A Nose Job for the Poor
There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.
This would seem not, as is often claimed, a quote from John Adams, 2nd US President, in 1826. But whoever did say it had seen something.
By 1982, debt-saddled third world nations were defaulting on the debts that they’d been given. Of course, defaulting couldn’t be permitted, it would crash the global system; countries can’t go bankrupt. Enter the IMF, and this opened up lots of new business opportunities for corporations.
The conditionality put on the debtor nations when they took further loans from the IMF were programmes of structural readjustment, that they liberalise their economy, divest themselves of public property, virtually giving it away in many cases, and slashing public spending, quickly wiping out the advances in health and education, civilisation, which had been made.
Joseph Stiglitz made the point:
Structural adjustment suggests they're out of kilter, that they need a nose job. My point is they're poor and need more money to be less poor.
They had to structurally readjust into a prone position. They had to deregulate, and strip people of the protection there given. In the name of good governance, they were to open up access to their markets, in the name of free trade, though the free trade being trumpeted is a one-way street. And as recipients of IMF loans, they would pay an even higher price for any loans than Western countries; these are the rules of poverty and debt that have developed since the Reformation. The economic disparity which leaves these child nations defenceless before the adult world’s overwhelming wealth is thus ever compounded.
It was often the case, to add considerable insult to considerable injury, that the elites in these countries which had incurred the original debt, and misspent it all, stole it, were the very same people who were then able to cheaply pick up state assets, nicely cleansed of debt, the debt having being socialised and taken on by the people collectively.
The careful and considerate Third World development of the post-war era was over, the Third World’s possessions were laid bare for a carve-up by the rich as surely as they were in the colonial age. Financial institutions remotely continued the work of colonial garrisons, what could be more efficient? These nations have seemingly to sell the livelihoods of their own people, forever. And this is why malnourished people are often surrounded by fields of food, all bound for Western supermarkets.