Goldsmith, Edward, et al. The Future of Progress
The economic paradigm
According to modern economics, a continuous increase in economic output is necessary, both to increase prosperity and to solve environmental and social problems. This belief, in fact, underlies the policies of every government, regardless of their position on the political spectrum. A narrowly defined criterion of economic efficiency is used to plan and administer economies, and factors that can be reduced to monetary value are given primary importance. Production choices are dictated by those who wield power in the money economy.
The economic growth imperative compels businesses to constantly grow, to find new markets, resources, and areas of life to colonise. Products are made to wear out sooner than necessary. Marketing professionals use whatever means are available, including the creation of new 'needs', to stimulate consumer spending.
Development has brought not only tourism, but also Western and Indian films and, more recently, television. Together they provide overwhelming images of luxury and power. There are countless tools and magical gadgets. And there are machines -- machines to take pictures, machines to tell the time, machines to make fire, to travel from one place to another, to talk with someone far away. Machines can do everything for you; it's no wonder the tourists look so clean and have such soft, white hands.
Media images focus on the rich, the beautiful, and the brave, whose lives are endless action and glamour. For young Ladakhis, the picture is irresistible. It is an overwhelmingly exciting version of an urban 'American Dream', with an emphasis on speed, youthfulness, super-cleanliness, beauty, fashion and competitiveness. Progress" is also stress: humans dominate nature, while technological change is embraced at all costs.
In contrast to these utopian images from another culture, village life seems primitive, silly and inefficient. The one-dimensional view of modern life becomes a slap in the face. Young Ladakhis -- who are asked by their parents to choose a way of life that involves working in the fields and getting their hands dirty for very little or no money -- feel ashamed of their own culture. Traditional Ladakh seems absurd compared with the world of the tourists and film heroes.
This same pattern is being repeated in rural areas all over the South, where millions of young people believe modern Western culture to be far superior to their own. This is not surprising: looking as they do from the outside, all they can see is the material side of the modern world – the side in which Western culture excels. They cannot so readily see the social or psychological dimensions – the stress, the loneliness, the fear of growing old. Nor can they see environmental decay, inflation, or unemployment. On the other hand, they know their own culture inside out, including all its limitations and imperfections.