Déjà News – When Business Meets Academia

2013/10/06 in Press_Release


An Ancient Egyptian Model for Today’s Business and Political Leaders

Donald B. Redford

Financial crisis, trade, state control, economic empires, system collapse, ecological disasters, feminism, national sovereignty, foreign relations, bureaucracy, taxation, performing arts, technology… are these your daily concerns? If so, become a member of the Canadian Institute in Egypt and learn from historical case studies! At the very root of much of our present fascination with Egypt is this subconscious feeling that the ancient Egyptians were in possession of a secret knowledge or expertise far in advance of ourselves. But beyond these nebulous and fanciful considerations, Egypt does offer us a vast array of concrete, undisputed evidence which business and political leaders can readily use.

Egypt became the first nation state in the world, the inventor of what we today call bureaucracy and the tax system, the calendar and the enumeration system, engineering know-how, and manpower organization. The fascination with Egypt as a foreshadowing of ourselves has enticed many people into more than a casual look at this Nilotic landscape. Egypt shares with five other geographical locations the distinction of having been the stage whereon was acted the painful coming-to-birth of a sophisticated nation state from beginnings in the hunter-gatherer stage of human development. As such it deserves careful scrutiny, not from the passing voyeur, but from the serious student.

More than any other civilization, ancient or modern, Egypt enjoyed an isolation in time and space which sets it apart as a kind of “hot-house” culture under glass. What happens to a society of that sort? What happens when people can rest free of any real threat to their safety and security from outside? When they can look back over generations of recorded and uninterrupted family history, and can confidently expect that posterity to any number of future generations will be able to remember them? How, under these circumstances, did they view the outside world which could never impinge on them or alter their way of thinking? What happened when in fact the outside world did ingress upon their cosy corner, and produce what Egyptians saw as nothing short of a catastrophe? For the story of Ancient Egypt is not only about a brilliant society that built the pyramids, but also at the latter end of its appointed time on earth, about a once-proud people no longer masters of their own house. In this regard Ancient Egypt confronts us as a model for what is happening in the present Middle East and the world in general.

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