MARTYN NAMORONG | Part 2 of a two part series
DEVELOPMENT IS THE CREATION of the perception that an introduced culture is new, better, and superior to a prevailing culture or social order.
It is a perception that what exists in one society is inferior to another. It is the perception that a new product is better than an old product. It is the perception that progress is good without highlighting the negatives.
Truth is, development or progress can be good or bad or even both simultaneously.
Development has more in common with advertising than it has with creating fair and equitable societies.
It is cultural genocide to the extent that it creates the idea some cultures are inferior to others. It classifies inferior cultures as undeveloped and superior cultures as developed. It creates the perception of a developed world and an undeveloped world.
Because people buy into the idea that their cultures and societies are inferior, the feel the 'need' to attain the 'new', 'improved', 'advanced', 'modern' ideas, technologies, cultures, economic and political practices of another.
Let me clarify one thing. I understand that a stone axe is inferior as an effective tool for chopping trees. Thus, acquiring metal axes is development. And as soon as a people feel the need to acquire metal axes, an economic and power relationship develops where one party is superior to another.
The people who produce metal axes are automatically classified as a superior culture by those who have stone axes. The stone axe culture is classified as primitive by the metal axe culture.
Development is then defined in terms of acquisition of metal axes. The story of development is what happened when metal axes defined everything. This then led to influences in religion, language, politics, trade, etc.
But what if the stone axe culture was more equitable than the metal axe culture? What if the stone axe culture shared resources better while the metal axe culture exploited each other?
What if the stone axe culture was sailing the oceans way before the metal axe culture? Today a vehicle with large greenhouse emissions is viewed as progress compared to a donkey and cart.
People from the stone axe culture continue to be judged by the standard of the metal axe. They continue to depend on outsiders to supply metal axes. They are no longer in control of their destiny as they once were for thousands of years.
Even if they start producing their own axes, they are in effect judging themselves by the same standard and in effect stating that the other culture is superior.
Producing metal axes is not development. There's nothing new, innovative or advanced about replicating technology. Development is when the stone age culture leaps forward to producing light sabres!
Now you understand what drives the race between nations in technological innovation. It really is about who drives the global agenda of development and human progress based on the model of 'development'.
The development game is really about creating and perpetuating the power relationship between the stone axe culture and the metal axe culture.
I now ask what is more important: development for the sake of being a developed nation or the creation of more independent and equitable societies.
Development exists on the basis of exploitative innovation. There is nothing wrong with innovation except when it becomes a tool for disempowering people and generating disparity.
Because you are an undeveloped stone-axe country you need our metal axes to become developed like us. Because you're ugly, you need our beauty products to make you look better. Because you're animists, we prescribe a superior deity to serve your spiritual needs.
Because everyone seems caught up in the development story, they have lost focus on creating equitable and just societies. Very few are telling stories of how certain cultures created more equitable societies.
Cultures like those in Melanesia were truly independent and everyone had an equitable share of the land and resources.
People and cultures that want development are disempowered societies with an inferiority complex generated by another culture that dominates them.
They are therefore more likely to fall into the traps of the dominant culture as it exploits them while promising to emancipate them from their inferior state. And inferior state created by the dominant culture for the purpose of exploiting and plundering.
People and cultures that want Independence and national sovereignty, are an empowered class of citizens in control of their national economy and political processes. Indeed the need for national sovereignty and self reliance comes out of a strong sense of pride about one’s culture and identity.
The need for development comes out of being told by another culture that you're inferior- you're primitive therefore you need development.
The need for national sovereignty and self reliance is articulated by an empowered people who affirm their cultural identity and the links they have to their land and resources.
These are people who understand that these resources must be sustainably managed if they are to have an independent economy and by virtue of that an independent government for perpetuity.
They are a people in control of their land and resources and are able to dictate to the government their aspiration for liberty and the pursuit of happiness.