Thursday, July 7, 2005
Live 8 - Make Africa History
I quote from the Bowles piece:
(But) it is a fact that the leaders of the ‘free world’ have been forced to recognise the reality that the poor are poor because we are rich, the problem for capitalism has been how to sideline the exposing of the real cause of Africa’s problems and of dealing with this reality. Enter Live8, Make Poverty History etc and of course, Blair’s much lauded ‘debt relief’.
Blair’s propaganda campaign around reducing debt is nothing more than that, propaganda. Let’s take a close look at what all the hot air about reducing debt boils down to.
To become eligible for help, African countries must bring about “a market-based economy that protects private property rights”, “the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment” and a conducive environment for US “foreign policy interests”. In return they will be allowed “preferential treatment” for some of their products in US markets.
‘Africa’s new best friends’, George Monbiot, Tuesday July 5, 2005, The Guardian
Monbiot’s article continues
The important word is “some”. Clothing factories in Africa will be allowed to sell their products to the US as long as they use “fabrics wholly formed and cut in the United States” or if they avoid direct competition with US products. The act, treading carefully around the toes of US manufacturing interests, is comically specific. Garments containing elastic strips, for example, are eligible only if the elastic is “less than 1 inch in width and used in the production of brassieres”. Even so, African countries’ preferential treatment will be terminated if it results in “a surge in imports”.
Monbiot’s article ends with perhaps the most incisive comment on ‘Jive8' I’ve read so far
At the Make Poverty History march, the speakers insisted that we are dragging the G8 leaders kicking and screaming towards our demands. It seems to me that the G8 leaders are dragging us dancing and cheering towards theirs.
The vaunted $50 billion of alleged debt cancellation is a complete fiction. In order for any of the eighteen theoretically eligible African countries to get their debt cancelled, they have to comply with so many conditions, that it will be a miracle if a single country actually benefits. In fact the latest ‘offer’ goes much further than the Structural Adjustment policy of the World Bank/IMF in that in return for the alleged cancellation of debt, African countries will have to hand over their governments to the West, privatise public services, introduce ‘public/private initatives’, means testing, in other words, ‘new age’ colonialism.
When you break down the numbers which sound so enormous, not only is the ‘debt cancellation’ a small fraction of the total owed by African countries (estimated to be in the order of $300 billion) it amounts to something like 5¢ per day, per person at most, hardly likely to make a difference. Compare the ‘aid’ to the amount extracted from Africa by the multi-nationals that according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), at current prices the value of the goods and services Africa produces in a year is $773 billion.
And to ‘benefit’ from ‘debt cancellation’ they will have to open their markets completely to Western capital; guarantee that the ‘free market’ operates without let or hindrance; reduce their governments to little more than branch offices for the multi-nationals in the name of fighting corruption and in the case of the US, agree to become forward bases for US military penetration of Africa in the ‘war on terror’.
The bottom line is as it has always been, the raw materials that Africa possesses in abundance especially strategically important materials that aside from oil of course, consists of manganese, cobalt, fluorspar, germanium, diamonds and gold. According to the World Bank, Africa offers “the highest returns on foreign direct investment of any region in the world”.