Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How Has The Transition to Capitalism And Democracy Worked Since The Fall Of The Berlin Wall?

There was a strong expectation that Eastern Europe would prosper and that democracy would flourish after the fall of the Berlin wall and the transition to democratic capitalism took root.  This article by and Eastern European economist, who worked for the World Bank, is his report card on the transition.  The article contains detail on each of the countries that underwent the transition.  I have copied his summation below:

"So, what is the balance-sheet of transition? Only three or at most five or six countries could be said to be on the road to becoming a part of the rich and (relatively) stable capitalist world. Many are falling behind, and some are so far  behind that they cannot aspire to go back to the point where they were when the Wall fell for several decades. Despite philosophers of “universal harmonies” such as Francis Fukuyama, Timothy  Garton  Ash, Vaclav Havel, Bernard Henry Lévy, and scores of international  “economic advisors” to Boris Yeltsin,  who all phantasized about democracy and prosperity, neither really arrived for most people in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The Wall fell only for some." 

The report card contains information about economic convergence between Eastern Europe and the richer nations in OECD.  It provides a grade for each country:  There are a handful of nations that have converged, but most of the countries have yet to reach the income level that they had prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.  There has been little growth in income equality in most nations.  The transition to democracy has not been smooth in most countries.  With exception of Putin in Russia, most of the national leaders are not recognized inside or outside of Eastern Europe.  Sadly, with only a handful of exceptions,  the intellectual contributions of Eastern Europe to science, mathematics, art, music and literature have been insignificant.  One can only look back to the rich intellectual contributions from this part of the world as a memory.

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