Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Ugly Side of Development

It's very difficult to know who the "big man" is when corporations and big businesses have no faces, or the faces they use are those of mere celebrity of the era. Somewhere, outside the Western world, say in an Eastern region, there are people living in the wastelands thinking of the very same question. And while you may have imagined a male in a suit, those in the wastelands are probably imagining us.

To blame a poverty stricken country simply on its corrupt government is akin to blaming only religion for war. This way of thinking leads to ignoring the many different actors at play. This way of thinking ignores the pressures many countries are under from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB). This way of thinking, of always finding someone to blame also stops people in their tracks to think and wonder why is that these countries are poor. And especially the countries that are rich in natural resources and minerals. The crippling debt these countries owe is monumental. It is so significant that no matter how much aid we give, it'll never be enough. People in these countries will keep dying from hunger and poverty.

 However, those of us from the privileged Western countries like to believe that our Aid money makes a world of difference. The irony is so strong here that it's a choking hazard. Contrary to popular myth, it is the poor countries that have made us rich, not the other way around. Because while we maybe be giving them millions in aid, they are having to pay us back double or sometimes triple with interest. Above all, they got there because of apparent aid (UK aid doesn't always have those types of conditions attached).

In the 1980s, when the WB, IMF, UK government and the US government gave aid to developing countries they used to put (and still do) conditionalities to them too. So, they would make the receiving countries lower the price on their exports, privatise publicly owned services OR threaten with the end to new loans. Now, these countries were in dire need so they 'tightened their belts', resulting in cuts that affected the most vulnerable in those countries, rendering the least powerful the most powerless (kind of similar to what we're going through right now). But lowering the prices also results in lower wages, and lower wages for working people. It also means that with the interests attached to the loans, the poor countries have to find as many ways as possible to pay back the loans since they cannot charge the right prices for their imports. The last remaining place they can go to is exploiting their natural resources. This is why a lot of very poor countries are very rich in natural resources; even though they are selling them away- it's goodbye to the trees or the gold or whatever else, just so they can pay back the over-bearing debts. The worst of it is that the WB and IMF are letting countries pay them back at the expense of our environment and people.

So, is there an answer? Yes, there is- cancel all debts. It is so simple that one has to wonder why it hasn't been brought to the table. But it has. However, the WB and IMF don't really want that as the solution, despite these organisations claiming to be set-up to end poverty and aid in development.

I have now created an online petition- please do go and sign it:

The video link below is to a documentary pretty much examining what this post is about:
War by Other Means by John Pilger

Until next time,