In 1985 ‘Live Aid’ became a symbol of concern and generosity, but a little known fact is that during that year the hungriest countries in Africa gave twice as much money to developed nations than what they received from them. Then there was the more recent ‘Red Nose Day’ when millions of pounds were raised to end the famine. What many people don’t know is that before the end of that day, the equivalent of the money raised had already been given back to the rich countries. Every day, this amount of money is transferred from the poorest countries to the richest in the form of interest payments for loans. Few of these countries asked for these loans and most don’t even know they exist. In other words, it’s been the poor of the world who have financed the rich and not the other way around.
This film by John Pilser sets out to explain why this is happening and how it has turned into a silent war. In this silent war, instead of soldiers dying there are children dying. Instead of the burning of bridges there’s a tearing down of forests and other natural resources, the bulldozing of farmlands and the destruction of schools and hospitals. Like in colonial times, people are being controlled, not by viceroys but by a weapon called debt. There are no bullets, but it’s a war in which people are dying— people that have no power in a political system.
What is going on today is the greatest transfer of public wealth into private hands that history has ever witnessed. It’s the process of coercing most of humanity into debt as a means for controlling their resources, their labor, and their government.
According to Douglas Hellinger, former World Bank consultant, the World Bank has always been deceptive about its role in the international economy. It attempts to portray itself as looking out for the interest of poor people, but that has never been the case. The bank is promoting the interest of countries in the first world.
In a secret statement made in the early 1980s the United States declared “… we are capable and willing to pursue important policy objectives in the bank by exercising the financial and political leverage at our disposal.” In other words, the US is able to impose its will on the World Bank. This means that developed nations are not being helped on their terms or according to their needs, but based on what is most convenient to the richest nations.
Should the World Bank and the IMF be abolished and replaced by real development agencies that are non-profit and non-political?