Two Stories

Story A: The legacy of colonialism left Third World governments with a bitter taste in their mouths, so they set up high barriers to trade, keeping Western multinationals out, and attempted to develop their own industries which would free them from having to buy imports (import substitution). But without other income or access to international capital, they had to borrow money from the World Bank/IMF to finance these operations, which turned out not to be profitable. Then they had to *keep* borrowing to keep their industries afloat or even just to pay off the interest on the original loans, which resulted in a “balance of payments crisis.” Finally, thanks to new “structural adjustment” loans which carried the condition of lowering trade barriers, multinational corporations came in and, by integrating isolated countries into the global economy, effectively helped to treat the disease of global poverty (globalization).

Story B: The great powers got together at the end of WWII to determine the way the world would be under the new rubric of “development,” which carried with it a civilizing mission more or less similar to that of the outmoded imperialist ideology, and created World Bank/IMF. They used these as instruments to assist multinational corporations in their systematic search for cheap labor and materials to fuel growth. Meanwhile multinationals are irresponsible (cf. bad working conditions, the Union Carbide disaster) pervert politics in poor countries by co-opting local elites, and depend on the militarily dominant West to secure their interests (cf. the CIA-backed Allende coup, the fall of Mossadegh in Iran, etc.) Poverty is a matter of course as the super-rich strive to get even richer (globalization).

Is it possible to believe Story A and Story B at the same time? That’s kind of where I am right now.

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One Response to “Two Stories”

  1. William Bruntrager Says:

    A: The behavior of everyone and everything is determined solely by the physical laws governing the universe. All of our “human” feelings, emotions, and beliefs are adaptations or byproducts of adaptations to the natural environment.

    B: I make my own choices. My life and the decisions I make are important.

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