A common argument against debt relief is that irresponsible debtors do not deserve compassion. Since the creation of money as a market, prophets and poets have noted the moral hazard related to its frozen desire: it can be loaned without ethic and borrowed without caution. The French Revolution brought power to the people to determine their government’s form and function and be thereby protected from brute power – be it physical or financial. This is modernity’s promise: freedom through justice and method!
The current international climate is rather postmodern, where accountability, transparency and sovereignty have been unilaterally discredited (no pun intended) by the Allies at the Breton Woods Agreement, which created what would become the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and World Bank. These institutions strong-arm developing countries in the worst neo-colonialist fashion, forcing the downtrodden into structural adjustment programs that eliminate the state as all but a debtor institution. Public spending is eliminated, currencies are speculated against, countries go into recession – all to correct the almighty balance of payments deficit. The only way to equilibrium is an increased trade specialization in exports (which will require WTO arbitration), and the never-ending flow of loans by the IMF, World Bank and volatile foreign capital. Democracy means less today, as voters worldwide realize no candidate will contradict the Breton Woods posse.
What we have is a resurgence of unhindered brute force as the law of the land, covered in the usual techno-bureaucratic wool to make it seem less sinister. In response, the GW and National A-16 Coalitions (named for the date the planned protests begin) are planning an intentionally non-violent demonstration against the IMF and World Bank for their lack of accountability and their concentration of power. We will celebrate through street theater, music and solidarity, as we have no use for force or rioting. The Coalition, notably diverse, agrees on a renovation of the old social contract, where all the world’s citizens have a real say in how their home looks and are not victimized by manipulation from outside or above. Each group and individual within the Coalition proposes differing but similar alternatives, from IMF review to IMF eviction. Our unifying message is that the democratic imperative stretches even to these bureaucracies, and our celebration will remind them there is a world outside the World Bank.
We invite GW students and administration to participate in this enriching exercise of free speech, which will not only highlight the IMF and WB’s aggravation of global inequality, but also the central role of GW as a place were students are especially globally aware and as a University where something does indeed happen.
-The writer is a junior majoring in international affairs and GW A-16 Coalition Coordinator.