The descent into savagery

7 May 2014 by Aminata Dramane Traoré

Preface of the book “The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man”

The descent into savagery continues throughout the world with its attendant human suffering, blood, and tears. Impoverished and starving people who storm the streets do sometimes manage to oust military and civilian dictatorships; yet, they are not able to change the root causes of inequalities, injustice, and corruption. They are powerless with respect to the “permanent coup d’état” tirelessly denounced by Éric Toussaint in his analyses of the inner workings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man adds a new dimension to his analyses, and a new chapter to the precious research carried out by the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) to demystify these Bretton Woods institutions. The potions concocted by the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
and World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

are not only bitter, they are also often deadly.

War-torn Mali is not suffering from a security crisis in the north and an institutional crisis in the south, as the dominant discourse pretends. It is one of the best pupils of these institutions, which are responsible for its crumbling State structure, the permeability of its borders, and the despair of unemployed young people, who are ready to wage war wherever they can.

To cap it all off, Mali is about to engage in a new cycle of over-indebtedness to pay for its reconstruction according to the same paradigm and under the supervision of the same international financial institutions (the IMF and WB).

Stories such as this one about the life of Jacques de Groote, who used to be an executive director at these two institutions, and has now been condemned by the Swiss courts for fraud, aggravated money laundering, and document forgery, clearly illustrate the moral crisis afflicting the dominant social classes today.
The peoples of the world could act together and more effectively if information were treated in a way that would allow them to understand the responsibilities of the key players. Éric Toussaint’s book is a valuable tool that can educate citizens in the North and in the South.

Aminata Traoré is a Malian politician and writer. Her books in French include L’étau. L’Afrique dans un monde sans frontières, Le Viol de l’Imaginaire, L’Afrique humiliée, and L’Afrique mutilée.

Aminata Dramane Traoré

Aminata Dramane Traoré est une femme politique et écrivain malienne. Parmi ses livres : L’Etau, Actes Sud, 1999 ; Le Viol de l’imaginaire, Editions Fayard, 2002 ; L’Afrique mutilée, Taama Éditions, 2012.



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