Many years ago when I was noting the immense technological changes that were taking place before our eyes, a friend of mine asked me what I thought about the status of countries like Iran amidst such worldwide developments?  At the time, I told him that the pace of global change that we are witnessing in our times is like a locomotive which is moving very fast with high acceleration and each individual, family, nation, and country is like a passenger that needs to get on this train as soon as possible, and if they do not, their distance from the nearest station, to get on this train, will get exponentially farther and farther.  Recently when I met this friend, he was telling me it seems like Africa as a continent is getting way behind this train.


So when looking at the phenomena of the global technological changes, we can see some third world countries that have made good strides forward, countries like Singapore and Taiwan, and some others that have never gotten on the train.  And in many of underdeveloped countries, the political factor *is* the main obstacle in front of these developments, because lack of freedom certainly hampers post-industrial development.


If the industrial society needed *education* as a requirement of its kind of production, the new technologies *require* freedom to progress. Let’s remember that in pre-industrial societies, education existed, but it was *not* a requirement of the production. Whereas education was a requirement for industrial production, and this is why educational system became a public need, and was standardized, and institutionalized in the industrial society and this is how public school system was formed in every industrial country. The situation is the same with regards to *freedom* and the post-industrial society. 


Freedom was an important ideal in pre-industrial and industrial societies and the declaration of human rights and other similar documents in history were the results of endeavors of humanity for a dignified social life for all.  But only in post-industrial society, freedom is a requirement for production, and it is being institutionalized in legal form, to protect freedom of invention, and the intellectual property rights, software copyright, etc.  It is not hard to see the lack of copy right laws in backward countries. 


Institutionalizing freedom is a necessity for the development of the core technologies of the post-industrial development and futurist authors like Tofflers have been noting this factor in their works [for example, see Toffler’s book entitled “Power Shift”].  Some new technologies can partially be developed in closed societies like China, but the development of the codified knowledge, which is a fundamental requirement of post-industrial development, is hampered with lack of freedom. For a good expose of codified knowledge, please refer to recent studies of Daniel Bell noted in his Foreword 1999 to the new print of Daniel Bell’s book "The Coming of Post-Industrial Society".


Now this is the background from which we should evaluate developments of third world countries.  We know advancements of some countries like Singapore and Taiwan in hardware and India in software.  I have written on this topic in 1998 and the differences of access to high-speed networking in different countries, noteworthy to say that South Korea is trying hard to have early start on high-speed networking access.  Basically the high-speed Fiber Optics backbone for any country, and their access to high-speed worldwide transoceanic cables, is as critical as the way access to warm waters was in the industrial age.  Here is my 1998 note about Fiber Optics in Iran:

I recently saw the following article which showed some developments in the area of fiber optics backbone in Iran which is real good news:


I think one of the things we should pay attention to,  is that building a post-industrial economy cannot be done by ideologies of nationalism, protectionism or isolationism.  In fact, such state ideologies can compromise the real independence of a country, rather than helping the cause of independence.  Nationalism is as obsolete as Communism in this day and age.  We do not live in an era where imperialist powers were willing to capitalize in third world countries for cheap materials, cheap labor, and markets.  More and more the real mine of the new world is a universities like the MIT which develop the materials that are made to order for any industry in its Applied Material Science research labs, for example the material with ductility and durability that is needed by an auto industry manufacturer for its car production.  Here is a good article by Daniel Bell on this change in the world production:


The above means that attracting capital in such projects to any country can happen if the skilled labor is viewed to exist in that country.


The West is spearheading all these developments worldwide and the attitude of the politicians of any third world country in dealing with the West is very critical to their success in producing for the global market.  The example of Japan that is able to produce and market its products in the world markets should be the example for any third world country to succeed in this day and age and dealing with the Western partners is a key in such endeavors.  Below is what I wrote about the taboo of the West among the Iranian intellectuals and about Iranians and the West in general, where we either thought we had to become the servants of the West or we thought we had to stay isolated from the West:


The example of hostage-taking ordeal in the aftermath of the Iranian 1979 Revolution and the support of many Iranian political groups of this savage act has been a strong reason of isolation of Iran and Iranians.  Countries that had fought US in wars and had killed many Americans, countries like Vietnam, did not create such as a bad rapport that Iranians did when not even one American had died in this hostage-taking ordeal.  Why?  Because such an action questions the immunity and security of diplomatic missions, which can easily extend to business and other relations.  This created the image that businesses are not being respected and cannot feel secure, and such a perception is a poison for any country, in an age where global business requires such guarantees to flourish.  Here is what I wrote on the topic of hostage-taking a while back:


One thing that in this era is critical for any individual to ask the leaders of different political and state organizations is their programs for the future, i.e. their economic and political plans.  We ask a lot from our politicians, but we fail to discuss their *programs*, which is really the main thing  we should ask them about, as their program for Iran is what they are supposed to implement as a political leader, when they get to power?  I once wrote an article about how we Iranians treat our leaders and I think this issue is especially very significant in our future in this era of global change.  Here is what I had written:


I think we have a choice to become a Japan or a Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia which is so backward that practices stoning and amputations and only because of its good relations with the West, we do not hear much about its obsolete system, and for now it makes money, thanks to its oil, but has not developed any significant basic post-industrial industries.  Or we can become a Japan.  This is what I wrote about Iran and its two choices:


In short, I think Iran should aim for a business direction like Japan where the only focus of the manufacturers is to serve the customers and even if the government helps the industries, it is not by protecting them to sell junk to the consumers deprived of other choices from foreign producers, but it is by helping them to produce at the highest world quality standards.  A successful business is the one that can sell in the global markets and can serve the customers the best, and not like many sellers in Iran, who sell in the sellers’ market, when the buyer has no choice.  Here is what I have written about producing for a buyers’ market:


Progressive Iranians should oppose import and export policies that are based on any protection of local industries, rather than protecting the consumers.  If the local industries cannot develop the price, features, and quality that Iranian consumers desire, they should not be helped by import/export policies.  They should be assisted by technical and scientific programs to help them get on par with the leading-edge industries worldwide.


Moreover the progressive parties and individuals should support programs to develop the post-industrial enterprises and to fade away the smoke stack industries of the past.  Promote the technologies of computers, communications, genetics, and satellite communications to make the infrastructure necessary for post-industrial development of Iran.   They can pioneer forming independent mutual funds to help such industries and to finance entrepreneurs who want to build such businesses in Iran.  We should not do all these efforts thru the government and private initiatives have shown to work the best for such innovative endeavors.


And I would like to close this article by emphasizing the main point that until any business, industry, and seller in Iran feels that they have to earn their business by offering the best price, features, and quality for their customers, Iran will not be able to be a successful country in the 21st Century.   At the end of the game this is what makes a nation successful in a global marketplace and not the help of the state to force the buyers to buy a junk when the buyer is deprived of other choices thru high customs tariffs and protectionist policies.


Finally I have described my thoughts on the political and other aspects of this change and the proper program to achieve such change in my proposal for the platform of the Iranian Futurist Party, which is at the following URL.


Certainly the conflict between all the traditional political and social forces of Iran with this new reality is inevitable and the loss of the progressive forces to obsolete Islamist forces in 1979 has not helped the post-industrial development in Iran but at the same time, Iran is the best example of how a backward political and social program can cause a constant frustration for a whole nation, a nation which understands the 21st Century and will not be held away from this rapid train of progress for long.  The struggle for Progressiveness in the Present Epoch in Iran has just started:


Hoping for a Secular, Democratic, Federal, and Future_Oriented Republic of Iran.


Sam Ghandchi, Publisher


January 6, 2002






* The above article was first posted on Jebhe BB and Mehdis on January 6, 2002


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