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Principles of the Conscientized International Expert

Political correctness in international initiatives (Part #1)


Caveat lector. Printed in Transnational Associations, 1979, 11, pp. 543-545 [PDF version]


Project participants

1. Participant representativity: I will only participate in meetings or projects in which the distribution of participants (a) by age, (b) by creed, (c) by race, (d) by ideology and (e) by nationality, reflects, in each case (within say 15 %) that for the world population, or at least for that sub-set with which the project is concerned.

Any imbalance toward a predominance of one age-group, creed, race, ideology, or nationality, or any coalition thereof, runs a considerable risk of restricting the validity of any conclusions (to the degree of that imbalance) for a society in which the interests of each are improperly guaranteed and protected be the others.

2. Sexism: l will only participate in meetings or projects in which the difference in the numbers of males or females is not greater than (say) 15 %.

Any imbalance runs a considerable risk of restricting the validity of any conclusions (to the degree of that imbalance) for a society composed of approximately equal numbers of each sex. The dominance of one perspective is not tolerable.

3. Discipline representation: l will only participate in meetings or projects in which the disciplines represented reflect the complete spectrum of those which consider that the topic under discussion is related to their concerns and current activities.

In a society bedevilled by complex problems it cannot be expected that any international issue can be appropriately and responsibly discussed in the absence of the insight of disciplines which may provide clues to useful action. It is intolerable that discussion should be dominated by views emerging from one discipline or group of disciplines. It has been remarked that few of the 1800 disciplines would acknowledge that their expertise is not relevant to any complex problem.

4. Qualifications: I will only participate in meetings or projects in which special care is taken to ensure that those participating are appropriately qualified to guarantee that the discussion and conclusions are of quality commensurate with the best available in institutions around the world and are not influenced by superficial considerations.

The participation of people who have devoted insufficient attention to the topic under discussion, as recognised by their peers, is irresponsible. If the project is to be of any significance, every effort must be made to protect the project from inappropriate inputs and inadequate insight

5. Community representation: I will only participate in meetings or projects in which representatives of the community to be affected participate are present on an equal footing with outside experts.

It is intolerable, in the light of past experiences of the misuse of expertise, that "experts" should make plans for a community without involving those to be affected right from the start. In doing so, care should be taken to ensure that all factions and minority groups are appropriately and genuinely represented at that level.

6. Economic and social equality: l will not participate in meetings or projects in which participants are supposed to participate as equals but in which their annual salaries (including financial privileges) differ by a significant amount (e.g. 15 %).

It is unreasonable to engage in projects to reduce economic and social inequalities when the participants in such projects constitute a living and unself-critical demonstration of such inequalities.

7. Family participation: l will only participate in meetings or projects in which arrangements are made to facilitate the presence and participation of family members including children.

It is unrealistic to expect that a balanced discussion concerning the problems and future of any community can be achieved when persons representing important dimensions of that community are excluded or allocated a purely decorative role. This procedure further reinforces adult arrogance (usually male) and does much to perpetuate the unenlightened sterility of such proceedings. It constitutes a demonstration of the insidious dynamics whose prevalence in society is of so much concern. And, in so far as it is towards improving the world in which children will have to live, it is only natural that such meetings should be more responsive to childrens' views of the future -- rather than designing their world with eyes blinkered by the views and methods of the preceding generation.gning their world with eyes blinkered by the views and methods of the preceding generation.


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