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Emilio Lamo de Espinosa

1989: Ending/Beginning of a hope. The fall of the Berlin Wall URL: http://www.march.es/conferencias/anteriores/voz.aspx?p1=22598&l=2

In a well known article published in 1989 in the New Yorker, Robert Heilbroner, an old American socialist, wrote: "Less than 75 years after its beginning, the competence between capitalism and socialism has ended: capitalism has won... Capitalism organizes the material issues of humanity in a more satisfactory way than socialism". And shortly after, he would add: "except sporadically the democratic freedoms have not appeared in any nation that has declared itself anti-capitalist".

Indeed, for some, 1989 was only the end if the Cold War, the third (although fortunately non nata) World War, which formally began in 1945 in Yalta in with the division of Europe, and was won by the reviled Ronald Reagan to the ossified Soviet Union. This moment does not only open the unification of Germany, but of all Europe, the current UE of 27 countries. For others, 1989 is nothing less the the end of a "short" 20th century, a century that began late (in the Great War of 1914) with the termination of the old empires (Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, Ottoman, and even the British) and the Russian Revolution, and ends early with the fall of the Soviet Union.

But in any case, it is clear that 1989 closes the century of the social fights, of civil wars; initially European, but later the entire world with an East-West confrontation; and of political tensions that built the history of the world for the last hundred years, which was reflected by the tension of marxists versus anti-marxists, the "undisputed horizon of our time" until recently. A closing that opened the triumph of freedom in a powerful third democratizing wave that fostered the current globalization process.

Nevertheless, this may have been a pyrrhic victory. Because if on 1989 the triumph of the liberal West was secured, the triumph of technology and scientific rationality, the triumph of the market economy and the democratic State, its own universalization relegates the old Europe, small and badly united, into a marginal position in the world: the new Far West of a pushing and powerful Asia.  

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