An Invitation to Explore the Role of Knowledge in society
Alberto Melo, the great Portuguese adult educator and scholar and also our friend and mentor says it powerfully and eloquently in one of the lines from his chapter in this important new book edited by Antonio Fragoso from Portugal, Ewa Kurantowicz from Poland, and Emilio Lucio-Villegas from Spain.
He says "We will not survive in a society where all life forms are put at the service of the economy"
This is the context within which Between Global and Local: Adult Learning and Development now appears. We are living in extremely complex times. For those of us coming from the older and wealthier OECD types of nations, we find ourselves fighting for the survival of state support and benefits in terms of health, employment and education. Wave after wave of neo-liberal regimes have been democratically elected in our nations all seemingly with the same narrow agenda to pay off the mistakes of the banking sectors and other multinational business errors and criminality by cutting back on support to the poor. In the State of Arizona in the United States, my unemployed and seriously unhealthy younger brother's very life is at stake in the political games of the State of Arizona.
In the rapidly growing global economies of China, India, Indonesia, Brazil perhaps even Turkey the kinds of social support structures at OECD levels have never existed and perhaps in the climate of a world bowing down to the alter of profit, they never will. Perhaps the market will be put forward as the only way forward. But in these rapidly growing economies, the gap between the rich and poor is growing at alarming rates as well, but from the perspective of the middle classes, which are expanding rapidly, perhaps things are looking good for the first time. We experience these global and local phenomena very differently depending on our gender, race, ability, class and more.
The Arab Spring according to Abdul Ilah Albayaty, Hana Al Bayaty and Ian Douglas of the Brussells Tribunal Executive Committee, is "the natural result of the failure of the globalisation model and the impasse affecting the entire world. Indeed, as soon as an economy opens up to foreign capital and one gives the local economy and services over to market forces, the state’s role is automatically undermined and remains only to protect the model itself. By consequence, whether in Tunisia or elsewhere in the developing world, it resulted in a contradiction between the people’s interests and the class created to protect foreign capital.
In a number of much poorer countries, most of which are in Africa, conflict, armed struggles, legal and illegal exploitation of that continent's mineral and forest resources are the order of the day. In Tanzania, a place that gave me my first start in adult education some 40 or so years ago, where there were once 2 state universities of quite good quality, there are now over 70 universities, mostly smaller private for-profit and of extremely poor quality.
And across all nations and all people's is the impact of our collective inability to find a balance between human activity and the rest of nature. Climate change, contamination of water and destruction of renewable forests cry out for attention.
And everywhere people are on the move from the rural areas to the towns, from poor countries to rich countries, from conflict zones to places where people hope for a quiet night for their children, peace for their families, some food and some work.
And Communities are where we experience all these tensions and phenomena...communities where we sleep at night, shop during the day, work in or leave from to work elsewhere in our cities or towns.
Communities are where we have shelter. Where we have water for sanitation. Where we have health services. Where we have some schools. Where we have music. Where we have sports. Where we hold meetings on important issues of the day. Communities are the last places of resistance in a world galloping forward and backwards in every direction of madness.