"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Monday, July 04, 2005

It's not the corruption...

and the doublespeak of Live 8.

So corruption is the cause of Africa's problems - that seems to be the latest addition to the pool of knowledge currently nourishing the pop fuelled debate on the blighted continent.

An economically nonsensical assertion of course, since private capital, the real engine of growth in a capitalist economy is not deterred from investing in any part of the world if the potential for significant profit extraction exists regardless of the recipient nations penchant for graft. And lets face it, corruption - the theft of public money is a far less grievous crime than stealing - the theft of private money. Once foreign capitalists can be insured by a police state against the latter, they always find a way of living with the former, just another entry in the cost column of the balance sheet.

The theft of money from the third world state, primitive private accumulation, could even help boost an economy, if it is ploughed back into building factories, plants and property, creating jobs and generating wealth. But capitalists only invest in an economy that’s growing not one that’s stagnating.

In the 60's and 70's, most African economies were growing at rapid rates even though the elite was just as corrupt as it is now. But the economy had not yet been wrecked by the Reagan/Thatcher neo liberal revolution, there was still some scope for indigenous growth and development, before it’s rudimentary protection from the direct ravages of imperialism was contemptuously swept aside by the west.

Corruption has worsened in the continent now because the comprador African Bourgeoisie has been denied even the marginal role it once played in the local economy, as light factory owners, middle men and minority share holders in foreign multinationals, a collapse accentuated by the ruin of the middle classes who formed a large part of the local market that sustained its wealth. When a possessing class is prevented from accumulating wealth “legitimately”, it doesn’t go away, it merely awakens the latent criminality that lurks beneath the refined surface of every patriach of welath, for the best of capitalists are driven by the same force as the worst of bandits - greed.

Whether a ruling class obtains its riches by plundering the state or drug running, piracy and people trafficking as the British capitalists once did, depends on their circumstances not their convictions

If corruption is the root cause of African poverty, then how do we explain the comparatively huge growth figures lot African countries enjoyed in the 60's and 70's when corruption flourished just as much as now.

In Nigeria, after 100 years of colonialism, the "honest" English left just one university, where the department of classical Latin was lavished more attention than the department of Civil Engineering! Within 20 years, the corrupt Nigerian ruling class had built over 25 universities and by 1985 the country had almost 500,0000 students in one form of higher education or another.

As for the claim that the monies stolen from Africa could be better spent on health and education, this is a red herring.

African countries can't spend more on social services because the IMF and the World Bank set strict limits on such public expenditure.

I know this, not from reading radical articles but from personal experience. In the early 90's I was a student activist in Nigeria, where year after year we revolted against the military junta's attempts to enforce the world banks demands to close down whole faculties, phase out most public universities, commercialise the remnants and throw thousands of lecturers from the humanities, Science, Engineering and medicine onto the trash heap."

Continued... Kola Odetola (Media Lens Message Board)

The only thing clear about the purposes of Live8 is Geldof's need to flatter leaders

There is the saviour's certainty, which reveals awareness without understanding

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Published: 04 July 2005

What kind of person would scorn and mock a day like Saturday, when millions sacrificed shopping and sex and gathered on a balmy summer's day to belt out their support for the poorest in Africa? In Hyde Park they had to do without booze, too - a tough test for most Brits.

A handful of good men made this event happen. Some among the new generation of attending citizens were (perhaps) radicalised into questioning this grotesquely misshapen world, where countless (in truth uncounted) children die of starvation and preventable diseases while foolish fashionistas throw away seasonal handbags that cost £1,000.

More importantly the media jumped on board and did Africa. Thousands of images of small, shiny, black-skinned children with accusing eyes flooded our land and overpowered the conscience of each of us. But what was it for? I still don't get it.

I am trying to understand as the litter and scraps of the day float around and those who were there convey what it was like and what it all meant. I confess I cried when Miss Dynamite sang Redemption Song, a beautiful rendition of a never-ending search for black salvation. But the rest of the day was giddily confused and confusing.

continued... The Independent