PARTICIPATION, SOLIDARITY and DEVELOPMENT

The United Nations Conference for Development and Environment - Conferência das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento e Meio Ambiente (Rio – 92), disseminated ideas (or recipes?) advocated by the Club of Rome during the 70’s and developed by Norwegian minister Gro Harlem Brundtland in "Our Common Future" in the 80’s. The concept of sustainable development, implying global development criteria, would transfer to a global society (idealized and non-existent in its cultural universalism) the so-called developmental benefits and losses.

The introduction of endogenous development presupposes, in a smaller scale, the development of communities. It describes a development directed to communities, from the inside to the outside, in what refers to their traditions and culture.

International organisms insist in reconciling both concepts in their guidelines and agendas, due, among other reasons, to the need of absorbing poverty, a category that the "utopia of equal development" was not able to eliminate.


Throughout history, poverty – the human and material reflection of inequality – was usually incorporated to society through mechanisms more or less rigid of casts and privileges, and justified by usage, customs or religious principles.

With the advent of the industrial era, the absorption of poverty was left in the hands of hygienist practices and nation-state "watch", the basis of current welfare state policies. But these policies do not correspond anymore to global needs: the numbers of the dispossessed increase continuously, without a "justification" to explain and assimilate them as in the past, and worse, in a world where "inequality" is considered an unacceptable totalitarianism.

"When we examine Latin America, we find that the distance between the 20% wealthiest and the 20% poorest corresponds to 19 times, while in the developed countries it corresponds to 6 times, if we compare each group’s income".

CEPAL, upon the failure of the policies adopted in Latin America for better income distribution, has proposed something called "productive transformation though equity ", which attempts to replace Equality by Equity (defined as Equality with Diversity). The proposal’s premises include a type of development with regional characteristics, occurring from the inside to the outside, based on "technical progress" and achieved essentially through education.

According to Carmem Gaudilla, growth through equity could be defined as a "new modernity, that seeks technical progress, equity and democracy by reconciling individual freedom, modern thought and a sense of community. (...)"

From the point of view of sustainable development, as advocated by the wealthier countries, some of the most important reserves of the poorer countries must remain untouched as "humanity’s reserves", something which will certainly increase the statistics of inequality. The international organizations themselves confirm the "fragmented globalization" which takes place these days both in the undeveloped and in the developed countries.

"Globalization refers to techniques, markets, tourism and information. Universality refers to values, human rights, freedom, culture and democracy. Globalization seems irreversible, while universality is disappearing "
(Baudrillard, Libération, mar.,1996)

Contemporary development projects do not oppose society to community anymore. They prescribe "a society based on solidarity" as suggested by alternative development models, instead of stressing the need for solidarity first.

Political-ideological projects propose self-management of each community’s resources, while the idea of equality among its members is transferred to the global consciousness. This means that the distance to the universal increases, creating the need to reinforce the traditions and culture of each community, risking the unfolding of extreme forms of nationalism, whether religious, ethnic or social. This is one of the main contradictions of a development model that seeks its essential values in itself. It also shows the weakness of a way of thinking (again utopian) which regards growth as based on "equality with diversity". There is no evidence in the sociopolitical game of the developed countries that this may be desirable without restrictions and without fearing the new emerging economies. Social bonds are conceived here as commercial.

The idea of an endogenous development reinforces the notion of a naturalistic vision of the community, in the sense advocated by Tonnies. The sustainable development idea presupposes an individual and contractual vision which reminds us of Rousseau’s, where we first find the individual to finally arrive at the collective, and then at a contract, in order to arrive at a "restored community". In understanding this issue we could apply Farrugia’s idea: "There is no authentic and feasible contract that is not drawn among free and equal men. We have to promote an understanding of the contractual bond by integrating the communitarian and the contractual".

What type of equality are we discussing? Carmem Gaudilla points out that the current economical dynamic is producing increasing numbers of excluded people – the "new poor ".

The equality principle in question here assumes that all men and women are equally interested in contributing to development, which would then become global.

"We have not found yet adequate recipes for equality, and the most sophisticated socioeconomic models are lacking in solidarity".

The maxim "thinking globally, acting locally" seems as an attempt to reconcile the contractual and the communitarian. Nevertheless, there was no similarity and no equality among those who were / should have been called to sign up the contract that would establish a self-sustainable global development project. Therefore, this contract will never be capable of promoting equality nor a sense of universal solidarity, it we don’t review it.

Here we pose new questions: if we are to promote development, in which measure should we adopt hybrid solutions? In other words, how to integrate technological innovations with local traditions? How could the developed countries cooperate with the underdeveloped? Is it possible to alleviate conflicts born from the impact between traditional and technological cultures? How to preserve cultural identities and, therefore, diversity, without risking a sterile xenophobia and an a cult of nationalism? Are we able to finally discuss some sort of global development that implies in the universal well being?