“President BARACK OBAMA: I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: The ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice, government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people, the freedom to live as you choose.”
How true. The President of the United States was indeed prescient as if he was not only portending the future but creating it. In the 18 months since those words, which paraphrased former president George W. Bush before the Iraq war (as NPR also points out with a sense of political subtlety), Cairo is in revolt, at its epicenter in Midan Tahrir, Egypt’s Liberation square once again, this time, nearly half-a-century after becoming a republic, against the republic.
American presidents are an elite club of lonely men at the top who can sometimes play the politics in the public square only to follow each other in lock step, because only they understand the presidency of, still, the most influential nation on earth. The earthquake is reverberating across the Arab world, off the charts on the political richter scale, after shocks yet to come. Only that sometimes such political shifting of the ground can set things straight rather than crumble them. And this is one of those times.
Those words and pictures on the Great Seal of the United States on the American dollar are the most enduring symbols of America’s New Republic, as if reaching back in time to grab civilization to propel it into the future, collapsing the past and present into one. The eye of providence, literally, is watching over civilization, in Egypt. After all, those words in Latin, Annuit Coeptis (Auspicious Beginnings) and Novus Ordo Seclorum (New World Order, also the motto of the Yale School of Management), are imprinted on the nation’s currency depicting the image of an eye (the Third or the Inner Eye) over a pyramid. It is a currency that has taken a beating since the economic crisis began in 2007 after the Shiller housing index collapsed, as if the uproar of the people of Egypt in Tahrir Square for all the world to see in real time was an earthquake that had begun 4 years ago, with the public cries for the ouster of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak being one of the aftershocks across North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.
Professor Robert Shiller of Yale School of Management, an ardent champion of financial innovation, had cautioned former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, as the story goes, at a luncheon at the Federal Reserve Board about the irrational exuberance in the then technology market (he later wrote a book by the same name along with another seminal book “The New Financial Order: Risk in the 21st Century”). Later Alan Greenspan had repeated that phrase in a much celebrated testimony in front of the United States Congress in Washington’s inside baseball. Unless the manic depressive behaviors of the financial markets in the most sophisticated capital markets on the planet are observed over the long run (“Stocks for the Long Run” another celebrated book by Professor Jeremy Siegel of Wharton School), their policy and political implications will not be evident, for both inflation and economic downturns can be powerful instruments of geopolitical change, sometimes negative (“The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein) and sometimes positive. If the preference of the Reagan Republicans has been the shock and awe campaign by the U.S military, those of the Clinton Democrats has been the shock and awe campaign by the U.S economy.
American elites make strategic public policy in plain sight, if only one has the eye to see. The world ticks because of elites by birth (natural born) and those whom they indoctrinate through institutions of power. Any transformation in every society, from the status quo to the realization of the vision (E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many One on the obverse side of the Great Seal of the United States and on the carpet in the Oval Office), can only be achieved by them, as damage control appears to be turning failure into success from 1993 through now, Clinton through Obama. The biases for achieving flavors of democracy and methods change with the winds of political change in Washington, but the objectives remain the same.
The law, despite its egalitarianism in letter and spirit, in the administration of justice only seldom deviates from favoring the unequal social order in any society. The de facto social order in the United States, whatever the presidential rhetoric about the law, is white, black, Hispanic, other and American Indian still subject to Indian Affairs. So be it. In a rapidly globalizing world similar orders exist in other societies, including in Egypt that is aspiring to a legitimate democracy, whatever the law. And it may mean a lower status for Europeans and those of European descent elsewhere. The world does not require a lot of change, socially, if those of European descent confine their self-professed superior social status to their social spaces. Politically, the world is already there with various flavors of democracy but some authoritarianism which must be transitioned out of, as in Egypt, elsewhere in the region and the world.
The opportunity in globalization is purely economic and respecting local social spaces ― global and local as I had stated in 2002 in a private email to a colleague at the Federal Reserve, Mark Dorin, now popularized as “glocal” ― around the world is the best strategy toward a stable, free and peacefully integrating world.
“In God We Trust” and, therefore, in our fellow human beings’ capacity for freedom.