MADRID – The triumph of democracy and market-based economics – the “End of History,” as the American political philosopher Francis Fukuyama famously called it – which was proclaimed to be inevitable with the fall of the Berlin Wall, soon proved to be little more than a mirage. However, following China’s intellectual pirouette to maintain one-party rule while embracing the capitalist credo, history’s interpreters shifted their focus to the economy: not everybody would be free and elect their government, but capitalist prosperity would hold sway worldwide.
Now, however, the economic tumult shaking Europe, the erosion of the middle class in the West, and the growing social inequalities worldwide are undermining capitalism’s claim to universal triumph. Hard questions are being asked: Is capitalism as we know it doomed? Is the market no longer able to generate prosperity? Is China’s brand of state capitalism an alternative and potentially victorious paradigm?