Monday, 25 May 2009

Challenges and Possibilities: Learning from ALBA and the Bank of the South

[At the same time capitalism’s credibility as an engine of development (in both free-market and state-directed forms) is being weakened, the governments of a number of South American countries are working to advance new regional initiatives that have the potential to promote and strengthen socialist-inspired development alternatives-the most important are the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and the Bank of the South. Although these two initiatives do not have the explicit mission of promoting socialist transformation, they are critically important because they concretize the existence of alternatives to capitalist growth strategies and, in the case of ALBA, offer support to governments that are themselves pursuing a socialist-inspired process of transformation.]

Challenges and Possibilities: Learning from ALBA and the Bank of the South

May 22nd 2009, by Martin Hart-Landsberg - International Debt Observatory

This is a time of great challenges and also great possibilities. The first decade of the 21st century may well mark an important turning point in the international struggle to supplant capitalism.

For decades the great majority of third world governments have followed neoliberal policies despite the failure of those policies to deliver their promised export-led growth. As a consequence, anti-neoliberal political movements have grown in strength throughout Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. While an important political development, the emancipatory potential of those movements has remained limited, in large part, because of their focus on neoliberalism as the primary impediment to progress. More specifically, many participating activists and academics continue to draw a sharp distinction between neoliberalism and capitalism; while they strongly oppose the former, they remain largely unwilling to reject the latter.

Most tend to blame the development failures of their respective nations on government policies (often implemented under pressure) that liberalized, deregulated, and privatized economic activity. They believe that the East Asian experience of high-speed, export-led growth and industrial transformation demonstrates that active state intervention and direction of economic activity can produce successful capitalist development. Therefore, they have often directed their efforts at enhancing the state capacities of their respective countries in an attempt to recreate East Asian economic successes.

However, we are now at a point where it may be possible to win a strong majority of these activists and intellectuals to an anti-capitalist perspective, a critical change if we are succeed in building the movement clarity and strength necessary to advance a socialist alternative. One reason is that the exploitative and contradictory nature of the East Asian growth strategy is becoming clearer. Ever more intense intra-regional competition has begun to undermine East Asia’s past social and economic gains and generate worker resistance. Perhaps even more dramatic, the region’s export-led growth strategy has finally run up against its own limits, as an ever deepening global economic crisis triggered by imbalances in the U.S. economy has thrown East Asian economies into their own downward economic spiral.

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1 comment:

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