Los barcos en llamas de la democracia

CHICAGO – Desde finales del decenio de 1970, la difusión en el mundo académico de la teoría de los juegos ha movido a los macroeconomistas a subrayar la importancia del “compromiso”, estrategia encaminada a aumentar los resultados económicos a largo plazo limitando la discrecionalidad de las autoridades. Es una idea que parece ilógica: ¿cómo se va a producir más con menos?

Aunque no sea históricamente exacto, uno de los mejores ejemplos de compromiso estratégico lo constituye la leyenda de Hernán Cortés, según la cual, en su intento de conquistar México, decidió quemar las naves que habían llevado a su expedición desde España. En un principio, podría parecer una iniciativa disparatada: ¿por qué destruir intencionalmente la única forma posible de huida en caso de derrota? Al parecer, Cortés lo hizo para motivar a sus tropas. Sin una vía de escape, los soldados estaban muy motivados para vencer. Cuentan que Alejandro el Grande hizo algo similar durante la conquista de Persia.

Para dar resultado, una estrategia de compromiso debe ser creíble, es decir, que no se pueda invertir rápidamente. En ese sentido, la estrategia de Cortés era perfecta: en caso de derrota, los españoles no tendrían tiempo para reconstruir los barcos quemados. Para funcionar adecuadamente, una estrategia de compromiso debe ser también costosa en caso de fracaso: si Cortés hubiera perdido, ningún soldado español habría escapado vivo. Ese costo precisamente fue el que motivó a sus soldados.

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