Wednesday, 15 August 2012



The Rio+20 Conference has been and gone. The 50,000 delegates have had a working holiday. The principles and goals were all agreed again. Agenda 21 was confirmed again. But there was little agreement about who pays. As always the ‘rich’ protest that they have no money. And the ‘poor’ assert that they want help to survive. In the Sahel region of Africa, 18.4 million people in nine countries are running out of food  today. [May 2012].

Once upon a time, I believed that 'development' and 'globalisation' were strategies designed by multinational corporations, and countries represented by  the G8, the G20, the UN, and the World Bank, to provide aid to poor countries of the world and help their people to improve their living conditions and enable more people  to survive and thrive. I was even persuaded, as a result of my English State schooling, that colonialism as practiced by the British was for the benefit of the native peoples across the world.
I no longer believe these propositions. I regard them as strategies designed to exploit the poorest countries.
The richest countries, as represented by the G8, and more recently the G20, or G77, and the multinational corporations that drive 'free market  capitalism', have exhausted many of the resources of the 'developed world', and are now looking everywhere else for new sources of
key materials. Capitalist development is the exploitation of resources and materials so as to gain maximum profits for shareholders and corporations in the home country. Globalisation and development and colonialism and slavery, are strategies of intervention by these countries and corporations for the benefit of shareholders, and the exploitation of the world's poor! and the enrichment of ‘developed countries’.
There is no doubt that the United Nations General Council are determined to utilize Development aid for the social benefit of the peoples of the ‘developing world’. They declare that the  U.N. Millennium  Development Goals, are aimed at [1] eliminating extreme poverty and hunger; [2] achieving universal primary education; [3] promote gender equality and empower women; [4] reduce child mortality; [5] improve maternal health; [6]combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB; [7] ensure environmental sustainability, [8] develop a global partnership for development.

It is worth noting that any government or agency that declares that a country needs ‘development’ aid is in fact asserting that the ways of the indigenous peoples are not good enough to exploit their homeland for maximum production and profit. Furthermore, it is a statement about the viability of capitalist economies, and the desirability of large industrial scale enterprises.
It is recognized by economists and government ministers and civil servants  that capitalist growth destroys resources, and communities.  In places like Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, the USA, Canada, as well as Congo, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkino Faso,  organizations of indigenous peoples are pointing out that their ways of living are designed to protect and preserve crops and trees, and maintain the sustainable development of their lands, and not to destroy the environment. It was significant that indigenous communities were present at Rio, determined to state their cases for protection.
One of the long term effects of capitalist enterprise is to devalue indigenous communities. Analyses carried out by  researchers at the Centre of International Development of Columbia University; as well as by Anup Shah of Global; Greenpeace International, and reporters with Corporate Watch, Ethics World, Global Witness, and Aljazeera, and the Congo Week, among others, reveal that enslavement and colonialism have resulted in the dislocation of communities, the imposition of  colonial inequality, the perpetuation of long term debts, the constant introduction of virulent diseases, as well as the permanent failure of cooperative partnership.  Development projects lead to the destruction of indigenous communities.
It is not surprising  that most of the countries in Africa are poor and indebted and bankrupt. For example, the World Bank identifies Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia as among the 40 most ‘heavily indebted poor countries’ in the world [HIPC].
With very low domestic saving and low rates of market-based foreign capital inflows, there is little in Africa’s current dynamics that promotes an escape from poverty. Furthermore, given that most of the world’s population is poor, trying to survive on less than $10 a
day, there is little hope that the peoples of Africa, as well as India, and China, many of whom are on $1.25 a day, will gain an acceptable standard of living.

Ethics World informs us that often the local communities of indigenous peoples do not benefit from any capitalist projects, because the labour is imported, and all the wages and profits are directed to the home office. Greenpeace recently revealed that companies working in the poorest countries in the world take great pains to avoid paying taxes and fair wages. For example, Swiss logging company Danzer, operated tax evasion schemes such as transfer pricing, offshore accounts, use of expatriate labour, to divert profits from its forestry activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, depriving the local people of an estimated 7.8 million euros in tax revenue.  
Anup Shah,  suggests that the scramble for Africa in the 19th century disrupted the creation of communities and countries. Artificial borders were created by Imperial Europe at the 1884 Berlin Conference simply by drawing lines on a map. These
artificial boundaries created by colonial rulers had the effect of bringing together many different communities that had little in common, and separating those who had everything in common! And thereby laying the foundations of the many conflicts that disrupt Africa today!
The Centre of International Development of Columbia University indicates that in the post-colonial age, the rich countries, including those colonial powers such as UK, France, Germany, Belgium, have often used their majority vote within the International Monetary Fund to  impose draconian adjustments on poor debtor countries. For twenty years, many of the poorest tropical countries have had insolvent governments, burdened by un-payable external debts. The international system has delayed or blocked the obvious solution: that is,  
debt cancellation. This has contributed to continuing low growth and instability in the so-called  ‘Highly Indebted Poor Countries’, the extremely poor and highly indebted countries that are subject to special scrutiny and policies of the international creditor governments.
Corporate Watch regularly reminds us that the prosperity of ex-colonies continues to be hindered by corruption and illegal practices by corporations, as well as by institutions of government. The continent of Africa is rich in resources and minerals. But its peoples remain
poor and indebted. Many other countries and corporations want access to the riches, but do not want to pay a fair price. They use their racism as the excuse for the exploitation of the lands and peoples of Africa!  A  report by Transparency International [Feb 2009]
revealed that these corporations and their agents are busy corrupting their customers for preferential terms on multiple projects. For example, in Southern Asia and parts of Africa the shortages of water to drink, and for sanitation, for the poor are not caused by the lack
of water resources, but by unfair distribution of water supplies to the wealthy as a result of bribery and corruption over water projects.
'Development' must become a social strategy for the alleviation of poverty not a capitalist strategy to line the pockets of the rich!
Transparency International [2010] reveals that corruption is not only fostered by corporations, but also by countries. Some of the poorest countries in the world are reported as actively promoting corruption.  The most corrupt governments were judged to be Chad, Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo. Mali These countries are involved in military action, and are in receipt of vast sums of aid funds, little of which is used to benefit the local communities and much of which is used to organize military groups.
Gandhi once proposed that there is enough wealth in the world for everybody's need, but not enough for anybody's greed.
People such as Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, among many others, have argued that there is enough wealth in the world today to totally alleviate poverty. But to do this, the wealth has to be redistributed, not spent on the luxurious lifestyles of the richest
individuals nor on the funding of military forces.
Development will be disrupted by climate change.
Kofi Annan's thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum, has announced that by 2030, climate change could cost $600 billion a year.
The UN study says it is impossible to be certain who will be displaced by 2030, but  tens of millions of people "will be driven from their homelands by weather disasters or gradual environmental degradation. The problem is most severe in Africa, Bangladesh, Egypt,
coastal zones and forest areas. ."
The study compares for the first time the number of people affected by climate change in rich and poor countries. Nearly 98% of the people seriously affected, 99% of all deaths from weather-related disasters and 90% of the total economic losses are now borne by
developing countries.

 CARE International reported that up to 200 million people could be on the move by 2050.
Climate Change will exacerbate stressful conditions unless vulnerable populations, especially the poorest, are assisted in building climate-resilient livelihoods."New thinking and practical approaches are needed to address the threats that climate-related migration poses to human security and well-being,"  said Warner of the UN.    For development experts, such as Ehrhart, climate change is a formidable foe that must be tackled. He doesn't want to see the hopes of the world's poorest turned to dust. It is obvious that in areas where the total population exceeds the capacity of the land to support them, the people do not thrive, and will die soon. A UN report says hunger in South Asia has reached its highest level in 40 years because of food and fuel price rises and the global economic downturn.  
The report by the UN children's fund, Unicef, says that 100 million more people
in the region are going hungry compared with two years ago. It names the worst affected areas as Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The report says South Asia's governments need to urgently increase social spending to meet the challenge.

Unicef says the region's governments need to increase spending on food, health care and education to alleviate the crisis. But it acknowledges that the economic slowdown means there is less money to spend.  But the problems of poverty and hunger are being compounded by the effects of climate change e.g. areas in Africa, Australia, and South America, that were once wet, have become dry, and their grasslands have disappeared and farming has collapsed. New deserts have formed.Rivers that once flowed to the sea are drying up, depriving many communities of sources of water. Forests become tinder dry and burst into flames, destroying vast areas, as seen recently in Victoria, Australia and California, USA and Greece in Europe. Ironically, these effects have been generated as a result of excessive pollution in the rich countries of the world such as the USA, China, and the EU.
The generation of excessive carbon dioxide, and other gases such as methane, chloroflourocarbons, and soots, cause heat retention in the atmosphere, and rising temperatures.
Oct 2011: the Berkeley Earth Project, California, published a report that confirmed that global average temperatures are rising. The project denied the viability of the 'climate change deniers'. We have to conclude that the 1 billion starving today will soon become 2 billion, and all will soon die. Doomsday – tomorrow! Their deaths will be the result of the spread of industrial farming, and the impacts of climate change. They will die not as the result of their own actions but the changes generated by other people living on the other side of the world. Our free market capitalist society enables the rich to prosper and to live for more than 70 years. The poor majority struggle to survive, and 80% die before the age of 70. If the population balance is altered by starvation, disease, and calamity, and conflict, the projected increase to 9 billion in 2050, will become a decline! Doomsday - today! Tomorrow!

No comments:

Post a Comment