Thursday, February 21, 2013

(STICKY) Wynter is making sense

Wynter is making sense
By The Post
Thu 21 Feb. 2013, 15:10 CAT

We share Wynter Kabimba's concerns about globalisation and how it has reduced the world into a "village of unequal partners and participants".

We who live in poor Third World countries need to collectively reflect on ways to face the new world realities in order to achieve development, eradicate poverty, defend the cultures of our people and occupy the place we deserve in making global decisions that affect everyone.

Actually, only a calm reflection and an honest exchange of ideas will show us the way to better consider the legitimate interests of all our peoples.

We benefit very little - and often not at all - from the advantages of the current world order with its dazzling technology, market expansion and financial bubbles.

Today we face the enormous challenges arising from a unipolar world order and a globalisation process that advances imperiously, shaping a world with greater technological potential than ever before, but also with greater inequalities and exclusions.

Globalisation is the historical process that is today defining the world scenario. Globalisation is an irreversible reality characterised by the growing interaction of all countries in the world, their economies and peoples. The major scientific and technological advances have shortened distances and allowed for direct communication and transmission of information among countries located anywhere on the planet.

With its impressive technological achievements, globalisation holds tremendous potential for development, the eradication of poverty and fostering well-being in conditions of social equality for all humanity. Never before has the world commanded today's formidable technological resources.

However, the world is still very far from materialising the potential of globalisation. It develops today under the aegis of neo-liberal policies that impose unregulated markets and unbridled privatisation.

Far from promoting the expansion of development throughout an increasingly interdependent world badly in need of sharing the progress achieved, neo-liberal globalisation has aggravated existing inequalities and raised to inordinate heights social inequities and the most disturbing contrasts between extreme wealth and extreme poverty.

In 1960, the difference of incomes between the wealthiest 20 per cent of the world's population living in the developed countries and those of the poorest 20 per cent living in the Third World was 30 to one. By 1997, that ratio was 74 to one. The cult of deregulated markets had promised a progressive convergence of development levels. However, the last two decades have brought an even greater concentration of revenues and resources and a wider gap between developed and underdeveloped nations.

The OECD member countries, with 19 per cent of the world's population, account for 71 per cent of international trade in goods and services, 58 per cent of foreign direct investment and 91 per cent of all internet users.

It is obvious that the opportunities offered by globalisation are distributed very unevenly in the conditions created by the cult of market competition and the reduction of the role of governments to passive recipients of decisions taken by the financial power centres.

In order for globalisation to realise its enormous potential to benefit humanity, it must be accompanied by a just and sustainable new world order. This new order must include the participation of Third World countries in global decision-making and a profound transformation of the international monetary system currently dominated by the privileges enjoyed by the United States' national currency.

Likewise, a comprehensive approach to development is required in order to avoid the separation of trade, investments and finance, thus facilitating control by the developed countries. It is essential to reduce the widening gap between the group of the wealthiest countries and the large majority of poorest countries, as well as to bring an end to protectionist policies, which clearly contradict the often-repeated rhetoric of liberalisation.

Globalisation potential for progress and development for all, and not just for a privileged minority, will elude full realisation in the absence of a dialogue between the developed countries and the Third World. This must be a wide-ranging and responsible dialogue based on a full understanding of the shared responsibility imposed by globalisation, of the different degrees of development that make it both unfair and absurd to demand equal contributions from such profoundly unequal parties.

Above all, it must be a dialogue on an equal footing and not a monologue in which the Third World is assigned the role of listening to a lecture on what it should do to earn a certificate for good behavior.

Never before has humanity had such formidable scientific and technologic potential, such extraordinary capacity to produce riches and well-being, but never before have disparity and inequality been so profound in the world.

Technological wonders that have been shrinking the planet and distances co-exist today with the increasingly wider gap separating wealth and poverty, development and underdevelopment.

It is said that globalisation is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers on the same vessel - this planet where we all live. But passengers on this vessel are traveling in very different conditions.

A trifling minority is traveling in luxurious cabins furnished with all sorts of hitech gadgets. They enjoy a nutritional, abundant and balanced diet as well as clean water supplies. They have access to sophisticated medical care and culture.

The overwhelming and suffering majority is traveling in conditions that resemble the terrible slave trade from Africa to America. That is, the great majority of the passengers on this ship are crowded together in its dirty hold, suffering hunger, disease and helplessness.

Obviously, this vessel is carrying too much injustice to remain afloat, pursuing such an irrational and senseless route that it cannot call on a safe port. This vessel seems destined to crash into an iceberg. If that happened, we would all sink with it.

We do not have only a corrective right, but also a collective obligation to take the helm and correct that catastrophic course. It is our duty to take our rightful place at the helm and ensure that all passengers can travel in conditions of solidarity, equity and justice.

For two decades, we have been repeatedly listening to only one simplistic discourse, while one single policy has prevailed. We have been told that deregulated markets, maximum privatisation and the state's withdrawal from economic activity were the infallible principles conducive to economic and social development.

In the last two decades, along this line, the developed countries, particularly the United States, the big transnational corporations who benefit from such policies and the International Monetary Fund have designed the world economic order most hostile to our countries' progress and the least sustainable, in terms of preservation of society and the environment.

Globalisation has been held tight by the patterns of neo-liberalism; thus, it is not development that becomes global but poverty; it is not respect for national sovereignty of our states but the violation of that respect; it is not solidarity amongst our peoples but sauve-qui-peut in the unequal competition prevailing in the marketplace. Two decades of the so-called neo-liberal structural adjustments have left us economic failure and social disaster. It is the duty of responsible politicians to face up to this predicament by taking the indispensable decisions conducive to rescue our countries from a blind alley.

This is the only way we can prevent the ship from colliding with the iceberg that could sink us all. This is the only way that we can look forward to life and not death.

The only way for our poor countries to succeed in making ourselves heard, in fighting for our interests, and in defending our right to life, development and culture is to stand united. And as Wynter correctly puts it, "this is the world where the rich in terms of natural resources are the poorest in terms of living standards and obviously it means we have to reconstruct this world economic order". Wynter is making sense.

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