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Old 08-27-2010   #1
yli
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Default Literasy Ain't Everythin'

http://countrystudies.us/afghanistan/72.htm

Now, in Afghanistan, the rate of illiteracy is nothing short of staggering.

I'm sure this is the case in many other places that are politically unstable as well.

The million dollar question is how do you stabilize and build a civil society when you can't effectively communicate a message to people? How do you make sure that people can remember the message?
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Old 08-27-2010   #2
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Default Many ways ....

First off, positing that you want to mobilize the population and organize it to become active supporters of your position, you send out "door to door salesmen" (preferably locals) who patiently work the towns, villages and hamlets.

If that begins to work (your "salesmen" are accepted by the locals), you could add such as comic books and traveling musical and stage companies. Also, at some point, you'd want to add radio stations to the mix and provide the folks with basic receivers.

All this is pretty much basic Mao and those following his organizational approach.

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Old 08-27-2010   #3
Umar Al-Mokhtār
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Default Reading's not fundamental....

cause agitprop is all about the visuals baby!
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Old 08-27-2010   #4
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cause agitprop is all about the visuals baby!
Very much so. The Viet Minh and Viet Cong were both very successful at using plays, songs, and illustrated items to pitch their causes. And before that, both Nazi and Soviet propaganda posters (along with many other nations' efforts) relied heavily on a single stark or vivid image with only a handful of simple words (or none at all).
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Old 08-27-2010   #5
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The million dollar question is how do you stabilize and build a civil society when you can't effectively communicate a message to people? How do you make sure that people can remember the message?
Maybe we should think less about trying to communicate our message to them and more about listening to their message to us. I'm not sure they care about our messages... and really, why should they? It's their country, not ours.
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Old 08-28-2010   #6
jmm99
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Default Good point, Steve ...

but my suggestions were based on the relatively simple case of what a national or local government should do in its own balliwick. However, I did not explicitly state that in my post.

I guess all of us should put a disclaimer in all of our posts - THIS POST DOES (DOES NOT) INVOLVE FOREIGN INTERVENTION.

There is a world of difference between that case and one where a foreign power intervenes under one or another of many guises. To do visual agitprop, the agitpropangandist must know what the local visuals are. A foreign power is not likely so educated.

A classic foulup of not using local visuals in Vietnam was the poster aimed at rural villages and hamlets showing two lovely ladies in áo dài costume (an urban, higher class dress not found in the rural areas - example of áo dài).

I found an interesting example of national vs local constructs in your backyard when looking at the Cordillera - Evelyn J. Caballero, Traditional Artisanal Gold Mining Among the Kankana-ey and Their Current Concerns (2004). "Modernization" to and by US standards may cause more harm than good, especially when it ignores local standards which have been around for hundreds or thousands of years.

Regards

Mike

Last edited by jmm99; 08-28-2010 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 08-28-2010   #7
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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
Maybe we should think less about trying to communicate our message to them and more about listening to their message to us. I'm not sure they care about our messages... and really, why should they? It's their country, not ours.
Ultimately, I'd say the problem is that we stay there too long allowing both parties to try and encourage what they want. What we don't seem to do is go in, get done what we need to get done, and get out.

It is like Iraq. We have successfully replayed the same history that the British proved unsuccessful to accomplish in 1920. In regards to Afghanistan, every major power has went through there since the birth of civilization, and it has yet to offer any form of stability regardless of whether you give them what they want, or you don't.

There are just some parts of the world that no matter what you try to do, the end result is that you will be taken for everything they can get from you, then kick you out. In the end, history just repeats itself in those parts of the world. It is a shame that the major powers of today are unable to realize what the major powers of yesterday figured out. Instead, we are repeating the same mistakes.
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Old 08-28-2010   #8
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Ultimately, I'd say the problem is that we stay there too long allowing both parties to try and encourage what they want. What we don't seem to do is go in, get done what we need to get done, and get out.
I can't argue with that; I've been saying it myself for way too many years.

[rant]
I've also pointed out, so many times that I feel like a broken 33 1/3 RPM long playing record (a relic from my past), that our problem is not that we don't understand insurgency or that we don't "get" COIN, our problem is our own obsessive desire to install governments in other countries. If we hadn't created governments we wouldn't have to deal with insurgency: other that the ones we created by installing governments, there's not an insurgency on the planet that we need to be directly involved with.
[/rant]


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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
but my suggestions were based on the relatively simple case of what a national or local government should do in its own balliwick. However, I did not explicitly state that in my post.

I guess all of us should put a disclaimer in all of our posts - THIS POST DOES (DOES NOT) INVOLVE FOREIGN INTERVENTION.

There is a world of difference between that case and one where a foreign power intervenes under one or another of many guises....
A world of difference, yes, but also a world of similarity. When governments speak of "communication" with their own populace they are almost invariably discussing ways to bring their message to their populace and persuade them to believe it. It's a rare government indeed that sees communication as a two-way proposition, and that has any interest in listening to the message the populace is sending to it. This of course contributes to the desire of many populaces to reinforce the message by voting the bastards out and replacing them with a new set, or by blowing them up and replacing them with a new set, as circumstances and local tradition require.

Governing elites in many countries are effectively foreigners in much of their own territory, and have as little understanding of cultures that exist within their territory as foreigners... in some cases less. In these cases many of the same problems of comprehensibility and credibility that characterize foreign power efforts at communication are repeated.

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Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
I found an interesting example of national vs local constructs in your backyard when looking at the Cordillera - Evelyn J. Caballero, Traditional Artisanal Gold Mining Among the Kankana-ey and Their Current Concerns (2004). "Modernization" to and by US standards may cause more harm than good, especially when it ignores local standards which have been around for hundreds or thousands of years.
Interesting find... I'd thought that some of the areas discussed were Ibaloi rather than Kankanaey, but I'd have to ask someone who knows Benguet better than I do. In general the tribes in Benguet have been much less energetic and effective at resisting Manila's impositions than those farther north, and have consequently suffered rather more imposition.

Some of the conflicts arising form central government efforts to apply faraway laws in this area have bordered on the comical. Some years back it was revealed that according to the law all land of over 18% slope was supposed to be under the administration of the national government... which up here means literally everything. So far the law has not been applied to any great effect. We also have a fair bit of small scale mining in Mt Province, which so far has been managed according to (rapidly evolving) local custom rather than the dictates of Manila. An armed and notoriously prickly populace has its advantages.
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Old 08-28-2010   #9
yli
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Just in terms of society building, it doesn't matter who is in Afghanistan. The problem I see is that unless someone, anyone, can actually build up a civil society, the area will remain unstable and a haven for the world's refuse. The same goes for Somalia, Yemen, any of those places. It will continue and continue.

Literacy is fundamental towards the communication of ideas and to ensure an effective, working society. Without it, a society can't really move beyond petty, squabbling tribalism. The average person in a mostly illiterate society won't be able to move beyond word of mouth.

Last edited by yli; 08-28-2010 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 08-28-2010   #10
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Default Three on a match - wisdom

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from Tracker
What we don't seem to do is go in, get done what we need to get done, and get out.
to which, I'd add my violent agreement - thereby yielding three wise men.

I suppose Operation Just Cause (US takedown of Noriega) comes closest to a US "in and out", "national-level punitive raid", in recent history. Noriega's successor, Guillermo Endara, had been elected (ca. 3-1 vote) prior to the US intervention; and Noriega's refusal to recognize that election was one reason for US action.

A similar action against the Mexican government was part of US war planning in the 1920's - just remove the government, then leave and let the Mexicans decide on who they wanted to lead them. Special Plan Green is briefly discussed in this post to source (full refs in Brian Linn's The Echo of Battle).

Those are two examples (one executed, one only planned) I can think of where the US went "in", "did" and went "out" - I DO.

Generally, we try to emulate the Creator in Genesis.

-----------------------------
Dayuhan: I'd suspect that the author of the gold mining article was sourcing primarily from Kankana-ey folks and not Ibalois. The latter are mentioned but briefly in one paragraph (p.9):

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While the IPRA law is increasingly empowering IP communities in the Philippines in the recognition of their rights as indigenous people, in its implementation the assertion of identity through one’s ethnolinguistic affiliation is causing divisiveness in communities particularly in areas where different ethnolinguistic groups have been co-existing over time. For example, in the southern part of Benguet Province some Kankana-ey traditional small scale miners are at present in conflict over land issues with the Ibaloi, who are also indigenous to the area. The Ibalois claim that they and not the Kankana-ey are indigenous to the area and have applied for Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles under the IPRA law.
Which goes to further prove your point (and mine) that local can be very local; and that all "montagnards" are not the same.

Regards

Mike
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Old 08-28-2010   #11
Dayuhan
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Originally Posted by yli View Post
Just in terms of society building, it doesn't matter who is in Afghanistan. The problem I see is that unless someone, anyone, can actually build up a civil society, the area will remain unstable and a haven for the world's refuse. The same goes for Somalia, Yemen, any of those places. It will continue and continue.
I'm not sure that a true civil society can be "built" from the top down, either by external or internal actors. If it's built that way it's going to represent the interests of those who built it, and will probably be rejected by those on the receiving end. A functioning civil society has to grow from the bottom up, not be installed from the top.

I'd also not totally discount the ability of the tribal folks, literate or not, to manage their own affairs, and to know and pursue their own interests. They may not be literate, but they aren't stupid, and those who would govern them, whether foreign or domestic, would be well advised to lecture them less and listen to them more.

I wouldn't say literacy is unimportant, but I'm not sure what we can do about it. Afghans will seek literacy as it becomes more important to them, and as affairs stabilize to a point that allows them to develop a system of education that suits their own needs.

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Dayuhan: I'd suspect that the author of the gold mining article was sourcing primarily from Kankana-ey folks and not Ibalois.
Astutely observed. The Kankanaey in general, the northern Kankanaey specifically, and most particularly my neighbors and in-laws in Sagada, Besao, and Bontoc are widely seen by the other tribes in the area as being a bit on the pushy and domineering side, inclined to impose their views as those of all, to hog leadership positions and funding, and having a habit of getting their way. From a slightly neutral position I admit that these observations are not entirely without substance. My neighbors and in-laws would respond that they merely receive that to which their (undoubtedly) superior levels of education and organization and their (remarkable, if not always entirely admirable) ability to manipulate outsiders entitles them. On these matters I typically remain silent, for the sake of domestic peace.
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