Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lack of Foresight and The Global Economic Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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“There is a phenomenon that indicates a transformation of the power centers, and gradual changes in the world regimes from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean,” said Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state.

“The reign of the dollar has ended. Both the US and British economies will not be able to avoid the inevitable recession,” said George Soros, well-known international billionaire.

These concepts and words were presented at the opening of the Davos World Economic Forum last Wednesday. This forum is exactly what it is called – an international and economic forum – in its name, content, nature, precedents, and huge varied representation. Some 2,500 economic, financial, political, and decision-making elites came to attend the forum from all over the world. The convening of the forum this year is taking place at the same time as the “economic crisis” faced by many countries, especially the country of the largest economy in the world, namely the United States. Nearly all world economies are influenced by the movements of the US economy, because of its huge volume, and of the intertwining of its accounts and work with the financial, commercial, investment, and economic moves – in general – across the continents of this planet.

Therefore, the world is facing a crisis. The experts are completely divided over analyzing and interpreting this crisis. There are those who consider it to be due to the slow growth of the US economy and the weakness of the dollar. There are others who consider it to be due to “being drowned” in politics and wars that have distracted from focusing on the economic affairs in order to discover the solutions and alternatives at an early time, i.e. before the crisis becomes too big and too complicated. Then there are those, and those others, and so on.

These reasons could be true, and dozens like them also could be true; however, the mother of all crises – in our opinion – is that the thinking of the leaders and planners is “small” in a complex way: small in itself, and small because it is “drowning” in details and sidelines, or to put it in other words it is “atomic thinking,” according to the expression of the orientalist Jeb [British orientalist Alexander Hamilton Rozquin Jeb 1895-1971],in the sense that it is fragmented or like individual atoms not bound in an overall methodical context. What is odd is that this small or atomic thinking prevails in an era that witnesses the highest repetition of the word “strategy,” which is repeated millions of times by the inhabitants of this planet. Some people even repeat it without knowing its meaning except as much as a tortoise, for instance, knows about the speed of light!

The atomic, small, or limited and fragmented thinking made groups, even some scientists at the end of the 1940’s – luckily only a few – state categorically that scientific progress had reached its final ceiling, and that the transfer of “television image” across the skies would be impossible. However, science was stronger and it turned what was unimaginable into live scientific reality that could be touched and seen.

What is the reason for these “voluntary dilemmas?”

There are two complex reasons:

A- “Lack of clear and long-term intellectual and scientific vision.”

B- Blatant, and deluded, rejection of probabilities supported by evidence, or at least that no reasonable man should rule out.

The error of “rejecting predictions supported by strong evidence” could prevail over the imagination and concepts of the politicians and strategists in our time and world, and hence the human race could slip into a future that would be horrific and burdened with troubles, crises, and tremors, which could be fiercer, heavier, and more painful than the ones we suffer today. Anyone who is incapable of looking that far into the future could learn from what happened in the depressive near past, i.e. the first half of the 20 Century. World War I was not expected. It was not expected that World War I would lead to the death of millions, the horrific destruction, or the deep change in the balance of power. However the war did erupt. Also it was not expected that communism will emerge with such magnitude, weight, or control; however, it emerged, and became strong. It was not expected that Europe would be shaken, and that its land would be overwhelmed by Nazism and fascism as it was, but it did happen. It was not expected that World War II would erupt in such a wretched and evil way that was unprecedented in history. What is the reason for this dangerous slipping into such wretched fate?

We reiterate that behind this there are two main reasons:

1- Lack of “clear long-term vision.”

2- Excluding the possibility of what might happen, or a weak sense of what might happen. This is a weakness that can lead to being unprepared in planning and action, and to becoming complacent about the necessary preparedness that leads to discovering the solutions and creating the alternatives.

If the human race wants to live and not to perish, to be safe and not to be afraid, to be happy and not to be miserable, and to give the future generations better, more prosperous, and brighter chances in life, then the human race ought to do the following:

A- Expand its mind and thinking, and look ahead as far as possible. If this is difficult for the human race collectively, this ought to be done by the strategic planners among the politicians and the experts in economics, finance, education, sociology, environment, security, and so on of the fields of expertise without which you cannot form a correct and trustworthy vision.

B- These elites ought to list the crises in an agenda according to their priority and danger. If we practice our right to observe and order these crises according to the two aforementioned criteria, we have to say: The strongest, the highest priority, and the most dangerous are “four crises,” namely the economic crisis, the unemployment crisis (which is a product of the economic crisis, but we single it out because of its dangers and grave impact), the third is the security crisis, and the fourth is the crisis of the environment, which provides us with the oxygen we breath and the food we eat.

Now, let us take the economic crisis as an example. The crisis in fact is the crisis of capitalism. Thus we are extremely amazed that a thinker of the caliber of Francis Fukuyama has published a book entitled “The End of History.” The gist of the book is: The human race has reached the final ceiling of progress; it is the ceiling of democracy and “capitalism.” This is despite the fact that the man has retreated with a courage worth of appreciation, from many of his ideas.

Yes, it is true that the current economic crisis is the “product” of the overall crisis of capitalism; however, we hasten to say with conviction: We support the “free economy.” However the free economy is different from the foolishness, stupidity, and short-sightedness of brutal capitalism. Why did communism emerge? We can summarize the causes of its emergence – its ideology and its implementation – in two reasons: The tyranny of capitalism that spread and accumulated injustice, and the second reason was “the decay of religious conscience.” Add to this the lack of other options. We are talking about options such as rational capitalism, and the awakening of the religious conscience and its liberation from the sin of flattering injustice and the unjust among the rabid capitalist and feudalists.

One of the characteristics of forming a “correct vision that leads to salvation” is the methodical mixing of lessons of history and current reality. Here, there is an objective fact that has to be recognized, even by those who absolutely hate the United States. This fact is: the US economy, in one way or another, “leads” the world economy. Therefore, if the US economy weakens or becomes disturbed, this will reflect directly or indirectly on the economies of the world countries.

There is nothing new in this; on the contrary, the fact that the world economy is intertwined with the US economy has only increased its strength, expansion, and modernity. In 1929 the world economy was shaken by a tremor that severely influenced its health. Let us listen carefully to the trustworthy intelligent English historian Herbert Fisher in order to learn from him a historical economic fact that will benefit us, the human beings, in our present and future. In his precious book, History of Europe, Fisher says under the title The 1929 Economic Catastrophe: “At the same time, the Republic of Germany suffered an economic catastrophe that destroyed it. The impact was severe because it happened after severe disasters were inflicted upon Germany. This crisis was followed by a severe financial shock in New York in 1929. The US funds were withdrawn immediately from Germany, and this led to the worst disasters for the German economy. Then stunning skillful propaganda stormed the country, and started to talk about the need for a savior leader for the country. On the pages of this skillful propaganda Adolph Hitler appeared as a striving combatant, a fighting soldier, and inspired organizer of the savior Nazi Party.”

The lessons that ought to be learned and digested from this bitter political-economic history are:

A- The world economy – with the German economy at its forefront – was gravely and deeply affected by what happened in the New York stock exchange in 1929.

B- Not only the economy was affected, this severe impact and pressure extended to politics, and ended up with the collapse of the political system then existing in Germany to an extent that enabled the Nazis – led by Hitler – to control the government and all the bases and destiny of Germany.

C- This radical change in the German political system led to World War II, which according to all historians was the worst and ugliest in the entire written and unwritten history.