[DEBATE] : Re: Forcing Africans to 'adapt' to poverty
hallowes at telkomsa.net
Tue Feb 13 12:57:34 GMT 2007
Clearly we disagree on what constitutes progress & indeed backwardness.
Civilisation/savage // Modern/primitive have certainly done sterling
ideological work over the last few (capitalist, imperialist) centuries.
Russell: Technically yes. How else has the world's population expanded so
hugely over time (surely this is progress?) and humanity been liberated from
all manner of suffering and backwardness? Obviously under different social
circumstances we could have done so much more.
David: The expansion of population does not seem to me in and of itself to
represent progress. Under different social circumstances, I think technology
would have developed differently. Productivity is central to capitalism and
its selection of technologies as well as its justifications for
dispossessing others. Which doesn't mean I think we should be unproductive.
But we should ask for whom and for what and at what cost - including
environmental. Cuba provides an interesting case of selecting for organic
agriculture in the face of an energy crisis in the 90s - and they used their
science base to support that. So the questions asked of science are changed
and, over time, what counts as knowledge changes.
Russell: The problem will always be that technological advance under the
present system will almost always be undertaken for profit and have uneven
consequences for humanity. Does this mean we reject these advances until
such time as the social arrangements allow otherwise?
David: No. It means that all technologies are political (& always have been,
most particularly when technology is represented as politically neutral).
There are indeed rather a lot of 'advances' that I think should be rejected:
nukes, gmos, smart missiles and the amazing advances in the technology of
Russell: Seems to me that current panics over limits to growth/global
warming often bear little relation to any sort of objective realities.
David: Kilimanjaro's ice cap will be gone by 2019. Along with it, the
agricultural system at the base which relies on glacier melt will go too.
But perhaps this is not what you mean by objective.
Russell: They reflect rather a generalised loss of bourgeois self-confidence
David: Hopefully that too.
Russell: Note e.g. the World Bank's adaptation of sustainable development
David: I and many other environmentalists have done so (including some of
those singled out by Chandler). There are of course, also some very powerful
environmental orgs that buy into that discourse of sustainable development.
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