Blame the West for the Global economic mess
By Indrajit Samarajiva
Sa writer in Sri Lanka, describes his frustration with the “Western-dominated neoliberal system that keeps developing countries in a form of debt-fueled colonization.”
As a Sri Lankan, I find watching international news coverage of my country’s economic and political implosion is like showing up at your own funeral, with everybody speculating on how you died.
The Western media accuses China of luring us into a debt trap. Tucker Carlson says environmental, social and corporate governance programs killed us. Everybody blames the Rajapaksas, the corrupt political dynasty that ruled us until massive protests by angry Sri Lankans chased them out last month.
But from where I’m standing, ultimate blame lies with the Western-dominated neoliberal system that keeps developing countries in a form of debt-fueled colonization. The system is in crisis, its shaky foundations exposed by the tumbling dominoes of the Ukraine war, resulting in food and fuel scarcity, the pandemic and looming insolvency and hunger rippling across the world.
Sri Lanka is Exhibit A. We were once an economic hope, with an educated population and a median income among the highest in South Asia. But it was an illusion. After 450 years of colonialism, 40 years of neoliberalism, and four years of total failure by our politicians, Sri Lanka and its people have been beggared.
The former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa deepened our debt problems, but the economy has been structurally unsound across administrations. We simply import too much, export too little and cover the difference with debt. This unsustainable economy was always going to collapse.
But we are just the canary in the coal mine. The entire world is plugged into this failing system, and the pain will be widespread…
Sri Lanka — like so many other countries struggling for solvency — remains a colony with administration outsourced to the International Monetary Fund. We still export cheap labor and resources and import expensive finished goods — the basic colonial model. The country is still divided and conquered by local elites, while real economic control is held abroad. The I.M.F. has extended loans to Sri Lanka 16 times, always with stringent conditions. It just keeps restructuring us for further exploitation by creditors.
And as much as the West blames Chinese predatory lending, only 10 to 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt is owed to China. The majority is owed to U.S. and European financial institutions or Western allies like Japan. We died in a largely Western debt trap.
Other countries face the same peril. Around 60 percent of low-income nations and 30 percent of middle-income ones are in debt distress or at high risk of it. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Sudan — the list of those in trouble is growing rapidly. An estimated 60 percent of the world’s work force has lower real incomes than before the pandemic, and the rich countries offer little to no help.
But big economies are suffering, too. Europe faces energy uncertainty, Americans are struggling to fill their tanks, the United States may already be in recession, its asset bubble threatens to pop, and British families face food worries.
It’s going to get worse: The I.M.F. just warned that the likelihood of a global recession is growing. As economies collapse, Western loans simply won’t get repaid, and poor nations will crash out of the dollar system that props up Western lifestyles. Then, even Americans won’t be able to money-print their way out of trouble. It’s already begun. Sri Lanka has started settling loans in Indian rupees, and India is buying Russian oil in rubles. China may buy Saudi oil with yuan.
The Sri Lankan uprising that threw out our leaders is called the Aragalaya. It means “struggle.” It’s going to be a long one, and it’s spreading across the world.
Source New York Times