Contratos sociales tambaleantes

Londres – "Enriquézcanse", les dijo Deng Xiaoping de China a sus compatriotas cuando empezó a desmantelar el fallido modelo socialista de Mao Zetung. En rigor de verdad, las elites en todas partes siempre han vivido según este mandato, y al pueblo nunca le importó demasiado, siempre que las elites cumplieran con su parte del trato: proteger al país de sus enemigos y mejorar las condiciones de vida. Es este contrato social implícito lo que hoy se ve amenazado por el colapso económico.  

Por supuesto, los términos del contrato varían según el lugar y el momento. En la Europa del siglo XIX, se esperaba que los ricos fueran frugales. Se evitaba el consumo conspicuo. Se suponía que los ricos debían ahorrar gran parte de sus ingresos, ya que el ahorro era tanto un fondo para la inversión como una virtud moral. Y, en los días previos al estado benefactor, también se esperaba que los ricos fueran filántropos.

En la cultura de la oportunidad de Estados Unidos, en cambio, se toleraba más el consumo conspicuo. El alto nivel de gasto era una marca de éxito: lo que los norteamericanos exigían de sus ricos era que fueran emprendedores conspicuos.

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