Definitely not the best of times
Updated: 2013-08-05 09:13
By Op Rana (China Daily)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, wrote Charles Dickens about the cities of London and Paris, more than a century and half ago. And yet it describes the world we live in today.
It is indeed the best of times for some - the rich - and the worst of times for everyone else, especially the poor. This is the age of wisdom, thanks to the all-round advancement we've made - from science and technology to economics and sociology - and yet it is also the age of foolishness, as is evident in the way we use our vast treasure of knowledge. There is every reason for us to believe in the future and there is every reason for us to live in suspended disbelief given the way the self-appointed masters of our destiny are treating the world. There is light, and only light, for a "chosen" few and there is nothing but darkness for the rest. And there is hope and heaven only for those "chosen" few. The rest have nothing but despair and.
The "masters of wisdom", the economists, never had it so good. Of course, they have been deciding the fate of trade and business since the days of Adam Smith. And of course, John Maynard Keynes had his decades of glory following the Great Depression, although he had to contend with the battering ram of Friedrich von Hayek. Well, Hayek and his able disciple, Milton Friedman, "patiently protected a pure version of capitalism, untarnished by Keynesian attempts to pool collective wealth to build more just societies" during those dark days of laissez faire, as Naomi Klein says in The Shock Doctrine.
Friedman unleashed this "pure version of capitalism" first in Latin America and later in Eastern Europe to devastating effect. Latin American countries, from Argentina and Brazil to Chile and Peru, became economic skeletons of themselves after the Friedman onslaught. Poland was robbed of its resources, so was Russia (look at the number of oligarchs that Russia threw up in just a few years). African countries didn't escape the fury of the Friedman assault either.