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Libyan Writer Ghoma
الكاتب الليبي غومة

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Sunday, 26 August, 2010

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APPROACHES TO DEVELOPMENT:
No Development Without Creativity and Originality!

(Part IX)

By: Ghoma

" Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is
  the inability to use one's under- standing without guidance from another."  Emanuele Kant



        The Industrial Revolution has profoundly affected how and where people live. It moved people from farming into the factory andf from the countryside into urban centers. It caused, for the first time in history, almost a total exodus from the countryside. Slowly but persistently cities became both the magnet and the catalyst to population survival and growth . Today in the industrialized world only small fraction still practice farming and live in rural areas. More than 95% work and live in urban areas or their surrounding suburbs.

        Urban life wouldn't be possible without some degree of organization. National and urban economy demanded new ways of organization and management. Mass urbanization coincided -as well as the catalyst for- with the rise of new"sciences of the state," (economics, political science, statistics, sociology, etc.) or the ability to organize and manage human affiars on a grand scale, reasonably. When millions of people come together all issues pertaining to life acquire exponential complexity. Since, both urbanization and organization had very little history to lean on thus only science and technology can guide their uncharted paths. The history of the industrial city and its horrific working class conditins, in croweded andpest-infested tenements, during 18th and 19th centuries, had left tragic memories that still weigh heavily on urban planning and public housing thinking. For, prior to industrialization, when life was centered in the countryside, there was very little need for organization at all and less for a higher forms of its specifics. However, willi-nilly, with more and more rural people moving into urban centers the need for organizing and administering large numbers of people rose dramatically out of necessity. Not only to provide basic services that consititute an urban economy, but also to provide incentives and training in the ways of the new economy, and more so to keep the huddling masses safe and secure. These challenges were huge and complex undertakings even for developed societies. They become incredibly intractable once crossed into those forsaken lands where modernity, industrialization, and the like are still in short supply, if not anathemas, as in the Middle Eastern region?

        It's nothing new to say that cities in Arabstans have been suffering from all kinds of ills: starting from shortage of jobs, lack of services, etc. to virtual chaos and cankerous corruption. Furthermore, the Gulf Wars have added another dimension to this precarious picture. They've exposed the weakness underlying contemporary urban-centered life: its total dependency on technological systems. These wars have shown in particular, the vunerabilities of urban populations and the fragility of complex systems, that's, the inability of the latters to withstand the onsluaght from the same techological setup. For, it didn't take long or much for the 'Allied Armies' to unleash their wrath, of cruise missiles and carpet-bombing, targeting the basic infrastructures of entire cities. The indiscriminate bombing of vital systems had practically (re)-turned life in Iraq, for instance, a semi-organized-state, back into where it was eons of centuries ago. Targeting power plants, electric grids, communication towers, water and sewerage plants, rails and highways, ports and airports, etc. have not only done away with what sustained basic life but also unglued the few ties which held that country together on top of dismantling its state. These fledging systems, a result of an intricate importation process, had taken decades to implant in often time still inhospitable terrain. Though, these systems were all also childern of as well as symbols of modernity and its stock of know-hows. The importers have severed the umbilical chord which bounded these systems to their life sustaining support: Science. Indeed the relative ability to live in big agglomerations were made progressively easier only by the powers of science and technology. Modernity enabled states in addition to creating new economies to meet demands for jobs of an incresaingly growing surplus population -while it's also made it easier to control them- but also to lay down ancillary services that would cater for the basic necessities. While such conditions grew realtively organic and were accepted as the price for a well-developed societies, the same couldn't be said in the less developed ones. In these latter, the rapid and chaotic urbanization has hampered economic growth and thus has turned these states more and more into cauldrons of poverty. Urbanization has also turned the population in these states into mere pawns in the technological pawnshop's mammons and thus subjected to the latter's dictates. Thus Gulf Wars have not only exposed the structural deficits Arab societies still suffering but also have brought to the fore the shortcomings of technology importation.

        While technology by itself was never a panacea, or all blessings, it becomes even less so in backward corners. Its mixed bag of goods and ills remains to be digested by people who've proved so far to be incapable of raising themselves to its level. For, technolgy came always fraught with all kinds of hidden dangers and loopwholes. Hence, if ther's any silver lining to these wars it must be in making clearer technology's two-edges nature: in its makeup come embedded also the germs to its own destruction: its dual tendency to centralization and complexity.

        Why the importation has not succeeded in striking roots in the new lands? And why the importers have not worked to make these systems local and safer? Because the importers have not cared as much about the ideas behind the products as about the products themselves. Because Technology, like any other product of human ingenuity, cannot take roots and flourish in a terrain that lacked both the use of reason -the substratum to the new products- or the necessary cultural cleansing as preparation to receive them. Hence from the start, the process of importation was far from adaptation, meant only for immdiate consumption. Their importation was an impulsive act of self-gratification: to boost their moral, and to use these products as long as they lasted, without any intention to interact with the premises underlying these systems. The seed of germ resided, not in the fake and faint attempts to root and domesticate these systems or the technology behind them, but more importantly in the less spontaneous yearning to understand them, than, say, the urge to buy them. A cause which has contributed to their remaining strangers in strange lands speaking with different tangues. Had the process been adaption, it would have, if nothing else, exposed the vulnerabilities that were inherent in these systems. And thus would have enbaled the locals to improvise some remedies, antidotes, to counteract their total breakdown. Instead the way these systems were implemented, unaltered and unprotected, a process which had made of them mere sitting ducks waiting for whatever comes their way to knock them off. The mere size and complexity of these systems demanded some form of protection. Thus avoiding turning them into entrapment for their users. Sadly, entire population have become hostages to systems and powers they couldn't do without, but in the same time have very little control over. Life in the 21st century has turned out for many wretched corners of the globe to be not different from what it was back then, in yore-times, when Nature had decided human fates, who lived and who died, Technology nowdays has replaced God and could decide the destiny of entire communities, who shall survive and who shall perish.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com


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Part 9 Part 10

More Articles Written By Ghoma

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