Little do we realize that rapid economic development and the monitization of society ( aside from its politization) also have their undesirable consequences, though maybe less distasteful than no development at all. The social scientists had always warned us that a country that focusses on economic development alone without giving due consideration and emphasis to the social aspects, could be running itself into some intractable and insurmountable problems.
Question is few leaders bother very much with the warnings of the social 'prophets of doom'. Their argument is that once a country is launched on a trail of rapid economic development with people getting good jobs. better income, better physical amenities and public services to promote the convenience of life. its quality will also improve and everything will be bright and rosy.
One needs only to look at countries will a lot of social tension and internal instability to know that rapid economic development and a higher income for all is not the answer to overcoming societal ills. The industrialized countries may all appear prosperous and progressive but are not free from heineous crimes, immoral social behavior, discrimination against minority groups, neglect of the poor, exploitation of the weak etc. More importantly a country which had just moved into a higher level of development and indstrialization may also begin to show those ills in graver forms. Consider Malaysia itself. Did we have the kind of interacial suspicion and tension, immoral behavior among the youth, crimes like abandoning unwanted babies, drugs abuse, murders, rapes, breach of trust, corruption, disrespect for our seniors etc which we see now, some twenty or thirty years ago? Are the cities, towns and villages much safer than they were years ago in spite of the social amenities that have been introduced?
The trouble is, it is not easy to state the kind of social degradation or regression that we have gone through. Let alone measure it in quantitative terms. However social scientists have identified some some kind of social dimensions along which the social development of a nation can be evaluated. Talcott Parsons( black and white pic) for example identified the five Pattern Variables which can place a society along the traditional-modern continuum. The dimensions include: (1)affectivity vs affective neutrality (2)diffusiveness vs specificity (3) particularism vs universalism (4) ascription vs achievement and (5) collectivity orientation vs self-orientation. Geert Hofstede (top color pic) on the other suggested a different set of five social dimensions. They include (1) large or small power distance , (2) individualism vs collectivism (3) masculinity vs femininity (4 strong or weak uncertainty avoidance and (5) long or short term orientation. David Riesman suggested three cultural types of society and peopla (1) tradition-directed (2) inner-directed and (3)other-directed.
The various dimensions of social development as identified by these and other social scientists can help us to analyze the Malaysiaan society as it is today after more than 50 years of independence, with all the modernization, successes, conflicts, disillusionment, frustrations and hopes that we entertained. It may help to explain why many GLCs are not making good progress and loosing a lot of money, why corruption is prevalent in spite of the all-out efforts to stamp it out, why racial sentiments are reemerging and causing serious social strains, why racial integration is not going on as fast and as smoothly as we'd like it to be. Pushing headlong for economic and material progress may not solve but rather enhance the problems mentioned, taking us to a point of no return.There's an urgent need for a long term study on the social dynamics of our multiracial society as it has evolved over the years for many of the old values that held us together before had been eroded. These have to be renewed or replaced, otherwise it's so easy for the fabrics or the Malaysian society to fall apart.
The consequences would be disasterous, more disasterous than the 2019 bankrupcy threat that Idris Jala had warned us about. It could be deleterious.