Saturday, May 23, 2009

The fate of freedom when China and India shall dominate the world- part 2

Note: Part 1- Alternate history-If the Soviet Russia had triumphed of this essay is here.

Part 2-Alternate history vs. Reality

All right, enough said! Trouble with alternate history is that one can get carried away and go on and on. One can also dispute our imagined version of events -this or that might or might not have happened. However what concerns us is the broad trend of history not that any particular event might have occurred in this way or that. The woods and not the trees, as they say.

This alternate version may now seem highly improbable and may appear that it could never have happened. But during the cold war there have been times when the West was demoralized, morally weak and militarily tired and the Soviet power appeared unvanquishable. Such a mood was encapsulated in films like 'Red Dawn'(1984)and in the darkly pessimistic tone of that fine book by the French philosopher Jean Fran├žois Revel -How Democracies Perish (also 1984).

It is the contention of this essay that had the USSR won the cold war in the manner that the USA did (or in any manner at all), the world would have become much less democratic over time, with various curtailments of freedoms even in the traditionally democratic regimes. There would have come about no worldwide liberalization of the economy, no globalization except the immense strengthening of global communist movements. For the purpose of equivalence with what actually happened we had assumed that the economies of the West had collapsed. However given the record of the command and control system of economics, there would have followed no amelioration in the global economy after the global triumph of communism -on the contrary, as the evidence of almost whole of the 20th century shows, the economic situation would have become dire.

Compare this to the actual events that followed the triumph of America in the cold war- for the first time in a long, long time (and for the first time ever in many cases) the peoples and nations of Eastern Europe gained true freedom from Russian dominance. Most of them quickly turned to democracy, capitalism and a general atmosphere of freedom. Many central Asian nations also broke away from the bear's stifling grip but with less success in turning to democracy. But even these in general were better off than under the Soviet yoke- there now existed the possibility that they might reform some day under pressure from the West, a chance that was non-existent under the Soviet rule. Nations world over in scores turned to more liberal economies and opened up in various degrees. Globalization and planet wide swing towards free markets led to lifting up the standard of living on a vast scale. In India and China this led to the phenomenal lifting out of poverty of hundreds of millions. And despite its unchallenged and extremely vast military power, and despite what we had heard for forever from the media-intellectual-academic axis, the allegedly 'hegemonic' America refused to take over the world. In fact it began to dismantle a large part of its conventional and nuclear forces. Free markets and democracy now seemed to be so obviously the best and the only benevolent system of governance that Francis Fukuyama declared, well, the end of history.

Coming up- Part 3: The fundamental struggle is between freedom and slavery