This is said to be the century of social studies. After largely charting the physical and biological realms, the time is ripe to find out how social organization arises. Efforts have been made to unearth the sort of “physical laws” of society, with the Cold World depicting two of the most popular suggestions to this riddle.
However, as it is quickly being re-discovered, social order, like ecology, is contextual. More than referring to Compte, Durkheim, Marx, or Locke to find referents to all social environments, every culture and socio-political setting is responsible to give birth to its own sociology, to its own identity. In other words, unlike physics, the laws of social order are not universal, if anything they are systemic.
So what does this mean? Well, this means that, for example, there is no chance that psychoanalysis could have been conceived in Cuba or Colombia. Psychoanalysis is a Germanic technology, developed to attend to a social context where people presented particular attitudes that could not be dealt with known or traditional areas of knowledge. The very idea of envisioning a new area to study the mind analytically is part of this social technology. In the same line of thought, psychoanalysis becomes a social technology that does not pertain to all social contexts, and that does not have in-an-of-itself the capacity to transcend the context where it was developed. One might consider this social technology incompetent or even harmful if used outside its Germanic context to explain individual or social behaviour. On its place, other social technologies such as meditation, contemplation, or sybaritism might be better equipped to address the same type of issues in a different culture. Far from thinking that science has the last word, or even the right approach, on every aspect of a human being’s life, other cultures might find going to a salsa bar and enjoying the salty breeze of the ocean side or praying more useful than sitting on a leather chair for years to deconstruct anything.
“– So where are you from? – I am Latino, more like Latino from El Caribe. – No, I mean what country are you from, what passport do you hold? – One from Colombia, with an O. – There you go, you are Colombian. – No I am not Colombian, my passport is Colombian, I’m Latino, more like Latino from El Caribe. – Oh I see, so you think like Toymbee, that humanity moves in civilizations, not really pertaining to political fictions like countries. – Not really. He’s British. I am Latino, I don’t need 10 fucking books to convince myself about anything. – Ok, ok, if you say so. So what is this Latino from El Caribe thing, are there different Latinos? – Sure, a bunch of them. You got the ones in the very south of America with more Mediterranean influence, the ones in the middle with a bit more of an Andean hills vibe, the central Americans who have their own thing going on, and the Caribbean. – Shit, that’s a lot, so what do you have in common? – We are all not Swedish.”
Academics, politicians, students who revisit foreign methodologies and social, economic theories to describe local phenomena base their understanding of the world on different worldviews. Reguetón Theory is a primary suggestion to exemplify the former statements that might be instituted to explain social phenomena in El Caribe.
Caribbean societies, given their ecological/geographical placement, have developed certain attitudes, rituals, behaviors and social technologies to deal with issues related to their geographical location and idiosyncrasies. One might for instance wonder why in Caribbean countries the space between legality and legitimacy is wide, and consequentially if it is useful at all to increase the legal burden in these contexts expecting more compliance. One might also investigate if economic theories like liberalism or capitalism or political theories of democracy have any practical use within the cultural expectations and desires of the people of El Caribe. The same could be said of the former mentioned theories in places such as Bhutan or Myanmar where a worldview is far from compatible with ideas of systematic consumption and accumulation.
A clarifying example of contextual development is seen in the way different worldviews regard communication between people. The Eurocentric perspective, basically based on the entitlement of people to have a list of rights secured by an external source (some sort of authority), provides without any kind of restriction the right of people to speak out their minds. Obsessed with the idea of equality and non-discrimination, probably erupting from the trauma of war, the Eurocentric perspective defends the idea of delivering fully developed political entities at childbirth. The Buddhist worldview has a different approach to speech. Instead of perceiving speech as a right defended by an external entity, it acknowledges it as an internal, individual responsibility that may be acquired through self-reflection. “Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech”, something way beyond the capacity of western activists.
“– Can I ask you a question, what do you think about the Nazi war? – Lack of Ron y Salsa. – That sounds like a loose statement, don’t you think? No quotes or statistical data to support that statement? – No, Ron y Salsa, that’s the prescription. And more sex. – Do you have a PhD? – I have spent more than 30 years dancing, so yes Honoris Causa. In any case, my grandpa never heard a bullet; maybe it was more like a regional war. – Are you saying World War II did not happen!? – I am saying you can keep your daemons for yourself.”
A reason why social order has until now been considered as having universal laws may be found in its current methodologies for research. Approaches providing fractional observations, like statistics, or providing only “snapshots” of social events, like comparative analysis, are not suited to sufficiently depict how social systems find order. Individuals, unlike market bonds or particles, are tied by values, expect at ions, beliefs, cosmologies, and preferences that define their identity. Tools of social design and modelling not particularly delivering measurements or having one social system as a referent might be required to better understand how social order arises. The acknowledgement of social values, worldviews, ecological contexts included in new methodologies of research may overcome the perception that social contexts/cultures can be considered as “bias” in social research.
“– What about the race to conquer the moon’s resources? – You mean la luna? – Yeah, the moon. – I already conquered the moon and gave it to mi chica – What do you mean? – I mean that either I won the race or you are looking for different resources.”
Additional to the embryonic state of social disciplines (avoiding the concept of science purposely) there is the issue of social systems’ development. In other areas of knowledge where context plays a primary role, like in biology or ecology, one observes that everything is attached to everything else, making development a systemic phenomenon. Apples grow to be apples. They look like apples, taste like apples, have the size of apples and are attached to an apple tree. A natural apple on an apple tree won’t grow to the size of a car and if it is designed to be of that size, it is out of context.
As a farmer you have then, two options. You either allow the apple to become an apple or, if you decide you don’t like apples and enjoy only strawberries, then you can cut the apple tree before it is fully developed and replace it with a strawberry plantation. The effects of monocultures are, however, well known to be adverse in the long run. So what about social systems? Do they obey the same systemic laws from other kinds of systems (physical, chemical, biological, ecological, cosmological)? What defines a social system from the former systems? One very important difference between the aforementioned systems and the social system is that, unlike the former, the social systems are not to be simply discovered but constructed by men. In other words, the level of organization (complexity) of non-social systems is at this moment superior, as they have already developed a balance between and among their internal elements and hierarchies. Social organization, however, is still to find its place among the biological, ecological, cosmological and other systems.
Social structures have their own particular variables (subsystems) often referred to as geographical, epistemic, politic, linguistic, economic, belief and a number of other arrangements. These variables while particular to the social realm may resemble arrangements in other systems. These are called isomorphisms. Additionally, within the social system, particular social technologies and cultures arise that may find a collective organization in totally different ways with similar results. One can find a society that gives priority to male figures and other societies that find the female role to be dominant, on either case attaining social order. In this sense, loosely adopting any kind of development model from an outside source (avoiding the word “country” purposely) is really a misconception and defeats the purpose of development itself. There may be particular aspects of a culture or social system that are adaptable to others, yet there may be plenty that are not.
Lets take for instance the idea of international development assistance. The patronizing attitude of most NGOs, foreign aid, the UN, WB and IMF institutions, and most of the so-called “international development” sector agencies counteracts the purpose they are said to pursue. These organizations obey a particular agenda and implement methodologies that are always set to respond to donor expectations. The discourse of these organizations is self-defeating using concepts such as “global south”, “underdeveloped”, “bottom of the pyramid” to refer to the social contexts it “aids” based on the fact that they don’t reflect the donor ́s development model. Therefore, from the outset, the goal is not for the receiving social system to better adapt to its geographical environment and to develop local social technologies, but to adopt foreign ones and to continue the relation of dependency with the self-proclaimed “developed” social system.
The role of aid organizations seems to be more of a palliative as the social systems they so philanthropically “develop” align with the current state of affairs.
“– And what about NGOs? – Qué carajos are NGOs? You know, the well-intended volunteer kids who go to the Global South to save the world 6 months at a time – What’s the Global South? – Don’t tell me you ́ve never heard of it. Its the territory where all the people in the Developing World live in – I see, so where is it? – Well in the south you idiot. – You mean like in Indonesia, Zambia, Morocco, Ecuador, Myanmar, Fiji, Cuba, El Salvador, Papa New Guiney, Argentina and Nigeria? – Yeah exactly! You are getting it now – What the fuck do those places have to do with each other? – Well they are all contained in the Global South – Jesus, I would have never thought of such a name, you got really smart people in your Social Sciences faculties up in the Global North. So what do these NGOs do? – Well I don’t know, they teach all kinds of things: gender rights, how to make sewers with mud, how to feel offended if you are called black or Hispanic? – You mean I should feel offended when I am called Hispanic. I am Hispanic. – Well, I think you are only meant to feel offended if it is a white person who says it. – You mean like my mother? She is Hispanic too and white, it makes no sense – Well, maybe not to you, but it is the way it goes. You see! You need them to learn these things.”
REGUETÓN SOCIAL ORDER
(A HIERARCHY OF DEVELOPMENT)
As soon as the discourse shifts from the developed/underdeveloped dualism to the ecology and contextual resources pluralism, a plethora of social technologies validate different models of development. Given the former considerations, an alternative concept of what might be considered “developed” arises. Two principles of this concept of development might be described as:
› The less disruptive a social system is of its ecological environment, the more sophisticated it may be considered. Systems that are disruptive (suzerainty) require the transgression of their limits to survive and are by nature invasive. Any social technology that is invasive and disruptive of nature is, in consequence, underdeveloped.
› And, social technologies that allow a larger degree of independence between social systems can be considered more sophisticated technologies and better suited for their adoption by other cultures. Any social technology that demands dependency is, in consequence, underdeveloped.
In this sense, the idea of a single “world order” is conflictive with the idea of a Reguetón social order. The former has the formula of defending a universal social system, while the latter embodies the idea of contextual development.
It does not take much effort to find plenty of aspects that differentiate worldviews, priorities and values in social systems. In the case of societies, the built environment merely reflects the values and worldviews, that is the links, of the system that creates them.
For instance, the spiritual component in everyday life evident in some social systems is however absent in societies that have abandoned any kind of acknowledgement of the relation between man and the cosmos. These, not coincidentally, are the very same social systems that developed the “subconscious” technologies like psychoanalysis in an effort to materialize and measure one of the non-material aspects of life. The result of these efforts to measure and control non-material aspects of life through analysis and science is undoubtedly a referent of “soulless” societies. This example goes back to the first part of Reguetón Theory, where it is stated that social technologies are conceived as a result of contextual needs and using methods known to a particular setting. As social knowledge increases, and new methodologies to appreciate social order emerge, social contexts such as that of El Caribe, and other parts of the “Global South” will most likely revisit and reconstruct their worldviews and reduce the usage of foreign social technologies to interpret themselves.