ٍPre-Industrial Attack on Globalization
In my article Taboo of the West (http://www.ghandchi.com/346-WestEng.htm) I examined the taboo of relations with the West and the so-called anti-imperialist stands. Also in my article "Death to America" Chants of IRI New Parliament (http://www.ghandchi.com/336-IRIParliamentEng.htm), I reviewed the goal of Islamists for chanting this slogan. In the following lines, I will focus on the attack of pre-industrial forces on globalization.
Pre-Industrial Blocks to Globalization
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 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 blocking these developments, because the lack of freedom certainly hampers post-industrial development. Just looking at a country like Iran, where the Islamic Republic openly admits to block the web sites that they think advocate removal of Islamic Republic, shows the inertia of political factors in front of globalization and post-industrial development for a country.
If the industrial society needed *education* as a requirement of its kind of production, the new technologies *require* freedom to progress, because the unblocked flow of information for an information economy is like the need of unblocked transportation for a mercantile economy.
Let’s remember that in pre-industrial societies, education existed, but it was *not* a requirement of the production, whereas, the education became a requirement for industrial production, and this is why educational system developed into 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 of the world. It was not out of any benevolence of the industrialists.
Public education was a requirement for an industrial society. 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 the post-industrial society, freedom is a requirement for production, and it is being institutionalized in legal forms, to protect free flow of information, 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, because that kind of development is not just technique and it involves various realms of knowledge and thinking and lack of freedom destroys thought..
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 the topic of Fiber Optics and Iran 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 and is even ahead of U.S. in this area.
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. I wrote in my article about the importance of a national network backbone for Iran. I recently saw a news report from Iran' s telecom, that showed some developments in the area of fiber optics backbone in Iran which is real good news.
However, building a post-industrial economy cannot be done by ideologies of nationalism, protectionism or isolationism even if some of the above technologies are developed in Iran and the blocking of the Internet sites based on a state ideology, which treats the country as its private property, means defeating the purpose of efficient flow of information. In fact, state ideologies can compromise the real independence of a country, rather than helping the cause of independence.
Some Islamists try to justify their hampering the flow of information as a nationalist goal to stop the imperialists. Even if that was true, they are causing a reactionary block to globalization. Nationalism is as obsolete as Communism in this day and age. We do not live in an era where the imperialist powers were willing to capitalize in third world countries for cheap materials, cheap labor, and markets.
More and more the real mines of the new world are universities like the MIT which develops 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. Daniel Bell has an excellent explanation of this change of world production: in his The Break Down of Time, Space, and Society. As I will show later, in the future, nanotechnology will offer the most important changes in this realm.
The above means that attracting capital to any country for such projects 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.
And as explained at the beginning of this chapter, the taboo of the West among the Iranian intellectuals, where we either thought we had to become the servants of the West or we thought we had to stay isolated from the West, is counterproductive in this day and age. And Islamic Republic of pre-industrial forces of Iran and its attacks on globalization and progress, only hampers the development of Iran into a post-industrial society.
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 for isolation of Iran and Iranians. Countries that had fought the US in wars and had killed many Americans, for example Vietnam, did not create such a bad rapport that Iranians created, when not even one American had died in the 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.
Hostage-taking 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. And attack on globalization thru anti-West actions like hostage-taking, only helped the isolation of Iran, and falling behind the progress of the 21st Century.
In this era, it is critical for any individual to ask the leaders of different political and state organizations about the leader's programs for the future, i.e. their economic and political plans. We ask a lot from our politicians and leaders, but we fail to discuss their *programs* for , whereas really the main thing we should ask them about, is their program for Iran, which they will implement as a political leader, if they come to power? Will we end up with a leadership attacking globalization again, not under an Islamist flag, but using other retrogressive ideological reasons.
Iran has 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.
A business direction like Japan means that the only focus of the manufacturers will be serving their customers and even if the government helps the industries, the help is not by protecting them to sell low quality products to the consumers, which means depriving the customers from having the choice of products from foreign producers. Helping manufacturers must mean to help them 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 is deprived from better choices available abroad. I have written in details about the wrong protectionist policies and economy in this day and age, and why manufacturers should produce for a buyer's market and not for a seller's 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.
Proper way to help local industries is by technical and scientific programs to help them get on par with the leading-edge industries worldwide and not by letting them stay backward like most of the Iranian bazaar merchants, and yet profitable because of stopping foreign competition, while giving rise to the black market for better foreign products.
In fact, IRI has helped some backward producers in Iran by letting them stay obsolete, but profitable thru protecting them from foreign competition, using meaningless custom laws that are all against the consumers.
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. Promoting the technologies of computers, communications, genetics, and satellite communications are essential to build 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.
It is very important to emphasize 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 day, this is what makes a nation successful in a global marketplace, and not the help of the state to force the buyers to buy an inferior product, 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 Iranian Futurist Party Platform.
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.
Globalization of the world economy is moving very fast and it is not an issue of
theory anymore, and countries like Japan and later Singapore, Taiwan, and now
South Korea and India are planning and actively producing for this epochal change, and
their products have even taken lion shares of markets in the U.S. Even simple
look at the cars on the streets in the U.S. and seeing the Japanese Toyota,
Honda, Mazda, and now even South Korean Hyundai cars, can tell one about this
reality of production for the world market.
Both capitalism and socialism are at the end of their road. Socialism in its best case in Sweden is still not a solution for today’s world and capitalism is not the answer to our world issues either. The developments in the West are not all capitalism and the a twisted view of reality sees it this way. The post-industrial society is developing using multiple forms of ownership.
The same way that Islamists do not understand the world of today and see it as Islamist versus kAfar, the leftists see it as socialist vs capitalist. It is a religious grouping inherited from the world of 150 years ago, which is no longer the real world global line ups.
Reading works like John Naisbitt' s Megatrends can help one to change the whole dichotomous obsolete perspective of the world, and see things through new paradigms, or else one will just feel disappointed and see the whole world development of the last 150 years as one big failure, where the beloved socialism has failed in Soviet Union and China and one tries to make an imaginary one to one's liking, as if all those in Soviet Union and Eastern Block were fools who could not see what those who are trying to create "true" today.
If they get out of their
shell, they will see that in fact socialism had succeeded, and completed what it
could achieve. Both capitalism and socialism were two main ways that industrial
society started, grew, and is finished now. The world is moving beyond the
*industrial* society in both its capitalist and socialist forms and a global economy is ushering in.
Anti-globalization is taking a lot of its inspirations from the anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist movements of the early and mid 20th Century without realizing that the current globalization is not about one country invading another, albeit economically for raw materials, cheap labor, or local market.
Globalization is about the economic integration of the world, following the leadership of information economy, as it is becoming more and more the determining sector of all national economies, and contrary to the raw materials, industrial labor, and national markets of the past industrial economy, the requirements of information economy are not and cannot be confined to any national economy.
Political and Economic partnerships resulting from globalization are not based on geography or national identity, and to explain the fall of US dollar against Euro and Canadian dollar in the last three years, or to analyze India's 100 Billion dollar annual revenue of high technology, or to grasp the partnership of oil producing countries in the world economy, one cannot rely on old paradigms.
In my article entitled A Vision from City of Heretics , I explained about the misunderstanding of some leftist organizations, in their analysis of globalization and war, and noted how they had taken my opposition to the retrogressive forces like Saddam's regime and Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), as defense of Bush, and had not understood that I condemn the ultranationalist forces in the U.S., as much as I condemn the retrogressive forces in the developing countries.
But misunderstanding of the new global formations is not particular to the leftists.
Many of the Iranian technocrats of Shah's time, who currently live abroad, and the Iranian technocrats inside Iran, although acknowledge globalization, in their analysis of present political and economic forces in the world, like the years of 1900's, try to find the axis or the allies, the same way they would do in the eras of World War I and II. Even some of our astute economists, consider "the United States (appended by Canada, Mexico, and Latin American countries), Europe (with extension of European Union to Russia), and Asia (China, India, and Japan)"* as the new world blocs. I think the problem is that we are trying to explain the present, with the paradigms of the past, without even being aware of how globalization has changed the paradigm, as I have noted it Globalization & Federalism.
For example, explanation of the reality of the drop of U.S. dollar in the last three years, against Euro and Canadian dollar, cannot be explained by the geographical alliances. Or the reality of the 100 billion dollar a year annual revenue of India from new technologies, cannot be explained, like the colonial investments of 1900's for the cheap labor, even though the low labor cost is still the reason for success of India in the competition for development and production of new technologies. The same way the participation of the oil producing countries in the world economy in our times, cannot be understood the same way that the use of raw materials by colonialists in the 1900s was understood, although in both cases the raw materials is the issue at hand.
New global formations in all realms of human life are being shaped, and in different parts of the world, the ratio of these structures to pre-global structures is different, and depending on the policies of states of different countries at different times, and to the degree that they attack global formations, they hurt the relationship of their country to the global capital, the same way that ultranationalist economic policies of Bush's government in the last three years in the U.S., and the retrogressive policies of Islamic Republic of Iran in the last 25 years in Iran, have hurt their respective countries.
In my opinion, the escape of capital from the U.S. in the last three years, has been the reason for the fall of the dollar against Euro and Canadian dollar. It is true that the fall of dollar in turn makes the American products cheap abroad, but thinking that fall of dollar in this period has been done by purpose by the Bush administration is not real, especially considering the emphasis of Bush administration on free trade.
In fact, the ultranationalist policies of the last three years have discouraged the willingness to import capital to the U.S., and many owners of foreign capital, have exported their capital from the U.S. It is true that if infrastructure projects such as Broadband for Every Home had been driven in the U.S., they would have helped the volume of capital investment in the U.S., but the resulting profit of such investments, in conditions of an administration hostile to globalization, would not strengthen the national economy in the U.S.
The criteria in the world today, for any country, in all areas of economy, is its ability to work with globalization, the same way that at the time of inception of national economies three hundred years ago, the economy of locations that were hostile to national development, and were proud of their own self-sufficient economies, died very quickly.
Today, when in India, investment for new technologies is made, it is not like the years of 1900. A global company that may even be originally American, because of cheap labor in new technologiesو may find the production to be to its benefit in India, but the profit may not come to the U.S. and could go elsewhere. For example, two years ago, in the view of Cisco Systems, president Putin of Russia, understood global economy better than the U.S. administration, and they sided with that, and thus they viewed Putin's Russia, as a partner, closer to themselves, than Bush's America.
The same way that I quoted in my article Why Vote for Kerry? , from David Bower, Chief global Investment Strategist of Merrill Lynch, "America is more dependent on the rest of the world for capital than at any time in the past 50 years" and Bush's unilateralism has aliened Europe and even investors from other parts of the world to invest in the U.S., and in a global economy, such policies from any nation are shooting oneself in the foot. In my view the fall of dollar against Euro and Canadian dollar, in the last three years, has been because the political leaders of those countries, contrary to the U.S., have been in more harmony with the global formations, that are getting shaped in the world.
The issue of war with Saddam by itself is not the cause of Bush's weakness, although even in that area, the ultranationalist policies of Bush administration, and their lack of cooperation with other forces in the world, resulted in their loss, despite their victory in the war. From a military standpoint, he acted with strength and with the minimum of casualties won the war in Iraq. Today after Bush has understood the real intentions of Shi'a Islamists, hiring Saddam's Sunni generals, and using Saudi's financial plans, reviving Saddam's regime, without Saddam, , the dreams of Islamic Republic of Iran, to play a role like Syria's role in Lebanon, has been shattered. But none of these military victories of Bush can solve his main problem of his economic advisers not understanding the global economy.
One of Kerry's supporters is the famous Hungarian billionaire George Soros. George Soros has said it clearly that he will not stop at any financial support to remove Bush's administration. What is special of Soros is that he helped the downfall of the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc states by clear support of globalization. And his supporters are playing the main role in Russia and other Eastern European countries after the downfall of the Soviet Union. In fact, despite having a Communist ideology, in politics and economy, the Soviet Union was nothing but an ultranationalist regime.
A pro-globalization state should put its emphasis on global structures. The same way that at the time of formation of national structures in Europe, progressive city states sided with the national formations, that were being shaped at the time.
In other words, from forces like supporters of Soros in the U.S., to similar forces in Europe, India, or Singapore, and other parts of the world, a global formation is being shaped. My use of the term supporters of Soros, is only to help to understand my point, otherwise the reality of these new structures, is not a traditional political and economic organization, with the leadership of any specific individual, and is essentially a network of various economic, scientific, political, financial, and associations of new global formations formed in today's world.
In contrast, retrogressive forces like Saddam and Islamic Republic, and ultranationalist forces in the U.S., are the other side of the contention of our times. Understanding this contention, as the main contention of our world at the present, can clarify the main line ups in the global world today. Part of these global formations can geographically be stronger in Europe today, and tomorrow in the U.S., or India, but essentially these line ups are not geographical.
Understanding the above, for Iranian political movement, is very important. Because it is a mistake to consider a specific country, or a specific area, as the ally of our progressive movement. Our ally is the global development across the world. Of course, the issues of Social Justice, within this development, are the paramount issues of our times, which I have discussed elsewhere.
And also my words do not mean that if, for example the leaders of Islamic Republic of Iran, cooperate with globalization, Iran can be modernized. The experience of Shiite Islamism in Iraq has proved this fact more than ever, and I have discussed it in details why Islamic Republic of Iran Must Go, and anything short of referendum for regime change, cannot open the road of progress and democracy in Iran.
My basic point here was to show that our allies are in the global partnerships of the forces that are neither Western ultranationalists nor retrogressive pre-industrial Islamists and the like. The progressive forces that are in line up for global post-industrial development are our allies as we free Iran of the rule of Medieval Islamists and as we start building the Futurist Iran.
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Second Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
March 6, 2005
This article is from Chapter 8 of the new edition of Futurist Iran book
State Economy as the Foundation of Despotism