Fwd: "Debt Relief for Africa": Congressional Testimony

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Wed Apr 14 23:57:33 PDT 1999

At 13:06 14/04/99 -0400, you wrote:
>[Something from one of the good NGOs.]

>Africa Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee
>Hearing on "Debt Relief for Africa"
>April 13, 1999
>Testimony by:
>Njoki Njoroge Njehû, Director
>50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice

Yes, there are some good NGOs. But even this presentation does not escape from the implication of begging for charity, for cancellation of debt, unable to explain that is was not as a result of sloth that the debts keep piling up.

(How often are they to be cancelled? Every years? every 6 months? Every month?)

This fails to critique capitalism on a global scale, in particular the uneven accumulation of capital. But since marxists are particularly weak at critiquing capitalism on a world scale, this should not be held against the author.

The uneven accumulation of capital is inherent in the capitalist mode of production and built into the fair exchange of equal values.

It can only be brought under control by conscious global mechanism, that pump wealth out to the periphery not just periodically at festivals of magnanimous debt liquidation, not once a year, not once every 3 months, not even monthly. It needs to be a countercyclical flow managed centrally by the agency responsible for regulating the world's finances.

It will not come easily, without a fight. My point has nothing to do with touching faith in the IMF.

I submit that to agitate for debt relief without addressing publically the global capitalist system is a reform that is reformist. I am openly and unfashionably in favour of reforms, so long as they contribute to a revolutionary shift in power relations, in however small a way. On this issue the shift has to be big.

This article is good, but it is fundamentally reformist.

>These debts accumulated for various reasons: interest rate hikes, borrowing
>sprees in the 1970s when loans were readily available and aggressively
>marketed by private banks, poor advice from Northern economists, corrupt
>and undemocratic governments that misdirected funds, failed infrastructure
>projects, economic mismanagement, war and famines. No matter who or what
>is to blame in any given country


> Together we can bring about a true new beginning in Africa by joining the
>momentum of the international Jubilee 2000 movement: a debt-free start for
>the millennium. As Members of the United States House of Representatives
>you have the power. Please support the cry of African peoples, end the
>suffering: "Cancel the Debt! Break the Chains of Debt!"

Chris Burford


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