In 1989, with the decline and imminent collapse of state socialism in the Soviet Union and China, as well as the turning of so many states that had once been authoritarian and/or had intervened actively in the economy to a model of liberal democracy and free markets, the American intellectual and State Department employee Francis Fukuyama declared â€œthe end of history.â€ By this, he meant that there were no more grand ideas on the reorganization of societyâ€”liberal democracy and free markets had come to be the ideal to which all states aspired. As the Soviet Unionâ€™s state socialism disintegrated by late 1991, it seemed that Fukuyamaâ€™s prediction had come true. There was, it seemed, no alternative to this form of globalization.
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A couple years back, I attended an event launching a two-disc DVD about the life and work of Ernest Mandel, a Marxist activist and theoretician. One of the scenes from a film features Mandel in a debate, saying with force and clarity:
According to the statistics of UNICEF, every year 16 million children die from hunger or curable diseases in the third world. This means that every four years there is an equal number of deaths of children as all the deaths of World War II, Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the Bengal famine combined. Every four years a world war against children. There you have the world reality of imperialism and capitalism in a nutshell.
The figure is now, according to UNICEF, about 9.2 million children who every year die “largely preventable deaths.” But that’s only children under the age of five. It’s difficult to find statistics that deal with everyone above the age of five. Every seven years a world war against children.