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Question 2: How do developing countries accept Western politics?

If it is not merely a matter of acceptance, then the question might be too soft an approach and not capture the criticism developing countries have of Western politics. To be sure, developing countries would like to articulate their different opinions, but often they seem to lack the resources and means. Not until Al Jazeera brought to bear the Arabic view on world news, only certain versions as communicated by the Western global media like CNN dominated. Then, the Western world rarely listens to what the developing countries wish to say. Most of the time, everything communicated is received and interpreted according to Western references. This subjegates knowledge of the world to but specific viewpoints. Rarely are efforts undertaken to understand, for example, as did Louis Baeck 'the Islamic view of Globalization', even though it would be crucial to know how this impacts on the economic policies of India, China, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia and other parts of the world.

But if it is solely a matter of finding out how developing countries accept the politics of the Western societies, then that question entails a provocation. Implicitly there is posed the more serious question, but how can something be accepted by developing countries if it is in reality totally unacceptable? Sometimes those living in the West with a critical understanding as to what happens at international level, they don't seem to understand why developing countries are not vocal enough in their criticism of Western politics. This difference in opinion as to what is acceptable or not can be noted when there are flagrant abuses of human rights e.g. Dafur, violent regime changes instigated as most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq or else no criticism of fraud, corruption etc. even if it becomes evident that elections were rigged in a country already for a long time in crisis e.g. South Africa's attitude towards Mugabe in Zimbabwe. The issue gets ever more complicated when in search of coalition partners at world conferences to criticize Western politics, there are aside from the 'silent majority' only left those with whom no one wants to talk with i.e. Islamic Fundamentalists and those who are categorized as 'terrorists' by the United States administration and by the European Union e.g. Hizbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in the Gaza strip.

Independently from all of this, acceptance fulfills an understanding that no alternative to the current politics is in sight. It suggests in a pragmatic sense what is possible and subscribes everything else to 'real politics'. Acceptance covers then a whole range of agreements which play themselves out within various categories of experiences along some key time lines i.e. as long as this is not accepted, then we cannot accept that either...Out of numerous such agreements emerge, therefore, disagreements, but kept silent or away from the negotiation table while other modalities common to international diplomacy are played out. Such a political interpretation of acceptance as an indication of how world politics is allowed to be played out by itself, and this within the usual diplomatic channels, means the world is literally preparing itself for the next bouts of real power games. They happen when a number of factors converge and especially once the world power, namely the United States of America decides unilaterally on certain actions e.g. the invasion of Iraq by the USA in response to 911.

That it is unacceptable, that the USA allowed itself to be provoked into a costly war by playing suddenly the role of the victim, needs not to be mentioned. However, all other countries had to accept that the USA wanted to regain a level of security it had enjoyed prior to 911 even if it was a mere myth to be invulnerable. A similar case was experienced by Israel in its Middle East conflicts, the latest in 2006 when the invasion of Lebanon brought no tangible results as the Hizbollah proved to be a formidable foe. With regards to the United States after 911 happened, all countries had to accept the Right to strike back after having been attacked even though it amounted to a full scale declaration of a global 'war against terrorism'.

Most crucial was, for example, how Pakistan came to accept this new imperative. Here Musharef positioned himself in a most clever way in a leading role to fight terrorism. In turn, by giving support to the USA led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, it did not question his role as military dictator in the same way as was the case of Saddam Hussein. Some simple lessons are learned by accepting the implicit and explicit messages given to the rest of the world by especially the invasion of Iraq.  Musharef responded to the USA demand before anyone else inside of Pakistan could make a decisive move.

In reality, as is the case of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, acceptance can mean two very different things: agreeing in principle with the need for regime change but not necessarily in the way it was done i.e. by invading and then toppling Saddam Hussein, or else accepting it by playing for time before taking a more definite position. The second follows the insight that nothing could be done to prevent such an invasion; while not agreeing, this opposition is not shown openly, but more so there is demonstrated overtly the pragmatic wish to stay out of trouble. Holding onto power predominates everything else. 

If possible, each leader or power group in the developing countries wish to avoid negative consequences for themselves. By accepting the way things are, they join in what can be called the game of tokenism: they enter formally and practically the coalition President Bush called for, namely "who is not with us, is against us", but they do not undertake anything serious which could undermine their position in the Third World. All this suggests acceptance levels of obvious needs for cooperation. They can be sealed off by memorandums of understanding. In turn that guarantees nothing is demanded from them which would exceed any normal expectation the Western World has of developing countries when it comes to making substantial contributions to world development and world peace.  

Accepting world power has always meant to take position, and if not coerced into one or the other block as was the case during the Cold War, every developing country seeks some leeway when it comes to the trade off between showing full cooperation and complying under own conditions. At the same time, many developing countries feel there is some advantage in appearing to be weak, underdeveloped, poor, insofar as images do play a role in the way political agreements are reached about distribution of resources at world level. This concerns as well aid given by international organisations and what policy measures are approved by the World Bank. It takes some time to correct images with what corresponds to reality e.g. India and China have long left former states of development and are now considered to be world players with regards to such indicators as economic growth, accummulation of wealth, increase in purchasing power etc. Precisely these latest developments force the world to take a new look at what are common shared resources and which have impact upon the living conditions of everyone around the world i.e. climate change, rain forests in Brazil, food famine etc.

Hindrance in letting international relationships be based on higher levels of acceptances stems from several factors:


One sided dependency rules out freedom as much as human dignity while the ‘unmoved mover’ (death or fear thereof) controls the other in such a developed / developing relationship which is, if looked at more carefully, but a mere repetition of the master-slave model as described by Hegel and more so by Hoelderlin in his poetic fragment about Empedocles. Here developing countries have to provide much more information on how they plan and think to overcome the problem Paulo Freire described so well in his “education for the oppressed”: when they are freed from their former colonial masters, they have no alternative model but reproduce under own terms exactly the same master-slave relationship they had experienced before, only now in the wish to be themselves the masters. A lot of the more obvious failures of various freedom or liberation movements can be explained in these overt terms. However, the need to provide information on what alternative development paths can and should be taken, puts a much greater burden on developing countries and at risk of still further self exploitation. It may go as deep as having to reveal their inner most dreams mainly expressed by parents put hope in the education of their children so that they will have a better life than themselves. By believing in education per say they risk giving in to new illusions and can well end up giving up everything, including the best friends and relatives, just to serve the new master, if not the colonial master of the past then the most powerful man in the village, that is the one who has all the money. They will become strangers in own terms as the alienation process of servitude no matter who is the real master of the game being played out at the cost of so many other human lives has that as outcome. Quite often people do that out of the belief that this is the only way they can survive. From such attitude leading to extreme forms of self denial and servitude masked as devotion to if not a cause, then a religion or football team, there cannot be expected decisive impulses for a real emancipation based on freeing the imagination in order to develop empathy for others. Once caught up in such a game people give up real friendships and make it into their credo to outplay all others by using their allegiance to foreign companies to gain in stature at home. They end up representing Western power by selling their own land and resources with the only compensation being the fact that they can get rich and afford things others cannot. Corruption has been named by the former anti corruption advisor to the Kenyan government as conspicuous consumption and taking the wrong things into consideration when making decisions. As a consequence they experience more and more break-downs in social relationships whereby upholding of traditional ties serves more the purpose of organizing society under these circumstances while masking the real loss of human relationships based on freedom, solidarity and mutual respect. Negritude was a humanistic inspiration meant by Senghor to create such a basis but the very failure of such a cultural attempt says a lot of the problems incurred at least in Africa, a continent facing quite different upheavals and forms of alienation when compared to Latin America or Asia. Once the strain becomes too much then also loyalties to foreign companies begin to falter like the night butterfly caught in the light of the burning lamp within the tent. It leaves too many stranded because caught in-between tribal and urban society with governments unable to cope with all the tensions being glossed over for the time being by exactly conspicuous consumption: a demonstrative life style to show off how lavish resources can be wasted or displayed as if having everything at one’s disposal. By reproducing a lot of misgivings simply by overdoing it by this chase for ever new forms of an exciting night life they consume money, time and energies without really knowing the next morning what happened to them the night before. These breakages in memory leaves society face what Agrifiotis said about Greece: ‘a continuity of discontinuity’. With time nothing progresses, nothing moves and irritations can surface very quickly at every spot or walks of life, whether at home, in school or in the streets. They are really angry at themselves for not having used the free time to emancipate themselves in a true manner and way the human spirit moves forward. There is the famous story by the slave Douglas who describes in his book how he finally escaped the South in the USA and made it up North. He described how all slaves on Saturday evening, when they had not to work, they would give in to alcohol instead use the free time to read and to learn. Not to stay sober in terms of human reality is always a grave mistake. For then the truth cannot be faced but all sorts of escapes become new temptations in order to just forget. Provocative statements are then made even in specific songs or lyrical protests: “man, why can you not stand the heat, beat your feet, run up the wall, show what you can do without the white man!” The failure to stay sober means in reality a lack of ability to develop a sense of truth and by not knowing what is authentic, sincerity is transformed into a lie by which to get by whenever some extra cash is needed, but without remorse when the other believes wrongly it was meant as basic truth. The relationship to others will remain forever distorted if there is no way to come to terms with the own inner self.

Corruption affects fore mostly the mind and means giving in to the wrong explanations so as to rationalize away contradictions and to forget how many promises have been already broken so that no new commitment holds longer than the next glass of wine or something stronger. Corruption of the mind leaves the difference between theory and practice outside any consideration and will reveal itself in anti-establishment positions just to appear popular within the main stream of political thinking, when in fact already working for dubious organizations making it their business to instill people with fear to become truthful to themselves.

The inability to govern themselves in a democratic way begins with corrupt elections and no honest transition of power being possible. It reflects that the wrong advice has been given but then the West prefers to deal with dictators as it is much easier to obtain lucrative contracts independent from possible objections people may have against such deals.

Infiltration of the minds has made even the most basic tool of emancipation, namely education into a propaganda exercise which the USA calls nowadays and after 911 ‘public diplomacy’ and which all Western powers prefer when using cultural means as extension of their diplomatic games so as to secure at the very least ‘friendly attitudes’ towards own companies and their products.

Usually the training methods offered tend to undermine self confidence and the ability to work together within an open learning process. Instead they cultivate dependencies upon specialized skills not known in the developing countries to exist and therefore their need to rely on specialists coming from the Western world. If training takes place in a space devoid of any self critical cultural context with regards to what Western methodologies imply, then those asked to participate in the training programs will only walk away with a much greater dependency not merely upon these skills, but the communication process in need to be upheld with the West in order to obtain updates for these skills but also the necessary funds for sustaining the process of cultural adaptation to these newest working methods.

Many more issues can be named but few are really taken up and analyzed accordingly in order to bring training methods into alliance with the need for local communities in developing countries to come to terms with them. The example below has been taken from the world debate about sustainable development in rural areas with the key priority being the communication process. A general criticism thereof is that the Western orientated communication process is too one sided and too economically orientated while not perceptive of the negative impact of such one sided development. It leaves in the end many issues open and complaints unanswered. Harmful is the delay in time before issues are dealt with and needs responded to. Often loss of time by not responding to authentic offers of cooperation creates right from the start a series of still further mistakes leading to a damaged relationship.

Key negative principles: not naming issues, not seeing inherent contradictions and lack of organizational abilities to resolve conflicts between traditional resource management methods and priorities given by managements of modern enterprises, including those methods applied in the tourist sector.

“Additional stress is placed on the environment and cultural practices and beliefs, including those related to traditional resource management practices by a recent surge in rural economic development activities. This has effectively translated to opening up remote areas to tourism and encouraging rural people to sell their available natural resources. The promotion of this type of development, however, tends to be unbalanced in that there is insufficient attention given to mitigating the stress to traditional resource management systems, as well as cultural diversity. For example, what are the cultural impacts of a cruise ship visiting a remote village and offloading 800 people for the day to roam around, often scantily clad and toting a beer in hand? Or the environmental and cultural impact of opening up a village’s reefs to a foreign company collecting aquarium trade resources like ornamental fish, corals, giant clams and other invertebrates? Very little, if any consideration is given to these issues, or how to mitigate these impacts when promoting these sorts of developments in rural areas.

Finally, in response to the initial environmental impacts and stress put on traditional management systems by these sorts of developments, many government agencies, regional organizations and NGOs respond by introducing Western models of resource management. The creation of ‘national parks, conservation areas or protected areas’ makes sense to Westerners from industrialized countries whereas it is often at odds with the Pacific Way of a balanced and integrated use of natural resources supported by traditional management systems. In summary, perhaps culture has a much larger role in guiding the development of the modern Pacific than it is currently given.”

Francis Hickey, Vanuatu

Alone if some of these factors mentioned by Francis Hickey are analyzed further, it can then be seen that local people will always give the Western approach to things more credit than what they believe themselves and what they have been practicing for centuries. This difference in credibility shows that the benefit of doubt goes mostly against natives or indigenous people since over centuries by now military conquest has been complemented by spiritual types of occupation based on inquisition and ‘cultural genocide’. Not surprisingly, after the Tsunami wave had struck there were immediately present religious groups from America and elsewhere in order not to help merely but to solicit amongst survivors new members for their religious organizations.

Issues to be dealt with or what needs to be anticipated due to certain development taking place:

Unforeseeable changes mean new stress factors, even fears if able to cope, since a different set of problems cannot be handled by people brought up and educated under very specific circumstances and therefore prepared only for a certain future and path of development. By entering the Western approach, they will learn fore mostly rationalization as a way to do away with contradictions and problems just to appear successful. It will mean not recognizing what people in the developing world have achieved so far. They do not have such a philosophical and cultural background that allows them to bury their problems so easily as can the Western mind and even more so they are unprepared to deal with the outcome of crude methods applied for then things are thrown wide open as they experience the social and cultural rift between modern practices on the one hand and very traditional rituals being celebrated on the other. The recourse to either pole in a critical situation will not bring any relief from the burden nor will mediation between these two poles work necessarily. The unresolved situation may instead intensify social tensions and place more burdens unevenly upon individuals.

Opening up of traditional and rural areas to modern forms of tourism brings people into the dire straights of selling of things as tourist items which they considered till then to be sacred and a part of their self sustaining life. Transitions in life come with a change in what extra values certain things have while others can be neglected completely. That what has value to tourists follows a highly volatile pattern of consumerism chasing the exotic and as anyone knows in Europe dealing with cultural heritage preservation, the first loss shall be the authenticity of place (see Jacek Purchla in ‘Transformation and Heritage’, Krakow, 2005)

Unbalanced development will put further stress on traditional management methods and due to the overall need to respond to a single method on how to make a living mean there will be reproduced on the one hand conformity and singularity while on the other there will take place a specific branding of things to be sold. The latter requires branding – requiring the neutralization of culture so that a commodity can be easily sold under the name of some leading enterprise – and specific marketing practices but not shaped to suit a concrete, equally volatile market with many ‘unknowns’ and ‘uncertainties’, but for a guaranteed contractor preferable the state of the developing country and thereby entry into a clever way to exploit both the producers and consumers. It will mean by way of private-public partnerships the development of such structures which allow further refinement of exploitative practices.

The landing of 800 tourists and then going in a remote area on a shopping spree as implications with regards to the purchasing power they represent. They can and want to be perceived something like vultures descending suddenly upon the local economy. This will give rise to all kinds of speculative and commercial businesses all depending on this single and sudden demand. The power of those who organize the route of these cruise ships is considerable. One false step by the locals and immediately the ship shall be re-routed to bypass that locality the next time. This leads to local business people having to pay a sort of tribute or percentage of their earnings to the cruise ship organizers to ensure they remain on the map of these routes. There is another aspect to the kind of impact this has, but entails an issue rarely talked about, namely the risk of further destruction of natural and cultural heritage sites even if not on UNESCO’s world list but still worthy to be preserved as every natural setting entails only value as long as an unspoiled beauty. Meant by this is what the Greek poet Seferis once expressed: “once the tourists return to the ships and depart, they give back the beaches to the winds”. The more sensational tourist packages have to become, the greater the drive towards hotels, sea site resorts, second homes, etc. There will be ever fewer places which remain untouched by these developments. It is in the very nature of tourism to be attracted to untouched and unspoiled places and by their very massive invasion destroy exactly these places. This can be seen on hand of all developments which follow an expanding tourist sector.

Exploitation of natural resources by foreign companies means also the local people will be deprived of their natural environment e.g. mining on the island of Milos, since special areas will become object of commercial interests and shall be exploited under conditions which lure local people into fast earning jobs, but with no long term guarantees e.g. truck drivers paid by the load but without any health insurance coverage and other guarantees. Naturally any analysis of the situation thereof will pit very quickly the critical ones into a coalition with a nationalist or local interest group so that confrontations and even coercive practices by the international mining company will sharpen tensions. This will give rise to all kinds of extreme attitudes more or less using reformulated ideologies of all kinds to sharpen their arguments while any mediation will be made most difficult if the Civil Society and its NGOs are not rooted well enough to counter bad practices and still allow the local community to find a reasonable bargaining position in the ongoing negotiation game. But as development continues to exploit various interests groups, on such an island the farmers will be against both those working for the mining company and those who get involved in the tourist industry. Any decision by local council to secure some sense of continuity while remaining open to economic opportunities without incurring negative impacts upon environment and local population shall be difficult to find and to present to all as most reasonable solution. Above all many are silenced by the scale of exploitation. They are enormous once instigated by international companies with headquarters in Canada while operating in Greece. The same applies to the problem of over fishing in the waters near the island or what has been attributed to wrong fishing methods when referring to destruction of coral reefs e.g. use of explosives to kill fishes en masse. Once this destructive process has gone too far, then the local population shall not be able to secure any livelihood independent from tourism and mining and thereby be forced to enter a mono-functional form of existence. Rather than diversification, they will specialize on only one aspect of the global economy and thereby disqualify all other potentialities of a more balanced and differentiated form of development. It has immediate implication for the younger generations and their education. As there are not many opportunities left, they will be forced to immigrate or wander off to larger cities and thereby leave behind an over aged population. This model of a Greek island can be transferred and generalized to what happens as well in the developing world.

The contradictions of development have been described very well by Mark Dowie in the November/December 2005 edition of ORION: the protective measures proposed by Western experts do not work in a cultural context in which people are interwoven in another, much more both natural and spiritual way with their environment.

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