Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

The New Social Development Index

Manila Standard Today

Published September 26, 2011 At the Waterhouse bookstore in Wimbledon, UK, I picked up Ian Morris’ (2011) Why the West Rules – For Now.  The attraction was not just the title, but also the red tag that said ‘3 for 2 mix & match’. So used was I with Marks and Spencer food shop’s ‘3 for £5’, I picked up two more books, Peter Watson’s (2011) The German Genius and Frank Dikotter’s (2011) Mao’s Great Famine..  Little did I realize that the 3 books at £10 each would cost me a total of £20.

Morris in Why the West Rules For Now assigned numeral measures in creating a new social development index (SDI). The SDI is akin to the balance scorecard.of Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton that measures business performance in terms of customers, internal operations, innovation and learning, and financial perspectives.  He assigned 250 points for each of the following development traits: 1. Energy capture, 2. Organization and urbanization, 3. War-making, and 4. Information technology for a total of 1,000 maximum points.  All throughout, he made sporadic scoring of SDI from Before the Christian Era to the Christian Era, and up until 2000.

As social development professor, I am used to UN’s human development index which earmarks: health, education, income, poverty, gender inequality, economic sustainability, human security.  I am likewise familiar with Eastern alternative development proponent Nicanor Perlas’ seven areas of development that include a spiritual dimension. Closer to Eastern thought is Western philosopher-metaphysicist Ken Wilbur’s development micro-inner consciousness to a macro-outer consciousness and Christine Page’s  galactic, futuristic development.I endorse Asian Social Institute’s forth P, an addition to OECD’s triple bottom-line of profit, people, and planet for sustainable development. But Asian Catholics and Muslims can engaged in business from a position ‘prayerful perspective’ on social development by extending the stewardship umbrella based on creator-creation relationship.  This Eastern view is not purely material-resource based; it is somewhat different and beyond Morris’ SDI and is seemingly in contradiction to a Western biblical hermeneutics ‘dominion over the earth’ by humans.

The four development traits of Morris gleaned from world history, archeology and anthropology provide us a remarkable appreciation of a comparative history of East-West civilization. He scored the world’s earth-shaking events in such a way that the East and West are compared from a competitive perspective. Again, in the science of business, this is similar to the competitive advantage Michael E. Porte.

Social development has been strategically approached from a current X-situation to a future Y-state of affairs implemented locally, regionally and globally.  But historian and anthropologist Morris did a monumental research by doing comparative analyses of Eastern and Western journey to progress [now understood as development].  For example, he used geography as a driver of development by using pre-historic data and findings. The West, according to him, crossed the Atlantic in search for the New World by virtue of distance.  Whereas in the East, represented by China, when it was ahead of the West, failed to explore the Pacific Ocean and discover the New World; she busied herself protecting and exploring surrounding the steppes. And again, this method is akin to regression analysis to predict the future, a familiar tool in statistics.

SDI, he claims, takes into account “the body of facts that archeologists and historians have accumulated”. The West rules, he says, “because of geography. Biology tells us why humans push social development upward; sociology tells us how they do this…and geography tells us why the West…has for the last two hundred years dominated the globe.”  While Western social development was ahead of Eastern for over 300 points, the ratio between the Western and Eastern score had been almost 2.4:1 in 1900 and by 2000 it was only little over 1.6:1.

He concludes, “The twentieth century was both the high point of the Western age and the beginning of its end.” The end of Western era plotted by Morris is 2103; for Goldman Sachs it is 2027; PricewaterHouse says  2025; and the OECD conjectures 2020. But Nobel Prize economist Robert Fogel predicts it will be 2016.

B. Chakraborty and S.K. Chakraborty. (2006) in. Leadership and  motivation: Cultural comparisons describe the East Asians as those influenced by feminine, passive, intuitive and sympathetic force, and those who seek order in society on the basis of subjectivism and practical spirituality.  Here lies the inner core of the East that was, and probably is today, overwhelmed by Western earth-bound, materialistic culture.

The East is endowed with earthly privilege under the sun, Easterners need not scrounge for earth-based productivity and therefore have time to ‘levitate and meditate.’  Whereas the West, greatly deprived of the sun’s photosynthesis for natural productivity, tinkered with the earth and literally gravitate to its material wealth for survival, were less preoccupied about ‘levitation and meditation’. For centuries, because of Western dominance as evidenced by the social development index, the Asians have been bystanders in world history. Now they are ready to claim their birth right as the sun rises in the East.

Morris is aligned to K. Mahbubani’s (2008) view that there is an irresistible shift of power to The New Asian Hemisphere. A question is asks: Will the West resist the rise of Asia? Answer: “For a happy outcome to emerge, the West must gracefully give up its domination of global institutions, from the IMF to the World Bank, from the G7 to the UN Security Council.”

The new social development index points to the East’s new trajectory to rule, sooner that expected.
To our young generation whom I teach in various universities, I say ‘Look to the East’ from whence comes the Rising Sun and rediscover the Garden of Eden.

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