The watch continues as events unfold in North African and the Middle Eastern cities and countries. We wonder whether and how autocracies in these places may be superseded by autocracy, theocracy or even democracy? Each country is different so most informed observers don’t expect that a single solution will emerge across all countries.
From the outside of this area, all we can see right now are the surface behaviours. The real sources of change are entrenched four, five, even six deep below the surface, in the social systems, cultures, family beliefs, individual psyches and even the genes of the people who are in the midst of this massive collective shift.
Maybe there are also other factors at play as well? I would point to two possibilities, both having to do with the intermixing of cultures. One is the sizable ex-patriot populations that we see fleeing Egypt, Tunisia, Libya (and to a lesser extent the Mid East). These people will bring direct experience of the countries in turmoil and share their stories with the parts of the world to which they return or flee. These ex-pats will influence attitudes, behaviours, policy decisions, cultural outreach (or distancing) and personal intentions.
The other possible influence comes from the other direction – it is the large Diasporas that have emigrated from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to Europe and North America. They have experienced democracy and many have returned home to stoke the flames of rebellion and revolution. But many still remain behind in their new home countries.
The scale of these current day emmigrations (particularly when the EU, UK and Canada have had such inviting immigration policies) has been experienced before in history when invading armies have impelled peoples to flee in advance, thus spreading cultures like a wave into adjoining lands. But today’s Diasporas are spread half a world away and are adapting and growing up in democracies, mainlining its dignities and disasters.
What can this mean for the Diasporas’ countries of origin? Might it be possible that the diaspora can and will act as accelerators to the development and evolution of their cultures and countries of origin? Might we hope that the development of tribal cultures through the stages of lawful governance and freer trade could be accelerated because of the influence of a returning diaspora who will import changed beliefs, wider worldviews, greater technological systems, and more informed behaviours?
Might we even consider arming the (inevitable) return of the ex-patriots to North Africa and the Middle East with resources that enable the natural development out of tribal cultures into more complex cultures? Resources like education for girls and women. Resources that enable food security and sustainable existence. Resources that promote micro-finance and freer trade to enable prosperous economic exchanges?
It’s just a thought. Maybe the two-way transitions of ex-patriot workers and diaspora emigres have the potential to accelerate the natural development of worldviews, cultures, structural systems, and much expanded options for healthy behaviours ?? It is interesting to consider how such influences could improve our capacities to take care of our selves, take care of each other and take care of our places (and Place).