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close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession III: Biology, medicine, and the future of mankind
close this folderRestructuring a framework for assessment of science and technology as a driving power for social development: a biosociological approach
close this folderYuji Mori
View the documentI. Introduction - The darwinian and ned-darwinian systems
View the documentII. Sociobiology or biosociology? how to view humans and their society
View the documentIII. Three levels of production and consumption
View the documentIV. Needs
View the documentV. Science and technology as cultural phenomena
View the documentVI. The turning point of social development: space and time
View the documentNotes

III. Three levels of production and consumption

So far I have outlined a perspective or framework for investigations human beings' production activities. First, we have found that any species, including humans, has a society. in other words, the. existence of all living things is a social existence. Second, in tracing the origin of culture, we have been able to go as far as the animals who lived in herds. Unlike evolving animals, however, human beings took a completely different path of development because of the social surplus which followed the start of agricultural life. In the background were the physical changes that led to man becoming fully biped.

Let me now discuss the production activity which animals and hewn beings share. This is the most basic of production activities, namely reproduction of the species. Behind Imanishi's idea of making species society universal is that of the need to achieve a male-female tat c in order to ensure the continuation of the species. Therefore, the period of leading an independent single life must be limited. In Darwin's theory the over-productivity of living things beyond the survival limit is the cause of the struggle (competition) for- survival and leads to evolution. If we examine the food chain in the animal world, however, a hierarchy exists in which the number of non-predators is greater than predators. This is necessary to stabilize the hierarchical structure of animal society. Needless to say, human beings are outside of the food chain. As I have already seated. however, something similar to the predator in anima; society has already made its appearance in human society. If we examine the population explosion from a global perspective, we can see that it is concentrated in South and South East Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

The countries in these regions are either: (1) countries that have been controlled, exploited, or oppressed by international predators (that is, countries that have conducted imperialism, colonialism, or neo-colonialism) or those countries seriously affected by these predators, although formal liberation has been achieved; or (2) those countries rapidly attempting to accumulate social surplus through an internal ruling class of predators; or (3) those countries under this dual hierarchical structure. I have no intention of distorting my meaning when I say that a phenomenon similar to that in the animal world food chain has now appeared in the human world. For human beings, too, if survival is guaranteed, the population problem will be solved. In this case, the guarantee of human survival is not a physiological nor physical guarantee; rather, human survival is guaranteed through culture. In other words, it is as an element of culture that physiological and physical guarantees exist. Here is a fundamental difference in the type of existence enjoyed by animals and human beings. If we are to attempt to solve the population problem, therefore, we must basically start by guaranteeing the survival of the people who live in the problem areas. Specifically, it is not because of overpopulation that poverty and starvation occur; rather, the population increases because robbery, exploitation, and oppression are carried out to the extent that poverty and starvation result. Irrespective of the type of aid that is given, it will be of absolutely no use in solving the problem so long as the structure of robbery, exploitation, and oppression remains the same; instead. it will merely aggravate the situation.

The productive activity unique to humans is production through the use of tools or, as we think of it at present, production activity through science and technology. It is clear that without production there can be no consumption; likewise, we cannot think of production without at the same time thinking of consumption. However, the problem I am concerned with is not what or how to produce and consume, but rather the role and meaning of production and consumption.

In the discussion which follows, a divide production and consumption into three levels (this is a special problem; that is, a problem of the sociology of intra-species): (1) the organism level (organism production has already been dealt with); (2) the social level; (3) the political level.

Let me first provide a definition of the political and social levels. The difference between these two is that which exists between social authority and political power. Social authority and political power generally overlap in human society; however, the problem is that a gap has arisen between the two. If we examine them in terms of origin, they are different: in animal societies that make a group, a distinct social authority exists; for example, a pecking order or leadership system. In the case of animal societies that depend only on gathering, however, there is no evidence of political power. Thus, the origin of political power can be found in the attempts to solve the problem of possession and distribution of the social surplus that appeared when human beings started an agricultural life. Those societies which maintained order only through social authority were still single-level societies. We can say, therefore, that the stratification of species society was brought about by political power.

Quite obviously, so long as no political power exists in animal societies, neither production nor consumption on the political level exists. In those animal societies exclusively dependent on a life of gathering, however, it is worth investigating whether production and consumption on the social level take place. Among birds and wild animals, for example, there are those who make nests and lairs, raise children, bring food to the young not capable of independent survival, and so forth. In a more primitive form of division of labour, we can see in this the germ of social production and consumption.

What gives production activities in human society their unique characteristic is production based on science and technology. We can call this culture. Such production activities are not simply limited to material production but also include the output of various knowledge industries. Moreover, production activities extending over a large area in terms of both quantity and quality become the force for the development of society through the use of the products (resulting from production) and consumption. The rate of evolution in human society, accelerated by production activity, already seems to be far greater than the rate of evolution in animal society.

Yet there is one example of a gap between production and consumption on the political and social levels. This is the example of the nuclear weapons system. Despite the fact that after World War II nuclear weapons have not been employed, the production of weapons is proceeding at a rapid pace at enormous expense and with an increase in both the quality and quantity of weapons produced. Instead of these weapons helping in the development of the producing country's society, however, they are actually impeding social development; their sole function is political. What must be recognized here is that these enormous nuclear weapons systems are being consumed quite effectively and politically. This is because weapons employment is not merely limited to war. It is in fact these systems that gave credence to the idea of a new kind of global political order at a time when territorial expansion and the acquisition of colonies is no longer possible. The perspective taken in the analysis of the nuclear weapons system is, i would argue, also of utility in considering, for example, economic and technical assistance and the transfer of technology.