Ecological war effort can reverse global meltdown

06 January 2009
In the media
Published at
The Hindu
Cites Susan George as TNI

CHANDIGARH: As a viable solution to reverse the prevailing global economic meltdown, Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute president and renowned scholar Susan George on Monday counselled the need for re-engineering in various development models and shifting the focus towards undertaking larger ecological conversion projects.

Participating in a three-day Inaugural Series-2009 organised by the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC) here, Prof. George said there was an urgent need to replicate the US “war effort” of World War II, but with an ecological criterion. The present global meltdown, she said, was not just financial; it also had major social as well as ecological components which only reinforced each other.

Prof. George suggested an international currency conversion tax, a worldwide carbon tax, and building of broad citizen alliances as part of new steps to generate funds that could be invested in reversing crisis which has reached a critical stage. She said debt cancellation procedures should be linked with reforestation, soil conservation, water management and making public transport more energy-efficient. Economic packages to banks must carry an ecological criterion, she added.

Strongly opposing the neo-liberalisation agenda where “everything was left to the market to decide”, Prof. George favoured protectionism in certain areas. She said the agriculture, education, health and energy sectors must be brought out of the ambit of the World Trade Organisation and free market regime. She expressed concern that the international community did not take cognizance of the meltdown when it hit the Latin American and ASEAN countries a few years ago.

Earlier, noted theorist Randhir Singh said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union capitalism succeeded in making alternative models of development “unthinkable.” While euphoria about the success of the market economy had died down in Europe, it continued in India where the people were now paying a price for not having brought about a change in the social order, he said.

Prof. Singh said the global meltdown was a structural crisis borne out of accumulation within the capitalistic framework. He sounded a note of warning that capitalism was just not about picking the “goodies from the market” as it carried its own logic with it. He cited examples to show that market economy flourished more under dictatorial political systems.

As a way out of the prevailing crisis, he suggested a rethink on Socialism not as an economic model alone but as an emancipated social order. He also urged people to dissociate socialism from the Russian dictatorial form.

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