It occurs to me to express a few thoughts about the "emerging" nations that were formerly part of the Soviet bloc.
These countries, having endured the failure of both their command economies and monolithic governments, are struggling to develop systems that will meet their needs for material goods and reasonably responsive government. It is the transition to some form of open market that concerns me here. (Please do not take this broad statement about command and control to be any sort of indictment of Communism or Socialism, since the U.S.S.R. practiced neither. It was a dictatorship, pure and simple.)
These nations, in general, have a serious problem in that they are under a huge amount of pressure from the West, especially the United States, to form economic systems that not only will mesh with ours (in a profitable manner for our businesses, of course) but must resemble ours as well. They find themselves needing money - and the strings that come with it are tightly binding. They must try to build economic systems that work for their nations under the burden of great debt to the West, which pretends it is "saving" them. This debt is only permitted if they are willing to regulate their economies in a fashion very similar to our own.
It is a bit ironic to refer to the economy of the Soviet system as a "command" economy in contrast to the economy of the U.S. since the U.S. economy is highly regulated and coerced from the top, by a very concentrated amount of power, and basically for the direct benefit of the richest classes in the nation. Some of the structures of our "free" market are not so much free as open at some levels to individual and corporate initiative. The capital markets and nature of our anti-trust and labor laws all combine to produce a very narrow range of options.
Our system has developed, for better or for worse, in our particular environment. Our laws have been created by more or less representative bodies in response to the needs of our economy over a long period of time. Our courts have made decisions not only on the simple word of the law, but also with awareness of what sort of judgements will be generally acceptable to the current social and business climate. We have created our system, and we learn to live with it, in a symbiosis. We know the rules and how and when they apply, and we know, at least a little bit, how they are made or changed.
It is a highly arbitrary system, as any slowly developed complex of societal agreements or mores, will be. To imagine or theorise that it is a good model on which other nations should directly pattern their systems is a serious flaw of logic and example of hubris - to say nothing of the very thing the Soviets are reviled for putting their peoples through - a command and control economy. This case is even worse! The command and control is emanating from a foreign country (or countries)! The U.S. and its subsidiaries compel certain policies regarding inflation and money supply upon another people who have no way to alter it in a democratic or even revolutionary way.
Rather, I think the needs of the worlds peoples would be better served by allowing these nations to experiment on their own, inventing their own solutions, borrowing some and discarding others from the examples around them, to build systems that are appropriate to their national tendencies and needs. There is nothing that says that the way the U.S. economy is run (undemocratically and not freely) is the optimum way of bringing the necessary supplies of material goods to a population, even here in America.
It is possible and likely that there will be ideas springing forth in these other nations (who after all certainly must have some sort of right to govern themselves!) that will be of use and benefit to us and other parts of the world in our continual attempts to manage the forces of Mannon and tyrannies of capital and the economic cycle.
Let us hope they have enough leeway and time to prove me right.
10/18/00 - 3 AM
© Huw Powell