Updates on the Economic War and the Political Crisis
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 8 May 2023
David Adams | Transition to a Culture of Peace – TRANSCEND Media Service
1 May 2023 – Recent events have profound effects on the subjects of my recent blogs: News from the Front of the Economic War and The Analysis Is Simple; It Is Economic
First, The Economic War.
The trip to China this month by Brazilian President Lula was marked by the installation of his friend and former President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, to preside over a new bank, the New Development Bank (NDB) of the BRICS association (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).
It is important that the NDB is based in Beijing. It is seen as an alternative to the World Bank that is located in Washington where it is dominated by the United States.
As Rousseff explained in an interview, the NDB will support the development priorities of the BRICS countries and the Global South for sustainable development, social inclusion and development of infrastructure. As she says “30% of our loans will be financed in the currencies of our member countries,” unlike the World Bank where all loans are in dollars. She explains that “That will be extremely important to help our countries avoid exchange rate risks.” As discussed in the blog on THE ECONOMIC WAR, one of these risks is the sanctions imposed by the United States which is made possible by their control of the dollar.
The NDB is a concrete example of the increasing independence of the Global South from the economic dominance of the American Empire. Related to this is the long list of countries that have indicated they want to be associated with BRICS, including Argentina, Algeria, Iran, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mexico. Already, without the inclusion of these other countries, the BRICS now represents 31.5 percent of the global economy, while the G7 share has fallen to 30 percent.
In the economic war, the American sanctions are becoming a two-edged sword. While sanctions enable the U.S. to punish countries, now they may drive more and more countries into the orbit of BRICS.
To quote again from Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin.”
Now for THE POLITICAL CRISIS which is caused by the increasing inequality between the rich and the poor, not only between countries, but also within countries, including those that rule the world.
At the end of the February blog on this subject, it was stated that “Without profound and universal taxation of the rich, we are headed for what Stiglitz calls “a chaos far greater than what we saw in Washington, D.C. and Brasilia”.
Recent events reveal another important side to the dynamics, the renaissance of trade unions as a political force that works to reduce economic inequality,. This was not considered in the February blog, as this renaissance has gathered force only recently.
Elections such as those of Trump and Bolsonaro, and the rise of right-wing, even fascist political forces elsewhere in the world, have expressed the anger of voters against rising inequality and capitalist exploitation. That is why the blog stated that the correct political analysis is economic.
However, when trade unions become a political force, they provide a very different political alternative.
A recent example is the election of Lula as President of Brazil. Lula has always been associated with the trade union movement of Brazil and his new government reflects that association.
In the United States, a important recent election saw the voters of Chicago choose a trade unionist as mayor rather than his right-wing opponent. The mayor, a teacher, had the backing of the teachers union. Although the traditional American labor movement was decimated by the loss of manufacturing industry, it is beginning to regain force in service industries such as teachers, workers at Starbucks and Amazon, etc.
Elsewhere, trade union movements have organized important mobilizations to oppose government policies that favour capitalist exploitation and growing inequality.
In France, all of the major trade unions have come together to oppose President Macron’s un-democratic imposition of retirement reform. Millions of people have been mobilized in demonstrations and strikes and union membership has begun to increase.
In Germany, nationwide strikes, among the greatest in decades, caused huge disruption at the country’s airports, on public transport and at its largest port. The walkouts were called by two major transport unions in Europe’s biggest economy, involving more than 400,000 transport workers demanding a 10.5% pay raise for its members, citing rising energy and food costs.
And in South Africa, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union ended a strike launched earlier this month over concerns about salaries and inflation. The announcement came as the government agreed to revisit the salary increase for the current year and signaled it was willing to reconsider its approach to collective bargaining with the union
A particularly interesting development has taken place in Korea where the two Koreas are a classic example in economic inequality, both between the countries and within each country. Despite the opposition of the South Korean government, trade unions of North and South Korea have established a dialogue for peace, In January the government raided union offices and union leaders were charged under the anti-communist National Security Law, accused of being spies for North Korea.
So far, Brazil is the exceptional case, but if trade union movements elsewhere in the world are able to provide progressive electoral alternatives to capitalist-dominated governments, perhaps we can avoid the chaos foreseen by Stiglitz and achieve progress in democracy and economic equality.
Dr. David Adams is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace. Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence. Send him an email.
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Tags: BRICS, Economics, New Development Bank
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