cj#594> re: Capitalism & Historical Debts (fwd)


Richard Moore


10/30/96, Nikolai S. Rozov wrote:
>      Is it possible to decrease the gap between the Western core and
>postcolonial periphery by creation and promotion a new ideology of Paying
>Historical Debts?
>       I realize that it is not more than utopian phantasy now, but if Western
>intelligentsia began to feel the historical fault for Capitalism, why not to
>try to utilize this ideological factor in humanistic global practice?

        At a time when the rate of exploitation is on the increase, this
notion does seem a bit in the fantasy realm.  It has some of the
out-of-touch character of "Let them eat cake", although I acknowledge with
respect the motivating sentiment.

        One might take note of Michael Parenti's observation, in "The Sword
and the Dollar", that much of the Third World is not poor, but rich -- the
problem is that the resources are controlled externally or by local elites.
I recall when visiting Kenya that acre after acre of fertile land was
planted in export coffee beans, while the locals were growing forlorn corn
on highway verges.  Or one might recall the Irish famine, when British
landlords were exporting tons of food daily from Irish ports.

        This same topic came up earlier (on another list, perhaps), and the
point was made that redress of historical wrongs leads to an endless
regression.  We could give America back to the "Indians" (if enough had
survived), for example, but then some tribes had conquered others... where
does one stop?    Justice cannot be restored to those who are no longer
alive, and the Israelis have amply demonstrated that the attempt to restore
historical arrangements can cause considerable injustice to those alive

        One might also observe that Western nations should first learn what
social and economic justice are at home, before trying to export it.  Keep
in mind the IMF's style of "helping" the Third World.

        There is also the Midas factor: cash transfers to the Third World,
one fears, might go mostly to importing unnecessary gadgets -- it might be
harder to shed wealth than one might suppose, and one might further
undermine local self-sufficiency in the process.

        Furthermore, the pay-back notion seems to imply, to some extent, a
continuation of excess Western wealth, relative to the Third World -- it's
a symptomatic treatment rather than a curative one, and in fact presumes
the continuation of the malady.

        A cessation of foreign capitalist participation and resource
ownership -- whether exploitive or paternalistic -- might be what is most

        My own view would be to be aware of the past, start dealing with
the present justly, and allow the future to develop out of


    Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
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