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Discussion

The discussion for the fourth session began with an intervention by Vice-Rector Mushakoji, who raised four questions in relation to the presentations which had been made. He asked first of all whether, despite the importance of nuclear development for Third World countries, the noxious and wasteful effects of 'big technology' could not be avoided and whether it would not be possible to develop energy-saving technologies which would be less conducive to centralisation and technocracy. Secondly, he again raised the subject of informational technologies and asked whether (contrary, for example, to nuclear technologies) they might perhaps be a force for decentralization or "an element of divisiveness among the countries of the centre" which might serve to intensify competition among them. Thirdly, how will it be possible to overcome the myth of the innate technological superiority of the West? At the ideological level, there is perhaps the possibility of collaboration between intellectuals in the Third World and those in the industrialized countries who are aware of the fallacy of this technological myth. At the political and economic levels, on the other hand, Dr Mushakoji said that the experience of developing countries in their attempts to gain control over the entire nuclear fuel cycle demonstrated the importance of contradictions within the 'trilateral' region; and he asked whether the transnational corporations themselves were not caught in such contradictions which could be studied and utilised. (As an aside, Dr Mushakoji also mentioned that labour movements within the industrialized countries are characterized by "an ambivalence", since they can act as effective allies either of the Third World or of the multinationals; this ambivalence must also be taken into account in formulating the strategies of the Third World countries.) And, lastly, he asked whether "the division in the socialist camp may create various... alignments which may not be in the direction of strengthening the solidarity of the Third World".

Next, Dr Furtado focused on some of the most important transformations in the structure of global power; and he suggested that we are now undergoing "a crucial moment in the development of mankind, at which the focus of power is being displaced". Five of the most important elements of the global power structure today are: the control of markets, the control of financial capital, the control of the sources of non-renewable energy resources, the control of cheap labour and the control of technology. It is clear that every one of these elements or areas of control is the scene of an important shift. For example, the only really expanding markets in the last five years have been those of the Third World; and, despite various hypotheses about the possible future resilience of markets in the developed world, "the hard fact is that the markets.... now being disputed by the international corporations are those of the Third World". Likewise, "one of the most important centres of financial resources is now [also] on the periphery, viz. the OPEC countries". Although it might be argued that "such [financial] resources are mostly being used by the banks of the central countries, etc., this situation is already changing"; and the use of these resources will necessarily "have an impact on the world power structure". In considering non-renewable energy resources, "the fact is that the sources of such resources in the centre of the capitalist system have been tapped and partially exhausted", and it is only too clear that conflicts over such resources now mainly concern "the sources of such resources in the periphery of the system". Increasing demand for such resources in the periphery itself will probably bring about new forms of friction and of confrontation. The supply of cheap foreign labour for the Western countries is now also at a turning point of one sort or another. "The centre of the capitalist system has developed very rapidly indeed during the last thirty years on the basis of cheap imported labour", but the countries which have followed this course now face a choice: they must either continue on the same road, which will necessitate "transforming the old societies", or they must refrain from this, thus "increasing social tensions at home". It is sometimes argued that this dilemma can be avoided by intensifying the use of labour-saving technology, but it is also often forgotten that such a plan "requires an exceptional financial effort" which may not be easily mounted. Finally, in regard to technological resources, it must be kept in mind "that technology is not [just] a stock, but is something that is being created [anew] every day.... This is the real weak point of the Third World countries. Technological dependence is a reflection of the fact that we cannot really cope with this challenge in a short period." However, "people with financial resources, people with markets, people with other resources, they can also have access to technology, they can buy technology in certain circumstances." And, if one is able "to transform one's stock of technology" and to import the means by which that stock can be renewed (as the Japanese have done), then the problem of technological dependence has been solved.

When Dr Furtado finished making these points, the chair recognised Dr Stambuk, who agreed with previous speakers on the importance of linking technological development with changes in economic and political power structures. In this regard, it is important to realise that at present "capitalism is... taking on a new form [and] trying to recognise itself in a way which will help [maintain] it as a main system of exploitation...". Many apologies for contemporary capitalism have already drawn attention to the importance of transnational corporations in economic and social life today; and it indeed "seems that capitalism is entering a new phase, which could be called a 'multinational phase' or a 'transnational phase"', in which regional state apparatuses are tending to lose their importance, while new centres of power are being developed to accommodate more effectively the new means of exploitation. If this is true, "then is it also true that capitalism is developing a new kind of technology which would be appropriate to that kind of development?" If so, how can developing countries deal with this new sort of technology? Would it not be possible to combat the influence of the multinational companies over new technologies by implementing the suggestion of Dr Lefebvre and creating new forms of these technologies which would be more "participatory, in the sense that the workers themselves would take part in the process of decision-making, not just as co-chairmen or partners, but as real subjects".

A 'world vision' proper to the transnational corporations has already been around for some time, detailing the best ways for them to go about "organising their power and their decision-making processes" and to "dislocate" and control national economies around the world. Dr Stambuk noted that, according to this ideology, existing state apparatuses are often viewed quite "negatively", i.e. as having "negative effects on the economic stability of the world". Of course, there is a certain element of sense in all of this, for, economically, the transnationals are "growing at a rate of 10 per cent, which is more than that of any country in the world...;" their production is "very well organized", and "they are basing their power and their development on [this] production itself". But their great fault lies in approaching contemporary changes "in a static way" and in "forgetting people". In countering the power of the transnationals, it is necessary to identify and rely on the social forces "who are, by their [objective] position, ready to fight against that kind of social development". For example, it is clear that "the national bourgeoisie, army elements and other Úlite groups in developing countries" often eagerly accommodate and are, in turn, supported by the transnational corporations. The immediate producers and even white-collar workers in developing countries, however, can provide the basis for quite effective resistance.

Dr Pandeya, in turn, took the floor and spoke about possible strategies for overcoming the present monstrous imbalances not only of political-economic power, but also of scientific and technological knowledge. Citing an old Indian maxim, Or Pandeya said that it is not wise to meet an adversary only with his own weapons and that victory in any struggle especially requires a creative use of one's own resources. In practical terms of scientific-technological development, this maxim signals the importance of mobilising the strong points of one's own heritage and people. As noted by Dr Hassan already and by Mr Blue later on, the major ancient civilizations knew astonishingly long historical periods of scientific and technical creativity. Despite distortions by contemporary Eurocentric historiography, these civilizations "created the first science that mankind has ever known; they developed it and converted it into a social-cultural-civilisational resource". And their societies were "probably the most forward looking and the most vigorous" of their times. In the last several centuries, however, these societies have for a number of reasons experienced a rupture or at least a waning in their tradition of scientific-technical creativity.

The proper question that must then be asked at present is: "How does one make a recovery?... How does this giant effect a re-awakening after a long sleep?" And how can the fostering of science contribute to such a re-awakening? According to Dr Pandeya, if science is to become a force for this kind of transformation, then the scientific culture necessary will involve much more than simply textbooks and research programmes: "this part of the package is transferable with a very marginal effort on the part of the nation. All you have to do is send out your people, get them trained, give them the facilities as Japan did and as all nations of the Third World have been trying to do. This is not the crux of the matter.... If the national political will is there, it can be accomplished in less than three decades of time, as India's case demonstrates. In 1947 we had practically no resources, today we have about the third largest body of trained manpower in the scientific and technological sphere [in the world].... This is not what really holds back." In fact, such a line of development can be "the most dangerous kind..., if you simply treat it as a dissociated, hermetically sealed capsule": it can simply amount to making a nation into "better material for total co-option into the new capitalism". If science and technology is really to flourish in the Third World, it is necessary to leap over this trap.

The real solution and the goal to be sought by all developing countries lies in the creation of an effective and genuinely popular scientific culture, i.e. a generalized social capacity for thinking and acting according to "objectively rooted" insights. "But this involves a capacity which the experts... of our crystal palaces of glitter, prestige, complacency and satisfaction will not generate." It likewise involves a capacity which in the lam forty years has increasingly fallen victim to what may be called "communications pollution"; for, rather paradoxically, the development of communicational technologies has tended to bring about "a total obliteration" of the capacity for large-scale independent thought.

Perhaps the real key to constructing a broad scientific culture lies again precisely in touching and re-awakening the deepest aspirations of a people. "In our cultural and civilisational history, we remember Buddha; not because the insights that he produced were fundamentally discontinuous and new, but because no-one has squalled him in this skill of converting insights into a people's resource, converting them into a cultural and civilisational resource, which went on operating for the next 1800 years...." This is, likewise, what Gandhi did. And this is "the kind of conversion that we need on a large scale, on a systematic scale, on a continuous scale - not only for India, but also for an entire three-quarters of humanity".

The next intervention was made by Dr Maraj, who observed that political leaders in the Third World countries are typically faced by "increasing demands for social services, health, welfare, etc."; at the same time, these leaders have difficulties in finding resources with which to meet such demands. In order to solve problems and thus to retain political power, many tend to "do deals with the multinationals... [and] with the larger countries, which more often than not come disguised as friends". The transnationals and the larger countries, in turn, tend to play developing countries off against one another in order to obtain the greatest benefits possible for themselves. This was the experience of the Caribbean countries, for example, when they accepted the tourism industry; and there is a strong possibility that this experience is being repeated now in the field of non-renewable resources. In this regard, the suggestion that developing countries should unite and bargain collectively in order to safeguard their nonrenewable resources seems very reasonable. "The strange thing, of course, is that these countries are parts of other pacts, other groups. It does not seem that they themselves constitute a single grouping at any point in time, and therefore their weakness in negotiating remains [while] a tendency for history to repeat itself is likely to be very much emphasized...."

Or Maraj said that Third World intellectuals "have a responsibility... to educate" their political leaders, "who are not often either exposed or attuned to science and technology". Politicians must be informed, for example, of the key considerations to be kept in mind in negotiating with transnational corporations. Populist leaders in the developing countries are often "predisposed to make gestures to the rural people" and to be satisfied with "low-level technology". Yet these leaders must be made to understand that their countries require "the most sophisticated technology" if they are to take their rightful places in the twenty-first century.

In the next intervention Dr Rasheeduddin Kahn first of all stressed the importance of having a clear understanding of the differentiated structure of the Third World. The Third World contains something like 70 per cent of all mankind and constitutes "a most differentiated mosaic of large and small countries, spanning three continents and Oceania, [situated] at various levels of techno-economic development, reflecting a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and histories,... [and] organised in many forms of political cultures and systems...".

Dr Rasheeduddin Kahn also stressed that in the contemporary world it is not possible to speak realistically about scientific-technological transformation 'without bringing in the most critical factors of the State and government as instruments mediating [the utilization of] science and technology for change". Since World War 11, States have tended to become "maximal States". While "the whole concept of laissez-faire States [minimal States] is obsolete" and "the ideologically charged pejorative term of 'totalitarian State'... is highly polemical and misplaced", in fact, a large number of metropolitan States today function as "total States" with a thick finger in every pie, including that of science and technology. Given this fact, there are three options open to Third World governments seeking to develop science and technology; "the first option is to accept client status... to one or the other major industrial power.... The second is to depend on transnational corporations not only for the transfer of technology, but also for investment patterns and service structures. And the third is to work out a co-operative regional arrangement (for pooling resources, talents, etc.), together with mutually beneficial collaborative arrangements with certain countries on a bilateral or multilateral basis", as has been encouraged by all recent summit conferences of the non-aligned movement. "If a certain measure of national dignity and creative innovation... is to inform the process of change", there is no choice "but to opt for the third option". There is, in reality, no fourth choice - for "while the IMP and the World Bank appear as autonomous institutions of a multinational character supported by the United Nations system", they are actually to a large extent working "under the auspices of the transnational corporations". Dependence of the developing countries on these corporations or on foreign governments means sacrificing national economic welfare, allowing the spread of an inevitable net of corruption and, in turn, allowing a black market to flourish. In this respect, as an Indian MP, Dr Rasheeduddin Kahn mentioned that in 1974 the Indian Finance Minister had "candidly admitted on the floor of Parliament that the black market economy in India was almost equal to the total [official] GNP". Because of factors like these, it is impossible to separate the scientific-technological prospects of a country from the broader political orientations of its state apparatus.

In concluding his intervention, Dr Rasheeduddin Kahn posed to the conference several major questions which were on his mind. Firstly, "how do we integrate the potentialities of modern science and technology, originated obviously within Euro-American civilization, with the given sociocultural situation in each specific country, region, state?" Secondly, "how do we circumvent the adverse political consequences and cultural impacts of importing investments, [partially obsolete] technology,... and management patterns through the mediation either of the transnational corporations or of the industrially more advanced countries...?" Thirdly, "how do we remain contemporaries in a highly interdependent world... which is most unequal in terms of techno-economic development?" In other words, which means must developing countries adopt in order to become up to date in terms of world scientific-technological achievements? Fourthly, after the long slumber of colonialism and after the many battles against suffering and exploitation, "how can we use our national political sovereignty... as an opportunity and a challenge to bring about the much-delayed completion of the unfinished social-economic revolution?" And lastly, how can those countries which missed the opportunity of participating in the first industrial revolution "avoid being left out of the second industrial revolution" now under way?

Dr Issa then addressed himself to Dr Furtado, who had previously taken the position that the Third World countries are in the process of gaining control over several of the world's major power resources. Dr Issa, on the contrary, said that until the dimension of political power is taken into account, such control over these resources would be "doomed to remain only theoretical or, more precisely, potential". For example, in regard to the case of oil, it must be observed that the price of oil was increased in real terms only twice: in 1973-1974, in the wake of change in global power relations brought on by the October war; and in 1979, after the Iranian revolution. The point here is that "theoretical control over these power resources can only be materialized within a certain political context and by a rational use of the most important power resource: political power".

Another example is that of the Arab funds (petro-dollars), mainly invested in bank deposits and treasury bills in Europe and the USA, and estimated at about 90 billion dollars. "Since these funds are in dollars, the Arab oil countries are doomed to defend the dollar and the existing monetary system - in spite of the continuous depreciation of the value of the dollar and in spite of the obvious weaknesses of the present international monetary system - thus perpetuating the infernal circle of dependence." The most important fact here is that for all practical purposes these funds are blocked. "The Arab oil countries cannot invest them in the productive sector within the developed countries. The only possibility is to invest them in the Arab world and other parts of the 'Third World', But this possibility presupposes a completely different political vision and a different political setting within the Arab world." Dr Issa therefore asked whether it was really valid to speak about Third World "control of power resources within the present socio-political structure of the Third World and [in the light of] the contradictory interests of its parts and components".

Dr Le Thanh Khoi next took the floor, to make two comments on the question of power. He first of all declared that "the basis of power is no longer the control of economic resources, of finance, of markets, of labour, etc., but the control of information". In order to illustrate this, Dr Le distinguished three phases in the expansion of imperialism. The first was "based on military superiority", but accompanied by "an ideological conquest" which boasted the 'superiority' of Christianity and the 'white man'. In the second phase the "central powers" dominated colonies with military force "but also with control of economic resources" and the international division of labour. Since World War 11, however, industrialization is taking place in dependent countries; and this is not only because of the profits reaped by the transnational corporations, but also "because it is enough for imperialism to control the industry of knowledge and information. To control the information of a country is to control its investment possibilities and thus, to be able to orientate its political and economic decisions...", not to mention its cultural and educational patterns. Dr Le's second point was that "the Third World is not a homogenous bloc"; for it contains both countries following a socialist road and those following a capitalist one. From this observation he drew the conclusion that "political differences are an obstacle to fruitful exchanges of knowledge between [the various developing countries ] as well as to a united front in the struggle for scientific and technological independence".

In the final intervention of the morning, Dr Abdel-Malek summed up the results of the session and praised the position papers for demonstrating that, in discussing the concrete prospects for science and technology in the developing countries, "there is no way to go beyond the parameters of power". It is inadmissible to speak of present or future scientific-technological prospects 'in themselves', while abstracting them from their very specific (political and geo-political) contexts. Such contexts always frame one's possibilities: "we might not like it, we might dislike it totally... but there is no way, for example, to tell countries like India and Brazil...,'opt out of the game of influence and stay where you are',... 'keep on gliding with cottage industries and papaya growing". That won't do. No serious mind in those two countries will accept that'...". The aspirations of developing countries for up-to-date levels of science and technology must be understood in the more general terms of their struggles for a change in the global balance of power. "I don't mean the inversion of the balance of power,... [for] it cannot be inverted for a long time; but I think it can be made more meaningful and more wisely spread over centres of influence and power." "There are centres of influence who have no power today; and there are centres of power who are losing their influence, who are still losing their own power at the historical level.... This has been seen both as an economic weapon and as a moral curse: but it is neither the first nor the second. It is a factor which, if used within a radical political matrix, can... challenge the very civilisational model of the West; but if it is played by compradores, as it is in most cases now, it can reinforce the hegemony of imperialism. [However,] it is neither economistic nor ethical; it is political." In this respect, the fundamental question which was repeatedly raised before the conference and which faces all of the developing countries, despite the many great differences which distinguish them one from another, is how to live through the present transformation of the world "and yet remain sovereign cultural civilizations and political contributors, the subjects of history". Here we must face the fact that we live today in a world of States; and we must be realistic about the imposing role the State apparatus plays today. One may not like it personally, but this again is not just an ethical problem: it is a political problem. And one's evaluation of the role of different states should be linked to the major question: 'who are to be the actors of history?'


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