Capitalist and socialist stupid debate

I just enjoyed holidays on Workers’ Day. It was great.

If we compare the capitalism practiced in most of the current developed economies of the World with capitalism practiced in the beginning of the 20th century we can clearly see the achievements of those unionized movements still in place today. People often had to work 12, 14 or even 16 hours per day just to get a miserable salary, while vacations practically didn’t exist. Capital was just as wild as current Chinese 21st century “pro-market-communists” (what a weird combination of words!) where people currently work 12, 14 or 16 hours per day without vacation (!).

If Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were standing in the same place where Chinese officials built a statue for them in Shanghai, I’m sure they would go crazy :-).

Statue of Marx and Engels downtown Shanghai

With the statue of Marx and Engels downtown Shanghai

I always thought it strange – almost humiliating, let’s say – to see the statue of a Prussian philosopher and a German-English philosopher in the middle of the “World’s Central State” (China in Chinese) telling them what to do with their destiny (“Couldn’t they figure out by themselves?!?” I wondered).

So now, instead of private-capitalists making slaves out of Chinese people, Chinese Communist Party public-capitalists do it better, and systematically (much more efficient this way). Looks like we are lead to believe that this is the price that Chinese people have to play before they can exercise opinions about their destiny (a kind of “slave first, voice later”).

More non-sense hypocrisy is seen when you visit (I did it) the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing and read the founding plaque at the Party:

Sign at the entrance of the Chinese Communist Party founding place.

Sign at the entrance of the Chinese Communist Party founding place: “The founding of the Communist Party of China is the inevitable outcome of the development of China’s modern history”.

You can almost taste a scary Vendetta kind of Chinese movement coming someday, don’t you think? I’m sure the first deep economic problem the Communist Party face, they will evoke this “history” to blame somebody from abroad.

But for me, much more non-sense than all of that Chinese bullshit together is the current debate about right and left-wing parties in Europe (France, Germany, Greece and Spain, for example) and in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, etc).

Every time I see a stupid debate between #Sarkozy and #Hollande or between #Rajoy and #Rubalcabar I’m sure they are just playing roles to put people against each other for their own – or their Party’s own – joy or sake. After all, they will all have to play the capitalist game.

Some days ago I saw some flags of the old Soviet Union defending more socialist actions from European governments. I was thinking: “- Are you kidding me? Tell me, who the hell think that a hammer and a sickle still represent European workers these days?!?”

Flag of the Soviet Union

Flag of the Soviet Union

If these leftists Santa-Claus-believers think that socialism or capitalism are still something to debate about these days, at least they should update their flags with something that would make more sense to people in this continent. I even came up with a suggestion to these dinosaurs:

Newton's proposal for a new flag for vintage leftists

Newton's proposal of a new flag for nostalgic leftists

Should I still explain why I made myself a member of the Green Party?

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We all want to be young!

The first video exposed by this post was published in the end of 2010 by the Brazilian born research/consulting group BOX1824. It shows how new generations – including those in emerging economies – are being heavily influenced by new technologies, and how they theoretically influence older and younger generations. Although a bit Americanized in its first parts, I think most of its arguments are valid and pretty updated, specially for middle and upper social classes.

The lighter but somehow interesting Chinese version came out just few days ago. It is interesting to see how researchers leaded by firms from two large “emerging” markets like Brazil and China observe the parts of the same phenomenon.

Entrepreneurship and Latinity

As I travel around and read about capitalism I can’t avoid seeing some patterns in the recent development of some regions. Entrepreneurial ventures in Latin culture-based countries with long Catholic tradition are different from those created under other social contexts and I believe that at least two former state cities of Asia exposed to European Anglo-Saxon and European Latin cultures in the last centuries can be used to illustrate that: Macau and Hong Kong. Macau as a former Portuguese colony and therefore exposed to an European Latin set of values and Hong Kong as a former British colony, exposed to an European Anglo-Saxon set of values. Both cities are located in the delta of the same river, the Pearl River in China, lying down just in front of each other. Both cities were passed to Chinese authorities recently, Macau in 1999 and Hong Kong in 1997 after many decades or even centuries of foreign European rule. The Portuguese established a permanent settlement in Macau in 1557 and Hong Kong was occupied by the British in 1841, both as commercial trade posts between Europe and Asia. Nowadays, it is interesting to witness the urban and material result of the development of these two societies in loco, through satellite images from Google Earth or even through typical tourist pictures of both cities’ downtown.

First picture: Downtown Macau, by Holger Mette.
Second picture: Downtown Hong Kong by Oksana Perkings.

Despite of obvious historical differences between the commercial power of the Portuguese and the British empires along the last centuries, both regions developed together, exposed more or less to the same kind of trade until the first half of the 20th century. Since the British took over, the people from Hong Kong enjoyed a freer economic environment than the people from Macau, but that was not an important variable to their history until the Chinese communist revolution of 1949 took place and both regions attracted capitalists from all over China. With preference for the British settlement, which was more business friendly, Hong Kong became one of the world’s leading financial centers and ranked the freest market in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom for 15 consecutive years (The Economist), disputing today this position with Singapore, not coincidently another former British settlement. In 2009, for example, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the 6th largest in the world, raised 22% of the worldwide IPO capital. Under the official policy of positive non-interventionism, Hong Kong is often cited as a successful example of laissez-faire capitalism. Not surprisingly, the same phenomenon can be observed when comparing the development of Goa in India to Mumbai or East Timor to Singapore, the last both in the neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia.

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Dilma Rousseff’s “Entrepreneurial State”

Mrs. Dilma Rousseff is the person Brazil’s president Lula has chosen to try substitute him in next 2010 Brazilian October elections. If it was not by the corruption scheme that was unveiled by the congress and press with government leaders in 2006, José Dirceu should be probably the person in that position. Both represent Lula’s Workers Party (PT – Partido dos Trabalhadores) goal to keep the party in power and implement more “social-oriented” and “progressist” governmental policies. How they are going to do that?

According to Dilma’s latest statements, through the implementation of an “entrepreneurial government”, that will define national investment priorities and help the business community to do their job “better”. My greatest deception with that view is that politicians believe to be ideological gate keepers of stupid outdated conceptions of development. Someone said that the devil is bad because he is old. Dilma’s and Dirceu’s view of the role of the State in the economy scares me not only because their view is old, but also because it leaves a very small and restricted space for human freedom and creativity.

I am not a liberal, I do not believe in the market capacity to fix everything but I do not believe either in the politicians that declare to help people by limiting their freedom. I dare to say that the current Brazil is already more “communist” than China. In China, companies share the management and the profits with government. In Brazil, big, medium and small companies are slaves of the government. In China, this norm is openly known by the market, in Brazil, the tax burden is amazingly hidden behind dozens of norms permeating whole production chains. If that make people’s life better, I doubt, but that certainly make politician’s life better. This would not be a problem if you had honest politicians usually in place. Unfortunately, however, that is not what happens. Politics are humans after all, and usually, they are old people (if you understand what I mean).

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