The author unveiled, Interview with Susan George
The Lugano Report: On Preserving Capitalism in the 21st Century
Pluto Press, London, September 1999 (208pp)
What was the genesis of a fictional "official" report?
I was convinced that another book of analysis and criticism was pointless. I've spent the last 25 years of my life describing hunger, famine, debt and structural adjustment and what they are doing to people, and virtually nothing has changed. So, I thought, why not make things really clear by taking the logic of the global system to its conclusion? I wanted to put the case clinically to show the horrific consequences of continuing down the economic road we're on.
Why do you think the market model has such a hold on people?
Backers of the global economic model are very clever at paying both hacks and legitimate scholars to spread their propaganda. If a decision were taken that there had to be two billion fewer humans in 2020 you'd soon see all sorts of people developing a new kind of ethics and a new kind of law, and you'd have them paid for. You would have a recasting of Malthus and it would be for everyone's own good, of course.
Why do you reveal yourself as the author at the end? Doesn't that destroy the impact?
When I first showed the book to a publisher in France they wanted to publish it anonymously but I thought that was too dangerous. Maybe I'm flattering myself, but I think if you published this without a congession of authorship at the end and people believed it was real and were convinced that organized genocide was on the cards... Well, I didn't want to take on that big a responsibility. I insisted on an "afterword" and an "annex" which they didn't want. So they rejected the book.
Is there any hope for challenging the elite system of governance you outline in the book?
Definitely. The big battle for me right now is the World Trade Organization. It's a huge monolith and it's going to be an epic battle. If you're fatalistic you say that capitalism just rolls on like a juggernaut, crushing greater parts of humanity and the environment. But the system is fragile, with lots of cracks. We just have to get out there with our pick axes and work along the fault lines. I've sometimes been criticized for my pessimism, but I must say that I'm as optimistic as I have been in a very long time. I really think there are huge opportunities now.