Sunday, April 20, 2008

'Independence struggle is not over'

'Independence struggle is not over'
By Editor
Sunday April 20, 2008 [04:00]

The ideas coming from the Civil Society forum in Accra, Ghana, are very interesting and deserve serious considerations. We are told by Martin Khor, the director of the Third World Network, that “the independence struggle is not over because colonial powers are still in control of developing countries through multinational companies and international financial institutions.

There was need to strengthen efforts of various progressive forces in order to change the global economic system.

Despite getting independence over four decades ago, African and other developing countries are still facing challenges ranging from land issues to poverty and other conflicts and most of these problems are worsened by colonial powers who are still in charge through various channels like big companies and international financial institutions… in fact colonial powers are using these institutions, including the United Nations, to efficiently oppress us but we need to change this system by strengthening efforts of progressive forces and fight for what belongs to the people”.

And Aftab Khan, the coordinator of Action Aid International, says “trade liberalisation in its current format is not a solution to the challenges facing least developed countries… and only a few countries were benefiting from world trade. So this explains that trade liberalisation is not a solution, in fact, it has negative impacts on the livelihoods of people hence the need to have strong mechanisms to stop international companies from benefiting from the misery of the poor… .”

All this shows us that imperialism is more than a worn-out phrase, that it still exists, whether or not we are aware of it. And, even if you play sleight of hand with this concept, it is still there to screw up anybody who is in the way when time runs out.

If there is anything that is an affront to human intelligence, it is the pretension that imperialism is no longer there, it ended at independence and probably with the end of the Cold War.

Some people want us to de-ideologise everything: economic discussions, political proposals and international relations. That is, they want to ideologise everything in another way. And, to that end, they invite us with supreme courtesy to pay fealty to the new order. We already know that de-ideologisation isn’t the end of ideologies; rather, it is the illegible sign of the attempted burial of anti-imperialist thinking or outlook. But this fig leaf is vulnerable to the storm that will uncover the flaccid, sorry organs that cannot engender well-being and hope in the future.

Nelson Mandela once said: “Imperialism means the denial of political and economic rights and the perpetual subjugation of the people by a foreign power. Imperialism has been weighed and found wanting.”

But we must agree that real liberation is not achieved by the mere act of proclaiming independence or winning an armed victory in a revolution. Freedom is achieved when imperialist economic domination over a people is brought to an end. Therefore, the struggle against imperialism is inseparable from the struggle against backwardness and poverty; both are steps on the same road leading toward the creation of a new society of justice and plenty.

Ever since monopoly capital took over the world, it has kept the greater part of humanity in poverty, dividing all the profits among the most powerful nations. The higher standard of living in those nations is based on the misery of ours.

Thus to raise the standard of living of the under-developed peoples, there must be a fight against imperialism.

And there are no boundaries in this struggle to the death. We cannot be indifferent to what happens anywhere in the world, for a victory by any country over imperialism is our victory; just as any country’s defeat is a defeat for all of us. Solidarity is not only a duty for the people struggling for a better future, it is an inescapable necessity.

The world is more ideologised today than ever before because they are trying to impose the ideology of imperialism and neo-liberalism and wipe-off the political map any ideology or outlook that doesn’t coincide with it. Neo-liberalism is the ideology of imperialism in its phase of world hegemony – it seeks to impose its ideas on other countries.

Nevertheless, they themselves don’t apply those ideas: they tell us we shouldn’t have budgetary deficits, yet their own budgetary deficits are in hundreds of billions if not trillions, which makes them machines sucking in hard currency from all over the world.

They say there shouldn’t be any trade deficits, yet they have the largest trade deficits in the world. They say protectionist policies should be eliminated, yet they have more than us. They say there shouldn’t be any subsidies for industry or agriculture, yet they are the first ones to subsidise industry and agriculture. And they say there shouldn’t be any restrictions on free trade, yet they use free trade conditions to serve their own ends.

That is, they say, “apply all the economic measures that not even we apply consistently; clear away all the obstacles and limitations so you can become developed and receive capital”.

They then plunder our countries with high interest rates and the profits they make on investment; with the flight of capital; with unequal terms of trade, buying their raw materials cheap and selling us their products at high prices; and through competition in which they have all the advantages through imposing their technology.

The forms of plunder are multiplied to the extent to which they impose these formulas on us and our governments accept them.

These negotiating conditions are unequal, too. Rich and powerful nations with powerful international economic institutions at their service discuss matters with countries plagued with problems and difficulties, countries that have already been undermined and weakened. Those are the absolute worst conditions for negotiating; negotiating isn’t done in conditions of equality.

These are the policies that they are imposing on us. What kind of a future will our people have? It will be unbearable. Time will show that it’s unbearable and will destroy the current prestige, if any, of these ideas because so many people, hundreds of millions of people, cannot resign themselves forever to that fate. The lives of so many human beings cannot be sacrificed, ignored or exploited in that way.

We have no alternative but to struggle without respite for an end to the unequal trade that depresses our real income, shifts the cost of inflation generated in the developed countries onto our economies and ruins our peoples. We have to struggle against protectionism, that multiplies the tariff and non-tariff barriers and hinders our export commodities and manufactured goods’ access to markets, reduces our products’ competitiveness and acts as a powerful mechanism of pressure and coercion against our countries.

We have no choice but to struggle to establish a new, equitable, stable and universal international financial and monetary system whose credit and voting options reflect the needs of the various groups and categories of countries rather than the economic power of some of its members; that is capable of acting in a genuinely multilateral sense rather than in response to the pressures exerted by transnational banks or a group of developed countries; and that, in short, can respond in the long run in keeping with the magnitude and structural character of our countries’ balances of payments.

We have to struggle for industrialisation that responds to our interests, can be integrated with the rest of the economy and paves way for development, and to keep transnational corporations and foreign private investments from controlling it and from carrying out a deforming process of industrialisation in our countries.

Our countries’ staunchness in the defence of their sovereignty constitutes the best code of conduct against the uncontrolled actions of the transnational corporations, which seek to impose a transnationalised model of apparent development on our countries.

We need to struggle in each of our countries for the adoption of measures to control and limit the activities of the transnational corporations, fully exercising our right to sovereignty over our resources, including the right to nationalise them, and keeping those corporations from applying models of investment, technology, profit remittances and consumption that are alien to the realities and needs of our countries.

The transformation of international economic relations is a pre-requisite for, but not a guarantee of, our countries’ progress. We need to struggle to make our countries aware of the need to promote indispensable internal structural changes and measures aimed at raising the people’s standard of living, which are an inseparable part of any real process of development – especially those related to income redistribution, job creation, health, housing and education.

This will be the only way to make our liberation or independence meaningful. But this won’t come without struggle – and it is our duty to wage this struggle.

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