Jobs and Justice Manifesto
Over the last three decades the advanced capitalist countries have tried to overcome the recurrent crisis of overproduction and to keep their economies and profits growing through the neoliberal offensive of exploiting cheap labor, seizing raw materials and dominating markets across the globe. Since the 1990s, they have resorted more and more to financial devices: speculative profits and debt-driven consumption and production.
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|For a Democratic and Just Response to the Global Financial and Economic Crisis|
|Written by Administrator|
|Friday, 05 June 2009 19:43|
A Sign-on Statement initiated by RESIST!
In contrast, they have made no similar commitments to help millions of poor people keep their jobs and their homes, let alone help the billions of people especially in the South who have long suffered abject poverty and underdevelopment even before the current crisis erupted. Rather, the burden of coping with the crisis is placed squarely on the shoulders of working people who are forced to survive on lower wages, slashed benefits, and restricted access to health and other basic services while confronting intensifying discrimination, racism and repression.
There is a lot of talk about the need for fiscal stimulus to revive the real economy through the employment of people in public works, the expansion of social services and the development of a greener economy which, it is hoped, would raise effective demand and spur industrial production. But the funds committed for such programs have been miniscule compared to the funds made available to the titans of finance and are first delivered to the corporations for profit-taking.
Acknowledging the need for a global response to the crisis, the world’s biggest economies convened as the G20 last April 2009. It is a recognition of the relative weakening of the leading imperialist powers – the G7 -- that they need to secure the support of the governments of the larger developing economies such as China, India, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, etc. in their attempts to stabilize the global economy. Nevertheless the majority of countries and peoples – including those most adversely affected and least responsible for the crisis -- are excluded from this process.
The results of the G20’s London Summit basically endorses the same neoliberal economic paradigm and buttresses the same international institutions that have served the interests of monopoly capital and have caused untold suffering and misery for the vast majority of the world. The G20 governments reaffirm their commitment to trade and investment liberalization and bat for the conclusion of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
They have pledged more funds for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to prop up an institution long discredited for imposing onerous conditionalities on poor and indebted countries and thus deepen their underdevelopment. Nowhere in the agenda were basic people’s demands such as decent work, universal access to basic services, people’s participation, progressive taxation, or debt cancellation let alone reparations for peoples of the South suffering the wanton destruction of productive forces caused by the advanced industrialized countries.
The G192 or the United Nations General Assembly has the potential of a more inclusive platform where all member nations of the UN have a seat, even though not everyone can sit in the front row. The UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development this June is therefore a potentially important venue as it initiates a process of examining the causes of the current crisis, reviewing economic policies, and reforming international governance structures. For this reason, underdeveloped countries must take advantage of this space to assert greater economic and political independence from the major powers and break from the Washington Consensus imposed by the Bretton Woods institutions.
The first Draft Outcome Document (DOD) for the UN Summit drafted and released by Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the General Assembly who hails from Nicaragua, reflects many of the aspirations of common people if not their governments, e.g. “The objective of our economic and social activity should not be the limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit centered economy but rather a people centered economy that guarantees human needs, human rights, and human security, as well as conserves life on earth.”
The fact that the Summit has been postponed and the PGA was immediately forced to withdraw this draft text and release a new draft, sans the “radical” passages and proposals, in order to appease officials from the advanced capitalist countries and get negotiations off the ground, demonstrates the limits of this space that is primarily the domain of officials representing elite propertied interests. The imperialist powers are attempting to derail the UN-based process and discredit the PGA. In any case they are also prepared to utilize this venue to push for a convergence around the basic elements of the G20 agenda.
For instance, while the new draft outcome document acknowledges the gravity of the current crisis, it reduces its causes to one of regulatory failure. It calls for "credible and enforceable regulations" but quickly cautions against "needlessly onerous regulatory requirements" – with a wink and a nod at all those financial speculators (so-called innovators) in Wall Street and London.
Like the G20 communiqué, this document affirms that "Globalization and free trade have been important drivers, among other factors, for economic growth and prosperity, and the global recovery from this financial and economic crisis, and our future global resilience, require a speedy conclusion of the WTO Doha Round and provision of much needed trade finance".
The contribution of the UN is indicated in a most telling paragraph which states, “We view the unique perspectives and representativeness of the United Nations as critical to lending legitimacy to the reform and functioning of our International Financial Institutions. Accordingly, we call for mechanisms to ensure increased cooperation and exchanges between the United Nations and International Financial Institutions."
Hence, there is the danger that the UN process will result not in bold reforms that really address the roots of the crisis and lay the foundations for an alternative economic order that upholds the public good over private profits, but in the re-legitimization of the old Bretton Woods Institutions backstopped by new UN oversight mechanisms.
The ultimate objective of the proposed reforms in the international financial and economic architecture is, of course, to strive for “a new balance between the market and public interest”. Indeed, at the rhetorical level at least, a new Manhattan consensus extolling the market held up by the visible hand of the state could take the place of the old discredited Washington consensus while preserving the unjust and exploitative ruling system just the same.
For peoples of the world, all these mean that we cannot leave the most important decisions governing our lives and our future in the hands of those in power, whether ensconced in the national capital or huddled in the halls of these multilateral fora. The challenge before us is to strengthen the mass movement for change. A movement strong enough to cause meaningful reforms or fundamental social transformation.
We therefore vow to intensify our struggles especially against the maneuvering of the exploitative and oppressive elites to pass the burden of crisis onto the people through lay-offs, labor flexibilization, taking back hard-won benefits and social entitlements, cutbacks on social spending, as well as further restrictions and repression of organizing and mass action.
We shall strengthen our solidarity and continue our fight against imperialist domination of peoples of the South whether this takes the form of war, occupation, intervention or through the operations of multinational corporations, the international financial institutions, the WTO or bilateral trade agreements.
We shall take advantage of all available spaces – our communities, our workplaces, our schools, our streets, our public institutions, the mass media, cyberspace -- for educating ourselves and the broader public, for mobilizing the biggest number of organizations and individuals, and for challenging those in power.
We challenge the UN to draw up a response that reflects the needs and demands of poor countries and holds the rich countries accountable for their exploitative and oppressive practices. This response must focus on creating jobs, equity, sustainability and have a strong gender perspective.
We call on the G77 to resist all attempts by the imperialist powers to prevent the democratization of the governance structures of International Financial Institutions and international economic cooperation. These reforms must not only grant a greater voice to developing countries but must institute mechanisms that enable people to hold these institutions as well as the WTO accountable for the consequences of their policy decisions, programs and projects.
We shall be vigilant against all attempts by the imperialist powers along with their client states to dictate the outcome of these institutional reforms in the interest of international monopoly capital. We shall pressure our governments to adopt a more democratic and just response to the economic crisis that addresses the immediate and longer-term needs of the poor and marginalized sectors first and foremost.
We call on the people to be aware that the current global crisis is symptomatic of deeper systemic problems in the world capitalist system that necessitate fundamental changes. For this reason we shall build our movements, expand our alliances, and intensify our struggles, in various forms and in all available spaces to empower the people for the long-term transformation of society towards a future based on genuine democracy, people’s sovereignty, solidarity, sustainability and social justice.
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|Last Updated on Monday, 22 June 2009 13:36|