Truth and lies

“The US and Britain have agreed on how the debt owed by the world’s poorest nations can be erased”, booms the New York Times. The Age’s James Button writes that the world’s beautiful people are pressuring the leaders of the most powerful nations to do something about Africa. He approvingly quotes Bono, Bob Geldof and former Ultravox singer Midge Ure. At least he asks whether such activity will actually make a difference in Africa itself. What he doesn’t say is instructive. As ever, it’s up to Naomi Klein to reveal the reality:

“This is what keeps Africa poor: not a lack of political will but the tremendous profitability of the current arrangement [of Western imposed economic policies, namely privatisation.]”

“Neoliberalism, an ideology so powerful it tries to pass itself off as “modernity” while its maniacal true believers masquerade as disinterested technocrats, can no longer claim to be a consensus. It was decisively rejected by French voters when they said No to the EU Constitution, and you can see how hated it has become in Russia, where large majorities despise the profiteers of the disastrous 1990s privatisations and few mourned the recent sentencing of oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.”

The imposition of economic policies designed to benefit Western multinationals rather than Africa’s poor remains a key issue rarely discussed in the West. Back to Klein:

“All of this makes for interesting timing for the G-8 summit. Bob Geldof and the Make Poverty History crew have called for tens of thousands of people to go to Edinburgh and form a giant white band around the city centre on July 2 – a reference to the ubiquitous Make Poverty History bracelets. But it seems a shame for a million people to travel all that way to be a giant bauble, a collective accessory to power. How about if, when all those people join hands, they declare themselves not a bracelet but a noose – a noose around the lethal economic policies that have already taken so many lives, for lack of medicine and clean water, for lack of justice.”

John Pilger reminds us that the current face of “saving Africa” is in fact colonialism under a new name. Gordon Brown says there is an “obligation” on the poorest countries to “create the conditions for [business] investment.” The chief civil servant at the UK Department for International Development wrote, “We are extending our support for privatisation in the poorest countries from the power sector in India to the tea industry in Nepal.”

Why doesn’t James Button talk about this? Much easier to believe the propaganda of Gordon Brown.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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