Development through Alternation

1.6 "New International Conceptual Order"

Anthony Judge
It is not solely at the level of material phenomena that an appropriate meta-answer can be usefully sought. Somehow the relationship between answers at all levels must be examined more creatively. It is a "New International Conceptual Order" that is required as a basis for any effective New International Economic Order. All the unsatisfactory material processes for which an NIEO-type response is sought are a rather pale reflection of equivalent conceptual processes which continually reinforce them and undermine remedial action in any context.

Adapting Johan Galtung's comment on "structural violence", it could be said that: Amateurs use the organization of material accumulation to dominate a situation, this can be done professionally by the organization of non-material forms of accumulation. In fact the very vigour of the processes of radical analysis and conceptual innovation may well reinforce the material accumulation processes deplored in such analyses.

The subtleties of Addo's (13) assessment of the limitations of NIEO could also be generalized to cover those of the "answer economy". What is to be the status of answers formulated or favoured by minority groups or weakly organized large groups? There is an exploited "Third World" to be recognized in non-material terms, and current concern with cultural domination is a step in this direction.

In discussing associative approaches to peace Paul Levy focuses on the central problem of claims for an exclusive hold on the truth, which any answer implies:

"Rien, aucun sentiment n'est plus poiemogene que celui de detenir seul la verite. Les conflits internationaux ne sont qu'accessoirement des conflits d'interets, tous finissent par reveler leur veritable nature: ce sont des guerres de religion. Un conflit qui aboutit a 1'effusion de sang se sacralise inevitablement et il ne peut durer et se developper que dans la mesure ou il se sacralise vraiment. La prétention a la détention exclusive de la vérité engendre l'intolérance et l'hostilité. Les Etats connaissent toujours l'agressivité des possesseurs de vrai. Leur qualité d'Etat leur interdit d'admettre la "vérité des autres". 11 en est de meme des religions et de toutes les idéologies a l'origine. Elles n'arrivent que graduellement a se dégager de l'intolérance indissolublement liée a leurs premiers pas. Puis vient l'âge de l'ouverture: de l'exclusion on passe a la mission (d'abord violente, ensuite non-violente), puis de la mission a la co-existence pour finir par la coopération." (16, p. 35)

Edgar Morin (7) touches on similar points, as does Attali (5). But in all such cases the nature of an appropriate meta-answer remains unclear. It is quite insufficient to favour such out-dated, optimistic remedies as "cooperation", which is a vehicle for many forms of exploitation, when it is not essentially cosmetic and ineffective. Levy's religious metaphor is also limiting because the phenomenon is more general. The religious manifestation is merely a well-known form, now and in the past.

Each answer is effectively an attempt by a limited group (with limited sensibilities, and with a limited information base) to give better organized expression to "the good, the true, and the beautiful". The problem is in devising a suitable rneta-form to interrelate answers which can only retain their essential quality within forms which are antagonistic to one_another. Advocating tolerance in a pluralistic, laissez-faire context is a very superficial, impractical response to the current existential challenge.