UNEQUAL EXCHANGE & DEBT

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Unless we Africans bury our perennial naiveté once and for all, we are going to perish, literally! First and foremost, we should fully recognize that the reigning global order is not set by us, nor is it primarily intended to benefit our sheeple (human mass). It is time Africans understand the intricate workings of the world system that continues to polarize human existence, both at the level of the individual as well as countries.
Unequal exchange is a permanent pillar of the modern world system. The North extracts resources, financial or otherwise, by employing skewed systems of exchanges! The value of currencies in the global South rarely appreciate vis-à-vis the currencies of northern countries. The economic model that we blindly follow cannot and will not allow our currencies to hold their values against the currencies of the north through time. One can visualize ‘unequal exchange’ by just looking at economies using PPP (purchasing power parity). When goods are priced using PPP, the effect of unequal exchange becomes very clear. Same kinds of goods/services have different prices, depending on location. In the north, prices tend to be dear compared to southern countries. This difference is essentially what is extracted from southern countries on a continuous basis. Going through the analytics of this thesis is certainly beyond the scope of this column. Suffice is to say, this massive loss is 3 to 5% of OECD’s GDP, on annual basis! This is where the actual structural inequality/polarization of the global system resides!
Debt is another scheme of the world order that systemically disfranchises the gullible. In the current monetary regime of the world system, money is created out of thin air and is disbursed as interest bearing financial product in the real economy, mostly to those connected to dominant interests. This systemic extraction of the sweat and blood of labor (including that of entrepreneurs) is another pillar that upholds continuous polarization. Individuals, corporations and states are all affected by this fraudulent scheme of the global banking cabals. Even ‘developed’ economies like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, etc., have fallen through the trap and are made to suffer the consequences of phony money creation and its rampant avarice! We admit; our continent has a dearth of competence to interrogate such subtle and brutal economic arrangements of the reigning world system. Obviously, our pompous elites are not up to it. As a result, our sheeple always find itself at the short end of the stick, so to speak. See Michael Hudson’s article on page 41.
To understand and elaborate the prevailing polarizing globalization, Africa’s organic intellectuals must play the critical roles. By organic intellectuals we mean enlightened individuals with commitment, confidence, competence, courage and caliber to create social consciousness, with a view to transform collective existence from the reigning life-destroying trajectory (of the world order), to a more democratic, sustainable, equitable and resilient system! This also implies that we should be left alone (or force ourselves to go it alone) to do what must be done, whatever the sacrifice. This is what the East Asian countries did, to some extent, before achieving some semblance of economic independence. The case of China is probably the best example. Countries in Africa must encourage thoroughgoing independent analyses at all levels. It is instructive to look at the case of South Korea during its transformative years. General Park set up an ‘Economic Development Board’, to lead the whole new initiative. Members of the board were mathematicians, physicists, statisticians, engineers, etc. and it was chaired by the president himself. There were no economists, accountants, managers, lawyers or the likes, in the board. The reason: the task at hand required original thinking, thinking that start from first principles, which naturally reject phony assumptions leading to blind mimicking! See Hopkins’ and Andreotti’s article next column.
We believe Africa has no choice but to fully engage in more creative ideas. It needs innovative approaches to solve its seemingly intractable problems. It is inevitable that mistakes will be made, but these mistakes will enrich the discourse and add to the whole cumulative experience. As the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t kill you will make you strong’. The western model of accumulation at all cost, is a sick philosophy we should intentionally and forcefully abandon. In its place, life centered ideologies need to be propounded. Exposing the whole truth about the system that is destroying both life and life supports systems of our precarious planet must be agenda number one! In Africa and so far, it is our learned zombies, what we call the Ivy Idiots (‘Intellectuals but Idiots’, in the recently coined phrasing of Nassim Taleb) who have been given ample space to pontificate about the various ‘make believe’ scenarios (present & future) that have no rational basis for their realization. Our lives, increasingly based on material consumption will not bring health, wealth or wisdom. Copy catting unworkable and unsustainable nonsenses, is not only very pathetic, it is also dangerous. Our indoctrinated youth expect a future livelihood that closely mimics what is piped through the stupid box, without realizing that it is all a pipedream! As we never tire of repeating; we need to have another six earths before the rest of the South can have a livelihood similar to that of the North. This is not a matter of opinion; it is a scientific fact!
Even those who have been benefiting from the lopsided arrangement of things are no more secured in their old ways, hence are trying to change or at the very least, rearrange the world system. On the other hand, the multipolar world that is trying to emerge is considered a threat and every aspect of its manifestation is being fought tooth and nail by entrenched dominant interests. The wars in MENA, pending wars in Eastern Europe, South China Sea, South America, are all reminders of where the core values of the status quo lie.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett. Good Day!