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Emilio Biagini

There is no universally accepted definition of development, but a neutral definition as a process of innovative structural change in the economic, political and cultural fields, gives many advantages. It allows historical interpretation of past processes and understanding of current ones, constantly calling attention on the true motor of development: internal innovation (something that no external aid can replace). Globalization tends to be reified by many authors: one hears that “globalization does this or does that”. It is not so, globalization, like any other development process (such as the agricultural “revolution” of the Neolithic or the Industrial Revolution) by itself does nothing. Rather, globalization is moved by the innovative activities of dynamic actors, it is not in itself a prime mover, although it may act as multiplier of these activities. Last but not least, a neutral definition leaves space for the negative sides of development, as no one can guarantee that innovations will not have adverse outcomes.


The main points to be borne in mind in a general theory of development are: the nature (static or dynamic) of the society, the interaction of human activity with the physical environment, the Centre-Periphery relationships (essential for historical interpretation), the stages of development (it is ridiculous that some “prestigious” Italian geographers still make reference to the stages of old Rostow), and the unavoidable and ubiquitous conflict. Globalization is a process (or the process) of the highest importance, not only economic but also political and cultural. It is still an ongoing process. In rough approximation we can say that, out of six billion human beings, only one billion people only (belonging to the most advanced countries) are truly active globalizers. Three more billion (in particular India, China, Brazil and some others) can be regarded as passive globalizers, in that they are getting increasingly dynamic and being gradually included into the global world (some of their regions might be more dynamic than the poorer regions of developed countries). Only two billion people are still at the margins and unglobalized. Underdevelopment means precisely having too little dynamism and innovative capability to be included (yet) in the globalized world.
What about the enemies of the global world? In the poorer countries people seem to be aware of the advantages of globalization rather more than those of developed countries, a fact which no enemy of globalization has ever explained or even tried to explain. The enemies are mainly two: the noglobal movement and islamic fundamentalism. Their conflictual relationship to the globalizing centres of the world is the leading theme of this volume, wich tries to attract attention to facts, not to vague “discourse”. A dominant trend of today’s “human” geography is precisely “discourse”, relativism, “weak thinking”, but it is doubtful that such “philosophizing” approach may provide much insight into real processes, first of all because if we accept relativism, why on earth should the very proposition “all is relative” be “true”? Why should we trust the “relativist”, whose “truths” are, by definition, “relative”? Ah, but says the “relativist”, what I say is true because I say it. Very good, then stay cosy in your coccoon and trouble us no more.
But the broader question, “why so much discourse?” is still to be answered. What is the philosophical basis for this line of “thinking”? Its import is far broader than the mere field of geography, and concerns human society and human life as a whole. Let us try, briefly, to understand, or at least to guess. Hereby follow a few hints to help readers to understand (or guess) by themselves.
First hint: the moral law of Christianity is irksome to people who prefer doing what they like without moral hindrance (actually these are a great many people, whereby arise all the countless heresies, persecutions and black legends on “Inquisition”, “Conquistadores”, and the like). Second hint: since the 18th century culture and science has been overwhelmingly in the hands of declared atheists and agnostics (mostly black legend mongers; they call it “secularization”). Third hint: during the 18th and 19th centuries these people hoped to destroy Christianity by their new-fangled toy made up of “Aufklärung”, “rationality”, “positive thinking”, “facts, facts, facts”. Fourth hint: subsequently the toy began to break down.
The “herald” of modernity, Giordano Bruno, had become the darling of atheists because he had proclaimed the Universe to be eternal and therefore independent of God and Creation; unfortunately for him and his deluded followers, astrophysics began to discover that the Universe had a definite beginning and will have an end; moreover the materialistic theory of biological evolutionism, another milestone of atheism, has entered a deadly crisis, and for anyone who does not like self–imposed blindness it should be clear that science disproves the possibility of doing away with Christianity rather than helping to destroy it. This does not mean that Christianity ever needed “scientific” proof, but merely that atheists sought for proofs against it and found none.
Fifth hint: as the toy was breaking down, “Aufklärung”, “rationalism”, “positivism”, “facts, facts, facts” were abandoned and “weak thinking” (behaving as if God did not exist, since “we cannot know”), “discourse” (behaving as if reality could not be known, and the only possible intellectual activity were to talk of what other people had previously said, in practice “talk, talk, talk” instead of “facts, facts, facts”) became the new catchwords. These five hints taken together might bring to the unpleasant (for some) conclusion that their activity and “scientific” production is not the outcome of study and research but of an attempt to live without God, satisfying their vices, revolving endlessly around their poor selves, and therefore of corrupting soul, mind and body.
This volume seeks to tackle the difficult task of probing into the interlocking processes of conflict and globalization rejecting “discorse” and self-imposed blindness, looking at facts with true faith in human reason, trying, with the aid of a group of valiant scholars in the fields of Geography, History, Economics and Linguistics*, to understand ongoing processes and to suggest how this world of ours might be improved by defeating terrorism and bringing about positive development. If this volume, and especially its editor, will be frowned upon by the politically correct “tartuffes”, careerists and ignorant, so much the better.

REFERENCES
BIAGINI E. (1980) “Evoluzionismo integrale oggi”, Studium, 4: 473-503
BIAGINI E. (1981a) “A general theory of development”, Discussion Papers, 10, University of Southampton, Department of Geography
BIAGINI E. (1981b) “Analisi critica dei contributi interdisciplinari per una teoria dello sviluppo”, Boll. Soc. Geogr. It., X, X: 423-462
BIAGINI E. (1982) “Stadi di sviluppo: una formulazione teoretica”, Riv. Geogr. It., LXXXIX, 2: 332-346
BIAGINI E. (2004) Ambiente, conflitto e sviluppo. Le Isole Britanniche nel contesto globale, 3 vols. (1st vol. “I processi formativi”, 2nd vol. “Impero e rivoluzione industriale”, 3rd vol. “La globalizzazione”), Genova, ECIG
FRIEDMANN J. & WEAVER C. (1979) Territory and function: the evolution of regional planning, London, Arnold
FRIEDMANN J. (1966) Regional development policy: a case study of Venezuela, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press
FRIEDMANN J. (1972) “A general theory of polarized development”, in Growth centers in regional economic development, cur. Hansen N.M., New York, Free Press, pp. 82-107
FRIEDMANN J. (1973) Urbanization, planning and national development, Beverley Hills, Cal., Sage Publications
FRIEDMANN J. (1975) “The spatial organization of power in the development of urban systems”, in Regional policy: readings in theory and applications, cur. Friedmann J. & Alonso W., Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, pp. 266-304
FRIEDMANN J. et al. (1980) Development strategies in the Eighties, Development Studies Colloquium, Monograph 1, Department of Town and Country Planning, University of Sydney
ROSTOW W.W. (1960) The stages of economic growth, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press


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