WFA/TWF at WSF Tunis 2015

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WFA/TWF at WSF Tunis 2015

 

SAMIR AMIN

 

 

 

Opening speech

 

The proposals that follow do not cover all these issues of course, but only a selection of some among the major of them.

 

The issues discussed should consider relevant flash back to the era of Bandung and benefit from lessons of the past. Nonetheless the focus should be on the status of present challenges and possible responses contributing to moving ahead. Attention should be given to the positions expressed at recent conferences of NAM, Algiers may 2014 in particular. We provide in the following paragraphs some indication with respect to the issues considered. Issues are only mentioned without attempt to articulate them into an integrated programme of action. Such exercise would pre-empt the conclusions of the expected rich debates to come.

 

 

 

ROUND TABLE 1: Constructing the political solidarity between States, nations and peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean

 

1°) History of NAM has proved that the political solidarity deployed by countries of the South had produced results. The colonial legacies denounced at Bandung have been cleared, except for Palestine. An effort is therefore required to reconstruct the front of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

 

2°) The major challenge to day is represented by the deployment of the US/NATO/Japan strategy aiming at establishing their military control of the Planet, the military menaces and interventions conducted to that effect, and the false “legitimacy” given to these interventions by the so called “international community”, in fact restricted to the imperialist powers. Beyond the analysis of the disastrous results of these interventions, resulting into the destruction of whole societies (Iraq, Lybia, Syria are sad exemples of such results), a debate should be conducted to assess the responses (or lack of response) that the community of States of the three continents have given to that central challenge. Defeating that strategy of military control of the planet conditions the success of an alternative reorganisation of the political world system, guaranteeing the rights of nations to choose freely their own path of development and ensuring peaceful coexistence among them. A number of problems relate to that central question, such as the struggle for the dismantling of the US military bases, an assessment of what is meant by “the struggle against terrorism”, state terrorism etc.

 

3°) NAM, along with the G77 plus China, had initiated successfully the adoption by the UN of Charters formulating rights of peoples, as well as the right to development. Suggesting proposals aiming at reinforcing the ways and means to have those rights actually implemented is required.

 

4°) NAM, along with the G77 plus China should also consider deploying systematic efforts to re-establish the legitimacy of UN as representative of the international community.

 

5°) NAM, G77 plus China, CELAC (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and the African Union, should coordinate their efforts. Proposals to institutionalise their cooperation (common secretariat? , task forces?) are welcome.

 

6°) Conflicts between countries of the three continents with respect to their continental and maritime boundaries cannot be ignored. Our debates should perhaps focus on proposals to create institutional frames offering ways and means to clear these conflicts and avoid their being manipulated by imperialist powers with a view to destroying the solidarity among us.

 

 

 

 

ROUND TABLE 2: Advancing the construction of alternative sovereign, popular and democratic projects in the three continents

 

1°) We should start by drawing the lessons from the historical experiences of NAM countries which attempted to build national/popular inward looking economies as referred to in part A of this document. The major shortcoming in all these experiences (as well as in the socialist experiences of the 20th century) lays in their disregard for the fundamental importance of inventing ways ensuring the progressive advance of higher forms of democracy which condition in their turn any meaningful efficient management in both the economic and political fields. This shortcoming generated depolitisation which was engulfed by the rise of passeist illusions that constitute a major obstacle to the required alternative based on a renewed concept of a “sovereign project” in keeping with the challenges of our contemporary world.

 

2°) The very notion of the "sovereign project" must be a subject for discussion. Given the level of penetration of transnational investments in all sectors and in all countries, one cannot avoid the question: what kind of sovereignty is being referred to?

 

The global conflict for access to natural resources is one of the main determinants of the dynamics of contemporary capitalism. The dependence of the North for numerous resources and the growing demands of China constitute a challenge for South America, Africa and the Middle East which are particularly well endowed with resources and shaped by the history of the pillage of those resources. Can we develop national and regional policies in these domains as the beginning of a rational and equitable global management of resources that would benefit all peoples? Can we develop new relations between China and the countries of the South that subscribe to such a perspective, linking access to these resources by China with support for the  industrialisation of the countries concerned (that which the so-called "donors" of the OECD refuse to do)?

 

 

 

An independent national policy remains fragile and vulnerable if it does not have real national and popular support, which requires it to be based on economic and social policies that ensure that the popular classes are beneficiaries of "development." That is the condition of the social stability required for the success of the sovereign project against the political de-stabilization of the imperialist project. We must therefore examine the nature of relationships between existing or potential sovereign projects and the social bases of the system of power: a national, democratic and popular project, or an illusory project of national capitalism?

 

 

 

Can non-continental countries develop sovereign projects? What are their limits? What forms of regional coming together could facilitate such progress?

 

 

 

3°) Preparations for the future, even if far away, begin today. What model of society do we want? Founded on what principles? The destructive competition between individuals or the affirmation of the advantages of solidarity? The liberty that gives legitimacy to inequality or the liberty associated with equality? The exploitation of the planet's resources without regard for the future or by taking  into consideration the precise measure of what is  needed for the reproduction of the conditions of life on the planet? The future must be seen as the realization of a higher stage of universal human civilization, not merely a more "fair" or more "efficient" model of civilization as we know it (the "modern" civilization of capitalism). In order to avoid the risk of staying on the ground of wishful thinking, a remake of the utopian socialism of the 19th century, we should ensure answers on the following topics: 1. What anthropological and sociological scientific knowledge today interrogates the “utopias” formulated in the past? 2. What is our new scientific knowledge about the conditions for the reproduction of life on the planet?

 

4°) In summary: is the target catching up with the affluent societies as they are to-day, such as the US (target for China), Germany, Japan, or even small European rich countries (targets for others)? Are such targets desirable and possible? Or is the target more ambitious: create the conditions for our societies of the three continents contributing to the invention of a higher stage of human civilisation?

 

 

 

ROUND TABLE 3 : Return to the agrarian question; facing the challenge of growing unequality in the access to land

 

1°) We consider that a special attention must be given to the agrarian question in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The reason is that neo liberal globalisation pursues a massive attack on peasant agriculture on the three continents (the well known process of “land grabing”). Complying with this major component of current globalisation leads nowhere but simply to the massive pauperisation/exclusion/destitution of hundreds of millions of human beings across the three continents. That would therefore put an end to any attempt of our societies to move up in the global society of nations. Therefore any meaningful alternative pattern of development must be based on the opposite principle, the right of access to land to all peasants, as equally (or at least as less unequally) as possible in order to be a component in building a consistent sovereign productive modern system, associating industrial growth and food sovereignty.

 

2°) Modern capitalist agriculture represented by both rich family farming and/or by agribusiness corporations is now looking forward to a massive attack on third world peasant production. Capitalist agriculture governed by the principle of return on capital, localised in North America, in Europe, in the South cone of Latin America and in Australia, employs only a few tens of millions of farmers, but their productivity is the highest recorded at global level. On the other hand, peasant-farming systems still constitute the occupation of nearly half of humanity – i.e. three billion human beings. What would happen should “agriculture and food production” be treated as any other form of production submitted to the rules of competition in an open-deregulated market? Would such principles foster the accelerating of production? Indeed one can imagine some fifty million new additional modern farmers, producing whatever the three billion present peasants can offer on the market beyond they ensuring their own (poor) self-subsistence. The conditions for the success of such an alternative would necessitate the transfer of important pieces of good land to the new agriculturalists (and these lands have to be taken out of the hands of present peasant societies), access to capital markets (to buy equipments) and access to the consumers markets. Such agriculturalists would indeed “compete” successfully with the billions of present peasants. But what would happen to those? Billions of “non-competitive” producers would be eliminated within the short historic time of a few decades.

 

The major argument presented to legitimate the “competition” doctrine alternative is that such development did happen in XIXth century Europe and finally produced a modern-wealthy urban-industrial-post-industrial society as well as a modern agriculture able to feed the nation and even to export. Why should not this pattern be repeated in the contemporary Third World countries? The argument fails to consider two major factors which make the reproduction of the pattern almost impossible now in third world countries. The first is that the European model developed throughout a century and a half along with industrial technologies which were intensive labour using. Modern technologies are far less. And therefore if the new comers of the third world have to be competitive on global markets for their industrial exports they have to adopt them. The second is that Europe benefited during that long transition from the possibility of massive out migration of their “surplus” population to the Americas.

 

Can we imagine other alternatives based of the access to land for all peasants? In that frame it is implied that peasant agriculture should be maintained and simultaneously engaged in a process of continuous technological/social change and progress. At a rate which would allow a progressive transfer to non-rural employment in keeping with the gradual building of a consistent modern industrial productive system.

 

Such a strategic target implies policies protecting peasant food production from the unequal competition of modernised agriculturalists – agro-business local and international. It questions the patterns of industrial – urban development, which should be less based on export oriented priorities, themselves taking advantage of low wages (implying in their turn low prices for food), and be more attentive to a socially balanced internal market expansion. Simultaneously such a choice of principle facilitates integrating in the overall scheme patterns of policies ensuring national food sovereignty, an indispensable condition for a country to be an active member of the global community, enjoying the indispensable margin of autonomy and negotiating capacity.

 

3°) The record of the Bandung era in this respect offers a mixed picture. In China and Vietnam access to land has been guaranteed to all peasants in that spirit. But that has not been the case elsewhere. Some more radical national/popular experiences have indeed implemented land reforms which limited the processes of destruction of peasant agricultural systems. But in general, and more particularly in Latin America, this sad process continued.

 

 

 

ROUND TABLE 4: Assessment and perspectives of the «Arab revolutions»

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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