Friday, September 8, 2006

Back on Cultural Matters




Think about the whole mind-set of bin Ladenism. It is to “purge” Saudi Arabia of all foreigners and foreign influences. That is exactly the opposite of glocalizing and collaborating. Tribal culture and thinking still dominate in many Arab countries, and the tribal mind-set is also anathema to collaboration. What is the motto of the tribalists? “Me and my brother against my cousin; me, my brother, and my cousin against the outsider.” And what is the motto of the globalists, those who build collaborative supply chains? “Me and my brother and my cousin, three friends from childhood, four people in Australia, two in Beijing, six in Bangalore, three from Germany, and four people we’ve met only over the Internet all make up a supply chain.”


In the flat world, the division of labour is steadily becoming more and more complex, with a lot more people interacting with a lot of other people they don’t know and may never meet. If you want to have a modern complex division of labour, you have to be able to put more trust in strangers.


In the Arab-Muslim world, argues David Landes, certain cultural attitudes have in many way become a barrier to development, particularly the tendency to still treat women as a source of danger or pollution to be cut off from the public space and denied entry into economic activities. When a culture believes that, it loses a large portion of potential productivity of the society.  A system that previleges the men from birth on, Landes also argues, simply because they are male, and gives them power over their sisters and other female members of the society, is bad for the men. It builds in them a sense of entitlement that discourages what it takes to improve, to advance, and to achieve. This sort of discrimination, he notes, is not something limited to Arab Middle East, of course. Indeed, strains of it are found in different degrees around the world, even in so-called advanced industrial societies.


(Excerpt from "The World Is Flat" by Thomas L.Friedman. To be continued)


May I lay stress here on what scholar David Landes said, "A system that previleges the men from birth on, simply because they are male, and gives them power over their sisters and other female members of the society, is bad for the men." This is especially true of the men in Vietnam. Do you see that they are absent in contributions to the advancement of the world? What they need from the past until now is a slap in the face to awake to their timid role in development.