[OPE] ['The Hankyoreh': Opinion Column] Third world financial order Dispatch from the International Political Economy Conference in Caracas

From: Gerald Levy <jerry_levy@verizon.net>
Date: Fri Oct 24 2008 - 05:48:08 EDT

[Column] Third world financial order: Dispatch from the International Political Economy Conference in Caracas : Opinion : Home
                  [Column] Third world financial order: Dispatch from the International Political Economy Conference in Caracas
                  Gyeongsang National University Professor Jeong Seong-jin and Sungkonghoe University Professor Cho Hee-youn

                  [Editor¡¯s note: Gyeongsang National University Professor Jeong Seong-jin and Sungkonghoe University Professor Cho Hee-youn were recently invited to Caracas for an October 8-11 conference of international political economists sponsored by the Venezuelan Ministry of Planning and Development to discuss how the Third World, the greatest victim of previous economic crises, should respond to the current global financial crisis at a time when most of the prescriptions concentrate on the United States and Europe. The two professors sent The Hankyoreh their observations. ]

                  The debate was intense as participants talked about how the weak nations of the Third World should respond to the current financial crisis, this while news of falling stock markets arrived at the conference site in real time. A variety of proposals were discussed, ideas originating from positions that ranged from Marxist and Keynesian leftism, but it was the Third World mentality described by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a keynote address on the first day that dominated the overall flow of the discussion.

                  Chavez quoted Antonio Gramsci¡¯s concept of ¡°crisis¡± and defined the current crisis as being ¡°a situation in which outdated neoliberalism is dying but the new socioeconomic system that would take its place has yet to emerge.¡± He called for the abolishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the end of the reign of the dollar, and Third World solidarity through the establishment of a Banco del Sur, or Bank of the South. Ecuador¡¯s Minister of Economic Policy Coordination Pedro Paez Perez and Belgian political scientist Eric Toussaint both called for a review and selective annulment of foreign debt.

                  The Egyptian sociologist Samir Amin warned that the recent economic crisis could, instead of leading to an end to capitalism, ¡°give rise to neofascism or lead to a new war by the North (the West) to pass on the cost of the crisis to the South (the Third World).¡± He said there needs to be a ¡°revival of the spirit of the Bandung Conference, which declared the solidarity of Third World states under the principles of reciprocity and peace.¡± Canadian economist Michael A. Lebowitz agreed, saying that ¡°capitalism is not going to collapse on its own, despite the severe economic crisis.¡± Third World ¡°states and peoples¡± need to respond proactively, he said.

                  The joint statement adopted before the meeting closed called for an independent ¡°Bank of the South¡± that reflects the conditions of South American states, the biggest victims of this financial crisis, to counteract a financial order that centers around the IMF, the issuing of a common South American currency as a regional shock-absorption mechanism, and for the acceleration of economic integration that would not be dominated by the United States. It also reaffirmed the basic position that we need to seek a new financial order, one that goes beyond the speculative financial order. It was, however, unfortunate that the excessive emphasis on ¡°cooperation from above¡± to establish that alternative financial order meant Jeong Seong-jin¡¯s call to ¡°guard against the revival of reformism, Keynesian economics, and state capitalism¡± in the context of the economic crisis and Cho Hee-youn¡¯s suggestion of the ¡°need for joint global action to change the international economic crisis into an opportunity for the masses to assert their political leverage instead of an economic crisis for the citizens of individual countries¡± were not reflected in the document.

                  Venezuela is in the midst of a modern socialist experiment as it moves against the global trend towards privatization to nationalize its key natural resources, and the week we spent in Caracas gave us plenty to think about. In Korea these days it is thought that guaranteeing the international movement of speculative financial capital through an active stock market and deregulation is to achieve growth. How should we redefine the significance of the crisis and what lessons do we need to be learning from it?

                  [The views presented in this column are the writer¡¯s own, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Hankyoreh.]

                  Posted on : Oct.24,2008 13:18 KST


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