By Samsudeen Sarr
I wonder how many people have heard the condemnatory speech recently uttered by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 17, 2020 in South Africa on the celebration of Mandela’s International day where he hit several rough nerves among advocates of global capitalism, virtually denouncing the system as “our embraced economic order” that has failed the hopes and aspirations of the overwhelming majority of mankind in favor of a few. In his blunt criticism of its disproportionate distribution of global resources and opportunities that favors a tiny minority over the rest of humanity, he bemoaned the lack of conscience and empathy behind what he underscored as the 26 richest people in the world insatiably controlling more wealth than the 3.8 billion commoners constituting half the population of the earth. The secretary general went on to highlight our betrayed trust in the system which has been laid bare by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic affecting mostly those working in the informal economy (the Gambia ‘rabaraba’ work force, namely). That in its wake, while the disease has brought us the deepest recession since World-War II and the broadest collapse in income since 1870, a tiny number of billionaires and millionaires still enjoy better health care, live safer and are hardly affected by its high infection and mortality rate.
Mr. Guterres didn’t only decry the problem as an unsustainable-vicious system that is projected to push one-hundred-million more people into extreme poverty but further described how it may engender famine of historic proportion. He illustrated what he analyzed to be a fragile world now, “exposing our fallacies and falsehoods everywhere” coupled with the misconception that free markets can ascertain healthcare for everybody or the delusion that the human race had permanently eradicated global racism. He no longer believes in the myth that we are all in the same boat and suggested the adoption of urgent remedies to improve the status quo.
Plus in symmetry to what worsens the phenomenon, he illustrates the inherent and pervasive corruption organic to most or all capitalist institutions, more harmful in political establishments.
His message has not augured well with scholars and elites convinced of the perfection of capitalism over any universal economic system that is believed to be grounded on the objective of fulfilling human salvation and therefore should be spared all such kind of ‘extremist criticisms’.
Some are even calling for his resignation from the world body for such utterance, while others attack the whole UN organization for its failures, incompetence or uselessness and the need to even defund it.
President Donald Trump reelected for a second term will be thrilled with the guaranteed support of England’s Boris Johnson and some other xenophobic world leaders to see the disintegration of the organization.
S.G. Guterres is now likened to American presidential aspirant Senator Bernie Sanders for his “far-left viewpoints” rooted on socialist and communist ideologies. Remember Senator Bernie Sander’s catchphrase in the wretchedness of the 400 richest Americans having more money than the combined wealth owned by the rest of the 329 million US population while citizens unnecessarily die of curable diseases for lack of affordable healthcare, the best education opportunities earmarked for the richest, the unjustifiable homelessness everywhere and all other itemized calamities? The Senator never hesitates to particularize the ugliest idiosyncrasies of capitalism
As much as I will never subscribe to the notion of substituting capitalism with socialism, the only alternative economic system we know, I think the UN Chief diplomat has a legitimate point in calling for radical reformation of the bias Western system.
However, thanks to communism the Chinese have undeniably lifted millions of their people from abject poverty and ignorance into world-class sophistication within record-breaking time; nevertheless the kind of society they reign-over has ever tailored policies primarily favorable to members of the communist party founded since 1921.
And I see no difference warranting the hypocritical hullabaloo over how the 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims persecuted in Myanmar from how the 12 million Uyghur Muslims mainly in China’s Xinjiang province are genocidally encamped and sterilized. Hey, why is the UN Human rights or Genocide prevention commission mute about this problem in China? Where the heck are the Arabs who funded the Myanmar case? I think Ba Tambadou is still available with ample experience to burst the Chinese? Don’t you think so?
To me, the Chinese situation is unsustainable and will ultimately implode sooner or later. Hence, it was capitalism yesterday, capitalism today and certainly capitalism tomorrow but with much anticipated difference.
I can however remember how similar aspersions were cast on Mr. Guterres when in his inaugural speech soon after his assumption of the position of UN Secretary General in January 2017, warned the superpowers to stop inciting, funding and waging wars that are nowadays all reckless and not winnable, epitomized by the protracted debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. To the billionaires always hitting jackpots in the manufacture and sale of weaponry, the secretary general for saying so had become an existential threat to their global market and “Wall Street” stocks. The war in Yemen was only two years old from their incitement and prolongation where American and British weapon dealers were pocketing trillions of dollars from weapon sale to oil-rich Saudi Arabia spearheading the genocide in Yemen.
By extension, while outgoing Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon was in total support of France and Senegal committed to invade the Gambia and forcefully oust the APRC government in 2017, Mr. Antonio Guterres throughout opposed and tried to discourage the military adventurism of settling the Gambian electoral dispute by war. Thank God, President Jammeh averted the disaster by yielding to reasoning. Though weapons profiteers had lost a regrettable opportunity in the failure of an “imminent” war falsely outlined as a mission to go and kill or flush out MFDC and Charles Taylor’s rebels out of the subversive Gambia Armed Forces. Yes, I like Mr. Antonio Guterres.
Still on a related reasoning, I see a broader picture painted by the secretary general from the harmful impact of the pandemic affecting all of us in a way that should concern all governments. Will America and Europe continue to be what they used to be after this crisis? The hub of global capitalism with all its adverse effects on the downtrodden being quickly normalized again? I don’t think so. But I also don’t think there is any wizard capable of giving us a precise or accurate prediction of how things will turn out to be in the future.
Governments seem to be merely pretending as if they are in control or in command of their sense of direction but considering all their erratic behaviors I see them as mere bluffs. None of them know what tomorrow holds for humanity.
The European Union after an abnormal emergency session this week, agreed on a borrowed stimulus package of 850 billion Euros to cushion the crash of their free falling economies expected to soon put their work forces into deep recession.
I also saw the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Lebanon invited to discuss and try to see how to help solve the problem of the Arab nation speedily running out of raw cash. But the Frenchman didn’t sound too honest to me for not telling them that France doesn’t have enough or extras to offer needy nations; but in a classic bluff, warned them to first start from stopping the prevalent corruption by their politicians.
That should be an awakening message to most African countries totally dependent on foreign aid to keep the wheels of their economic engines turning, especially Francophone African nations paying France, $500 billion dollars annually on a stupid colonial agreement that will now be utilized to rescue French citizens but not Senegalese, Malians, Ivorians, Gabonese or all the other slavish French loyalists in the continent.
Not knowing or having any alternative plans to what the Neo-Colonial masters offer them, leaves these nations vulnerable to internal civil unrest that may bring down most governments.
It will be very unlikely for France or the French foreign minister Drian to advice African politicians to start fighting corruption in their governments for obvious reasons. They have indeed been clandestinely encouraging it, although the people are rapidly being educated through social media about the greed and crookedness among these corrupt leaders.
Mali is currently facing an unprecedented backlash caused by corrupt politicians in an unprecedented manner that has certainly scared the devil out of the leaders of ECOWAS who may also be the next to deal with their fed up population. President Macky Sall of Senegal is for the first time asking international creditors to cancel Africa’s foreign debts as the only way out.
This may actually be the beginning of “The African Spring” when corrupt leaders will have to give way to honest heads of state. Otherwise our floating African boat will sink in the high seas with irreversible ramifications.
Europeans will not want to be too concerned with the corruption of African leaders, factoring the $50 billion dollars they steal every year from their people and hide it in their banks and never in African banks. Of course, such amount of wealth cannot be safely hidden in African banks, lest the word goes around from employees to the tinniest villages on how Hadim Dakar got rich so quick from his monthly income. Hence the Europeans and Americans often show them all the tricks on how to hide these stolen national wealths in their banks or at other offshore depositories not traceable by anyone other than the depositors and perhaps discreet middle persons working for the banks. Sadly, the majority of these rogues often die losing all their stolen money hoarded in European and American financial establishments like in the cases of Mobutu and Abacha.
The stoppage of this unconscionable racketeering must be prioritized among all post “African Spring” governments better fashioned on zero tolerance to corruption, like Singapore did long ago to achieve their enviable economic success.
On a final note, I wish to declare my full support to the “African Spring” in the same way I support Secretary General Guterres’ call for a better world or a better monetary system devoid of senseless greed and corruption or unchecked exploitation of the underprivileged masses and the colored races.
Thanks for reading.