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To be modern or not.


New economic development in old societies should emancipate people or make people more independent – physically, emotionally and psychologically – from traditional social support systems like extended families, clan and tribal systems, dependence on “village” or community support, dependence on religious support groups and  also free the society’s dependence on lingering aristocracies. 

And in any transition from this side of the river to the other side there are always the leeches and crocodiles waiting in the water to slow things down. These are the parties which resist change and modernisation. Usually because it affects their wealth and economic status.  

In Indonesia despite Sukarno declaring independence in 1947 there were very strange things going on on the island of Bali (for example) which took some time to unravel. This was a strict caste system that actually forbade people of lower castes from travelling overseas, engaging in international trade and other such restrictions. It took some time before these restrictions disappeared.

In some places like Aceh the resistance to modernisation has prevailed. The religious  fraternity’s control of the society has actually increased. To the extent that significant parts of 21st century Aceh society behaves (and looks) like 11th century Baghdad.  The people in authority in Aceh are the religious classes. I wonder what is the colour of their tap water?

In Bangkok today the Thai people are expressing a strong desire to make that giant leap towards becoming a more modern society. But as usual the regressive forces are trying to slow their progress. 

The transition from less modern to more modern also means the transition from less rational to more rational. The reliance on reason (or the lack of reason) is directly proportional to how modern a society is or is not.  

“Modern” being a relative term that should indicate how much better a society is in creating and sustaining the freedom of the individual to pursue wealth, happiness and his personal freedoms. You may have other definitions. Plus the development of technology and the whole discipline of managing technology. (Going to work from 9am – 5pm is a function of modern technology.)

A society whose norms include kneeling in front of some other members is certainly not a modern society at all.    

The Philippine people are affected by an omnipresent local variety of Catholicism mixed with traditional fears of the unknown. A complex mix – which has become ‘identity’. When something becomes part of your ‘identity’ then the next step emerges – you must defend your identity.  Which in turn will give birth to the ‘memperjuangkan ini dan itu’ class of people.  With its requisite retinue of heroes, opportunists, the political animals, the religious charlatans and so on. And on and on. 

The less reason and logic used by a society the less modern that society will remain. 

It is generally held that more education will emancipate the human being. Wrong answer. It does not. Want proof? Just look around you. It depends on what books you read.

What will emancipate you as a human being is the use of reason and logic. Human beings must become modern in their thinking. Human beings must read books that promote the use of reason, logic, proofs and common sense. Otherwise you are still a caveman driving around in a Honda. 

The less reason and logic used in a society the more thievery and corruption will exist in that society.  

  • ‘Our religion insists that you obey what we say’
  • ‘Our traditions insist that you obey what we say’
  • ‘Our fate as a bangsa insists that you obey what we say’

All these are simple tricks to take your money and keep you poor. So if you want to save yourself and save your family – invest in reason, logic and common sense. 

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