Fear of change is out of order

In: Uncategorized

28 Feb 2011

This is my latest comment from Fund Strategy.

Order or freedom? The question is particularly sharply posed at times like this.

In response to the wave of protests in the Middle East the rich and powerful have typically opted for order. They may rhetorically support democracy but their desire for stability tends to be overwhelming.??This was the one consistent feature of an otherwise inconsistent western foreign policy towards recent events.

For example, the American state department leaned towards supporting the continuation of Hosni Mubarak’s rule in Egypt before shifting behind an “orderly transition”. In each case the motivation was to try to ensure as little change as possible.

Those in the higher echelons of finance tend to take a similar line. Whatever their feelings about democracy in the abstract their over-riding concern is typically the stability of their portfolios. The potential for sustained oil price rises, higher inflation and a weaker recovery is seen as a nightmare,

Such views are understandable given the vested interests involved. Less comprehensible is the common reaction that pro-democracy protests are “scary”. This response betrays a fearful reaction to social change.

For most people, though, there should be no question of their support for democracy and freedom. These are universal aspirations rather than concepts peculiar to the West.

The protests in the Middle East are a reminder of the human desire to live free of arbitrary restrictions by despotic regimes. For a long time it was widely assumed that Arabs did not have such aspirations but this has been shown emphatically not to be the case.

From a human perspective there should be no question of which is more important in the battle between freedom and order. Freedom wins every time.