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III. Existing philosophies of scientific-technological development
Different concepts of scientific and technological development have to be analysed from two viewpoints. The first is linked to the issue of how much those concepts which exist today actually contribute to the swift social development of the contemporary world, and especially toward its less developed sector. The second issue concerns the search for ways and means of using everything positive and beneficial to the development of humanity which exists already, or which is still in the sphere of imagination or intuition, thus marking the true beginning of the new era we are approaching - an era of true liberty, prosperity and welfare. That is, we should always take into account what is, without neglecting what can be.
It seems that we may conditionally talk of four concepts of scientific technological development which can be met in today's theory and practice. The classification is conditional and probably neglects a wealth of ideas and possibilities. It should only be used as the basis for critical reexamination of the existing roads of social development.
a. The first group of concepts and philosophical frameworks of analysis ultimately regards technology as the key which can solve all social contradictions. This view maintains that whenever some grave, apparently insurmountable social problems and contradictions become acute, new technological discoveries make it possible to maintain and extend the pace and volume of production. Oil price increases represent just one of the many attempts to redistribute wealth on the world scale; but developed capitalist countries were not prompted by the new situation to analyse whether there really was too much exploitation in their favour on the world scale. They seek solutions primarily in some new technological breakthroughs which would help them keep their monopolistic positions.
It seems that the concept of technological optimism is therefore unacceptable. This is not to say that the role of technology in the development of society should be denied or negatively evaluated. It is nevertheless beyond doubt that optimism of this kind is not realistic or historically justified. Furthermore, an optimism which postulates the magic power of scientific and technological solutions in many ways reflects the need of highly developed capitalist countries to use their dominating position in that field for the preservation and further extension of their monopolistic position in international economic, cultural, and even political relations. Insisting on such concepts is unlikely to contribute to solving the social problems facing the developing world.
Technological solutions alone cannot solve the problem of cultural development, the dilemmas which exist when the goals of social and economic development are to be defined, the problem of colonialism and neocolonialism, or the problem of democratic development and creation of political systems with democratic characteristics and the like. It is obvious that knowledge and skill cannot solve such burning issues of today's world by themselves; they have to be solved primarily by including broad masses of producers in the process, which masses should be the true masters of their own fate.
Technological optimism is largely elaborated through certain concepts which emerge within the framework of analysis and development of the consumer society, the welfare state, and the concept of post-industrial society. The most fervent advocates of this vision are most certainly multinational companies. The developing countries which have to fight MNCs in order to preserve their national, economic, and political integrity are well aware of the consequences of such a vision.
It is particularly difficult to talk of technology transfers. Depending on the concrete situation, on the goals of a particular society, and especially on the correct notion that better knowledge is always valuable, technology transfer is an activity which should be encouraged. On the other hand, excessive insistence on it implies viewing technology as the magic wand which can solve all issues. In some cases, the transfer may prove counter-productive and highly damaging to the society, for example when highly sophisticated technology is transferred to a pronouncedly agrarian society. The only party to gain in this case is the developed country - the exporter of technology.
Transfer of technology at all costs - often implying not only the transfer of hardware, but also that of software and even of the organization of production - is not a desirable concept. This is particularly apparent in the case of largely agrarian societies. In such societies, even advanced agricultural technology (which requires investments in energy, large holdings, and so on) is unacceptable if the structure of the society, its pattern of ownership, and its economic structure are not prepared for the new technology. The mode, the scope, and the content of the technology transfer which would have the most positive effect possible have not been devised yet - despite numerous discussions and international research projects. One thing is certain: an inadequate and excessive transfer of technology does not contribute to real progress. It is more likely to aggravate social conflicts within the given society and to extend the scope of domination and exploitation.
b. Another widespread view of the role of science and technology in the development of society is that which perceives technology as the negative factor of social development. This concept has numerous advocates in the developed world. They blame developed technology for many negative aspects of the capitalist world (pollution, stratification, overnourishment and undernourishment, excessive supply of consumer goods, and so forth). This approach, adopted by numerous theorists and public workers, is not a novelty. Its early proponents were humanists such as J. J. Rousseau at a time when capitalism was still young.
This concept is especially significant today, since it advocates abolishing certain technological processes which make large-scale mass production possible; a broad spectrum of social theories is being developed on that basis. Different concepts range from the "assessment of technology" to the notion that "small is beautiful." In other words, there is an element of nostalgic longing for the "good old times," and negative characteristics of technology in the developed world are thus exaggerated. Such negative effects of modern technology as can be found in the developed world, but also in developing countries as a consequence of random and inadequate technology transfers, lead these theorists to claim that technology is generally unacceptable to humanity as a whole.
Believing that the happiness and future of mankind can be realized in small communities, without any technological giants, such theorists try to "sell" their concept to the developing world, too. There are two reasons for this attempt. The first is to be found in a strong element of egoism, which could be found in western theories before, too, and which is now manifested in a different light. Until the crises of the early 1970s, very few of them had claimed that the development of technology could be socially damaging; the egoism of exploitation prevented them from taking such a view. Now, when elements of crisis exist, the majority of these same theorists want to stop the world at its present level of development; their motives are again egoistic. They are not worried that more than 3,000 million people have problems which can be solved only if further development of science and technology is combined with the introduction of appropriate social relations.
The second element motivating such a course is the desire to maintain the existing capitalist mode of production. Such concepts do not solve anything but the traumas of their creators. The tragedy is that the proponents of such theories see technology as the source of all evils, and not the continued existence of capitalist social relations.
c. The third view of science and technology is contained in the concept of intermediate technology. The essence of this concept is that the developed industrial world should continue producing new technology which should be not sophisticated but suited to the needs of the agrarian developing societies. Such societies need labour-intensive rather than capital-intensive technology. This concept is an applied form of the view that technological innovation can solve everything.
Intermediate technology is also called "appropriate technology.', Its salient points are as follows: low in capital costs, relies on local materials whenever possible, creates jobs, employs local skills and labour, small enough to be affordable by a small group of farmers, easily understood, controlled by people without a high level of western-style education, makes production in small metalworking shops possible, rests on the assumption that in most of the world important decisions are made by groups and not individuals, involves decentralized renewable resources, makes technology understandable to the people, flexible under changing circumstances, and does not involve patents, royalties, consulting fees, import duties, and so on.
This concept does not postulate at all that it is necessary to provide developing countries with such technology as would prove suitable to their conditions of socio-economic development. The existing pattern of social-class capital relations is implicitly regarded as universally acceptable, and only technology is regarded as unacceptable. All that is required is to replace the existing technology with its intermediate substitute, and the problem would be solved.
Like the concepts outlined earlier, this one also has some rational elements. The unacceptable element is that this concept does not question its own rationale. It does not ask what is the purpose of creating an alternative technology. Its goal is to correct and reform some elements within the given set of relations, without attempting to alter those relations in any fundamental way.
Self-reliance is not a concept which attempts to offer alternative solutions; it explores the possibility of finding new, different social solutions, rather than some alternative technological solutions. This is probably the cause of great differences which exist within that approach. The concept of self-reliance should not include those views which actually advocate alternative, intermediate technological solutions under the label of self-reliance (Tinbergen). This concept - although not quite defined comprehensively - embraces attempts to devise certain social solutions which would enable technology and science to become the true agents and participants in different, socialist roads to development.
In this respect, self-reliance should include in its philosophical premises the use of those scientific and technological solutions which already exist. It does not reject the need for scientific and technological development. Nevertheless, it questions social assumptions on which scientific and technological development has been founded until now. This concept also may take advantage of some achievements of intermediate technology. Such achievements may be integrated into the framework of social forces, human needs, and goals of developing countries, taking into account each country's specific features.
This concept also will attempt to develop science and technology on a new basis, making it possible to avoid most negative aspects linked to the developed industrial society's socio-economic relations and its accompanying technology: pollution, irrational production, waste of materials and human resources, and so on.
Briefly, self-reliance implies attempts to enrich human life in all its aspects: moral, material, political, and cultural, but only in accordance with the possibilities, goals, and traditions of the given society, and - even more crucially - in accordance with the needs of the basic social agent: immediate producers, who are the creators of new social values.
Revolutionary changes and aspirations are not the privilege of any single society or region. Such aspirations are manifested and realized under different conditions, forms, and scopes. Revolutionary attitudes are the salient feature of the basic and most numerous social group in each modern society. Wherever the working class can be established in the form of an industrial proletariat, revolutionary efforts will be directed at effecting fundamental socialist changes. Revolutionary changes will have some different features in those developing countries where peasantry is the basic social force - and such countries are far more numerous than others. This can be observed by comparing the experiences of socialist revolutions of self-management with the experiences of pare-state enterprises.
The basic feature is the fact that modes of development different from those in capitalist societies are sought. It is only within the framework of the concept of self-reliance that scientific technological development has a chance to become the real element of social development, rather than a pale, imposed copy of the developed world.
Self-reliance is not tantamount to an attempt at self-isolation within one's own boundaries. Collective self-reliance provides this concept with an element of international validity, turning it into the seed of new cultural patterns. This not only enables but also spurs on the developing countries to devise experiences and solutions which may lead to negating all oppressive, exploitative characteristics of the existing capitalist civilization. Such a tendency should be viewed as an integral part of the general development of socialism.
b. Elements of the Concept
As I have already pointed out, the concept of self-reliance is neither homogeneous nor codified. It is therefore risky to outline its elements as a coherent, organized speculative or theoretical concept. It is nevertheless possible to outline some of its elements.
The basic tasks of scientific-technological parameters within the framework of this concept are as follows: a production increase which would lead to satisfying all basic needs of the people (sufficient food supply, consumer goods production, improved housing, medical services, and a higher level of education and culture in general); constant need to promote the role of the human-producer in the process of decision-making; better provision of information; greater participation of people in the process of determining local and social goals; liberation from the domination and rhythm of machine production; liberation from imposed goals and needs which are alien to a given society and which serve alien interests; abolition of make-believe freedom and creation of conditions where liberty would spring from the creative contribution and work of each individual; and the right to have different views and interests, but also the unification of those interests by those who create the material and spiritual wealth of every society - the producers themselves. There is no doubt that realizing such a concept requires a fundamental change in international relations, too. The struggle to change these relations is an integral element in realizing this concept. It is not easy, but it is not impossible either, to effect such a change. The new economic order and the struggle to establish it are indicative of all the difficulties, traps, and forces resisting change, but they also prove that efforts yield fruit at the end.
At the practical level, this concept requires the following:
1. Technology which is developed should be the result of needs and efforts of those who are using it; technology must be suited to the society which is using it; and technology should be an expression of that society.
2. The dilemma of developed technology versus intermediate technology is an artificial one; the real dilemma is how to create a technology which would be suitable to those who use it, while solving social problems facing the developing world.
3. Science and technology must help solve the contradictions of the developing countries, not those of the developed ones.
4. Technology must rest on the creative abilities of the members of each individual society, while using all existing knowledge; it should not be a spill-over from the developed countries.
5. Science and technology must solve theoretical and practical problems facing people in the developing countries when they manage their material and social resources and their society; they should pay more attention to social and humanitarian sciences, and develop them in accordance with the traditions and needs of each individual society.
6. Technology and science should instigate the development of new forms of labour and promote authentic societal values; if this is possible in music, there is no reason why it should not be so in science and technology.
7. Science and technology should contribute to the creation of a value system which would glorify not profit and material wealth but labour, independence, creativeness, and diversity, as well as unity which is founded on the toil and interests of the producers.
8. Science and technology are today already able to help the development of more democratic relations; they should continue to develop in that direction.
9. Association of society and production are indispensable; science in particular should indicate the possibilities of association which would not lead to centralization or exploitation, slavery, and subjugation.
To put all this in simple terms, if science and technology are to serve the cause of social development of the developing countries, they must not be a mere copy of alien schemes. They must represent a creative effort to overcome social contradictions on the basis of the interests and needs of associated producers. In this way, science and technology stand a chance of becoming true elements capable of helping develop a new, different civilization. This civilization would be free and authentic in so far as its creation is based on authentic national and human needs; on genuine capacities rather than mere transfers; on long-term goals rather than daily objectives; on the feeling of mutuality and international co-operation rather than exploitation and national egoism; on the involvement of all producers and their interests as the dominant factor rather than the interests of minority groups which are concerned with their own welfare only. Such a civilization would secure social progress but also social justice; unity but also diversity; development of science and technology but without any domination over people; international exchange but on the basis of equality. Its social pillar will be the immediate producers; they will be its inspirers and its builders.
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