evolution and development
stuff you know
human foetal development exhibits so many stages from the theory of evolution, only, compressed into 9 months.
subsequently, an individual’s development after birth seems to reflect stages in civilisational development.
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were about big ideas, new systems, entirely new ways of organisation. Let’s call it the paradigm centuries. The first time that secular organisations and almost pagan individuals conferred such authority on themselves. Terribly liberating, yet tyrannical in that the different visions of utopia (oops… actually the first vision was published in the early seventeenth century I think… right, wikipeadia says 1516, Thomas More) sought exclusive control, demanding, in the same manner as religions such as Islam, that perfection was only possible when all of humanity was within the fold.
You see I’m just a poor software developer. The computing paradigms that found acceptance first were called top-down approaches – where the analysis proceeded in a top-down breaking down of the problem in ever smaller bits that then served as the basis for the construction of the
system that solved the problem. In parallel, but generally restricted to the academia or the defence, developed other approaches to computing, called artificial intelligence or biologically inspired computing. Here too, there is a first stage of top-down analysis whose aim is to produce an approximate system that will be able to learn from instances of a class of problems in order to refine itself optimally. Thus an element of the bottom-up approach to design makes its
Thoreau did actually live in nineteenth century – as did Whitman and Emerson. As did the founder of the Sierra Club. The twentieth century saw the big ideas being tried out, competing ferociously. We know the results. But the small world approach was also tried out: the Red Cross, the Sierra Club, the SPCA’s, syndicates and unions, women’s lib (no offence), non-violence (India and the USA), the very idea of clubs or associations grouped around a common interest or concern, Greenpeace, the Russell Tribunal (aside: Mahmud Ali Kasuri was a tribunal member!), the anti-nuclear power movement, the relatively new International Solidarity Movement, the Grameen Bank, the open source software movement, ATTAC, perhaps the Global Justice Movement, the World Social Forum even, since it is a coming together of people
and ideas and is trying (I desperately hope) to be creative and open rather than following the stupid mistakes of the Internationals, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Bolivians fighting Bechtel, the Indian women’s rights, reproductive health and anti-caste-based discrimination
A French review called “Manière de Voir” has published a number on “In combat. State of Resistance in the World”. The review in the Le Monde Diplomatique says:
Cet ensemble hétérogène d’organisations, associations, ONG et syndicats s’assemble d’abord autour d’un consensus négatif, qui laisse par ailleurs une grande latitude d’action à ses différentes composants. Mais cette configuration génère aussi « une série de tensions, voire
des contradictions, qui handicapent sérieusement son développement et brouillent sa visibilité de l’extérieur » : sur le type de développement à promouvoir, les modes de régulation des échanges économiques, le rôle des Etats-nations, l’articulation entre principes universalistes et droits autochtones. La ligne de fracture principale concerne sûrement l’accès au pouvoir et les alliances avec les partis de gouvernement : entre risques d’éclatement et de récupération, on peut alors se demander si des solutions peuvent être recherchées ailleurs que dans la conquête de fractions plus larges de la population, pour espérer peser sur les décisions politiques.
— Le Monde Diplomatique, décembre 2005, page 2, Etat des résistances, Une nouvelle livraison de “Manière de voir”, Franck Poupeau.
My stab at translating it:
This heterogenous ensemble of organisations, associations, NGO’s and syndicates comes together, first and foremost, around a negative consensus, which leaves, moreover, a great latitude of action to its different composants. But this configuration also generates “a series
of tensions, even contradictions, which seriously handicap its development and fog its visibility from the exterior”*: regarding the kind of development to promote, the modes of regulating economic exchange, the role of the nation-states, the articulation between universalistic principals and indigenous rights. The principal fault line surely concerns the access to power and the alliances with government parties: between the risks of splitting up and recovery, one
wonders if solutions could be explored elsewhere than in wooing larger fractions of the population in an attempt to influence political decisions.
* the quote is taken from the preface of the number under review.
This is a description of a very curious utopia, first brought to my notice by a Polish Jesuit. I had trouble at first believing the speed and depth of inter-cultural interaction in the newly-discovered lands.