A ROADMAP FOR COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT
World Academy of Art and Science,
Rudjer Bošković Institute and Croatian Academy, Zagreb, Croatia
Comprehensive development implies sustainable development, global security, optimal realization of global opportunities and successful prevention of threats: all forms of violence, specifically war and terrorism, as well as preventing hunger, catastrophic effects of climate change, macro-pollution and overuse of natural resources, and in addition assuring protection and realization of all human rights including adequate quality of life - water, food, health, employment, education and political freedom. Development includes incremental, quantitative changes, kind of «more of the same». However, it includes fast changes producing also qualitative transformation. It is because of these rapid changes producing qualitative effects that to be is becoming much more important than to have. Therefore, the essential resources are: 1) the human potential – underused and enslaved by prejudices and lack of education, but also fearing risk taking, and 2) freedom, i.e. healthy, educated, creative and happy persons.
“People are the real wealth of nations. The basic purpose of development is to enlarge human freedoms...- human capabilities by expanding the choices that people have to live full and creative lives. And people are the beneficiaries of such development and agents of the progress and the change that brings it about. This process must benefit all individuals equitably and build on the participation of each of them.” (The State of Human Development, Human Development Indicators (2004), p. 127)
Humankind has achieved significant successes, and it is useful and necessary to study the history and mechanisms of these successes: numerous important international treaties, e.g. Law of the sea, Montreal and now Kyoto protocol, the end of colonization and the end of the Cold war, spread of democracy, some improvements in the quality of life – increasing life expectancy globally and apparent robustness of the cultural diversity. Scientific research has certainly been a great success. However, even in the field of scientific research - though we know that all nations have contributed to science - there is now a gross inequality preventing faster and more equitable development. We are faced with many dangers and threats, and often we are not prepared for novel thoughts and actions. We failed to even successfully approach the danger of terrorism. We appreciate that peace, freedom and development are interconnected - we agree with Amartya Sen that development is freedom, but we need a detailed roadmap with clear milestones providing indicators of our specific achievements.
Viki Weisskopf argued that science made a major paradigmatic progress when - instead of general questions - it started asking concrete, little questions, and then succeeded in successfully answering them. Similarly, we propose to address some specific issues, search for solutions and then ponder on the possibility of a more general answer.
We will address two specific issues - employment and demographic transition. Everybody including ill and disabled persons can and enjoys some kind of work. Actually, the concept of employment as currently used is only few centuries old. However, employment - even in a narrow current sense - is very important socially, economically and politically. During the last two centuries the pattern of employment changed. First, the proportion of persons engaged in agriculture in developed countries has decreased from about 90% to about 5%. The proportion of persons in manufacturing has also decreased, typically to less than 40%. The remaining is engaged in what is referred as service economy. A wide spectrum of activities is lumped under the heading of service economy ranging from waiters and clerks to physicians, researchers and educators. Second, the reduction of the workforce in agriculture and manufacturing reflects the fact that less person-days are required in these fields to achieve now the same results. This reduction is generated by science and technology.
Working a person enlarges her/his freedom and contributes to the wellbeing of fellow human beings. Work is one of the basic human rights. Though employment is just a narrow segment of the entire concept of work, the unemployment is currently a serious problem. Obviously, fast changes do require changes of jobs. Vibrant economy demands easy replacements of workers - easy firing and hiring. These characteristics of job market coupled with the fact that less person-days are required for achieving the same result almost inevitably lead to huge surplus of workers, and therefore to unemployment. The only areas where the demand for workers is much larger than the supply is in research and development, education and health care, in all highly creative and high-risk endeavors.
In some countries population exponentially increases resulting in an age distribution where the majority are younger than 25, and in some other - typically developed countries - the fertility rate dropped to about 1.5 (considerably lower than the replacement level of 2.1) and the life expectancy increased resulting in a number of persons older than 60 becoming larger than the number of those younger than 25. This phenomenon - called demographic transition - occurred within a short time interval, it has been generated by science and technology producing enormous improvement in health care, and it occurs for the first time in the history of humankind. Superimposed on this pattern are huge migrations. Demographic transition causes tensions among regions and countries and sometimes even within a country. It makes special demands on health and social care systems. At present it seems that no country is capable of sustaining required enormous retirement expenses and assuring even modestly adequate health care. Moreover, it is likely that countries now exhibiting increasing population could soon have a large portion of persons older than 65. Some cultures favor male off-springs and since progress in medicine enables choices, in some countries there is a shortage of women. Age distributions have different implications in different cultural environments. Information-education system enables quite young children to be informed and capable of various actions that do not require either physical strength or emotional maturity, and on the other hand an extended education keeps young persons out of economic productivity and marriage, significantly reducing an interval when women are considering motherhood.
The fact that the number of persons over 65 will in 50 years reach over 50% of those aged 20 to 64 in some countries, and that the number of centenarians will keep increasing is called ageing. This ratio, 50%, is called dependency ratio suggesting that older persons entirely depend on those between 20 and 64. Both statements are incorrect and in addition economically and socially unsustainable. First, life expectancy has dramatically changed during the last 100 years and it is currently increasing at a rate of 3 months longer per each year. This means that a 70 year old person today has a higher life expectancy than a 50 year old had a century ago, and the quality of life of the 70 year old today is considerably higher than the 50 year old had a century ago. It is useful to introduce the concept of the healthy active life expectancy (HALE) and again one concludes that persons over 70 and even older have healthy active life. Second, some great persons have done their significant work while older than 70. Work capacity and creativity beyond the age of 60 has to be studied, but it is expected that older persons and even oldest old can be socially active and creative. Third, older persons have experience that the younger generations simply do not have and that experience has to be used and not wasted. Fourth, even ill and disabled persons do not have to be entirely dependent on others. Fifth, older persons have certain unique features, e.g. readiness of risk-taking based on experience. Our words carry the connotation they have acquired through their usage. Therefore, the word «ageing» implies the same meaning as it did a century ago, while we actually need a new word. An expression «counter ageing» -svecchiamento - has been proposed.
Free market is a special realization of human options and freedom. Employment provides economic basis and social status (possibility of getting loans, credits etc) enabling a full engagement in free market activities. Unemployed persons are deprived of their basic human rights. A system restricting the possibility for employment is both violating human rights and it is basically inefficient since it limits our most valuable resource.
The present demographic transition and present features of employment where 500 million workers make less than a dollar a day, where there is almost a comparable number of those unemployed, where there is an unbearable load of pensions, coupled with shortages in food, water and resources are an explosive mixture breeding problems, dangers and threats. It could also breed terrorism.
Though terrorist acts do not occur daily everywhere, if one represents dangers and threats facing the contemporary world in two dimensions: probability vs. consequences, one has to conclude that currently terrorism has a 100% probability. The consequences of terrorism are terrible and though still smaller than those due to MAD increase approaching those that the world faced at the peak of the Cold war MAD confrontation. Vast majority of terrorist acts are now done with conventional weapons. However, the greatest danger comes from the intersection of terrorist and state stockpiles of nuclear weapons, fissile material, chemical and biological weapons. Terrorists do not need to produce their own WMD, they can steal those available. Moreover, the psychological effect of a mere threat is enormous. Terrorism has global and local consequences. The 9/11 attack and most of what followed form a womb wherefrom the spectre of the clash of civilisation transforms into a reality. Currently it is a clash between radical Islam and Western civilisation, but any conceivable confrontation with a characteristic asymmetry could transform into a conflict with terrorism. Then it ceases to be a classical clash of civilisation, since a fault-line may not be between different civilisations. The conflict is asymmetric: citizens of all countries are exposed to terrorists' attacks and terrorists' group does not exist as an entity one can either threaten or deal with. Terrorists have dual identity: a cadre and a movement. The movement generates the cadre and provides a financial support. Terrorism finds financial support in various illegal activities. Terrorism can hardly be described by a term war in a classical Clausewitz's sense. Mutually assured destruction approach is impossible with terrorists. This leads to inability of the conventional politics in dealing with the current terrorism. Current terrorism appears in the world still structured by the Westphalian principle of sovereign states. However, that structure is superimposed by other non-state structures of comparable importance: trans-national companies, regional and international organisations, international conferences and forums, various non-governmental organisations and a web of educational and research institutions. Though all states are sovereign some of them are rogue states, some are failed and some are failing. Some of them do or may provide support to terrorists; some of them are and could be generators of terrorism. Though terrorism hurts all humanity, there is a tendency toward isolationism, resentment toward international institutions and international treaties and readiness of acting alone. The answer to terrorism as well as many issues that we are currently facing requires solidarity. No matter how inadequate are international organisations they should not be ignored but improvement is required. Human society and particularly political structures are rarely fully symmetric. This is why Madison spoke about the tyranny of the majority and equally one could speak about a tyranny of the minority. Although most acts of terrorism now are politically motivated, political grievances do not justify terrorism. Terrorism is a crime. Democratic procedures including civil disobedience which is an acceptable democratic expression, and specifically checks and balances overcome these asymmetries. It is when either as a response to the terrorism or by authoritarian inclination society limits freedom that the development stops. This would be the final victory for terrorism. «They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. » (Benjamin Franklin, 1759)
Though the present world with only one superpower is less dangerous than the bipolar world of two confrontational superpowers having WMD and being in balance by mutually assured destruction, this situation is neither stable nor desirable since because of various reasons the only existing superpower could be uninterested or unable to interfere in all cases when it is necessary. The military power under the UN is highly desirable. The problem is that the UN and all UN type organisations are inert and hesitant. Their Breton Woods sisters have also their own characteristic time constants that do not necessarily reflect the need of those they are supposed to help. The inertia is not caused by the military or economic reasons but exclusively because of their political ineffectiveness. It is necessary to devise mechanisms to assure prompt, rapid and hopefully constant international action without being trigger-happy. It is our duty to interfere, but we should be aware of the peril of interventions.
Here, we have seen how two specific problems - unemployment and demographic transition - are interconnected and lead to other problems, e.g. violence and terrorism. Is there a root cause for all of them? Many blame science and technology for unemployment, for WMD, GM food, even for global warming. Einstein argued that we cannot use activities that produced problems to solve them, and that could lead us to conclude that we should stop research and even attempt to undo some results that science achieved. Actually, the opposite is true: we need more research and more education, but that is not all, it is not enough.
We argue that the development even the existence of the contemporary world crucially depends on our creative capabilities - individual and collective, and it is present research and technological development (RTD), education, science and technology and information and communication technologies (ICT) that mold and increase our creative power. We will include all of these components under the term: knowledge. However, while RTD, ICT, science and technology and to some extent education are global and can be standardized, the sum of all - knowledge - is understood and contextualized within a specific cultural system. The essential resource of today's world is knowledge, and while resources of earlier eras were and are finite and relatively scarce, knowledge is inexhaustible and it is increased by sharing. Knowledge is also a political power. Knowledge has constantly to increase. It includes new ideas, discoveries, sometimes serendipitous. Knowledge aims toward complete understanding and leads to greater creativity, better education, life-long and for everybody. Science is the generator of the basic features of the contemporary world: rapid changes, globalisation and interdependence. It is common to speak about knowledge-based economy and even of a knowledge-based society. However, no country in the world has achieved a knowledge-based society. Development crucially depends on biological and cultural diversities. The environment molds the biological species through evolution. Cultures are formed and evolve in constant interactions among themselves. Sometimes we belong to more than one culture. No culture is complete without these interactions. Though preservation of many different cultures is essential, it is neither possible nor desirable to maintain a culture unchanged. I argue that all cultures should change. The modification of cultures while simultaneously preserving their essence (a question «what is their essence» has to be explored and tested) is a major task facing contemporary society. A modification, a change is an imperative, but also a risk. In order to minimize the risk any change of culture should satisfy the following four conditions: first, recognition and respect of individual human rights, second, compatibility with globalization and knowledge-based society, third, its own uniqueness and fourth, the capacity to change without loosing its value.