Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Question of Resources and Moral Values ...

I note with considerable interest the decision by the "BRICS" countries to establish their own "Development Bank" as an alternative source of financial support to the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank - both controlled by "western" economic blocs. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and they class themselves as 'Emerging Economies' rather than 'established' ones or even 'developed' ones.

Listening to the 'spokesperson' at the Durban conference where the Presidents, Prime Ministers and presumably the financial advisers are meeting, one statement leapt out. She stated, in all seriousness, that the 'leaders' of the five nations, were looking to establish a bank which focused on the economic matters and did not attach endless social and moral conditions to the loan. She then went on to say there was no reason this 'bank' could not, in the fullness of time, replace the World Bank. She didn't say, or I didn't hear, the obvious addition which would be "and take control of economic development away from the US and Europe."

Sadly there is a large element of truth in the statement that any loan from the World Bank or the IMF comes with lots of 'moral' strings attached. We in the West have become used to the idea that anything and everything we desire for ourselves is absolutely and unquestionably right for everyone and everywhere else. There is an arrogant assumption that we are morally superior in the way we do things and have a right to demand that everyone else obeys those standards. All too often we fail to meet our own standards, so the Chinese, Russians, Indians and Brazilians have a point there. Our form of society is not theirs, and theirs is not ours - but that doesn't make either 'right' or 'wrong.'

From the current reports each of the five nations has to put up a large amount of money to get the 'bank' started. While I have little doubt the first four can find the cash, South Africa, with massive unemployment, a weak currency and massive corruption in the government is going, I think, to struggle. That said, I suspect the real reason behind this move is to free the money supply from the current US/Europe dominated World Bank and the IMF. I have no doubt at all that China and Russia have long planned this, and India and Brazil are well placed to support it and reap the benefits.

Sadly, the penchant among current US and European political classes for 'preaching' to the developing world - the vast majority of whom share nothing of our values or ideologies - and insisting on a wide range of meddling mechanisms was bound, sooner or later, to lead to this position. I think there are some interesting times ahead - and there will be some painful lessons for the West in it as well.

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