It's our economy, stupid!
by Vanessa Baird
One of the most surprising things about the current crisis is that more people haven't taken to the streets in protest. The greed, irresponsibility and sheer cynicism of the 'experts' who promoted casino capitalism is enough to make anyone's blood boil - especially if you're in line to lose your job or home.
But protest is mounting. A wide range of civil society groups - including trade unions, international development agencies, anti-poverty campaigners and environmental organizations - are getting together to organize a mass demonstration in London on Saturday 28 March. Their objective: an economy that puts people before profit, need before greed.
The demo has been planned to roughly coincide with the summit of the G20 - the world's 20 biggest economies - who are meeting in London on 2 April. The economic big players are tasked to discuss action to tackle the global financial crisis. Left to its own devices the G20 is likely to cling to the free-market dogma that has led us into this mess. Their resolutions will, at best, patch up a fundamentally flawed and deeply unequal system that has kept wages low, fostered rampant debt, cost millions their livelihoods and despoiled the world's natural environment.
The civil society groups are pressing for a more equal division of global wealth and power, for decent sustainable jobs, and a form of economic development that protects and restores the environment and tackles rising carbon emissions.
Apart from producing a special issue on this theme, New Internationalist is involved in the mobilization. For more details, including time and location of actions, watch this space. You may also want to have a look at The Paris Declaration (below), the result of two day meeting of civil society groups from across Europe who met on 10 and 11 January.
The Paris Declaration
We won't pay for your crises - it is time for change!
More than 150 representatives of trade unions, farmers' movements, global justice groups, environmental groups, development groups, migrants' groups, faith-based groups, women's groups, the have-not movements, student and youth groups, and anti-poverty groups from all over Europe gathered on the 10th and 11th of January 2009 in Paris to analyse collectively the current crises, to develop joint strategies and to discuss joint demands and alternatives in response to these crises.
As the financial and the economic crises intensify, millions of women and men are losing their jobs, houses and livelihoods. Tens of millions more are forecast to join the 1.4 billion people already living in extreme poverty. The crises worsen the social, ecological, cultural and political situation of the majority of people on our planet.
Despite the evident and foreseeable failure of the current economic model, world leaders are responding by trying to preserve the system that is responsible for the crises. Governments have been quick to bail out bankers, corporate share holders and their financial backers with hundreds of billions in public money. To solve the problem, they put into place bankers and heads of corporations: the same actors that created the crises. The workers, the jobless, the poor - all those affected have received no help in their daily struggle to make ends meet, and to cap it all, they are now supposed to pay the bill.
Governments´ proposals to deal with the unfolding economic crisis do not address the other dimensions of the crisis we face today - global justice, food, climate and energy - and with it the need to transform the economic system towards one that allows us to satisfy the basic needs of all people, to implement all human rights and to restore and preserve the ecological basis of life on our planet.
It is time for change!
We can build a system that works for people and the environment, a system to serve the needs of the many, a system based on the principles of public benefit, global equity, justice, environmental sustainability and democratic control.
As a first step, immediate measures must be implemented to address the social impacts on people, whilst supporting the ecological conversion of the economy.
We call upon all social movements in Europe to engage in a process of change. To start with, we call upon movements
- to engage in the mass mobilisation for the central demonstration in London on the 28th of March 2009 ahead of the G20 meeting, or to take to the streets in their own countries that same day to make their voices heard. 20 governments cannot decide on the future of the global financial system and economy.
- to undertake a day of action in the week of the G20 meeting, preferably on the 1st of April (Financial Fools' Day) all across the world, exposing unaccountable financial power and promoting democratic control of finance.
This meeting is a further step in a long-term process of building spaces for European networks to meet. Recognising and drawing on previous and future mobilisations of social movements and civil society organizations in Europe and all over the world, it builds on ongoing efforts developed at the European Social Forum and elsewhere, aimed at realising a democratic and socially and environmentally sustainable Europe. We commit to intensify cooperation and communication among our networks and organisations with the aim of building capacity for sustained mobilisation and the development of joint alternatives. We are committed to supporting and encouraging all people to have their voices heard in reshaping their societies.
We will meet again on the 18th and 19th of April 2009 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in order to develop the next steps of mobilisation and strategies towards change. We call upon all social movements and social organisations to join this process.