Paul Lachine

Gaat het staatskapitalisme het pleit winnen?

CAMBRIDGE – Al eeuwenlang wedijveren de economische groeimodellen met elkaar, maar de afgelopen jaren lijkt het staatskapitalisme toch de boventoon te gaan voeren. Terwijl toonbeelden van liberaal kapitalisme (zoals de Verenigde Staten en het Verenigd Koninkrijk) in 2012 opnieuw zwak presteerden, zijn veel Aziatische landen (waar diverse vormen van dirigisme worden toegepast) de afgelopen decennia snel en gestaag gegroeid en hebben deze de recente economisch stormen bovendien verrassend soepel doorstaan. Is het met andere woorden tijd om de economische studieboeken te herzien?

De economische wetenschap beweert feitelijk helemaal niet dat de vrije markt beter werkt dan staatsinterventie of zelfs staatskapitalisme. Er kleven voornamelijk politieke bezwaren aan staatskapitalisme, geen economische. In iedere echte economie zien we tal van voorbeelden van een falende marktwerking. Het zou voor een welwillende en almachtige overheid dan ook verstandig zijn om vrij vaak in te grijpen. Maar wie heeft er ooit zo’n welwillende en almachtige overheid gezien?

Om inzicht te geven in de logica van het staatskapitalisme, is het nuttig om wat voorbeelden uit een ver verleden in herinnering te brengen – en dan hebben we het niet over economieën onder socialistisch bewind of moderne samenlevingen die een falende marktwerking trachten aan te pakken, maar over beschavingen uit de oudheid. Het staatskapitalisme lijkt namelijk net als de landbouw of de democratie al vele malen in de wereldgeschiedenis ‘uitgevonden’ te zijn.

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