sexta-feira, 12 de junho de 2009

Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt

Political Charter of CADTM International

(Adopted in Belém in January 2009)

Preamble :

In 1989, “the Bastille appeal” was launched in Paris: it invites all popular forces throughout the world to unite for the immediate and unconditional cancellation of the so called “developing” countries. This crushing debt, along with the neo-liberal macro-economic reforms imposed on the South since the debt crisis of 1982, have created the explosion of inequalities, mass poverty, flagrant injustices and the destruction of the environment. In response to this appeal, and in order to fight against general degradation of living conditions of the majority of the population, the CADTM was created in 1990. Nowadays, CADTM international is a network made up of approximately 30 active organizations in over 25 countries in over 4 continents. Its main function focuses on the debt problem and it involves the creation of radical alternatives aimed at the emergence of a world based on sovereignty, solidarity and cooperation between peoples, respect for the environment, equality, social justice and peace.

Since the creation of the CADTM, the international context has changed. Regarding debt, a significant change needs to be taken into consideration: domestic public debt has dramatically increased. Globally, two main opposing trends are developing on an international scale. On the one hand, the neo-liberal capitalist offensive, mainly lead by the G7, the IMF, the WB and the WTO who work in the interests of multinationals and international financial capital, has become more widespread and entrenched. On the other hand, a counter-trend has been developing since the end of the 1990s: powerful social movements against the neo-liberal offensive, in particular in Latin America have emerged. There has been a strengthening of the international social movements which are fighting for “other possible worlds”. The election of leaders who advocate a break with neo-liberalism, apply initiatives on auditing of debt and the suspension of payments on public external debt, the beginning of total recovery of the State’s control over strategic sectors and on natural resources. There has been the failure of neo-liberal projects such as the ALCA and resistance to imperialism in Iraq, in Palestine and in Afghanistan. The evolution of the power relations between these two opposing trends will largely depend on popular reaction when faced with the international crisis which is multi-faceted (financial, social, political, food, energy, climate, environmental, cultural).

Entire charter here

quinta-feira, 11 de junho de 2009

The Numbers of the Third World's Debt

The Debt in Figures

3 November 2003

A necessary tool to understand the current global crisis, the data collected here by Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint (CADTM) should enable us to make sense of one of the basic reasons for the international situation, as seen from the viewpoint of the global South. From the 1960s to today’s global crisis, the international network of the CADTM has constantly kept a critical eye on the world economy and the mechanisms of domination that affect it. Analysing various statistics is essential to identify what is really at stake and to propose suitable alternatives.
Human mal-development, inequality, odious debt, financial transfers, the prices of raw materials, the World Bank and the IMF - all the figures included in this vade-mecum for 2009 are derived from reliable sources and have been carefully examined by the CADTM team.

Far from the long-winded ramblings of the dominant discourse, the CADTM’s handbook simply lays out the stark reality in figures. These are the facts we need to fuel reflection about how to lay the foundations of a radically different economic logic, both socially just and environmentally sustainable.

quarta-feira, 10 de junho de 2009

Wall Street’s Toxic Messag

When the current crisis is over, the reputation of American-style capitalism will have taken a beating—not least because of the gap between what Washington practices and what it preaches. Disillusioned developing nations may well turn their backs on the free market, warns Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, posing new threats to global stability and U.S. security.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz July 2009

Illustration by Edward Sorel

Illustration by Edward Sorel.

Every crisis comes to an end—and, bleak as things seem now, the current economic crisis too shall pass. But no crisis, especially one of this severity, recedes without leaving a legacy. And among this one’s legacies will be a worldwide battle over ideas—over what kind of economic system is likely to deliver the greatest benefit to the most people. Nowhere is that battle raging more hotly than in the Third World, among the 80 percent of the world’s population that lives in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, 1.4 billion of whom subsist on less than $1.25 a day. In America, calling someone a socialist may be nothing more than a cheap shot. In much of the world, however, the battle between capitalism and socialism—or at least something that many Americans would label as socialism—still rages. While there may be no winners in the current economic crisis, there are losers, and among the big losers is support for American-style capitalism. This has consequences we’ll be living with for a long time to come.

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz on the economic crisis.

Capitalist Fools, January 2009

Reversal of Fortune, November 2008

The $3 Trillion War, April 2008 (with Linda J. Bilmes)

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, December 2007

The fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, marked the end of Communism as a viable idea. Yes, the problems with Communism had been manifest for decades. But after 1989 it was hard for anyone to say a word in its defense. For a while, it seemed that the defeat of Communism meant the sure victory of capitalism, particularly in its American form. Francis Fukuyama went as far as to proclaim “the end of history,” defining democratic market capitalism as the final stage of social development, and declaring that all humanity was now heading in this direction. In truth, historians will mark the 20 years since 1989 as the short period of American triumphalism. With the collapse of great banks and financial houses, and the ensuing economic turmoil and chaotic attempts at rescue, that period is over. So, too, is the debate over “market fundamentalism,” the notion that unfettered markets, all by themselves, can ensure economic prosperity and growth. Today only the deluded would argue that markets are self-correcting or that we can rely on the self-interested behavior of market participants to guarantee that everything works honestly and properly.

Complete article here

terça-feira, 9 de junho de 2009

The European Elections

The Partisans of Capitalism Have Lost All Credibility


The partisans of capitalism, and among them, prominently, the EU leaders, have lost all credibility. For years now they have trampled on the rights of peoples while not wavering when it came to making decisions directly opposed to their advertised principles in order to bail out major banks. European government parties could have acted differently and nationalised the banks, thus retrieving the cost of the bailout on the patrimony of major shareholders and CEOs. The public credit instrument that would have resulted could finance socially useful and environment-friendly projects while guaranteeing individual savings.

The crisis has brought back onto the agenda proposals that had been swept aside during the long neoliberal night such as a radical reduction of working time (with creation of jobs and no loss of pay) or indexation of wages and social benefits on the cost of living. Europe needs new financial discipline: company ledgers have to be opened to external and internal auditing (through the trade unions among others), all financial products must be regulated, and it must be forbidden for companies to have assets in any tax haven. Major means of production, trade, finance, communication and other services must be transferred to the public sphere and taken away from capitalists’ control. Access to public goods must be systematically promoted.

In a political perspective, European citizens must retrieve the political power that has been taken away from them. The populations who were able to have their say on the Constitutional Treaty turned it down, but leaders ignored their votes without a second thought. Meanwhile Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia show us the way. There, citizens elected a Constituant Assembly in order to draw up a new draft Constitution, which is to be discussed with social movements and sanctioned by referenda. In these three countries voters can now revoke any elected representative mid-mandate, whereas no European Constitution mentions any such highly democratic mechanism.

The countries of Europe must stop plundering the natural resources and know-how of the South. They must increase official development aid, which ought to be called ‘contribution to reparations’ by way of repairing the historical, social and environmental damage they brought about. Europe must cancel Third World Debt and implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in all its dimensions, including article 13, the right to freedom of movement and residence. Europe must turn away from nuclear power and dismantle all nuclear weapons currently on its territory. Europe must leave NATO and withdraw its troops from all territories under military occupation. Europe must close down all US military bases on its territory. All EU member countries must grant complete independence to populations they still wield colonial power over (the ‘French’ and ‘Dutch’ Antilles, British overseas territories, New Caledonia, Reunion Island…). Europe must rescind all partnership agreements with Israel and see to it that the rights of the Palestinian people be at long last respected.

Capitalism has drawn humankind down into a deep multidimensional crisis: it affects the financial sector, the economy, the climate, food and energy supplies, not to mention wars and the arms race. The patriarchal system perpetuates the oppression of women in all areas of life. As asserted at the Women’s Assembly at the World Social Forum in Belem on 1 February 2009 : We are not interested in palliative answers based on market logic in response to these crises ; this can only lead to perpetuation of the same system. We need to move forward in building alternatives if we are to oppose the capitalist and patriarchal system that oppresses and exploits us. |1|

We also support the declaration of indigenous peoples adopted at Belem: The capitalist development model, a model that is Eurocentric, sexist and racist, is in absolute crisis, and is leading us to the greatest social and environmental crisis in the history of humankind. Structural unemployment is aggravated by the financial, economic, energy and production crisis, along with social exclusion, sexist and racist violence and religious fanaticism. That there should be so many simultaneous crises, and so deep, forebodes an authentic crisis of civilization, a crisis of “capitalist and modern development” that endangers all forms of life. But there are those who continue to dream of improving this model and refuse to acknowledge that what is in crisis is capitalism, Euro-centrism, with its model of a State destined for one culturally homogeneous nationality, western positive rights, developmentalism and the commodification of life. |2|

Capitalism, patriarchy, and all forms of oppression will not disappear of their own accord: only the conscious and deliberate actions of men and women can yield another system whose goals would be to guarantee indivisible human rights and to protect the environment. We must free our minds of the tragic Stalinist caricature of communism, do away with capitalism, and invent an ecologically viable, socialist and feminist project rooted in the realities of the 21st century.

Eric Toussaint, president of the Committee for the Cancellation of Third World Debt – Belgium , author of The World Bank: A Critical Primer, Pluto, London, 2008.

Damien Millet, mathematician, is spokeperson for CADTM France (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt). Joint authors of 60 Questions 60 Réponses sur la dette, le FMI et la Banque Mondiale, CADTM-Syllepse, Liège-Paris, 2008. English version to be published in 2009.


|1| In the Declaration of the Women’s Assembly


segunda-feira, 8 de junho de 2009

How the other 0.00000003 percent live

Adam Turl examines the lives of the 10 richest people in the U.S.--and uncovers a rogue's gallery of serial polluters, budget-slashers, CIA contractors, union-busters and right-wing nuts.

How the other 0.00000003 percent lives (Eric Ruder | SW)

BACK IN February--when even the mainstream media was convinced the capitalist economy was in full-blown meltdown mode--Newsweek magazine ran an article titled "Why there won't be a revolution."

Newsweek wanted to reassure the rich--and convince working people--that the masses weren't getting ready to dust off their pitchforks and head to the town square. "Americans might get angry sometimes," they wrote, "but we don't hate the rich. We prefer to laugh at them."

Newsweek couldn't be more wrong. The 10 percent of Americans who rely on food stamps, the 25 percent of Ohioans who are waiting in lines at food banks, the 500,000 people who lost their jobs last month and the millions more who can't find work--these people aren't laughing.

And plenty of Americans--rightly--hate the rich. While our homes go into foreclosure, while our credit card rates go up, while our jobs disappear and college tuition shoots up, the well-heeled "masters of the universe" on Wall Street are still making out like bandits, but now with hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money, courtesy of the Obama administration.

A lot more people would be even angrier if the mainstream media reported the truth about the rich and powerful in America--who they are and how they "made it" to the top. Consider the 10 richest people in the country as of last September, according to the annual Forbes magazine list.

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Full article here