7 July 2005 Edition
Gang of 8 gettogether
It has become a regular feature over the last couple of years — particularly since the major anti-globalisation demonstration in Seattle in 1999 — for the G8 Summit to be targeted by a range of anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist protestors.
While the elites of the G8 states are very powerful it is at least a timely reminder that they are being watched, challenged and confronted. While these demonstrations aren't likely to result in political upheaval and overthrow any time soon, it is encouraging for progressive forces to see that the pressure is being maintained.
While there has been much criticism of the recent Live 8 concerts for its narcissism, self-congratulatory glorification and lack of real analysis on the true causes of global poverty, they have unquestionably drawn much needed attention to the issues such as fair trade, debt relief, aid, climate change and Kyoto. Through the Make Poverty History campaign such issues have been forced onto the political agenda. It is too early to form a definitive view on the effectiveness of these events.
The G8 itself is formed from the eight most powerful and wealthy countries in the world; the original capitalist seven of USA, Germany, France, Japan, Britain, Italy and Canada. Russia was later included as an attempt to tie them more firmly within the capitalist system. It is not so much these counties that the G8 represents but rather the rich, powerful and influential elites within them.
The first five of these states are primarily responsible for the system of global poverty that persists by imposing an economic model that effectively amounts to a system of worldwide exploitation.
Trade is set by these counties which give them power to set prices and trade conditions for the Third World which they have no option but to accept. Third World commodity producers are ripped off in the most blatant and obscene manner. As creditors, the wealthiest counties set down stringent neo-liberal conditions for loans — loans which are necessary for infrastructural development in the Third World — but which result in mass suffering, cruel hardships and intensified increased poverty to even higher levels on a truly colossal scale. The much-vaunted aid that is given by these wealthy counties to the third world is likewise tied with ever more terms and conditions, which don't benefit poor counties but rather interests and concerns of the wealthy. All of this is underlain by the military might of the United States, the economic and political might of the G8, and by the compulsive prevailing doctrine neo-liberal capitalism.
The issues of climate change and the Kyoto Agreement are issues of concern to everybody, but which the wealthy have more luxury implementing. Poor counties are further constricted in their ability to develop. Nonetheless, the country most opposed to comp