. Virtual Potosis had sprung overnight in Libya as well as in the rest of the Middle Eastern region.

        What oil from the heart of the desert had done to a population which was living on the edge of sustenancesent a tremendous shocks across all the spectrum of social expectations. What black gold has done in Libya was no different from what silver had done in Bolivia of the 17th century- attracted droves of rural folks into what deemed to be the new Eldorados of the oil age. Thus what until then were sleepy small towns and villages were crowded to the ranks of full-fleged cities.

        The population influx has caused a unique urban form to take shape -made out of blocks of concrete boxes with little taste for the non-essential, and without the necessary supporting ancillary services. The new urban conglomerates are jungles privy of what would make them more than the sum of their parts, more than a clustering of mere buildings, civic institutions as their older versions of past ages were. This distortion to the traditional historical process has not been overcome yet at a distance of more than half-century. The Middle East's sidestepping of the proletarization cycle -a necessary revolution to raise workers' awareness for their new conditions, where the currency of exchange are either brains and brawns- has created a dependent menality with high sense of entitlement The implanting of raw rural populace into an urban environment dominated by patronizing governments has generated a highly passive population, waiting to be fed, clothed, educated, and taken care of from the cradle to the tomb.

        One question facing all those study development issues remains to be answered: How to turn hilly-billies into skilled labor force. No infrastructures or any of all the other shindigs alone, have shown to be doing the job. What oil revenues could buy was not enough to effect the mental transformations needed to thrust the teeming masses into the creative bursts that would trigger the take-off. Some Examples may clarify better the drift of of the argument. Germany's and Japan's infrastructures were completely destroyed during WWII, however, their well-educated and well-trained individuals, though demoralized, were able to absorp the shock fast enough to drive the engine of recovery with even higher speeds. An educated and skilled populace rose from the ruins and ashes-of their destructions- to rebuild and become once again economic and technological giants in the new world order. Another example, Israel. From the get-go was designed as a developed state. By attracting well-developed and educated individuals, the Zionist Movement was able to establish a developed and first rate state from scratch. Such examples would add to the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset's (1883-1955), anecdote: if the British and Nepalese were to switch places, the British more likely will find a way to survive better in their new environment than the Nepalese would cope with the difficulties of keeping a well-built up country running.

        A fully conscious and aware individual is both a product and a promotor to a purposeful social order. What kind of individual this new man/woman is? An individual soaked in freedom and reared on reason. This idividual, inimic to superstition, will only rise when the past was reduced to ashes, to claim his/her place as the cornerstone of development. How this phaenix will rise? That's the crucial question. If definitions and purposes of development were to free themselves from the quatitative measures (goals) and instead focus on the most important of all standards: the freeing of the individual. The main and most important infrastrucure for any social change. How then to set the individual to be a citizen should become the task to work for. Strategies and priorities have to abandon the illusions of numbers and instead the attention should focus on putting all the eggs in the basket of how to nurture and build an individual, tearing down the constituents of victimhood, and instead inducing him/her to be victims only to their own circumstances, and thus enbaling then to be true agents of history. The new man/woman will be inched slowly to problem-solving, away from parroting tired nostrums and the mantras of old, and to be active self-initiators. In their brave new world these folks will be the only ones responsible for their lives, rather than waiting for some bureaucrats or bearded-ignoramuses to tell them what to do or how to live.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
Part 9 Part 10

More Articles Written By Ghoma

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