In 2010 when the US based Zambian author released her first book, “Dead Aid”, the world was shocked. A dazzling argument on western imperialism, the failure of international aid programs as an alluring temptation to poor nations, as the African’s. The thing they called help, which usually end up entrapping the poor nations to the exploitative institutions of the west, leaving the victims to keep singing their unending hymn of poverty and economic woes.
Her angle on the argument was completely new and interesting, even among many Africans; especially those who have been fed up with idea that the solution to Africa’s underdevelopment lies in the amount of aid western nations are willing to send to Africa. The falsehood and the catalyst of the African/western relationship, which if put rightly is actually the western domination over their defeated Africa.
Since this great woman has already nailed it in 2010, it’s time to move on to her new argument, the demise of western hegemony over the world economy or if you like the politics and the global cultural westernization as we know it today.
Using the United States and Britain as the best references in the west and a new rival from the east, China, I must admit that this analysis is sophisticated and that the readers will definitely have the worth of both their money and time.
“Once upon a time, the west had it all: the money, the political nous, the military might; it knew where it wanted to go, and had the muscle to get there. Be it Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands or England, this held true for 500 years.
However, the story of the west’s dominance in the second half of the twentieth century is the story of America,” Moyo kicked off the argument, detailing the systematic rise of American economic might during and after the end of the Second World War.
A rise like a young man who was opportune to demonstrate his strength and he did prove that he is man enough.
The Second World War was the consequence of a choice, the choice among some European political leaders who wanted to satisfy their desire and dominate over their weaker neighbours. And like the saying goes that “one man’s loss is another man’s gain”, the United States had to lend Europe what it needed to fight its war while stabilising a ground for its own economic boom.
According to Moyo, America’s action in the war was a marriage of political imperative and economic savvy. The goods that were manufactured in the United States during the war and shipped abroad were not simply a political act to help the Allies; “it also helped to boost the economy,” she submitted.
Before the warring Europe could find a way to peace, as heavy debtors to the United States, the latter had made a judicious use of its capital, labour and technology and would remain on the peak of global economy, writing the rules of international engagements and carefully choosing who to deal with either as friend or as enemy.
After all, there was the money, the well trained personnel and the sophisticated technological muscle to repel any possible rival, anywhere in the world.
All these have remained almost an absolute truth until recently. Until the manifestations of what Moyo described as the bad policies from western politicians and the United States in particular. They have been over confident and have underrated those they have dominated for some five hundred years.
Perhaps, it is time itself that is changing and changing very fast.
The 2008 financial crisis was only a sign of the things to come, the western monopoly of global economy and politics may have already taken a different tone.
By the ending of the twentieth century, only few economists and political futurists could have predicted the present global economic reality with a true accuracy.
The western challengers are what Moyo called the rest, mainly a group of four emerging economic powers, Brazil, Russia, Indian, all spearheaded by the Asian giant, China. And they are fast proving to the west that there is another thing to worry about apart from the military arsenals and the nuclear upheavals, under which the global population are beginning to be terrified. There is the economic and technological warfare, few things that are quickly slipping the monopolisation of the west.
Moyo has her reasons. The west, hiding in its capitalist imperialism did successfully penetrate every corner of the earth, crushing every resistance and imposing its will since the last five hundred years. Culture, politics and the global economic dominion; the west has always had its way, but then the weak points were also going to present themselves. Over confidence, some bureaucratic bottlenecks which were rather too old for the changing time of today, the privatization of the industries and some loose regulations, which allowed few wealthy individuals to be driven by a wild desire, profit, instead of the common good of the western society.
Whereas, the emerging rest, especially China had a different strategy, maximizing the volume. That is, instead of been drive by profit like their western counterparts, which of course could not have taken them much far, the Chinese were ready to create more jobs for their people even at the expense of making less profit.
This can even further be understood, according to Moyo’s line of argument that private companies do not act on behalf of the population at large but on behalf of their shareholders. For example, if China oil (CNPC) becomes a private company, it will automatically pursue the interests of its shareholders whom in the current globalised age do not necessarily have to be Chinese and therefore have to maximize profit so it can make good return.
“When the US policymakers decided to open its capital account, thereby allowing the unfettered movement of capital through its border, this set America up for a big fall. Now any returns on American capital invested abroad would end up in the pockets of company shareholders, and they have no obligation to invest their money domestically for the betterment of America; they could just put their money in private secure back accounts abroad,” she argued.
There is no need to doubt that there are many ways the west is running at a loss in the completion with China.
Last month, Saturday, February 12, the ex-president of European commission, Romano Prodi was speaking at a conference at Padova University, north of Italy when he clearly pointed out one important advantage of China over its western competitors, especially the United States, the on-going wars.
Mr. Prodi mentioned ‘the Afghanistan and Iraqi war’ and of course the heavy western military arsenals which are perpetually circumnavigating the world. All these cost resources, a huge amount of resource, time and personnel from the west. Meanwhile, China is channelling all its energy to propel its economic empire, to give the west a run.
This is the reality of today, and even though Moyo was optimistic enough to suggest that all hope is not lost yet, the west and its system of operation is certainly growing old and with or without making any wrong political choice, it would someday develop a dry bone.
It is the bitter dilemma of the human nature and the social, political and economic systems he has created.
Ewanfoh Obehi Peter
Interview at BBC Newsnight
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