Sunday, November 8, 2009

20 years on

In November 1989 I was 6 years old and no doubt thinking more about the lollies in my local shop than one of the most significant events of our generation.

20 years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, what does it mean for me to have grown up in a post- Cold War world? I am a product of consumer capitalism, for better or worse. Be as it may that my political views tend to rally against the excesses and abuses of capitalism, I cannot for a minute deny that this much hated and much loved system is also responsible for the economic growth that has pulled many nations out of poverty. But of course it would be far too simplistic to put it like that. Inequality has generally soared throughout many parts of the world and the environmental cost of this beast are plain for all to see. However I continue to speak in platitudes. I am a mere law/anthropology graduate without any formal economic education. The closer I get to working on economics through my different jobs, the more I am flabbergasted by its complexity, by the necessity of trade but also the cruelty of it, by the need for competitiveness, but at what price, and the overall thing that seems to hit me is that you can´t be simplistic with economics. Who is to say that nationalising a company is bad for economics? Who is to say that private is necessarily bad or public is necessarily good? These are questions that rattle in my head and prick me constantly. They have for a long time, since working with the campaigners of Oxfam to witnessing the corruption of some Mexican unions to hearing the heartbreaking tales of Mexicans crossing the US-Mexico border in search for a future to feed their families. Sometimes I just say, oh sheesh! Bloody economics!!

On occasion of this anniversary, the BBC has published an extremely interesting and ambitious survey of 29,000 people in 27 countries to gauge the general reflections on global capitalism. The report card shows a thumping disappointment with capitalism.

I would tend to go with the yellows here. Yep. Capitalism cannot be the best model we have, surely.

Based on this survey above, the Mexicans and French show up as deeply confused: they have the highest rate of disapproval for free-market capitalism, however both countries have given support to clearly right-wing governments. Oh but dammit, who is to say that free market capitalism is the monopoly of the right wing? O gawd, take me back to the class room now!

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