The Fall of the Iron Curtain and the Battle of Ideologies

Some time ago, Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed that “the end of history” was upon us; with the fall of the Soviet Union, the battle over people’s hearts and minds had finally been settled.

Capitalism had won.
Or so it seemed.

The world today is run by different governments, each with their own unique economic agenda. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, the world was largely divided between two ideological camps: the Soviet-led Communist bloc (central planning, state-ownership, scientific socialism) and the West (free-market capitalism, private ownership, innovation.)

According to Fukuyama, we were to see the dawn of an era where American capitalism would envelop the world. Furthering Fukuyama’s thesis, Thomas Friedman, a journalist for the New York Times, proclaimed that this new paradigm, coupled with the advent and proliferation of IT, would bring about a “flattening of the playing field.”

Both Fukuyama and Friedman envisioned a world where the world would be governed by very similar sets of economic and political policies.

But do we live in an era where the economic policies of each country are largely the same? Do we live in an era where travelers face the same consumption tax anywhere in the world? Do we live in an era where the income tax is the same across the board?

The answer to all of the questions above is, quite obviously, no.

If anything, the battle of ideologies has become far more complicated than ever before. The fall of Soviet-Russia had created a large ideological void that would span half the world. We see today the gradualist, central-planning of China, the fiscal-stimulus obsessed Keynesian policies of Japan, and even the birth of resource-nationalism of the OPEC states.

With the fall of the ideological schism has come a new time in which it’s become far more complicated to differentiate one set of ideas from another. What, exactly, is socialism? What, exactly, is a democratic country? When every sociologist has his own pet-plan that he brands as a new form of socialism, and where both China and America openly proclaim to be democratic countries, we see the rise of great paradoxes and the nullification of meaning in socioeconomic terminology.

The iron curtain has fallen, but now in its wake many new curtains of different shades and variety lie fluttering in every pane.

//By Ryo TAKAHASHI

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