In one of my previous articles, I mentioned details about the importance of intellectual reclamation as one of the methods used to confront knowledge scarcity, and how to address research backwardness, to stimulate the power of the knowledge economy, and to revitalize it. I dedicate this article to discussing the soft power alternative in detail and expand upon it.
Soft power does not differ much in cases of individuals or societies, and we can approximate the meaning of its concept through individual cases, and what can be evoked as an example is the saying of George Washington Carver, who recommended writing on his tombstone: “No person, no matter what, can descend me to a degree, make me hate him or envy him.”
For those who do not know, the owner of this proposed epitaph had many reasons to grow up in the desire of taking revenge on this world, for he was of negro origin, he grew up an orphan, did not have the opportunity to go to school, and he grew up in an environment that is less than what can be described as fanatical, and yet he was able to create and become, by soft power, what any person dreams of, and for his losses to become profits. He is the founder of agricultural chemistry, and the first to work in the field of synthetic fibers, plus the United States owes to him one of its most important wealth producers, its sixth highest production commodity of “peanuts”, also of inventions comparable to those of Edison.
It is a sublime model of the usefulness of soft power and what it means at the level of individuals and at the level of nations. Soft power means that the state has spiritual and moral strength through the ideas, principles, and morals it embodies and through support in the fields of human rights, infrastructure, culture, and art, which leads others to respect and admire this method, then follow its sources.
Japan found that the best alternative for rebounding after the war was the soft power alternative, making it the most economically powerful country in the world in a record time of only 50 years.
Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “The whole world gives way to a person who knows his destination.” That is what can be said about the Japanese experience in this context, because the world has already given way to it, where Japan knows its destination and knows its way.
Religious pluralism in Japan did not prevent her from being distinguished internationally and people did not differ among themselves because of that pluralism. Likewise, it issued a set of legislation related to education, obligating it and limiting reproduction for fear of population density that might hinder the development process, hinder the reforms it adopted, and hinder the methodical plan that it adopted at all levels.
The issue of soft power was the subject of great controversy and suspicion in Japan, and in early 2003, a brilliant gesture took place, as the great and famous Japanese artist, Miyazaki Hayao, was awarded an Academy Award for the cartoon movie known as “The Kidnapped” or “Chihiro’s Journey”. Since that time, Japanese officials and intellectuals alike, have been claiming that the global fame of anime and manga, that specialize in its production in Japan on a large global scale, has enabled Japan to possess “soft power.” The term soft power was used in the eighties by Joseph Nye, a professor of science. In fact, a careful look at the main, relevant Japanese magazines, white papers, and the like will reveal to what degree the idea became popular after 2002.
Not only did the Japanese artist Miyazaki Hayao obtain the Oscar, whose works are all characterized by a peaceful character who renounces wars, but he refused to come to receive his award in response to the Iraq war because the honor was given in the United States. With this, Miyazaki wanted to convey an eloquent message about the usefulness of soft power and the need to spread it and replace hard power with it, and with this message, any knowledge economy can flourish, that is, when its message is sublime and purely human.
China used soft power through cheap manpower, its economy blossomed and became a world power, and India was like that with yoga.
The Arabs used soft power in the past, and they ruled Europe through the sciences of Ibn Sina, Al-Farahidi, Al-Khwarizmi and many others.
The other model that can be talked about is the Emirate of Dubai, for this city is ruled by the maker of civilization His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who knows well what are the real foundations for the rise of any human civilization: support the knowledge economy on which it was founded, support the infrastructure, human rights, culture and the arts As well as those principles and ethics that this city espouses, which have made it among the greatest cities in the world, civilized and economically sound, this development continues to grow and grow every day more and more, for which the world cannot do anything except tip its hat to see a leader who has surpassed the meaning of soft power.
Supporting scientific research and knowledge of all kinds, interest in rehabilitation and training institutions, support for young talents, cultural institutions, arts, human rights, and the search for talented people in all fields, is an expression of the soft power pursued by any country and makes it an example of advancement and a civilized model for all countries of the world.
Author: Manahel Thabet
Published September 18, 2017
Al Bayan Newspaper