The myth of Western supremacy and its ‘invisible hands’
Those who revere the invisible hand theory certainly miss the point that most Western interference in our part of the world occurs through overt, quite visible means. Beginning with the Balfour Declaration issued a century ago and up to the present day, wherein Western nations play a dominant role in most of the ongoing crises in the rest of the world, their global political leverage has enabled Westerners to explicitly impose many of their viewpoints, on developing nations for the most part.
Life is constituted of many variables that interact with one another in unforeseen ways and that often lead to unexpected outcomes, which eventually re-emerge in another set of variables, and so on. Those in the Arab world’s belief in the ability of a nation or an entity to manage those variables to achieve specific results is an utterly naive attitude that has been preventing us from digesting world dynamics and working on resolving our domestic challenges.
Westerners have many positive attributes that stem from their superior system of education (working hard to earn their incomes, logical thinking, etc.) that are missing elsewhere, and that allow them to enjoy a modern and advanced standard of living. Additionally, they are a culturally straightforward people who tend to clearly express their goals, which are not necessarily always legitimate or moral. Their openness is an essential part of their culture. However, supremacy is an exaggerated designation, a label that should not be affixed to Westerners or to any other ethnic group.
The willingness of Eastern nations to cooperate with Western ones on many economic and political matters dispels the invisible hand myth — unless someone cares to claim that the “invisible hand of the West” is forcing this cooperation. Furthermore, if the invisible hand is such an effective tool, why aren’t non-western nations using it, especially in light of the large number of their citizens who live in the West?
Those in the Arab world who revere the covert theory miss the point that most Western interference here occurs through overt, quite visible means.
Life is driven by power and influence. Western nations are powerful; thus, they tend to work on achieving their goals — softly initially and, eventually, if their power enables them to do so, forcibly. The West’s interference in Libya, along with its denial of any responsibility toward Libyan citizens, best portrays the curve of hard and soft power that it has been exercising over the last few years. Nevertheless, the recent events in Libya and other nations are clearly visible, overt acts.
We non-Western nations are left only with the influence option, which we are reluctant to put into practice for unknown reasons. Through the UN Security Council, the world is politically structured to favor a total of five nations (those who have the privilege of using the veto mechanism). However, if non-Western nations were to effectively expand the use of the influence tool, they could easily exert pressure on these powerful countries.
We citizens of Eastern nations often want to blame the West for many of our problems; thus, we came up with the invisible hand theory. This concept actually exists but, contrary to what many of us believe, it is certainly not as far-reaching or as effective as to be behind every single crisis. For their part, many Westerners tend to accept this notion implicitly and quietly, because it boosts their egos, particularly as related to their belief in their supremacy. In the Eastern world, we live with both false perceptions that support one another — but the two are obviously myths.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir
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