After G8 and the London bombings - the way forward
Many of the millions who in one way or other took part in the Make Poverty History campaign and the Live 8 concerts will be reflecting on what the biggest ever global protest campaign has achieved.
The truth is that behind the protection of thousands of police and military the G8 summiteers agreed to continue their destructive course. Their claims that the summit's decisions would alleviate global poverty and climate change are a complete fabrication. Things will worsen.
The London bombings of July 7 have put matters in a new light. The forcing through of corporate globalisation, whether by opening up markets or by military invasion, is the background to the barbaric terrorist attacks in London, as well as Baghdad over the past week. They reinforce the urgent need to find political and economic alternatives to the present world order.
The lesson from the Make Poverty History movement is that a different, more focused approach is needed. Democratic people power must be mobilised to address the issue of political and economic control. This is the key to ending the massive inequalities in power and wealth that predominate and are still increasing.
Whilst some campaigners claim success in putting poverty and Africa at the centre of the G8 agenda, there is a yawning gulf between expectations raised and policy promises delivered:
DEBT: The agreement to cancel debt for 18 of the poorest countries comes with many strings attached. So-called free trade will destroy local industries and agriculture and the corporations will still be free to strip these countries of their precious material resources for artificially depressed prices. And this still leaves over 30 countries spending more on debt repayment that they do on education and healthcare combined. The amount cancelled equates to just $1 per person.
"MORE AND BETTER AID": This was one of the key demands of the marchers, but of the promised $50bn extra aid world-wide just $25bn is for Africa and Christian Aid has pointed out that less than half of this is genuinely new money.
AIDS: By the time the G8 fulfils its plan to give everyone access to treatment by 2010 (if they do achieve that target) many of the 40 million now infected will be dead. This is because the money they have allocated is already $18bn short of what is needed. A relaxation of trade rules to let countries produce drugs more cheaply did not happen.
WATER: No progress at all on access to clean water for more than two billion people who don't currently have it. And to gain debt relief, countries will be expected to privatise essential services such as water.
PRIVATISATION: Privatisation projects will continue to be forced through under the mantra of liberalisation, or, in the words of the G8's Gleneagles statement, "reforms to increase flexibility, raise productivity and enhance job creation" and above all "growth". Developing countries are obliged to remove impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign.
TRADE: No concessions, no deal on export subsidies or access to markets for poorer countries. So poor countries will be forced to give access to their markets, subordinate themselves to the power of the global corporations and the WTO rules, while rich countries keep their markets shut and continue subsidies. The threat of military intervention hangs over any country that tries to resist capitalist globalisation.
CHANGE: Agreements made three years ago at the World Summit on
Sustainable Development have not been fulfilled. This summit continued
on that path with no progress on climate change. The scientific predictions
are clear: climate change will worsen Africa's already critical water
crisis. It will put millions more at risk of hunger, it will increase
the spread of malaria and other diseases and there will be an increase
in the frequency and severity of floods and droughts . Much of Africa's
agriculture will be rapidly destroyed by rising temperatures.
As Christian Aid's head of policy, Charles Aubugre, said: "Millions of campaigners all over the world have been led to the top of the mountain, shown the view and are now being frog-marched down again. We were promised a new deal on trade between rich and poor countries, but it's business as usual. The G8 will continue to extract maximum concessions out of poor countries at the WTO."
George Gelber of CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, noted: "In a world that spends one trillion dollars a year on defence and $350 billion on agricultural subsidies it is inconceivable that the richest countries cannot find the extra money that will help put an end to the cycle of poverty and despair across the developing world. "
But it is entirely conceivable, because the G8 leaders and their multilateral organisations like the WTO, IMF and World Bank are the drivers of capitalist globalisation and serve the interests of the tiny number of huge corporations that now control the world economy.
All those millions who oppose poverty and planet destruction must re-focus their demands. Paramount is the need to go beyond protest and address the central issue of political and economic power. To succeed a unified global campaign must take on a new stance. Let's make Bush, Blair and Berlusconi history! Their rule must be replaced by democratic rule and ownership of the world's economy.
These are the aims set out in the book A World to Win and the reason for the launch of a new organisation based on its proposals. We are sending you this message in order to encourage you to take a stand, come along to the conference on July 23 and be part of this crucial moment in history.
for a Socialist Future