Economic models –understood as a particular form of relationship between its different actors, sectors and productive forces– are not born to last forever and ever. They arise as a response to previous situations and have their period of boom, splendor or full performance and, finally, they decline as a consequence of external situations against which they have no response or adaptation capacity, or internal situations generated due to the dynamics of the model itself.
Let’s put some examples. The Soviet Union, at a certain moment in its history, imposed on its entire population what was called a forced industrialization model, which allowed that nation, mostly made up at that time by an immense mass of peasants, to have a heavy industry, highly focused on the production of weapons. This allowed him not only to defend his country from the ravages of Nazism during World War II, but it also enabled him to take his army to the very center of Berlin, thereby ending that international war. The forced industrialization model served the Soviet Union successfully during that period of its history, even with the high costs that were paid for it.
But in the following decades it was no longer possible to continue with the same model. It was necessary to change towards a model that allowed increasing the consumption of a new generation of citizens, heirs of forced industrialization and the victory against Nazism, but that aspired to substantial increases in their material living conditions, which was exacerbated by the compared to consumption levels in developed countries. Regardless of the subsequent course of events in the Soviet Union, it was clear that the conditions that made a model such as forced industrialization possible and desirable had ceased, and that change was inevitable.
Also in Latin America, in the course of the 20th century, what was called the model of substitution industrialization –or inward development– was known, which fostered the birth of an internal industry, the development of an industrial working class and the irruption in politics and in the history of a thriving middle class. This model brought with it high rates of economic growth and social inclusion, but there came a time when this nascent industry showed its weaknesses, its lack of competitive capacity at an international level, its tendency to concentrate income and its inability to continue driving the country to higher levels of productivity and development. The old model was eclipsed and the need for new directions became evident.
For better or for worse, the model called neoliberal, or extractivist, or primary exporter was imposed in Chile and Latin America. Whatever it is called, a model in which the possibilities of growth and development of a country like Chile rested on its openness and integration, in the most liberal terms possible, to international trade and finance, and in which the productive structure and exports was determined on the basis of the natural advantages that each country had, without the State regulating or promoting courses different from those imposed by the national or international market.
This model allowed –once released from the limitations imposed by the dictatorship– high rates of economic growth, high levels of increase in exports and foreign investment, a drop in poverty rates and an increase in wages. That model, as well as many others, gave of itself everything it could give in its heyday.
But so far in the 21st century, this model has highlighted its limitations and problems, so as to continue being the road map for the development of Chile and the world. A planet without trade barriers, in which each country inserts itself according to its natural advantages, gave way to a geopolitically divided world, with powerful nations waging an increasingly less silent economic war against each other and trying to drag the rest of the countries into it.
A world in which each country imposes economic sanctions on others without caring at all about the appeals to free trade, which was the sacrosanct creed a few decades ago. A planet at war, in which trade is part of it. An international context threatened by climate, food, health, technological and social changes –which the prevailing model produces and increases– and which no one can control or dominate for the benefit of all humanity. A world presided over by the interests of high banking and financial corporations that in their irresponsible game drag the rest of the countries and that, when they enter into crisis, appeal to save themselves for the support of those governments and States that were supposed to be mere spectators. of the functioning of the markets.
That model is in crisis and there is no possibility of it being reborn from its ashes. Clinging to it, as the only thing known and certain, is only the manifestation that always in history there are social, political and economic sectors that cling to the past, with which they manage to slow down and painful the changes, but never stop them. But change, even though it is inevitable, is not easy nor does it have a set path, but rather involves risks, creativity and courage.