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TRANSCULTURAL FRIENDSHIP: OUR POLITICAL FUTURE

Chapter Four: Autocracy and Democracy

Section 1: Evaluation

 

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 Mongolian Dance performed by the Academy of Chinese Performing Arts, starring Any Wu, Joanna Chu, Jennifer Saito, Leslie Lan, and Rita Chu, photosession, 1996.

 

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The major point of this chapter is that democratic systems are more competent (better) than autocratic systems in the context of the technological and cultural change described in chapter two. Nations are the social systems of most concern in this chapter, but the principles will generally apply to the great variety of social systems: cultures, religious sects, business organizations, schools, families, and the emerging world society.

 

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Whatever limitations inhere in evaluations, they are worthwhile. When facing any challenge or conflict, a nation must assess its competencies, and those of any competitors to choose a course of action wisely. Any proposed change in a country asks the question: "will the country be better for this change?" The charter of the United Nations reflects a collective judgment that a world society formed on its principles will be better than one based on any of the considered alternatives. Future planning, and especially the search for a pragmatic utopia must be based on evaluative predictions about potential societies.

 

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The GS framework's approach to evaluation is developmental and tends to obviate the pejorative features of most rankings. The appropriate attitude toward developmental evaluation is apparent in Jean Piaget's description of cognitive development in humans. Few have shown more understanding and respect for the thought of young children: Piaget has taken great pains to show the sense and orderliness of the conceptions of children that others have dismissed as simply wrong, albeit endearing. However, in terms of adaption to and mastery of the environment, clearly the adult is more competent. Thus, while Piaget perceives adult intelligence as a desirable goal, he also appreciates the child's thinking as an achievement in its own right.

 

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There is nothing to prevent a person from attaching negative baggage to the judgment -- but this is a matter of one's immaturity. As humanists have long recognized, there is no necessary contradiction between respect and recognizing room for improvement. In fact, the two go hand in hand. However, it should not be presumed social evolution has culminated yet -- more complex forms are still developing.

 

 

 

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