PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT THREATENED IN THE WORLD
Fernando Alcoforado *
Progress means to move forward having as synonymous the words advancement and
progression (See the online Dictionary of the Portuguese on the website
<http://www.dicio.com.br/progresso/>). Progress can be defined as a cumulative
process in which the latest stage is always considered better and better, ie qualitatively
superior to that preceded it. In this sense, the change occurs in a particular direction and
this progression is interpreted as an improvement over the previous situation. Thus, the
change is oriented better. It´s necessary, that is, it cannot stop the progress and is
irreversible, i.e., no return to the past is possible. The improvement was inevitable.
Tomorrow will always be better than today.
"A development project of a country or a region will have only progressive character if
generate transformation, change, progress, creation and distribution of wealth.
Economic development materializes when there is transformation, change, progress and
wealth creation and social development only happens when wealth is widely distributed
throughout the population, ie, it is not concentrated. A development project has
therefore progressive character when the economic and social development occurs
simultaneously" [ALCOFORADO, Fernando. Os condicionantes do desenvolvimento
do Estado da Bahia (The determinants of the development of the State of Bahia). PhD
thesis. Barcelona University, < http://www.tesisenred .net/handle/10803/1944 >, 2003].
In his book The End of Progress - How modern economics has failed us, published by
John Wiley & Sons in 2011, Graeme Maxton, developer of The Economist and a wide
range of international newspapers and magazines in Europe, America and Asia and a
regular guest on news programs from the BBC and CNN, concerns the consequences of
the global economic crisis that erupted in the United States in 2008, the world
overpopulation that is approaching its limits (10 billion people), the depletion of world's
financial resources and the emergence of China as a global power that threatens U.S.
hegemony in the world. In this work Graeme Maxton says that "humanity is moving
backwards. Mankind is destroying rather than building. Each year, the world economy
grows approximately US$ 1.5 trillion. But each year, humanity devastates the planet at
a cost of US$ 4.5 trillion. Mankind is moving in reverse generating larger losses than
the wealth that it creates".
Maxton says that humanity has experienced rapid economic growth, but also created an
unstable world. According Maxton, in many countries, for the first time in centuries, we
face the fall in life expectancy and the prospect of declining of food production and
water supply, as well as the depletion of natural resources like oil. Everything that is
happening in the world conspires against everything preached from the Enlightenment
of the eighteenth century, when a group of thinkers began to mobilize in defense of
ideas which marked the renewal of existing practices and institutions across Europe,
raising philosophical questions about the condition and happiness of man. The
Enlightenment movement systematically attacked everything that was considered
contrary to the pursuit of happiness, justice and equality. What can be seen today all
over the planet is the antithesis of what the Enlightenment advocated.
It should be noted that Enlightenment thought has elected the "reason" as the great
instrument of reflection that can improve and undertake institutions fairer and more
functional. Everything that happens today in the world where we live denies the thought
of Emmanuel Kant, one of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, which saw history
moving toward the better [KANT, Immanuel. Ideia de uma história universal de um
ponto de vista cosmopolita (Idea of a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of
view). Sao Paulo: Brasiliense, 1986]. Kant said that the contest between human beings
constitute the great engine of history and concords that generating discord among men,
and for one reason or another, leading them collectively through Progress. Human
history demonstrates, however, that this argument is not true because the competition
between humans has generated barbarism represented by revolutions with the conflict
between social classes and wars between peoples and nations and the destruction of
nature. With similar view to that of Kant, the French philosopher and mathematician
Condorcet (1743-1797) was extremely optimistic.
Condorcet's ideas about history were of enormous historical optimism. Condorcet
believed that, at this point in history, the state of evolution and improvement of
mankind could no longer be stopped, unless some global catastrophe occurred, and for
that it would be up to the enlightened men for the reason accelerate human progress,
which itself it was inevitable. For Condorcet, the present that then he and his
contemporaries lived had a superiority over all times of the past, and, after reaching the
highest rung, humans centuries to come would not watch more than the add new lights
to an unending progress. History would be to Condorcet, so that the record would be the
supreme law of human development, their "indefinite perfectibility". Progress to
Condorcet constituted the great law that printed the regular course of history, and know
the latter, ie, reflect on what had been the man so far and about his current state could
help to provide the means of learned men accelerate progress faster and closer to
humanity's future [CONDORCET. Esquisse d' one tableau historique des progreès de l'
esprit humain (Sketch of a historical picture of the progress of the human spirit). Paris:
Garnier - Flammarion, 1988 ].
Note that Condorcet said the state of evolution and improvement of mankind could no
longer be stopped, unless some catastrophe occurred worldwide (emphasis added). The
current world scenario points in this direction with the possibility of a total collapse
(disruption lasting and widespread of the Internet, the exhaustion of the global food
supply, a continental electromagnetic pulse that destroys all electronics, the collapse of
globalization, destruction of the Earth by creating exotic particles, the destabilization of
the nuclear scenario, the end of the global oil supply, a global pandemic, the lack of
electricity and drinking water, intelligent robots that surpass humanity and global
deflation and the collapse of global financial markets) as we advocate in an article
published in Academia.edu and Blog de Falcoforado (http://fernando.alcoforado.zip.net)
posted on 21/05/2013, unless, as Condorcet says, men enlightened by reason accelerate
human progress, which in itself was inevitable. The problem is that the enlightened men
of Condorcet still not came in to prevent global catastrophe.
To avoid the disaster that lies ahead, humanity has to build a new society that
incorporates all the peoples of the world that will only be feasible if conducted by a
democratic world government that is able to plan and control the chaotic economic and
global systems that threaten the survival of humanity and to prevent the collapse of
everything as John Casti provides in his book O Colapso de Tudo - Os Eventos
Extremos que Podem Destruir a Civilização a Qualquer Momento (The collapse of
everything - the Extreme Events that Can Destroy Civilization at Any Moment)
published by Editora Intrínseca Ltda., Rio, 2012.
Alcoforado, Fernando, engineer and doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the
University of Barcelona, a university professor and consultant in strategic planning, business planning,
regional planning and planning of energy systems, is the author of Globalização (Editora Nobel, São
Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo,
1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do
desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado. Universidade de Barcelona,
http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel,
São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era
Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social
Development-The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG,
Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora,
Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global
(Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011) and Os Fatores Condicionantes do
Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), among others.