The change of face and the change of mind
The election of Barack Obama as President of the U.S. with the slogan “Change” has excited the whole of humankind. The victory of the “Change” in Washington seems to have instantly changed the image of America and suddenly given back its moral supremacy and role of spiritual leader of the world.
Such a reaction - that covered with its exuberance all the expressions of skepticism – gives the measure of the frustrations generated by the American narcissist unilateralism practiced after the disappearance of the USSR, as well as of the nervousness of the other nations - in particular the EU - compared to its own crisis of leadership. (A Europe that doesn’t believe in its elite welcomes the appearance of a new kind of American leader)
But what happens in the U.S.? Is Barack Obama the source of the change or just the result of it? It would be a naive to believe that the future tenant of the White House irrupted from the electorate without the essential contribution of the establishment.
The institutions and the interest groups, which have the deep levers of the authority, invented and proposed to the ordinary citizen the “Obama change” just to maintain the existing order and to restore power in America. Such an approach is natural and legitimate. But it raises questions about the way in which the “product” will exceed the intentions of the “producer?”
Accepting the offer not only confirms the maturity of the American democracy, but indicates a change which has occurred with the help of the actual election at demos level. Denying the racial foundations of the American social order and selecting an African-American President amended the traditional symbols of the U.S. and transformed the society as a whole and in its depth, making it more complex and more sophisticated from the structure point of view and increasing the interdependencies between its multiple ethno-cultural components. The shape proposed from the top generates results at the base.
In privacy, the American nation essentially increases its cohesion. Thus, the internal contradictions are reduced, but the cultural coherence decreases. Outside it, its power increases (corresponding to the energy field passed from the racial confrontation into the one of national affirmation), but the actual manifestation manner changes. The cultural complexity of the nation, with all the doubts and multilateral addictions involved, will always be reflected in the external action. This will become more complex, therefore, more prudent. More empathic, and, therefore, more inclusive. More pluralistic, and, therefore, more democratic.
Obama’s victory is also the result of the confrontation between geo-economics and geo-politics, between the plutocracy and the military-industrial complex. The break-time score favors the first. But the game continues. Recovering the national trust gained through that victory will disappear very quickly if the change of image is not followed by change in the conscious political action, in the top politics. This has to be translated to the electorate through political gestures, which includes the refusal of inequality, of the social exclusion of the social segregation and of the social-cultural discrimination.
The USA change will be real when the difference between exclusion and the apology of inequality as driver of progress will be replaced by a political strategy oriented towards the management of inequality so that it can be compatible with the social cohesion and the individual dignity, giving everyone a decent living in safety and respect for themselves. There will be change, so, when the conservatives will form a social state, and the American power will move the focus from the “hard” (military) component onto the “soft” (moral-economic-cultural) one. Change does not mean returning to the personalist utopia of the “American dream”, but to the open the civic multiculturalism that created the democratic and generous imperialism of the Marshall Plan.
After losing the Soviet Union, the U.S. reinvented their identity in the combat against global terrorism and the EU did it through anti-Americanism. Today, the U.S. power is not the problem, but its nature. Its change will induce, however, a new European identity crisis. Overcoming it will be possible in the context of redefining the global order. In the end, such a trans-Atlantic relationship renewed on changed bases will be essential.