Re: [OPE] Responding to the crisis

From: Gerald Levy <>
Date: Mon Oct 20 2008 - 12:11:30 EDT

Hi Dave Z and others:
Here's a 'Social Forum-type' response. Note signatures at end.
In solidarity, Jerry


*The global economic crisis: An historic opportunity for transformation*

*An initial response from individuals, social movements and
 non-governmental Organisations in support of a transitional programme for
 radical economic transformation Beijing, 15 October 2008*

* *


*Taking advantage of the opportunity of so many people from movements
gathering in Beijing during the Asia-Europe People's Forum, the
Transnational Institute and Focus on the Global South convened informal
nightly meetings between 13 and 15 October 2008. We took stock of the
meaning of the unfolding global economic crisis and the opportunity it
presents for us to put into the public domain some of the inspiring and
feasible alternatives many of us have been working on for decades. This
statement represents the collective outcome of our Beijing nights. We, the
initial signatories, mean this to be a contribution towards efforts to
formulate proposals around which our movements can organise as the basis
for a radically different kind of political and economic order. Please sign
on to this statement at **.*

* *

*The Crisis*

The global financial system is unravelling at great speed. This is happening
in the midst of a multiplicity of crises in relation to food, climate and
energy. It severely weakens the power of the US and the EU, and the global
institutions they dominate, particularly the International Monetary Fund,
the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. Not only is the
legitimacy of the neo-liberal paradigm in question, but the very future of
capitalism itself.

Such is the chaos in the global financial system that Northern governments
have resorted to measures progressive movements have advocated for years,
such as nationalisation of banks. These moves are intended, however, as
short-term stabilisation measures and once the storm clears, they are likely
to return the banks to the private sector. We have a short window of
opportunity to mobilise so that they are not.

 * *

*The challenge and the opportunity*

We are entering uncharted terrain with this conjuncture of profound crises -
the fall out from the financial crisis will be severe. People are being
thrown into a deep sense of insecurity; misery and hardship will increase
for many poorer people everywhere. We should not cede this moment to
fascist, right wing populist, xenophobic groups, who will surely try to
take advantage of people's fear and anger for reactionary ends.

Powerful movements against neo-liberalism have been built over many decades.
This will grow as critical coverage of the crisis enlightens more people,
who are already angry at public funds being diverted to pay for problems
they are not responsible for creating, and already concerned about the
ecological crisis and rising prices - especially of food and energy. The
movements will grow further as recession starts to bite and economies
start sinking into depression.

There is a new openness to alternatives. To capture people's attention and
support, they must be practical and immediately feasible. We have convincing
alternatives that are already underway, and we have many other good ideas
attempted in the past, but defeated. Our alternatives put the well-being of
people and the planet at their centre. For this, democratic control over
financial and economic institutions are required. This is the "red thread"
connecting up the proposals presented below.

* *

*Proposals for debate, elaboration and action*

* *


- Introduce full-scale socialisation of banks, not just nationalisation
    of bad assets.
- Create people-based banking institutions and strengthen existing
   popular forms of lending based on mutuality and solidarity.
- Institutionalise full transparency within the financial system
  through the opening of the books to the public, to be facilitated by
  citizen and worker organisations.
- Introduce parliamentary and citizens' oversight of the existing
  banking system
- Apply social ( including conditions of labour) and environmental
   criteria to all lending, including for business purposes
- Prioritise lending, at minimum rates of interest, to meet social and
   environmental needs and to expand the already growing social economy
- Overhaul central banks in line with democratically determined social,
   environmental and expansionary (to counter the recession) objectives,
   and make them publicly accountable institutions.
- Safeguard migrant remittances to their families and introduce
  legislation to restrict charges and taxes on transfers


- Close all tax havens
- End tax breaks for fossil fuel and nuclear energy companies
- Apply stringent progressive tax systems
- Introduce a global taxation system to prevent transfer pricing and
   tax evasion
- Introduce a levy on nationalised bank profits with which to establish
   citizen investment funds (see below)
- Impose stringent progressive carbon taxes on those with the biggest
   carbon footprints
- Adopt controls, such as Tobin taxes, on the movements of speculative
- Re-introduce tariffs and duties on imports of luxury goods and other
  goods already produced locally as a means of increasing the state's
  fiscal base, as well as a means to support local production and thereby
  reduce carbon emissions globally

*Public Spending and Investment*

- Radically reduce military spending
- Redirect government spending from bailing out bankers to guaranteeing
   basic incomes and social security, and providing universally accessible
   basic social services such as housing, water, electricity, health,
   education, child care, and access to the internet and other public
   communications facilities.
- Use citizen funds (see above) to support very poor communities
- Ensure that people at risk of losing their homes due to defaults on
   mortgages caused by the crisis are offered renegotiated terms of
- Stop privatisations of public services
 - Establish public enterprises under the control of parliaments, local
   communities and/or workers to increase employment
- Improve the performance of public enterprises through democratizing
   management - encourage public service managers, staff, unions and
  consumer organisations to collaborate to this end
- Introduce participatory budgeting over public finances at all
   feasible levels
- Invest massively in improved energy efficiency, low carbon emitting
   public transport, renewable energy and environmental repair
- Control or subsidise the prices of basic commodities

*International Trade and Finance*

- Introduce a permanent global ban on short-selling of stock and shares
- Ban on trade in derivatives
- Ban all speculation on staple food commodities
- Cancel the debt of all developing countries - debt is mounting as the
   crisis causes the value of Southern currencies to fall
- Support the United Nations call to be involved in discussions about
   how the to resolve the crisis, which is going to have a much bigger
   impact on Southern economies than is currently being acknowledged
- Phase out the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World
  Trade Organisation
- Phase out the US dollar as the international reserve currency
- Establish a people's inquiry into the mechanisms necessary for a just
   international monetary system.
- Ensure aid transfers do not fall as a result of the crisis
- Abolish tied aid
- Abolish neo-liberal aid conditionalities
- Phase out the paradigm of export-led development, and refocus
   sustainable development on production for the local and regional market
- Introduce incentives for products produced for sale closest to the
   local market
- Cancel all negotiations for bilateral free trade and economic
   partnership agreements
- Promote regional economic co-operation arrangements, such as UNASUR,
   the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the Trade Treaty of
  the Peoples and others, that encourage genuine development and an end to


- Introduce a global system of compensation for countries which do not
   exploit fossil fuel reserves in the global interests of limiting
  effects on the climate, such as Ecuador has proposed.
- Pay reparations to Southern countries for the ecological destruction
   wrought by the North to assist peoples of the South to deal with
  climate change and other environmental crises.
- Strictly implement the "precautionary principle" of the UN
  Declaration on the Right to Development as a condition for all
 developmental and environmental projects.
- End lending for projects under the Kyoto Protocol's "Clean
 Development Mechanism" that are environmentally destructive, such as
 plantations of eucalyptus, soya and palm oil.
- Stop the development of carbon trading and other environmentally
  counter-productive techno-fixes, such as carbon capture and
 sequestration, agrofuels, nuclear power and 'clean coal' technology.
- Adopt strategies to radically reduce consumption in the rich
 countries, while promoting sustainable development in poorer countries
- Introduce democratic management of all international funding
  mechanisms for climate change mitigation, with strong participation from
 Southern countries and civil society.

*Agriculture and Industry*

- Phase out the pernicious paradigm of industry-led development, where
   the rural sector is squeezed to provide the resources necessary to
  support industrialisation and urbanisation
- Promote agricultural strategies aimed at achieving food security,
  food sovereignty and sustainable farming.
- Promote land reforms and other measures which support small holder
   agriculture and sustain peasant and indigenous communities
- Stop the spread of socially and environmentally destructive
   mono-cultural enterprises.
- Stop labour law reforms aimed at extending hours of work and making
   it easier for employers to fire or retrench workers
- Secure jobs through outlawing precarious low paid work
- Guarantee equal pay for equal work for women - as a basic principle
  and to help counter the coming recession by increasing workers' capacity
  to consume.
- Protect the rights of migrant workers in the event of job losses,
   ensuring their safe return to and reintegration into their home
  countries. For those who cannot return, there should be no forced
  their security should be guaranteed, and they should be provided with
 employment or a basic minimum income.

* *


*These are all practical, common sense proposals. Some are initiatives
already underway and demonstrably feasible. Their successes need to be
publicised and popularised so as to inspire reproduction. Others are
unlikely to be implemented on their objective merits alone. Political will
is required. By implication, therefore, every proposal is a call to action.


* *

*We have written what we see as a living document to be developed and
enriched by us all. Please sign on to this statement at **.*

* *

*A future occasion to come together to work on the actions needed to make
these ideas and others a reality will be the World Social Forum in Belem,
Brazil at the end of January 2009. *

 * *

*We have the experience and the ideas - let's meet the challenge of the
present ruling disorder and keep the momentum towards an alternative

* *

*Initial Signatories*


*Transnational Institute, The Netherlands*

*Focus on the Global South, Asia*

*Red Pepper magazine, United Kingdom*

*Institute for Global Research and Social Movements, Russia*

*Jubilee South- Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS APMDD)*

* *


*Fiona Dove, South Africa*

*Walden Bello, Philippines/Thailand*

*Hilary Wainwright, United Kingdom*

*Boris Kagarlitsky, Russia*

*Achin Vanaik, India*

*Dot Keet, South Africa*

*Brid Brennan, Ireland*

*Pietje Vervest, Netherlands*

*Cecilia Olivet, Uruguay*

*Ramon Fernandez, Spain*

*Pierre Rousset, France*

*Rodney Bickerstaffe, United Kingdom*

*Lidy Nacpil, Philippines*

*Von Francis C Mesina, Philippines*

*Al D. Senturias, Jr., Philippines*

*Sammy Gamboa, Philippines*

*Fe Jusay, Philippines*

*Nonoi Hacbang, Philippines*

*Seema Mustafa, India*

*Kenneth Haar, Denmark*

*Wolfram Schaffar, Germany*

*Christa Wichterich, Germany*

*Isabelle Duquesne, France*

*Adhemar Mineiro, Brasil*

*Benny Kuruvilla, India*

*Aehwa Kim, South Korea*

*Manjette Lopez, Philippines*

*Bonn Juego, Philippines*

*Rasti Delizo, Philippines*

*James Miraflor, Philippines*

*Miquel Ortega Cerda, Spain*

*David Llistar, Spain*

*Alpo Ratia, Finland*

*Mira Kakonen, Finland*

*Hilary Chiew, Malasya*

*Celeste Fong, Malasya*
*Tatcee Macabuag, Philippines*

*Teodoro M. de Mesa, Philippines*

*Uwe Hoering, Germany*

*Asad Rehman, UK*

*Andy Rutherford, UK*

*Debbie Valencia, Greece*

*Petra Snelders, Netherlands*

*Etta P. Rosales, Philippines *

*Pete Pinlac, Philippines*

*Ute Hausrnann, Germany*

*Penny Davies, Sweeden*

*Alain Baron, France*

*Hanneke van Eldik Thieme, Netherlands*

*Dorothy Guerrero, Philippines*

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Received on Mon Oct 20 12:14:50 2008

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