Thursday, January 05, 2006

Why aren't we all capitalists yet?

Just had a conversation with a fellow Bostonian-Indonesian regarding the left-wing governments in Latin America. The triumph of Bolivia's Evo Morales made the fourth left-wing governments in the region, after Brazil's Lula da Silva, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Argentina's Néstor Kirchner. Michelle Bachelet, of the center-left Concertación coalition looks almost certain to be the next Chilean president.

As I told my friend, the triumph of the left-wing parties does not mean the triumph of socialism. Lula's economic policy has been very conservative. It pays, though, by controlled inflation. His predecessor, Cardoso, was even the famous dependency theorist back in the '60s. Nevertheless, Cardoso appeared to have unsubscribed from his ideology when he became the president.

Apart from making controversial statements about the U.S. and appearing as a populist leader, no significant brekathrough from Chavez. And in Chile, despite ruled by the center-left party for the past few years, the country was one success story about establishing the fully-funded pension system. Something even have yet to happen in the U.S. And Mrs. Bachelet's economic advisor during the campaign is my Harvard Professor Andres Velasco, who is far from a left-winger in economic term.

Evo Morales is an interesting story (read a piece written by my leftist friend's blog). His first action was to cut the presidential salary (yes, his own) by almost a half. We'll see how he can write the success story of a modern left-wing government. Nevertheless, the instrumentalist and structuralist Marxians have long argued that once one become the ruler, he or she will either act as a capitalist (structuralist), or become the instrument of the capitalist (instrumentalist). Meanwhile, Maggie Thatcher once said, "There is no alternative (other than capitalism)!"

I am no Thatcheriam, nor a Marxian of any branches. But I'd say, unless you disagree that men are rational and will maximize own interest, why people still do not trust market economy?

By the way, A friend of mine forwarded a newspaper story that a former left-wing activist has been appointed commisionner of PT Pos Indonesia. I should've cheered that decision, but in fact I feel a bit sad. Read my personal take on it in my Gallery of Mind.

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