How are science, technology and society connected?

Value pluralism and tolerance

Sonja Hegasy

To person

Dr. phil, born 1967; research assistant at the Center for the Modern Orient in Berlin.

Address: Center for the Modern Orient, Kirchweg 33, 14129 Berlin.
e-mail: [email protected]

Publications including: State, public and civil society in Morocco, Hamburg 1997; They Dare to Speak Out. Changes in Political Cultures of Egypt, Morocco and other Arab Countries, in: Kai Hafez (Ed.), The Islamic World and the West, Leiden 1999; (together with C. Jürgensen) On the human rights situation in the Near and Middle East, in: Jana Hasse et al. (Ed.), Human Rights. Balance sheet and perspectives, Baden-Baden 2002.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, there were numerous admiring reactions in the Arab world, which aroused so much alienation in the West. However, they are by no means an expression of malicious joy.

I. Introduction

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, there were admiring reactions in the Arab world that could hardly be explained in the West: Did Arab citizens really dance in the streets out of malicious glee? A discussion about the authenticity of the images of Palestinians dancing in the occupied places Areas showed that although the images were taken after the attacks, their constant repetition on CNN resulted in a distorted image of the perception of Arab reactions. Have we finally witnessed the clash of civilizations? Or did the victims of violence and displacement in the region just express their hope for more empathy and compassion?

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  • In the following, the thesis will be elaborated that these reactions after the attacks are due to the fact that large parts of the Arab world feel excluded from globalization processes. This position can be justified, as the American political scientist Richard Falk explains in a contribution on the "geopolitics of exclusion", which is indispensable for understanding September 11th, but for the areas of science and culture it can lead to self-exclusion, as its own Effects on Western cultures are ignored. Richard Falk, False Universalism and the Geopolitics of Exclusion: The Case of Islam, in: Third World Quarterly, 18 (1997) 1, pp. 7-23. It is important to understand that the admiration was not for terrorist mass murder, but the perfection of its execution and the media image effect, d. H. the mastery of so-called western technologies. The tactical brilliance, which consciously or unconsciously escaped any observer and led to some intellectual derailments in Europe, The German composer Stockhausen spoke of the "greatest work of art that has ever existed ... Imagine, I could now create a work of art and." You would not only be amazed, but you would fall over on the spot, you would be dead and reborn because it is simply too insane ", in: Die Zeit vom 27. 9. 2001. The French philosopher André Glucksmann sees Ben Laden a figure similar to Attila or Dr. Mabuse: "The suicide pilots who crash themselves over Manhattan form a special elite - like the free corps of Prussian officers or the cells of the professional revolutionaries at Teschernischewski and Lenin. These practitioners of the apocalypse have developed the surrealist method to a degree of unattainable effectiveness . Our kamikaze pilots turn a commercial airplane into an atomic bomb - with the ease with which Duchamp turned a urinator into a work of art simply by exhibiting it in a gallery. " (Glucksmann, quoted in: Wolf Lepenies, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung of March 22, 2002.) included the Arab world for a brief moment. "Its essence consisted in transforming the benign everyday technology of commercial jet aircraft into malignant weapons of mass destruction ... It involves the comprehensive vulnerability of technology so closely tied to our global dominance, pervading every aspect of our existence." Richard Falk, Fearing the aftermath. Published on the Website of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. 2002.

    The general recognition in the Arab world went to the elite students who had successfully studied in the West and apparently mastered Western technologies. Someone from the middle of their society was so well integrated that they were called a "sleeper". The increased rejection of everything Western is the flip side of the desire for integration and participation in the promises of modernity and even the American way of lifeas you can easily see in Arabic pop culture. Arab admiration for the attackers mixed with expressions of inferiority: it was repeatedly emphasized that Osama Ben Laden could not be responsible because Muslims had no access to the necessary technologies (encrypted image messages via the Internet; flight simulators; transactions on the New York Stock Exchange etc.).

    The technological innovations of the 20th century have not only aroused mistrust and uncertainty in Islamic societies. Science is perceived worldwide as a phenomenon which, according to Hobsbawm, evokes four emotional variants: science is incomprehensible; its practical (as well as moral) consequences are unpredictable and likely catastrophic; it promotes the helplessness of the individual and undermines authority; and it is inherently dangerous because it upsets the natural order of things. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes. Weltgeschichte des 20. Jahrhundert, Munich 1999, p. 654. Fears of this kind have their quite rational background in the use and abuse of the achievements of modern science in the 20th century. They go hand in hand with a belief in progress and blind trust in the improvement of the quality of life through modern technologies. The West is both a role model and a deterrent; its technology and the globalization it promotes have the potential to liberate and subjugate. Anyone who follows the debate about globalization in the Arab world quickly realizes that it is by no means only Islamic fundamentalists who understand globalization as an exclusion from world society. on this Samir Amin / Burhan Ghaliun, Culture of Globalization and Globalization of Culture (Arabic), Damascus 1999; Center for Arab Unity Studies (CAUS), strategy for developing and perfecting the sciences of the Arab world (Arabic), Beirut 1989; Sherif Hetata, Dollarization, Fragmentation, and God, in: Fredric Jameson / Masao Miyoshi (eds.), The Cultures of Globalization, Durham 1998, pp. 273-290; Ossama al-Kholy (ed.), The Arabs and Globalization (Arabic), Beirut 1998; Gamil Mattar, Globalization, ... Inevitable and Stupidity (Arabic), in: Standpunkt (Arabic), No. 9, July 1999, pp. 46-52.

    The Tübingen political scientist Martin Beck justifies the resistance of the state elites to globalization processes as a rational decision, since they want to secure their position of power, which would be lost if they participated in the system of globalization (democratization of information, technology and finance). Martin Beck, Globalization as a Threat: The Globalization Resistance of the Middle East as an Expression of the Rational Reactions of the Political Elites to the New Developments in the International System, in: Henner Fürtig (Ed.), Islamic World and Globalization. Appropriation, demarcation, counter-drafts, Würzburg 2001, pp. 53 - 85. Below the level of the state elite, however, there are social groups that are affected by this negative decision and that are not a rational option for them: For natural and social scientists, isolation leads from free flow of information and open dialogue to marginalization that weakens their own position. Your research can only to a limited extent build on global research results. Their results and theories are seldom discussed in international forums and there are so few opportunities for commenting or correction, let alone dissemination.

    The discussion about the adoption of modern technologies as one of the three core elements of globalization is strongly shaped by questions of identity, self-determination and demarcation, because science and research are cultural learning processes. Innovations depend not only on the research resources available, but also on the socio-cultural environment. Technology transfer does not only mean the sale of certain systems and machines, but primarily the transfer of knowledge. With him come people who are supposed to convey this knowledge and who bring their own values ​​with them. The foreign engineers who work in Saudi oil refineries are as much a thorn in the side of the majority of society as the American soldiers and their military priests and rabbis who have been stationed in Saudi Arabia since the Second Gulf War.

    The debate about science, globalization and technology transfer is mostly based on a socio-centric understanding of technology, i. that is, society shapes its technology and technology shapes its society. Ali Eddin Hillal Dessouki explained that technology is a social product that cannot be transported from one society to another. Consequently, one should not speak of 'technology transfer' but of 'technology adaptation'. Informal forms of transfer such as conferences, publications or the exchange between scientists and experts are essential for a successful transfer of modern technologies. Ali Eddin Hillal Dessouki, Political and Social Aspects of Technology Transfer in the Arab World (Arabic), in: The Arab Future (Arabic), 3 (1982) 37, pp. 108-114.