Friday, 7 December 2007

Capitalism's anti-democratic credentials

The famous book by Francis Fukuyama; "The end of history" argued that liberal democracy had "won", communism was defeated, political conflict will die down and everywhere will eventually turn to the US model of government, with relatively minor differences.
Since then many have assumed that a globalised capitalist economy will bring democracy everywhere.
Yet we saw the shambles of the Russian elections recently, and now we see in the African - European summit in Portugal, that African nations are pronouncing that Europe is losing it's influence. African nations prefer to trade with China who do not make demands on human rights.
Russia and China provide an alternative model of economic development. Historically we saw how Pinochet combined an authoritarian state with capitalism, and after many years that succumbed to democracy. Mrs Thatcher also combined capitalism with an authoritarian state. She did not do away with democracy altogther, but she did undemine it.
Today Russia and China prove that you can have an authoritarian state and capitalism. Instead of capitalism bringing democracy, the signs from Africa are that that they are also being influenced by the Chinese way of thinking.
To be fair, the Chinese economy is due for a crash, having grown unsustainably for so long. However the same is true in Europe and the US too, for different reasons and where there has been less growth.
It is not in my nature as a liberal to want to see economic turmoil. But there is much to fear of the consequences if the Chinese model continues to succeed. If Africa is thinking of turning away from democracy and human rights, what about the rest of the world?

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