18 May 2007

Reading Vignettes

Funny how Life has a way of merging ideas and interests...From Lawrence Harrison's Underdevelopment is a State of Mind: The Latin American Case, a few snippets to blend with My recent vignettes:

-- Related to My remark about the cultural duality of "science fiction verses magical realism": If the society's worldview encourages the belief that humans have the capacity to know and understand the world around them, that the universe operates according to largely decipherable patterns of laws, and that the scientific method can unlock many secrets of the unknown, it is clearly imparting a set of attitudes tightly linked to the ideas of progress and change. If the worldview explains worldly phenomena by supernatural forces, often in the form of numerous capricious gods and goddesses who demand obeisance from humans, there is little room for reason, education, planning or progress.

We believe the world around Us simply happens, that it is "God's will" or "the way things are" that things turn out the way they do, regardless of Our efforts. Science fiction is Man making things happen, whereas magical realism is the wordy complicated version of "Shit happens."

--Covering part of My remark about The Fools needing to change their mindset: When the idea of compromise--i.e., that a relationship is important enough to warrant seeking to avoid confrontation, even if some concession is necessary--is weak, the likelihood of confrontation is increased. Constant confrontation undermines stability and continuity, which, as noted earlier, are crucial to development.

The relationship Harrison refers to is simply Our progress, Our overall chance to develop Our potential. By and large, We give a tinker's damn about that, choosing petty individual concerns over a greater goal of common good. It isn't Our institutions that suck, it's Our attitudes.

--Related to that and rapping Me upside the head: If the idea of progress is well-established in the culture, there is a presumption that planning and hard work will be rewarded by increased income and improved living conditions.

We don't have a deeply-ingrained cultural mindset of self-made progress. A few of Us do, and if of these few the attitude goes from optimism to pessimism, then We are truly up Fecal Creek without a rowing implement. Harrison is right that culture, specifically the Spanish-based culture We have, is an impediment to greater development. But cultures are not static. We can't choose Our culture, but We can certainly choose Our attitude within it.

It's just that too many of Us keeping making the absolute worst choices possible.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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