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Socialism has collapsed. The long, historic struggle between capitalism and socialism has come to an end, and capitalism has emerged the victor. This turn of events was foreshadowed by the privatization movement of the late 1970s and 1980s that swept England, the United States, and a number of Latin American countries. History still awaited the renunciation of socialism by those who lived it, but that soon came in the form of the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe and in the spiraling chain of events, set in motion by "perestroika," that ultimately led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. China and Cuba continue to wave the socialist banner, but to most observers this seems an act of desperation - an effort to proclaim loyalty to an ideology that may be integral to their historical identity, but which all the world has now repudiated.

Capitalism permits of many definitions, but at its core it is a system designed to tap the motivational force of self-interest. It assumes that individuals are autonomous actors who advance their own self-interest. Capitalism encourages efficiency and productivity by forcing individuals to compete with one another and then differentially rewarding those who are most productive, a standard that is defined in terms of consumer satisfaction. Consumers are put to the task of choosing how to allocate their own scarce resources among the products or services offered, but they remain sovereign in the sense that the entire economic system. responds to their desires. The goal of capitalism is to maximize consumer satisfaction by producing the goods and services they demand.

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