Patrice Riemens on Mon, 17 Apr 2000 17:41:12 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Why We Are Taking Action Against the World Bank and IMF

Late fwd, 'cos I was ofline... cheers, p

----- Forwarded message from Starhawk <> -----

X-XS4ALL-To: <>
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 06:33:14 -0700
Subject: World Bank Action
From: Starhawk <>

Dear friends, all of you have let me know that you posted my article on
the WTO.  I thought you might want to see this, blessings, Starhawk

Cutting Down the Pines:
Why We Are Taking Action Against the World Bank and IMF
By Starhawk

For the native tribes of California, pine nuts have always been an
important delicacy.  Not so long ago, their ripening was an occasion of
celebration.  Young men of the tribe would earn great honor and praise for
their skill and daring by climbing to the top of the tall trees and
shaking the branches to knock the cones down.  During the Gold Rush, it
often happened that a European-American man would marry a Native woman. 
When pine nut season came around, she might ask her husband to gather
some.  Letıs say that he was a kind and thoughtful husband, who loved her
and wanted to please her, but that he was ignorant of the ways of her
people and no longer young, daring, nor patient enough to climb the trees
and shake the branches.  Instead, he would simply cut down a pine tree. 
When pines were plentiful and settlers were few, this might seem like a
rational thing to do.  At first, in fact, it might create an enormous
sense of abundance and prosperity.  The woman might have more pine nuts
than sheıd ever had before‹for a while.  But in time, if this practice
continued, the pines would be gone and the pine nuts would be no more.  We
are going to Washington DC this week because we see the globalized,
corporatized economy cutting down the pines all around us.  In the United
States, we are surrounded by an illusory abundance that creates great
wealth for a few, but it is the economy of the clearcut, that destroys the
resources we should be cherishing.  Globally, poverty and hunger deepen as
corporate profits rise.  Almost two billion people worldwide live in
abject poverty.  The lives, the cultures, and the lands of indigenous
people are being destroyed in the name of development as surely as the
pine trees were cut by the settlers.  The World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund are major architects of this situation.  In the 70ıs, they
loaned money to Third World countries for massive projects that enriched
political elites and multinational corporations while providing little for
the less privileged.  In the 80ıs, when many countries could not repay
those loans, the World Bank and IMF pushed them deeper into the cycle of
debt with "Structural Adjustment"  programs that forced countries to
refocus their economies on exports and debt repayment instead of food and
goods to meet their own needs.  Poor countries were made to reduce
spending on education and health care in order to continue paying billions
and billions of dollars in interest to wealthy countries.  UNICEF and UN
Economic Commission for Africa figures show that six million children
under the age of five die each year as a result of these policies.  In the
developed world, we feast among the fallen pines with a growing sense of
uneasiness.  We have seen the health of our own communities and economies
compromised as job after job is lost to lands where pay is negligible and
health and environmental standards unenforced.  We see family farms lost,
ancient forests cut down, wild lands and open spaces paved.  The interests
of trans-national corporations undermine our democracy and widen the
chasms of wealth and power that more and more divide us.  We are going to
Washington this week to say that this system is wrong.  It is unjust,
unbalanced, unsustainable, and it causes untold suffering.  We cannot
challenge these institutions through our government because our democratic
institutions are corrupted by the interests of corporate wealth.  We have
no recourse but the streets, no alternative but action.  The World Bank,
the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the
system they represent will not change from any one action.  But they will
and must transform or go down in the face of the rising social movement
these actions represent.  They will change when we all begin to ask
dangerous questions.  Some of us will ask these questions loudly in the
streets of Washington, DC.  But all of us can begin to ask these questions
in our workplaces, our offices, the places where we buy the goods we need
and shop for the things we enjoy:  Are the people who produce the tools of
my trade, my food, clothing and luxuries paid a living wage?  Are their
health and safety protected?  Are their children well educated?  Can they
afford to buy the products they produce?  What is the true cost of this
work, this product, this toy to the soil?  The waters?  The air?  The
complex and irreplaceable habitats of this earth?  The health of our
communities?  Who pays that cost, and in what coin?  Money?  Cancer? 
Extinction?  Who profits?  If we face these questions, we can begin to
build an economy of true abundance.  The sustainability and stability of
our increasingly global economy can only come from wealth widely and
fairly shared.  An economy of true abundance will favor the small and
diverse over the monolithic, hold corporations and individuals accountable
for the true costs of what they produce, favor renewable energy and insist
on the preservation and recycling of resources.  The health of that system
will be measured in the health of our communities, our soil, our waters,
our air, of the habitats of the earthıs diverse creatures.  It will be
seen in the pride of workers who can afford to buy what they produce,
whose children are free to learn, whose lives include leisure and beauty
and freedom.  And it will be the source of a global creativity that may
enrich all of our lives in ways we cannot foresee.  If we cherish the
pines, they will produce nuts that we can enjoy now and in future
generations.  If we continue to cut them down, we will soon have no more. 

A Short Reading List
On Global Economics

Danaher, Kevin, ed. Fifty Years is Enough: The Case Against the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund  Boston: South End Press, 1994

Jacobs, Jane.  The Nature of Economies.

Korten, David.  When Corporations Rule the World.

Mander, Jerry, ed.  The Case Against the Global Economy.

Shiva, Vandana.  Stolen Harvest.

Websites And Resources:
For information on the upcoming actions against the World Bank/IMF in
Washington DC on April 16: 

Public Citizen,    1600 20th Street NW,  Washington, DC 20009-1001
(800) 289-3787

Global Exchange
415-558-9486 ext. 254.

Jubilee 2000,    222 East Capitol St. N.E.,  Washington, DC 20003
(202) 783-3566

 (Primarily religious groups mobilized worldwide to cancel the debt to the
poorest countries in the world by the end of the year 2000.)

 Independent Media Center    
 (These folks were at the heart of the WTO demonstrations, putting movies,
photos, interviews  and stories out on the web as they happened, and will
also cover the A16 action)
Bioneers Conference

A great gathering of people exploring alternative technologies and economic
strategies held in year in the SF Bay Area.  Tapes available.

826 Camino De Monte Rey, A6
 Santa Fe, NM 87505

Interhemispheric Resource Center, PO Box 4506, Albuquerque, NM 87196-4506
  (505) 842-8288        
 (These folks publish many wonderful books such as:  Global Focus:  A New
Foreign Policy Agenda by Tom Barry and Martha Honey)
 Abya Yala Fund for Indigenous Self-Development
 678-13th Street, Suite 100,  Oakland, CA 94612          (510) 763-6553

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