During the era of perestroika, under Gorbachev, many people experienced a sudden “break in consciousness”, as realisation dawned that the fall was imminent. But until then most people behaved, spoke and even thought as if the Soviet system was permanent. And despite their cynicism about its brutality, they went on parades, participated in meetings and performed the rituals demanded by the state.
Since Trump’s victory in November 2016, it has become possible to believe a similar collapse will happen in the west, to globalisation and liberal values.
The parallels are obvious. We too have lived for 30 years under an economic system that proclaimed its own permanence. Globalisation was an unstoppable natural process; free-market economics simply the natural state of things.
Yes, yes, an economic system which managed no increase at all in total factor productivity in its 70 years of existence is just the same, exactly so, as an economic system which in 30 years has produced the greatest reduction in human poverty in the history of our species.
No, seriously, it’s exactly the same.