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Structural Adjustment


What can we do about it? Just about everything.


The IMF is hardly more than a branch of the Treasury Department. Economist Jagdish Bhagwati, no radical, refers to the IMF- Treasury-Wall St complex that is a core part of de facto world government. The Treasury Department is part of the US government. If we had anything remotely resembling a democratic culture, actions of the government would be under the control of citizens, which would mean that citizens have to at the very least know something about them. And beyond that, we would have mechanisms to engage in political action. And in a more democratic society the third component, Wall St., would not exist in anything remotely like its present form, and what would exist would be under popular democratic control.

But any of this requires constructing the basis for democratic participation, which has been very badly eroded in the US, creating what’s often called a “democratic deficit” when we refer to others — in our own case, a huge democratic deficit.

People in the more civilized sectors of the world (what we call “the third world,” or the “developing countries”) often burst out laughing when they witness an election in which the choices are two men from very wealthy families with plenty of clout in the very narrow political system, who went to the same elite university and even joined the same secret society to be socialized into the manners and attitudes of the rulers, and who are able to participate in the election because they have massive funding from highly concentrated sectors of unaccountable power that cast over society the shadow called “politics,” as John Dewey put it.

But it’s up to us whether we want to tolerate this, and if we could begin to approach the level of democracy of, say, Brazil, we could do quite a lot about IMF conditionalities. And it doesn’t happen by just showing up once every four years to participate in an “election.

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