(A short and unapproved report of the talk Fiona Dove gave at the conference on 'The Left and the Crisis', with excuses for stonecoalenglish from the reporter. This is part of a report of the conference Links en de Crisis (The Left and the Crisis) that took place on December 13 2008 in Amsterdam (see for the rest of the report here).


Impact of the crisis in the south and linking with the demands here and elsewhere in the world.

This crisis is occurring in a multiplicity of crises – inequality, social, food, climate. The general view in the south – of course hard to generalize the south – is that of the convergence of crises. Many developing countries are not linked to the international financial system. What we are seeing across the developing world is capital flight, coming back to countries like Holland where it feels safe for capital.

Foreign direct investment is declining. Most developing countries are seen as risky and not credit worthy enough. Many of these counties are indepted countries and this will make the debt worse. This has impact on private business as well. High rates of bankruptcy and unemployment. For example South-African valuta lost value. Price of commodities is falling and consequently import is falling.

Where countries have produced they are unable to export it. Everybody is anticipating that aid will decrease. Africa is very aid dependent. GDP in the north goes down so proportion of aid in absolute sence goes down. Migrant workers are losing their jobs. This also has impact on the remittances and hits families dependent on it.

In Bangladesh orders for ready made garments dropped 7% in September. In Kenia the roses production is suffering because Europeans aren't buying them now. The  Indian rupee has never been so low to the dollar. The expected growth rate of Brazil has halved. Net result is recession and increase in social conflict.

Responses.
1. the mainstream response coming largely from the north.
2. alternative responses: IMF is put central to the solution by the north, which is something that we as activists should oppose. At the G20 conference earlier this month there was a strong defense of neoliberalism. There is a crisis of the model but it's strongly defended still. WTO could be dead but keeps going. EU is aggressively pushing free trade agreements with vulnerable countries in parts of Africa and Carribean. Same with Southeast-Asia but also with countries in the Pacific and China. One of the effects of EU-policy is that regional block is broken and splitted and redefines what constitutes a region. They are choosing the weakest countries in signing agreements with threats of pulling out aid. Mainstream efforts are basically about maintaining the status quo. The IMF is in many ways the blame for this crisis en was not being able to predict this crisis. It's establishing new credit faciltities that will only benefit the more developed countries. We also do not see real conditions put for the banks that are nationlized. Once things are stabilized it appears they are given back to the market.

Responses from the south: Before the crisis expereriences with alternatives existed especially in Latin America. A Whole lot of progressive governements got elected that picked up some of these alternatives from the movements. TeleSur, combining 5 countries provides an alternative to CNN. There are talks of PetrolSur as an OPEC for Latin America. The Banco del Sur is set up with social criteria for lending as alternative to the worldbank. The People's Trade Treaty that provides trade deals that are not about profit.

China is very contradictory. Before the crisis it was mainly reacting to its environmental crisis. They have a banking policy called green credit policy in which they blacklist polluting companies and give credit to more enviromental friendly companies. That shows its effects now. Instituting a directive of how banks lend.

The food crisis asked for a first real response from the South. A new president at the UN assembly from Nicaragua with a committee apointed working on the crisis. A former Maleysian unionist is on the committee and an Ecuadorian minister in favor of shifting models of economic growth to models of growth in well being. Putting the economy at the service of society. Very much pushed by Ecuador and Bolivia. The question is what this UN task force is going to do?

Poznan climate summit. A choice between saving the economy or the planet. Evo Morales put out the statement comparing the amounts going into saving the banks and the climate: 314 times less.
A green New Deal: Banks have never been keen on these kind of investments. Though Henk Overbeek is saying this is going to be the new big business. What constitutes green? Is nuclear energy green? Huge soy plantations, agro fuels...? Is this the new economy that we want or is it the same old market. Source of the problem is consumption. We need to contest the mainstream definition of the Green new deal but support it. There's very little hope now to even have the minimum of a green new deal.

A whole lot of moments coming up for the new year. Big Attac meeting on European level in January in Paris. G20 on April 2 in London needs a huge mobilization while NATO has its 60th birthday splitting our energies. COP15 in December will be huge. People are feeling paralyzed. What should our response be? Many excellent ideas have been worked out and could be implemented and popularized.  This is the moment for 'radical reformism'. We got the moment and should push them. At our national level what do we want to do in Holland and how does that fit with the supranational level? We need to win things at a national level to keep people involved. We need to diconstruct the problem and systematize the alternatives worked out by different organizations instead of competing in bringing stuff out.

Also Take note of the Beijing declaration on Casino Crash blog (casinocrash.org). It is still weak on the labor section. Hope that it will be more developed as a 'living document'.