The Cold War Debate

... yes, and they eat babies too...

... yes, and they eat babies too...

The debate that gave us the cold war was basically this: What works best – a liberal free market world (capitalist) or a controlled economy of shared good (communist)? Well, it was that and the ancillary question of who will nuke who first, but that is a minor detail.

A comment by the blogger formerly known as Xifer on a previous post got me wondering as to whether the debate is really dead and buried or whether the wishy washy commies (excuse the very politically incorrect words but this blog is posting in break mode) are hanging around like some latter day Fausto’s hoping to be able to jump out from behind the bush and point their fingers shouting “You see you were wrong too”.

At who exactly the finger pointing will be aimed is quite a mystery to me. Maybe at some CEO’s of the big fat companies who according to some red conspiracy theories really run the world while leaders of nations just run around at their request. The issue really comes up right now because of the current Credit Crunch, Financial Failure or Problematic Predicament that we are in. It is not just Mark asking the questions about capitalism to be fair… it’s many many people who are tempted to say that someone somewhere has been proven right and that capitalism (like communism) is for losers.

Christine Lagarde, a woman I am fast falling in love with, has obviously given thought to this question and has stated without reservations that the present crisis is not a manifestation of the fact that capitalism does not work but rather proves that when someone (or many ones) flaunt the basic rules of capitalism and the free market then the system is bound to have some problems. When that someone is overspeculative banks and investment companies and insurance companies gambling with the investors money then it is not capitalism that is not working, it is not the financial market that is not working… it’s the economists, stupid.

Of course we now know that the same argument applies to the supposed Failure of Communism. It is not communism as Marx did not conceive it that does not work but rather Castro’s, Chavez’s and Kim-Il Sung’s that doesn’t. The Chinese seem to have understood that and have set about on a Policy for Gradual Change and Adaptation to the Principles of the Liberal Market without releasing too much Control over Information and without being too Nice to People (read Human Rights).

All this to say that the present crisis will not solve the question of communism vs capitalism. Reading between the lines however – and suggesting ways to ensure that capitalism does not choke by becoming too greedy – can be more helpful. Which is where the greens, and alternative ways of thinking and reasoning about our future can help. Obama has wasted no time and in his address to Senate yesterday as it discussed the Salvation Bill he reminded his colleagues that it is not just about investing money in energy now but also investing in alternative modes of energy for the future.

Liberal free markets yes. Stupid greedy free markets no. Sounds easy no? Now to save the World Economy.

This has been j’accuse… blogging on a break so you don’t have to.

8 responses to “The Cold War Debate

  1. fabrizioellul

    Because of this current crisis a few parties of the far-left or extreme left are gaining in polls and saying ‘we told you so…’

    Greed is unfortunately one aspect of the human nature that we need to include into any equation proposing some kind of an ideal system.

    The Economist in the issue titled ‘What Next?’ had an interesting article on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ capitalism and i think we should start from there.

    To suggest communism as an alternative system in the 21st century is silly, to say the the least. If we really wanted to change the system we could have done so in the 1930s but not now.

    btw. thumbs up for the banner

  2. I much enjoyed the discerning blog.

    Communism has in my opinion failed totally, and is no option.

    Even if full of potholes, capitalism provides a basis for an effective model.

    In the wake of recent events, the next model is an obvious one:

    Everything to remain as is, the only change being that the banking function should be a Central bank function away from competitive pressures.

    This will of course not happen, yet the next best thing, heavy regulation, most of it pseudo, will provide another long sunny stretch until a next shake.

    That the Banking system is being practically nationalized (in American or European guises) shows where the water flows.. The British Conservatives themselves argue that nationalised banks should operate within Bank of England territory.

    I will not bore you with the rationale behind my opinion but keep in mind that:

    banking influences money supply
    an aggressive banking activity causes a massive boom (with an ensuing massive abuse and pressure on natural resources)
    followed by an almighty fall.

    Prudent banking just can not happen within market pressures that demand growth in activity profits and dividends at all costs.

  3. Sorry, but I’m in a pedantic mood tonight. First paragraph, third line: “who will nuke whoM first” – I know it’s a minor detail, but still…

    On exactly the same theme – the beginning of the third paragraph: “At whoM exactly the finger pointing will be aimed…”

  4. fabrizioellul

    it is a blog and not the next Joseph Conrad.

  5. Communism has failed completely mainly because it is based on the flawed idea that we are all equal. This is the greatest fallacy in the history of mankind because genotypically, phenotypically and culturally we are all different and unequal. Communism has tried to modify this law of nature and failure was consequently inevitable.

    Capitalism, on the other hand, is not intrinsically incorrect. It leaves room for the individual to explore, discover and amplify his potential. Capitalism becomes a failure when it is detaches itself from the state and becomes a tool for the greedy. Capitalism in China is so successful because it is tightly controlled by the state which makes it very clear that it is just an instrument to enhance its greatness.

  6. fabrizioellul

    Hi Jacques, the layout is of wordpress.

  7. Both communism and capitalism are two sides of the same coin. On the outside they ‘appear’ to be different but at the core they have the same ideals. Control.

    “Control the coinage and the courts — let the rabble have the rest.” Thus the Padishah Emperor advises you. And he tells you; “If you want profits, you must rule.” There is truth in these words, but I ask myself; “Who are the rabble and who are the ruled?”

    * Muad’Dib’s Secret Message to the Landsraad from Arrakis Awakening by the Princess Irulan

    taken from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel, Dune

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