Neoliberalism on the Same Old Road to Failure

Elio Delgado Legon

Havana, Cuba

HAVANA TIMES — So much information, so many examples come to mind when one begins to reflect on neoliberalism’s failure that one doesn’t know where to begin. It seems unbelievable that, with so much evidence before it, with so many failures behind it, the capitalist system should continue to insist on going down the same, destructive path.

The United States, the world’s most developed and powerful nation, has not ceased to insist that all other countries in the hemisphere enter into free trade agreements which are ultimately harmful to less developed countries. Mexico and Colombia, whose peasant populations have practically been ruined, are two cases in point.

If the United States were to pursue a more intelligent foreign policy, one which sought to maintain good political and commercial relations with Latin American countries, instead of regarding the region as its “back yard”, as John Kerry recently declared, it would not have lost, as it is doing now, the possibility of doing business with a developing region that could well become, in a few short years, one of the world’s most powerful economic blocs.

Why can’t the United States develop closer ties with Latin America as China, Russia and other countries are doing without seeking to dominate the region? The policy of imposing sanctions and embargos on countries in the region, like the one applied to Cuba, not only causes great harm to the blockaded countries; it also causes great harm to the United States, both politically and economically.

To get a sense of the political panorama, suffice is to follow the UN General Assembly, where members almost unanimously vote each year for the elimination of the blockade imposed on Cuba.

As for the economy, last year, the United States had a trade deficit of 727,900 million dollars, while China had a surplus of 231,100 million. How long can the economy of a country go on like that?  To date, what the United States has done is print more bills and rob the countries it subjugates of its natural resources. There’s a limit to how long you can keep doing these things, however, and that limit is drawing near.

On the other hand, since 2009, China has become the world’s largest exporter, while the United States has become the biggest importer. In addition, China holds the largest reserves of foreign currency and is the United States’ largest creditor.

If we recall that China is also becoming the most important trade partner of several European countries and that it has a greater volume of trade relations than the United States, we must arrive at the conclusion that this Asian giant will soon become the world’s most powerful economy, rising well above the United States, as it has already done in the case of Japan.

The United States has to learn, once and for all, that good relations, be them political or commercial, cannot be established by force, and that excessive military spending prevents the country from investing in human development, something that would improve the lives of its citizens. Instead it projects the image of an empire that only seeks to dominate the rest of the world.

If we add that India will also rise above the United States economically in a few years and that other developing nations are following in its footsteps, we can conclude that it is only through a change of attitude towards the rest of the world, by adopting a friendlier policy towards other countries and developing trade relations on the basis of equality among nations, no matter what their political system, that the United States will be able to improve its image and economy.

If it does not, if it maintains its levels of military spending and persists in its desire to govern the world by force, it will move closer to bankruptcy, discredit and economic collapse every day. It still has time, but not much. To insist on maintaining a failed system is foolish, and there are many intelligent people in the United States – but they must urgently get to work.

9 thoughts on “Neoliberalism on the Same Old Road to Failure

  • With regards to Mexico and Colombia, I read Griffin’s comment to mean ‘economically speaking’. The list of countries without ‘social’ issues is very short, perhaps non-existent. I disagree that Brazil is social-democratic. President Rousseff’s policies are social-democratic but she and her mentor, Lulu, have yet to transform Brazil into the leftist paradise they envision. Cubans have been predicting the demise of the capitalist system since 1959. As both the US and EU economies seem to have turned the corner and appear to be improving, locos like Elio will continue to say the end is near. Then another building in Havana falls down…

  • I think you are stretching the term neo-liberalism a bit here. Brazil is social-democratic as was Chile until recently. Not every country which has a right of center government should be included in this category. It would be regimes like Reagan, Thatcher and Pinochet’s and the Washington Consensus.
    Secondily, if you notice Elio (and the left in general) doesn’t criticize countries like Canada, India, Russia or China because they don’t impose their policies on other countries (ok give or take the odd Chetchnya and Tibet).
    Thirdly I don’t see why you think Colombia and Mexico are a success story. They are countries that are racked by violence, drug wars and extreme inequality and where the governments hardly have control over most of the territory.

  • Also, rather than make a point for his argument against neo-liberalism, India’s recent economic growth is the result of their neo-liberal economic policies. It must be pointed out, India is also a liberal democracy with an active free press. So if Elio is pointing to India as an example for Cuba to follow, then I’m all for it.

    Turning to South America, the countries which have followed neoliberalism (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil ) have expanding economies, while those countries which have taken the socialist path (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador) are lagging the rest. Venezuela in particular is in serious economic crisis.

    I must mention my own country, Canada, which is the quintessential neoliberal country, which leads the G8 in economic growth. We also enjoy free elections, free press, free speech, freedom of association, freedom of travel, independent trade unions, and religious freedom. We also manage to have a publicly funded universal healthcare system and free public education.

    But to Elio, Canada must be a failure while Cuba is a success. It is to cry!

  • All the stats on the internet put it at 23 billion and this is not greater than the UK and Japan combined. Even if it was 40 billion this is nothing – companies in the US have turnover of trillions of dollars.
    But on this and in the original post you are not comparing like for like. As a percentage of GDP it is 0.1 or ranked 21st in the world and way below the United Nations recommendation of 0.7.

  • …and by the way my comment references the authors misinformed, o disingenuous statements on the US economy

  • Yet at almost 40 billion dollars a year the US outspends all those same countries combined in international aid and assistance

  • The US is a highly militarized country. It military spending is two and a half times the next seven or eight high spending countries put together or 43% of the whole worlds spending on defense. Unless they are expecting an invasion from outer space this is extreme folly. Compare this to what they spend on foreign aid – 1% and most of that is highly political and entails massive kickbacks to US firms. Former president Jimmy Carter described the US as the stingiest country on earth.

  • Elio,

    Your assertion on Military Spending is incorrect. A little research would show you that the vast majority of US federal spending (about 55% to be exact) goes towards Social Services; Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, and other “safety net” programs. Indeed annual spending on Medicare, Medicade and CHIP (Children’s Medicade) alone is about 21% which is greater than military spending which accounts for only 19% of Federal Spending. I would hazard to say that it will be spending on social services and not Military spending that will prove problematic for the US in the future.

    By the way I notice you didn’t bother backing up any of your assertions with actual figures. I guess you rely on just “pulling it out of your rear end”, so to speak.

    …just a little suggestion. Wait until Cuba can actually provide it’s own GDP numbers before criticizing any other country’s economy

  • Elio has managed to outdo himself yet again. Economic advice for the US from a Cuban. That’s hilarious!!! OK, a few facts he overlooked: The US economy is at least 2.5 times larger than the Chinese economy. Even by the most optimistic estimates, the Chinese economy could not move to the #1 position until 2035. Recent economic problems in China make that scenario increasingly unlikely. And India? The US economy is six times larger than India’s economy whose social ills are more problematic than even what befalls the US. These statistics are easily and widely found throughout the internet. Here is a link to the Wikileaks site that bears out the real economic standings: The US must begin to do many things differently to remain the world’s economic powerhouse. Elio should take care in licking his chops in hopes of a early demise of the American system. With more than $6 billion in remittances and other economic aid to Cuba from the US, it is clear that an economic misfortune in the US would be disastrous for a beggar nation like Cuba. Careful what you wish for Elio.

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