Fall of the Berlin Wall, crisis of 2008: the double shock at the origin of the crisis of liberal democracies

Fall of the Berlin Wall, crisis of 2008: the double shock at the origin of the crisis of liberal democracies

Unlike the fall of the Berlin Wall which shaped our world without anyone being able to ignore it, the 2008 crisis caused a silent shock: a belief system collapsed but financial capitalism itself is remained firmly installed.

Jean-Marc Siroën & nbsp; is an economist. He currently teaches at Paris Dauphine University and is a professor in the Department of Organizational Sciences. He is a specialist in international economics. He also participates in the ...

Eddy Fougier is a political scientist, associate researcher at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations (Iris). Specialist in movements challenging globalization, he is the author of several works on these themes: & nbsp; Dictionary ...

Jean-Marc Siroën: & nbsp; The fall of the Berlin Wall completes the victory of the Western model over the Soviet system. It made it possible to propagate democracy and the market economy and fed the illusion, theorized by the philosopher Francis Fukuyama, that the end of the East-West confrontation would lead to an “end of history”. forgetting that it was not just ideological. From the 1990s to 2001 - the attacks of September 11 - the governance of the World, ruled by the big powers, has effectively declined in favor of multilateralism reincarnated in particular by the creation of the WTO, ambitious debt reduction programs for countries in development, aid provided to countries in transition with the trade and financial opening of most of the World as a counterpart.

The fall of the Berlin Wall exposed the catastrophic toll of planned economy systems and the horror of post-Stalinist totalitarianism. These models appeared irreformable. Of course, this rallying to the principles of the market economy and to democracy has aroused greater adherence to the main principles of the Western model, as evidenced by the decline of the Communist and even Social Democratic parties. However, what type of model has triumphed? The post-Bretton Woods model based on fixed exchange rates, the control of capital movements, a large public sector and large social transfers or the so-called “neo-liberal” model which takes the opposite view & nbsp; ? When the Berlin Wall fell, it was rather the second model that was essential, with on the one hand the abandonment of the fixed exchange system - from 1973 - which freed up the international movements of capital making the exchange rate a variable and, on the other hand, the "thatchero-reaganism" which entrusts regulation to the market and moves the "western model" a little further away from the Soviet state model. But in these developments, globalization does not enter as easily as that in the neoliberal bible. Financialisation is more noted than advocated in its ideological baggage (even if, pragmatically, it facilitates the financing of budget deficits). Even President Reagan supports tough protectionist measures. In the project that asserted itself in the 1980s, lower taxes, the weakening of the welfare state and denationalization count much more than globalization! On this subject, the leaders could well say, like Jean Cocteau & nbsp ;: "& nbsp; Since these mysteries go beyond us, let us pretend to be the organizer. & Nbsp;"

Mathieu Mucherie: & nbsp; We already have an ode to "happy globalization" or to the great technological change in happiness, in the end of ideologies, we already had this discourse before 1989. The intellectual limits are already posed in the years 1960-1970. The Goldwater campaign took place in 1964. Law, legislation and freedom of Hayek dates from 1974. Many things happen well before 1989 in this movement.

1989 is particular especially in France: it was not until this date that a certain number of people realized that communism did not work. In the free world and in the Anglo-Saxon world, it had been a long time since Brezhnevian communism had been buried. Many people had already predicted it: futurologists had understood that with the advent of the information society was going to change two or three little things. Already, at Asimov, in the 1960s, you can find things that herald the 2000s. In France, we are a little in a different case, because our thinkers are people like Attali, and they have were a little surprised because they predicted a terminal glaciation. We must remember all the reactions of the Chancelleries and the Quai d'Orsay when Ronald Reagan dared to say, in 1987, about the wall: "Tear down this wall", because, in essence, its existence is ridiculous. The people at the Quai d'Orsay were wind up against this idea, for fear of the geopolitical complexity of the dismantling. The French doxa was not at all in the idea of ​​accelerated dismantling. The intellectual conditions were therefore well established before 1989.

Eddy Fougier: & nbsp; Sure. It was a few months after the famous article by Francis Fukuyama, published in the National Interest, about the end of the story, which he then transformed into a work. It is evident that at the time, at least in the Western world, dominated the idea that the West, their political and economic system, had prevailed, over fascism and Nazism during the Second World War, and over the communism. This collapse of the wall validated Fukuyama's hypothesis, according to which it was enough to disseminate to the whole of the world, in particular to third world countries, the principle of the market economy and liberal and pluralist democracy. It was enough to open up political systems and economies for prosperity and peace to prevail. We had the feeling, at the time, that Emmanuel Kant's ideals on perpetual peace were going to be realized. One of the buzzwords at the time was "peace dividends". The end of the arms race made it possible to devote, according to some, resources to other issues. & Nbsp;

There was hope which was not only reflected in the reunification of Germany and Europe, but also in the rapprochement between North Korea and South Korea. There has been a fundamental change in South Africa with the release of Mandela; there was a rapprochement between the Palestinians and the Israelis which led to the Oslo Accords. There was this feeling that we were going towards a happy globalization but also towards peace thanks to the collective security supposed to guarantee it. The symbol of this is the intervention after Saddam Hussein's attempted annexation of Kuwait and George Bush's famous speech. So we were there in 1989. & nbsp;

Obviously, we were largely disillusioned during the following two decades. Especially on the issue of security. We were unable to stop the fighting in the former Yugoslavia, in Algeria, let alone Rwanda, and very quickly the failure of the American intervention in Somalia in 1992-1993 very quickly led the West to postpone the collective security in the drawers. On the side of globalization, there were many crises in the 1990s, which did not necessarily concern western countries, but especially emerging countries: Mexico in 1994, in 1997, Argentina and Russia . We quickly became disillusioned with the matter, even if indeed in the 2000s, some spoke of the golden age, such as the director of the BIS in 2007.

Jean-Marc Siroën: & nbsp; Did the fall of the Berlin Wall accelerate globalization? There is indeed a certain concomitance: explosion of capital movements, increase in world trade. There is also a theoretical justification drawn from Fukuyama-style liberal philosophy: trade, peace and democracy are self-sustaining and, therefore, markets are global before they are national. Alain Minc’s book on Happy Globalization appeared in 1997, so quite late, and it shouldn’t be believed that “belief” was so widely shared. During this period, the challenge to globalization has grown at the same time & nbsp; globalization itself: demand for a "Tobin tax", this "grain of sand" in financial globalization, structuring of NGOs and alter-globalist unions (AFL-CIO in the United States), riots in Seattle at the occasion of a WTO conference in 1999 etc. However, if the happiness of globalization is very moderately perceived in the West, the economic opening of emerging and transition countries has accompanied strong economic growth and a fairly spectacular reduction in poverty. Those who believed most in “happy” globalization are not found in the West but in China, India, Brazil…

Is the 2008 crisis a crisis of globalization? Not completely. It broke out in 2007 in the United States with the “subprime” crisis, which was primarily a national crisis which did not owe much to globalization since it linked American creditors to American debtors (households in debt to occasion of a real estate purchase). Financial globalization only intervenes insofar as debts do not remain in America but, by obscure mechanisms, are found in the portfolio of French, German or Japanese financial institutions ... which transforms a local crisis which is ultimately quite minor in major systemic crisis. This therefore appears more as a consequence of the shortcomings of American financial regulations - and the market's inability to fill them - than of globalization. It is not, however, about exempting it: it bears its share of responsibility not only by facilitating the spread of crises but also by imposing competition between financial institutions which makes it more difficult to adopt national regulations. & Nbsp;

What the crisis did show, however, was rather the general disarray of the elite to overcome it. It was able to avoid the catastrophe, but failed to complete it since the central banks fail to free themselves from "unconventional" policies. In fact, if the World did not find the major financial crises until 1987, policies have always responded in the same way: monetary easing (possibly accompanied by a short-term fiscal stimulus) with lower interest rates and injecting liquidity that promotes financial speculation or risk-taking, widens inequalities and triggers & nbsp; another crisis when interest rates go up. In this mechanism, financial globalization has its responsibility, but we could just as well & nbsp; invoke insufficient globalization, that which, beyond the soothing G20 declarations, would go much further in the harmonization of market regulations. & nbsp;

Mathieu Mucherie: & nbsp; The 2008 crisis was foreseen by many people, like many crises. I say for example from my side that the euro today is not sustainable, that it is a fixed exchange system that will end, like all fixed exchange systems by farting, but it can still hold for fifteen years with patches. I have no idea when it will jump. In 1989, a whole bunch of people said that it would eventually fall. The deepest people predicted the fall of the wall. It was the novelists who predicted the fall of the wall better than the economists. But this literature was unable to tell us how it would explode and how it would explode. & Nbsp; So to repeat your question: there were already, before 2008, people who explained very well that we had a problem of financialization, of monetary imbalance, but obviously they were not able to say when and how. & Nbsp ;

Beliefs since 2008 have not changed that much by the way. According to you, there would be a before 2008 when people believed in free trade and a post-2008 where they no longer believe in it. This is not really the case: there were protectionist tendencies already in many countries, and in mentalities, and among intellectuals, and even among certain economists, before 2008. Trump did not arrive by sky Clear: it was prepared, notably in the field of protectionism, by Obama, who has said many times that a balanced trade is needed, that when there were trade deficits, it was suspect, etc. These are the elements that have been prepared. So there is much more continuity than you would expect. & Nbsp;

But obviously, there are moments of acceleration. 2008 is one of them. The deepest ecology, the millennial tendency to Greta Thunberg, is accelerating today, but comes from the deep ecology of the years 1980-1990. 2008 is an accelerator, especially in the euro zone, because we had two crises. We had 2008 and 2011-2012. Being the only ones to have two attacks, we had a second layer. & Nbsp;

Eddy Fougier: & nbsp; There were challenges to globalization that existed before. Altermondialism had left its mark in 1999 in Seattle. December 1999 was also the very important score achieved by Jörg Haider, and the establishment of a coalition of conservatives, which resulted in sanctions against Austria. We have no doubt gone from a so-called happy globalization situation, because also the development of new technologies had created hope, to something very ambiguous. Then, from 2008, the dark side of globalization became more and more perceptible, at least for those who considered themselves to be the victims, that is to say the popular categories and the part of the middle class that has the feeling of dropping out and which feeds the populist feelings that we know. & nbsp;

Jean-Marc Siröen: & nbsp; The term collapse is exaggerated. If we compare with the 1929 crisis, the institutions have so far been more resilient and some have even strengthened, such as central banks and even certain legislative powers. It is rather the mode of representation that is in crisis: is the traditional democratic system - which can vary from one country to another - adapted? What legitimacy does it confer on decision-makers, whether political or private, whether they are in ministries, administrations, businesses, even the courts, the press, etc.

This legitimacy crisis has multiple causes. Globalization participates in it all the more that it appears brutal and not controlled but one would make a mistake by attributing to it all the responsibility for all the crises: economic, institutional, political, etc. As Schumpeter had shown, "innovation" overturns existing structures in a phenomenon of creative destruction. This must have political answers which have obviously been lacking. Admittedly, this innovative cycle is concomitant with that of globalization but without there being any obvious causal link. The exponential growth of computing capacities not only destabilizes the economy, but the relationship that men have with each other and with their leaders, via social networks. Large digital multinationals have more & nbsp; reshaped the economies that globalization partly by redrawing the contours by bypassing the institutions without them having managed, until now, to regulate them. If the world is struggling to adapt to the digital age, the emergence of "ecological" values ​​appears as another source of delegitimization of institutions that have failed to stop the degradation of nature caused by man. Whether we like it or not, the changes that the protection of the climate or biodiversity would require are as or even more anxiety-provoking than those required by globalization and the digital revolution. & Nbsp;

Mathieu Mucherie: & nbsp; We can criticize for a long time the financialization of minds, the short-termism of bankers, the consanguinity of the financial community, the gap that there is between the sums at stake and the little deep thought that these people have there, who reason like boeotiens, but for practices, but we always need to "leverage", to find financing for his home loans for example. So financial practices haven't changed too much, of course. Where there is an oddity in finance - I see it in my daily life - is that when there was a crisis in 1973-1974, there was a before and an after, because there had lost so much money that they went from the amateurism of traditional finance to something much more mathematical. They went to see people who had built models of understanding of finance, the Fama, Sharpe, Markowitz, etc. They took these models and applied them. Finance then became a matter for mathematicians. I expected after 2008 that there would be a change of cast, a change of paradigm as well. Something of the order of what had happened in 1973. On the contrary, we are in continuity. There have been no new methods, no new generation. It’s always the same people, and doing pretty much the same thing. & Nbsp;

On the other hand, the institutions of which you speak were weakened before 2008. If we except the central banks which somewhere were strengthened by 2008 when they paradoxically did not plan anything, and which are largely responsible for the economic consequences of 2008, most of the institutions were already weakened. They are shaky today, but this does not date for me particularly from 2008. I remind you that the riots against the WTO, it is in 1999 in Seattle, while there is 4% growth in the United States, that all the indicators are well oriented and that the city of Seattle has benefited extraordinarily globalization (Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon). & nbsp;

So if we want to see a contradiction between beliefs in a happy globalization and something else, I would say that it is a contradiction in each of us. People seek globalization, they want it indirectly through their actions. They take advantage of it every day in an incalculable number of practices, of consumption for example, but not only: how to explain if not that they go on a trip to the other side of the world or that they teach English to their children? They therefore seek globalization because it is the only vector for increasing their purchasing power. But ideologically, they want to hit the system because it is globalist, and because there are dimensions in globalism that bother them, anxiety-provoking dimensions: immigration, Asian competition. & Nbsp;

These contradictions are not easy to live for people, especially in France, who have been told about a world that did not happen. Those who believed before 1989 that the fall of the wall could not happen, those who believed in 2011-2012 that the euro protected crises. Ideologically, there were great moments of contortion for these people. 1989 and 2008 are apocalyptic moments, moments of revelation for people whose belief systems were totally false. & Nbsp;

Eddy Fougier: & nbsp; We experienced a recession in 2008-2009, and very quickly a recovery. In terms of representation, this had an impact: many felt that the lessons of the recession, or that the social impacts of the crisis, had not resulted in major changes. We are still paying the price of this perception politically.

There is also to take into account the rise of a generation, the millennials, and which is in another logic, for a large part of them, than that of happy globalization. They have a different approach to consumption, for example. There is also another factor: the rise of concerns related to climate change. The scenario of continuity with the 1989 era is no longer perceived, for a large part of the population, whether by those who feel unhooked, or by millennials, as sustainable. The "we can no longer continue like this" has become generalized. This is what brings us to the current crisis situation, with different political responses. Climate walkers and yellow vests do not have the same aspirations, but there is a general observation: the world left by the fall of the wall, to return to the main theme of the day, is no longer sustainable for many . We also see it with movements that claim illiberalism like Hungary and Poland within the European Union, Hungary and Poland which were the first states to have liberalized. The political and economic model which seemed to have triumphed with the fall of the wall is in crisis, even within the Western world, in particular among these categories which have the impression of being unhooked economically, the yellow vests to make quickly, and on the other hand by the generation of millennials.

Jean-Marc Siroën: & nbsp; I do not think that populism as a rejection of the old elites and federators of popular discontent was born with the crisis. Left-wing populism is a tradition that has never died out, especially in Latin America. As for right-wing populism, it did not wait for the 2008 crisis to conquer power in Italy with Silvio Berlusconi, in Hungary or in Poland and it was in 2002 that Jean-Marie Le Pen was present in the second round of the presidential election. But the 2008 crisis has given populism on the left (especially in Spain, Greece, France) and the right (rather in continental or northern Europe) new opportunities to delegitimize the "system". In itself, "populism" cannot, therefore, & nbsp; by construction, appear as a political solution to the collapse of the values ​​carried by "happy globalization" since it is based on contradictory interests which unite in rejection and not in a clear political doctrine from where the frequent schisms within the populist parties. We have seen this caricatured with the inability of the "yellow vests" to find a political outlet for their challenge. Populism does not say much about the digital revolution and seems extremely embarrassed by the emergence of an environmental challenge which, moreover, could be tempted by adopting a populist posture which would compete with them. On globalization itself, populism is not unified. If in France the populists of left and right (France is undoubtedly the only country which unites the two!) Criticize the European Union for being subject to globalization, the English populists who defended Brexit reproached the same European Union not to be enough! Some populists display their economic liberalism and favor their country's integration into globalization, others reject it. There is therefore not a populism, but a multitude which manages more or less well or more or less for a long time to catalyze worries and discontent.

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I think it is necessary to go back to the "original sin" of 1968: it is indeed at the end of the 2000s and at the very beginning of the current century that our compatriots decerebrated by the pedagogists + the Con-Bandit, J Attali and other BHLs have arrived en masse at positions of responsibility both in the public and in the private sector. No more culture based on history, undereducated teachers (therefore vertical drop in scientific and literary level! Drop in average IQ in schools and colleges following massive invasion of our school cohorts by non-intellectually motivated non-native people) , the loss of family markers (sentimental nomadism, animal-type beddings, dizzying increase in the number of divorces, children AT BEST in alternating custody, at worst abandoned to themselves and worse at their video games); economic abandonment of the European and North American middle classes by their "zelites" in favor of the Chinese and Indian middle classes who are more profitable for their "business plans". In short without tabula rasa that only a General Pierre de Villiers could impose on us, no bcp of issues

to read your "experts" who already have a fairly approximate use of the French language, we note above all that politicians, experts and economists do not really understand much of the evolution of the world and that all together they show extreme naivety, "certain" ignorance in the face of globalization, which seems logical because who can reasonably apprehend phenomena as gigantic, as complex and as borrowed from the irrational when they add up the behaviors of billions of 'people. Marxist or liberal ideology has the merit of "reassuring" by offering turnkey explanations. indeed, "since these things are beyond us, let's pretend to be the organizers" ... or the commentators. that feeds her man both financially and intellectually. who says better?

The socialo-communists after the moment of stupor passed began a work of undermining with regard to our democracies and the amalgam was quickly made with liberalism!

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