I was tempted this morning to jump into the discussion on prematurity in science, but instead as I read the Washington Post I was struck by the storyline "Venezuela Poised to Hand Chavez Wide-Ranging Powers." I read on and learned of sweeping nationalizations of key industries and that Chavez will radically reshape Venezuela's politics and economic system to be "an alternative to US capitalist policies."
How is this possible? Haven't we been there and done that to the tune of economic stagnation and political tyranny in the Soviet socialist experiment? Are we so oblivious to the evidence on the political economy of socialism that the delusional and romantic rhetoric of socialist economic planning, egalitarianism and global justice can still ignite fires in the minds of men?
The problem might be slightly different than that and instead be related to the bad faith policies engaged in by the capitalist countries of the US and UK --- especially the US. Do we really follow "capitalist policies" in the US?
My colleague in the School of Public Policy Hilton Root --- actually Hilton and I were fellows together at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace in 1992-93 --- has a new book manuscript The Curse of Alliances which directly challenges the presumption that the US has promoted open markets and democracy throughout the world. Instead, our foreign aid/foreign policy record is one of proping up autocratic tyrants and dolling out contracts to politically favored international corporations. Crony-capitalism has discredited true capitalism, and geo-politics has prevented the rise of freedom.
Once we think seriously about these issues --- and I think Chris Coyne's After War is one of the most serious efforts in recent years to challenge the presumptions of US foreign policy --- we come to the conclusion fairly quickly that whatever we may be doing with US policy, we certainly are NOT promoting open markets and open politics in countries throughout the world. No wonder capitalism doesn't inspire the populations of many less developed economies. Open markets and open politics can be inspiring forces in the world, but special cronyism and geopolitics rather than inspire can fuel hatred and resentment through generating a sense of outrage at the injustice of it all.