What Kind of Modern Civilization Do We Want?*
In 1958 the Cultural Division of the South East Asia Treaty Organization called a conference at Bangkok. Its concern was modern technology in Asian societies. Two facts were reported which make one ask whether we have the kind of civilization we want.
Mr. Tom Harrisson, representing Sarawak, reported that a more culturally isolated people than his neighbors on the island of Borneo do not exist. Little reaches them except a few radios and three broadcasts from Indonesia, Australia and Communist China. Since they know none of the languages spoken, what they hear from abroad is not understood. Nevertheless, these broadcasts have disrupted their folk dances of high quality. By capturing their ears and imaginations, the mere beat of boogie-woogie has corrupted their aesthetic standards and is destroying their customs. 1
Ambassador W. R. Crocker, representing Australia, called attention to the English reading material from the free world available on street-corner stands in Bangkok. He testified that it is similar to what he found at Jakarta when he was Ambassador to Indonesia. He suggested that it is all too similar also to what exists in Australia, Canada, the United States and even Great Britain. Needless to say, it portrays young people of the most vulgar aesthetic taste with ap-____________________