Why we protest the G-8
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Frederick News Post, May 18, 2012
Countries representing concentrated wealth will gather in remote Camp David this week to try to prop up a failing global economic system that has funneled wealth to the top, leaving everyone else behind. From its founding, the G-8 has been engaged in a struggle between the wealthiest people in a handful of nations and everyone else. The losing side of this corrupt bargain has increasingly come to include many people within those wealthy countries as well.
In 1974, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration for the Establishment of a New International Economic Order. This document laid out an economic vision that would have created a much healthier planet and fairer international economy. It would have empowered countries to regulate and control multinational corporations operating within their borders. It sought to develop international trade that was fair so countries received equitable prices for raw materials and labor. It also opposed the use of military, economic or political force to prevent countries from acting in their own economic self-interest, whether individually or jointly. This latter point was in defense of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whose oil embargo occurred two years earlier.
The response from the wealthiest nations was to create the G-6, the forerunner to the G-8 (as it did not include Russia or Canada), which first met in 1975 amid another recession that featured high unemployment, inflation and deficits. The G-6 sought to circumvent the U.N.'s declaration and prevent the world from participating in economic decision making that benefited all, not just a few. The G-6 put the world on an economic path of concentrated wealth and corporatism that has looted our resources and brought the economy and environment to the breaking point.
Today, the G-8 is made up of nations that hold 53 percent of the world's GDP and control most of the world's capital through a handful of banks and institutions such as the Federal Reserve, central banks, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They dominate the world as many of these same countries did during the colonial era. Their continued accumulation of wealth is due to intentional policies that exploit poorer nations, as well as workers in their own countries, through war, economic domination, neo-liberalism and oppression.
The conflict the G-8 has fought is heightening as people around the world are standing up against its imposition of austerity at a time of great economic insecurity. People realize that despite an overall continued increase in global wealth, wealth inequality is growing. The looting class grows richer while more families fall into poverty. From the Occupy movement in the United States to the Arab Spring and European awakening, people are fighting back. Governments around the world are also saying "no" to continued economic domination.
The U.N. appointed the Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System in 2009. This commission, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, a U.S. economist, Nobel Prize winner and former chief economist of the World Bank, urged profound reforms of the world economic system. The commission recommended the establishment of a new Global Economic Coordination Council at the U.N. to control the World Bank and IMF, an end to forcing economic policies on developing nations, a process for far greater and fairer debt cancellation, and a new reserve currency to replace the dollar. They sought an inclusive process where all countries are involved in restoring global economic stability, not just a few countries dominating the process.
The international Occupy Movement has put forward a manifesto for an economy that works for the people's welfare, supports the environment, and appreciates the value of labor. The document seeks an economy that is run democratically at all levels -- in working-class communities in Maryland and around the world. We want people to gain democratic control over financial institutions and corporations as well as international institutions that regulate them. We need to eliminate the veto power wielded by a select few governments. Our vision is a political system that actually represents and benefits the variety and diversity of our societies.
This is why we protest the G-8 and put forward an alternative vision. We are in a time of great change some have called "the Great Turning" where the old system of oil, coal and nuclear energy no longer works, where the wealth divide has become unacceptable, where government is no longer responsive due to the corruption of concentrated wealth, where the ecology of the Earth can no longer sustain the voracious appetite of greed. It is a turning to real democracy at all levels of government and throughout the economy and a life-sustaining civilization that is consistent with the Earth's ecology and the necessities of the people.
As the looting class tries to hang on to the old path, the world is demanding a new one.
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are co-directors of It's Our Economy and organizers of the Occupy G-8 People's Summit being held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the Community Room, C. Burr Artz Public Library,110 E. Patrick St., Frederick.
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