Was the United States too rash in declaring "victory over Communism"?*
In light of the economic fall that the United States is going through, possibly of a sustained character, one wonders whether the declared "victory" over communism in the 1990s was too rashly declared. After Gobrachev's tragic fall from power and (ultimately) the fall of the wall of Berlin, it appeared that the Cold War had ended. In its rivalry with the Soviet Union in become the 'world hegemon' in order to defend a particular socioeconomic order, the post 1990s seemed to demonstrate that only one global superpower was left standing: the glorious United States, allegedly invicated for its defense of "liberty" and capitalism. Yet, two decades later, it appears that the giant, as if by sheer willpower, has collapsed as well. The United States during the last fifty years, has turned from a nation of creditors to a nation of debtors. The picture of an infinitely growing economy so hysterically spouted at the end of the 1990s, captured by the idiotic term "new economy", has in fact turned to sound more like a hollow bell--a superficial veneer without true substance. Outsourcing, industrial flight, and the drastic decline of the US dollar demonstrates that there none of the two principal contenders of that era were left standing after all. Only one 'participant', the one who quietly stood in the shadows without making aggressive postures in either direction, has stayed standing: China.
The entire incident begs the question, as to why?
One possible answer might be "capitalism", but that would be as flawed as stating that China is 'communist', when in fact its socioeconomic order is a complex combination of its long asiatic historical development combined with ideological elements of marxism. Rather we might postulate that a particular 'variant' or 'generation' of capitalism is the cause--a variant which ignored all of the troubling complexities which actually constituted its older forms. This variant of capitalism was made up of a generation that did in fact oversimplify the world by looking only at 'numbers' in the strict sense of the word; that is to say, they looked only at the rise and fall of profits without considering the deep and rich background which constitutes this dynamic. As we say here in Puerto Rico, they were fixated on their belly buttons, "mirando solo sus hombligos", without taking time to look at the world around them. They rashly made the decision, which at first seemed to be of no substantive consequence given the predominance and health of their national economy, that 'exporting' industries would increase their profits--which in fact, did in the short run. This new ideology was captured by that brilliant ideologists of capitalism, Peter Drucker, as well as others, who noted that we were entering a "post-industrial" world where economic growth would be based on ideas rather than dirty grungework. In some ways, this has such a aristotelian baggage--living in an immaterial world--that the Catholics (as well as many Protestants) surely must have been enamored of this vision to some degree. Yet it is obvious that men (and women) are not made only of 'ideas' and 'information', and hence the production of items cannot be so casually ignored from any economic equation.
This ideology, its glossing over critical elements of the economy and the consequent 'logical' exportation of industrial facilities abroad, is also reflected here in Puerto Rico--particularly in Richard Carrion's decision to support the sale of the PRTC. While the decision seemed 'logical' within the ideological structures and mental structure of the particular variant of capitalism--the sole focus on dollars and cents--it in fact constituted one of the most blatant mistakes in our national history. What could have become a miniature engine of sustained economic growth based on the development of native science and technology, was sold away as if it were a mere commodity item on the stock exchange. Yet opportunities like those which embodied the PRTC seldom occur anywhere. History, contrary to what a businessman is accustomed to, is not the endless repetition of cycles. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that even if we (Puerto Rico) were to try to regain this industry, it is too late. The costs of acquisition, the complex tapestry of bureaucratic red tape it would have to go through is so large, the absence of popular support and concern equally pathetic, that the sale is nearly impossible to undo. We gave away our golden goose, which we had only 'by accident' acquired--and now are scavenging for answer to find new sources of sustained income.
It does increasingly appear to be the case that what occurred in Puerto Rico--a small island with fixed resources--is what has generally been occurring in the United States at a much larger scale. The sole emphasis on dollars and cents, a shallow perspective that little considers the fundamental understructures of economic development and change, have been leading to a slow but persistent 'de-modernization' at a massive scale in the United States. The Internet is not a means of economic development by any means; rather it is the vehicle of psychological release by a class that has been consistently loosing space in the national economy. The only individuals who make money from the process are those who sell services to this afflicted middle class with no-where to go. The fomented ideal of "democracy of free expression" really becomes for the therapeutic space for the release of anger; were it not to exist, certainly the incidents of violence in a population would be even higher than they actually are. The internet, as it were--just like commodity capitalism which keeps consumers satisfied with their unsatisfactory lives (Rostow)--is merely the lid of a pressure cooker which serves to contain the traumatic forces within it.
North American leaders have, like night insects, been seduced by capitalism into a state of conformity without realizing the menacing jaws which have increasingly surrounded them. Little do they realize the trap they have fallen into.