Policy Alternation for Development


Anthony Judge

The current difficulty is not so much with answers but with the lack of any operational perspective on the relationship between answers. The impotence of the current approach is unfortunately disguised by the plethora of studies on "motherhood" problems like "population", "energy", "environment", "food", and "health" whose limited significance nobody dares to challenge. On the other hand academic work does not seem able to move beyond its propensity to be satisfied with pretty patterns of categories within specialised frameworks.

The emphasis here on learning as development introduces the challenge of a dynamic dimension which involves both the "observer" and the "developer" in the transformation process as participants rather than as manipulators. The learning process cannot be limited by the preoccupations of those who favour a single answer. It challenges the value of any "unified world model" or any corresponding "unified world government". Such a monolithic over-arching structure, even if decentralised, can only fail to internalise the essentially discontinuous nature of transformative change, which must challenge pre-existing organisation. The structure is therefore obliged, using a sexual metaphor, to take one of the two sex roles. If it takes the male role, at present it reinforces phallic authoritarian (alpha) structures which, when they are not paternalistic, will tend to rape the "peoples of the world" who are cast into the corresponding female role. If it takes the female role, at present it reinforces associative (beta) structures which, when they are not restrictively maternalistic, invite rape on the part of any group capable of adopting an authoritarian mode. Violence is discharged but not contained.

This paper has attempted to clarify the learning cycles through which the essential dynamism of any more subtle relationship between these two modes can be embodied. It is in dynamics of an "androgynous" pattern of alternation or resonance between these modes that the possibilities for a planetary meta-answer lie. But, as with the ideal of marriage, there are many well-recognized patterns of unfruitful organised relationship which are valuable to the existence of both partners. Fruitful, transformative union, when it occurs, may involve shared ecstasy of long-term significance (on which ideals are focussed), but the moment of union between opposites is temporary (although possibly recurrent). Permanent union is clearly impractical and sterile in the light of current understanding [See quotation of von Weizaecker, page 40].

For there to be a viable response to the current condition in the immediate future, the present answer economy must be transformed by reinterpreting it through a more seductive idea. Hence the merit of an essentially human sexual metaphor to "contain" the dynamics of discontinuity faced by humanity and facilitate widespread understanding of the nature of the "pattern which connects". For, as Bateson warns:

"Break the pattern which connects the items of learning and you necessarily destroy all quality." (29, p. 8)