[WSMDiscuss] Germany in movement…, Anti-capitalists in movement…. : 'Hamburg protests rage as G20 leaders meet' (Al-Jazeera) / 'The rebellious hope of Hamburg - A first, preliminary assessment (Interventionist Left) / 'It’s Not Only Necessary to Develop an Alternative to Globalization — It’s Entirely Possible' (Walden Bello) / 'G20 : The second Berlin War against Africa' (Yash Tandon)

JS CACIM jai.sen at cacim.net
Thu Jul 20 18:57:22 CEST 2017


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Germany in movement…, Anti-capitalists in movement….

[These actions took place in Germany late last week; apologies for the late posting but I was – as I had written to say – more or less offline for the past three weeks :

Hamburg protests rage as G20 leaders meet

Thousands of protesters descend on the German city

Al-Jazeera

“More than 100,000 people were expected to take part in protests across Hamburg during the G20 summit.”

The rebellious hope of Hamburg
A first, preliminary assessment by the Interventionist Left

It’s Not Only Necessary to Develop an Alternative to Globalization — It’s Entirely Possible

Walden Bello

G20 : The second Berlin War against Africa

Yash Tandon

Note : The last three articles are drawn from one of Patrick Bond’s posts on the Debate list – but re-organised.  Thanks, Patrick, for your always-excellent coverage.  And with special thanks to Walden and Yash for your analyses !  And all power and strength to all of you, Corinna and Tadzio and others, in and for the movement in Germany and in Europe !

            But one small point : While it's always great to see and to read Walden Bello’s and Yash Tandon’s analyses, which continue to be always stimulating and sometimes just mind-opening, where – and who - are the new, younger analysts ?!  And maybe even with new things to say ?  Where are you, when we need you ??? 

(Is the fact that ‘older people’ like Patrick and myself keep posting the work of the evergreens like Walden and Yash, a function of our age and generation ?  Can anyone on this list point us to people whose writings that we should perhaps be looking for, now ?  And post contact details and/or blog links ?)

            JS



Hamburg protests rage as G20 leaders meet

Thousands of protesters descend on the German city for a second day as Putin and Trump hold first face-to-face meeting.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/protests-continue-hamburg-g20-summit-kicks-170707220347075.html <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/protests-continue-hamburg-g20-summit-kicks-170707220347075.html>


More than 100,000 people were expected to take part in protests across Hamburg during the G20 summit [Reuters]
Fires burned across Hamburg for a second day as police and protesters clashed while the leaders of the world's top economies met for the G20 summit. 

Police said at least 196 officers have been injured in clashes, with 83 protesters temporarily detained at the scene and 19 taken into custody. Dozens of protesters have also been injured. 

On Friday, the day the summit kicked off, some protesters torched cars and trucks, looted retail stores, lit off firecrackers and blasted music from Jimi Hendrix in a bid to drown out the classical music playing at a concert hall where world leaders met. 

Thousands are protesting capitalism, climate polices and globalisation, among other issues. 

Police used water cannon and tear gas to try to disperse protesters as reinforcements poured in from across the country to aid Hamburg police. 

The protests <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/subjects/protests.html> marred a gathering that German Chancellor Angela Merkel <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/people/angela-merkel.html> had hoped would demonstrate her country's unshakeable commitment to freedom of speech and assembly.

"I have every understanding for peaceful demonstrations but violent demonstrations put human lives in danger," she said.

Participants in the G20 meeting praised the work of police in keeping the event safe but said they had never seen protesters closer to such a summit than in Hamburg.


Police said 83 protesters were temporarily detained at the scene and 19 taken into custody [Reuters]
In the touristy Pferdemarkt area, activists faced off against police in riot gear who were unable to put out fires, with billowing thick smoke dramatically reducing visibility.

In the nearby Schanzenviertel, a supermarket was ransacked and a cash machine was burned out. Several police helicopters patrolled overhead.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cancelled an appearance in downtown Hamburg on Friday morning due to security concerns. Police also declined to clear US First Lady Melania Trump's motorcade to leave her hotel for a tour of the city's historic harbour, her spokeswoman said.

Marine police units intercepted 22 divers from the environmental pressure group Greenpeace who had also been trying to reach the concert hall, police said.

Three officers required treatment in hospital, police said.


'Robust exchange' 

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/people/donald-trump.html> and Russian leader Vladimir Putin <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/people/vladimir-putin.html>, in their first face-to-face meeting, engaged in a "very robust exchange" over claims Moscow meddled in US elections <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/events/election-2016.html>, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Trump called the meeting "tremendous". 

Tillerson said that the US president opened the discussion by pressing Putin about "the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election".

The Russian president has continually denied any meddling in the US democratic process and Moscow has asked for proof that it took place.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump accepted Putin's assertions that the allegations, backed by US intelligence agencies, were false. 

Tillerson added that the "presidents rightly focused on how [to] move forward from what may be simply an intractable disagreement at this point".

The two-hour meeting also covered a slew of global crises including the Syrian war, Tillerson said.

US and Russia <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/country/russia.html> also agreed on a ceasefire deal <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/russia-agree-syria-ceasefire-deal-170707174828206.html> covering southwestern Syria <http://www.aljazeera.com/topics/country/syria.html> during the talks.

"Let me characterise: the meeting was very constructive, the two leaders I would say, connected very quickly," said Tillerson, adding that "there was a very clear positive chemistry between the two".

Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane, reporting from Hamburg, said the duration of the discussion indicated there were a number of items Trump and Putin's agenda.

"Discussions ranged from Ukraine, the fight against terrorism and the involvement, if any, of Russia in the US presidential elections," he said.

"It is clear that lots of issues were discussed and the standout element was the ceasefire deal in southwest Syria."

Meanwhile, talks on global trade at the 20 summit proved very difficult and differences on climate change were also clear, Merkel said.

She told leaders of the G20 economic powers that they must be prepared to make compromises as she worked towards a summit outcome that everyone present could accept. 

Protests are expected to continue on Saturday. 


 
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies





> Begin forwarded message:
> 
> From: Patrick Bond <pbond at mail.ngo.za>
> Subject: [Debate-List] (Fwd) G20 fail, BIICS collaborationism, mass resistance (Walden Bello, Ravi Kanth, Yash Tandon, Interventionist Left)
> Date: July 20, 2017 at 11:03:54 AM EDT
> To: DEBATE <debate-list at fahamu.org>, "progeconnetwork at googlegroups.com" <progeconnetwork at googlegroups.com>, "safis-solidarity-platform at googlegroups.com" <safis-solidarity-platform at googlegroups.com>
> Reply-To: pbond at mail.ngo.za


The rebellious hope of Hamburg
 
A first, preliminary assessment by the Interventionist Left

Let’s say the most important thing first: Hamburg was not only under a state of emergency enforced by the police for one week, which should be a warning for us. No, it was as important that tens of thousands defied it. Tens of thousands were not scared or took to the streets despite their fear. Every demonstration, every “cornering” and every tent that was put up was under the permanent and omnipresent threat of police force. Nobody was safe from it. That is the frame in which every single action and each number of participants have to be seen. This courage and this disobedience – from young to old, from peaceful to militant, from political to cultural – remains. This sign will also be understood by our friends in Brazil, Greece or South Africa. No matter what the press says, no matter what the polls say. The political calculation, to isolate the left through repression and defamation, has proven a devastating failure on the streets and has been turned on its head. Maybe Olaf Scholz and his units would have been able to deal with a few leftists – but they were not able to manage that great parts of the population showed their solidarity. Through their own bodies. On the streets. In masses and disobediently, in every form and color.
 
Summit of 20, Summit of Many
 
Let’s shortly talk about their summit: Angela Merkel has thoroughly failed her G20-show. Concrete results of this summit, that cost at least 400 million and for which a week-long state of emergency had been declared in a city with over a million inhabitants? None! The promise of a “festival of democracy” or of a summit without almost any impairment? Broken! The attempt to keep the protests far away and small with a huge police invasion and a rigorous policy of prohibition? Failed. Disaster has been a term often used by the bourgeois press. Olaf Scholz and his interior senator have made complete fools of themselves. Summit meetings of this scale in a big city in Western Europe? Unthinkable for years. All the lack of perspective and the sadness of global capitalism that doesn’t promise any future got tangible in their hollow summit theater. It is therefore not only the riot of Friday night that lets politicians and the media cry out, but also their defeat on the streets. They cannot permit that this defeat appears as our victory.
 
Now about our summit: We didn’t only want to disturb the spectacle of power, we wanted more. We wanted a rebellion of hope, to disrupt the denial of alternatives and demonstrate that resistance and fundamental opposition are coming from the left. That the real conflict about and in Hamburg would actually take place as a resistance against the state of emergency, as a conflict about democracy, as a fight about the right to the city – that was of course not planned, but it corresponded to the matter itself. The old motto of the globalization movement “Think global, act local” has taken on an interesting and new meaning in Hamburg. 
 
A week of disobedience
 
The week of rebellion started with an intimidation and a threat: We should be nowhere. Sleep nowhere, eat nowhere and not be political subjects within 38 square km.  Our places to sleep and to assemble were brutally harassed and removed. The police revolted against the judiciary. Their occupying army militarized the city. But in the end the many where everywhere and they had lost their fear.
 
That was in no small part due to the overwhelming solidarity in Hamburg. People shared their living spaces. Tents were put up in backyards. Several churches in St. Pauli and Altona opened their doors and camps formed around them. The Schauspielhaus let people in to sleep and eat, just like the FC St. Pauli. They wanted to drive us apart, to separate and divide us, but the opposite happened: The bond of friendship and solidarity between very different people and spectra grew stronger and stronger – and it will outlast the days of protest and resistance.
 
3 Days Awake

 
The change from intimidation and powerlessness started with the “mass-cornering” on Tuesday and the water cannon-attacks of the police at Arrivati parc. People retreated briefly, but they wouldn’t let disperse themselves anymore. The fear slowly gave way to defiance and self-confidence. The police wanted to occupy the city and its public places. The strong response was the demo-rave by AllesAllen, more than 20 000 came together and danced against G20. Thereby the dam of powerlessness was broken.
 
Then on Thursday there was the police assault on “Welcome to Hell” that was excessively brutal and enforced without any provocation. It was obvious to all that the senate and the police had already decided beforehand to not let the approved demonstration run. But despite the beating, despite the massive deployment of pepper spray, despite a police brutality that could have ended deadly at this point: The demonstration gathered again, new people joined, showed solidarity and finally they walked. “This is our city” was a slogan that from then on was hurled against the police over and over again.
 
BlockG20
 
The rebellion of hope took place, a solidarity and courageous revolt of the many. The G20 summit could not take place without us making a noticeable and perceptible difference. The “blue zone” existed only in the heads of the summit strategists, practically it had no meaning on Friday, on the day of the blockades.
 
The actions of BlockG20 started with the collective refusal to accept the zone in which demonstrations were prohibited. From all sides, we advanced to the protocol routes. We were attacked, stopped and beaten. But we stood up, gathered again and kept on. And indeed, we managed to disturb the schedule of the summit. Donald Trump was late, Melania Trump could not leave the guest house of the senate, several delegations had to turn around due to blockades, a meeting with the minister of finance Schäuble was cancelled and the concert in the Elbphilharmonie could only begin after a considerable delay.
 
Crucial for this success was the good planning and preparation through action trainings as well as the disobedient and brave spontaneity of the many. The colors of the fingers filled the streets, they flowed, flooded and congested. And they took on a life of their own when during the day they developed from an organized blockade of the protocol routes to a spontaneous occupation of the city by the crowd.  We rediscovered to be amazed, amazed about how irresistible and unstoppable the spirit of rebellion flowed through the city. People of Hamburg, activist travelers, newly politicized and above all the youth stood up to the arrogance of power. Now more than ever.
 
Solidarity without borders
 
In the end 76.000 people joined against a world of fear. They followed the common call for the demonstration. The government demonstration of the Social Democratic and the Green Party that took place at the same time was only an embarrassing side note. All those protestors came although they should have been rendered scared, although they had been told by the media and the Federal Intelligence Service how many dangerous left-wing extremists would be part of the demonstration. They came nevertheless and they came for this very reason. Together we spoke up for a solidarity without borders, against the world of the G20 and their capitalism, for a better life. 
 
“Ganz Hamburg…”
 
Among the pictures of resistance are also those where people had enough, where they fought back – and where this fightback turned into actions which were not directed against the summit or the state power, but also against local residents and shops. Those were not our actions. The Interventionist Left stands for the global solidarity summit, for BlockG20 and for the great demonstration. There we said what we would do – and did, what we said.
 
But we cannot and do not want to detach the fires of that Friday night from the state of emergency within they took place. If the police throughout days harasses, beats and injures people, acts like an occupation army that seems to never have heard of de-escalation, then a spontaneous response at some point is inevitable. We have already said in advance that we would not distance ourselves and that we would not forget on which side we stand. We do not add our voice to that of those people who now talk about “criminals” and who put the melange of organized militants and enraged youngsters in vicinity to neo-Nazis. The disruption and rejection of the existing system, that underlay these actions, even if we frequently consider them wrong in their forms and aims, is appreciated by us.
 
As far as these actions were conducted by organized groups, we find it problematic that they don’t assume responsibility but instead leave it to other political spectra to talk with, for and about them. We will talk critically about the political concept of insurrectionalism which indeed stills the hunger for rebellion but from which does not arise hope and solidarity.
 
Schanze & Co.
 
On our side are also many residents of St. Pauli, of the Schanze district and of Altona. Not a few of us live there themselves. Without them, without their practical solidarity, these days of protest against the summit would not have been possible. When they are attacked and threatened, when actions are suddenly not directed against the summit anymore but also against our friends in the district, we stand on their side.
 
We continue to be an Interventionist Left that lives in the city district. We are part of this city and of these districts, part of the right-to-the-city-movement. We will engage in a dialogue with all those who are on our side. With those who endorsed it and those who cannot see any political act in it. We want to listen and to learn because as left radicals we cannot simply talk away the social realities but have to move within them.
 
The days after
 
One last clear word concerning solidarity: Against all attacks by the media and all threats of eviction we stand firmly alongside the Rote Flora that from its point of view has said everything that was necessary about the riots on Friday night. We are just as solidary with the G20-Entern-groups and all the others that are now in the focus of state repression. And we will support all those who are still in prison or are hit by repression. You are not alone!
 
At the same time, we detest the hypocritical double standards of parts of the bourgeois and political class. They need the images of burning cars and smashed windows to get the images of those drowning in the Mediterranean, of the victims of their wars or the homeless that sleep under the display windows of their favorite shops out of their head. We are shocked: So thin is the civilizing varnish, under which are hidden supposedly liberal people’s hatred against every questioning of the existing order and their police-state punishment fantasy. Instead it must be talked about the excessive police brutality during these days, about the legitimization of this state of emergency and about how to organize broad and solidary resistance against all this. 
 
We cannot understand how in a country, where ten years could pass until a murdering right-wing terror network was even discovered and where refugees are attacked daily, only one day has to go by until so many people speak of leftist “terror”.
 
We’ll meet again…
 
For the future, we will thoroughly analyze which forms of action and which political strategies are appropriate under the conditions of a policy civil war training in an urban area. We will comment on this and on the other principal questions raised in due time and after in-depth discussion.
 
What remains is the look back on an encouraging summit week with a wide variety of actions and forms of resistance that have mobilized and given strength to tens of thousands, from the autonomous political scene to unions that agreed on the rejection of the G20, the summit meeting and its effects in Hamburg. Hamburg was the rebellious city that has enlivened this protest. We took courage and confidence, in ourselves and our allies that stood with us. These days of Hamburg went deeper than opinion polls and medial moods. They will still be alive when nobody knows who Olaf Scholz was anymore. They carry us to the fights that are still ahead of us until everything will be finally completely different.
 


It’s Not Only Necessary to Develop an Alternative to Globalization — It’s Entirely Possible

It was the left who diagnosed the ills of globalization. So why is the right eating our lunch?

By Walden Bello <http://fpif.org/authors/walden-bello/>, July 19, 2017.

Free trade and the freedom of capital to move across borders have been the cutting edge of globalization. They’ve also led to the succession of crises that have led to the widespread questioning of capitalism as a way of organizing economic life — and of its paramount ideological expression, neoliberalism.

The protests against capitalism at the recent G20 meeting in Hamburg may seem superficially the same as those which marked similar meetings in the early 2000s. But there’s one big difference now: Global capitalism is in a period of long-term stagnation following the global financial crisis. The newer protests represent a far broader disenchantment with capitalism than the protests of the 2000s.

Yet capitalism’s resilience amidst crisis must not be underestimated. For trade activists, in particular, who’ve been on the forefront of the struggle against neoliberalism and globalization over the last two decades, there are a number of key challenges posed by the conjuncture.

Neoliberalism’s Surprising Strength

First is the surprising strength of neoliberalism.

The credibility of neoliberalism, to which free trade ideology is central, has been deeply damaged by a succession of events over the last two decades, among which were the collapse of the third ministerial of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999, the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, and the Global financial crisis of 2008-2009, the effects of which continue to drag down the global economy.

Most of us in the field remember the time late in 2008, when after hearing accounts of the Global financial crisis from an assembly of orthodox economists at the London School of Economics, Queen Elizabeth posed the question: “Why didn’t anybody see this coming? <http://www.irishtimes.com/business/virtual-explanation-for-market-cycles-1.731595>” None of the dumbfounded economists could answer her then — and last I heard, the queen is still waiting for the answer.

What one finds puzzling is despite this loss of credibility, neoliberalism continues to rule. Academic economists continue to teach it, and technocrats continue to prescribe it. The false assumptions of free trade theory underlie the free trade agreements or economic partnership agreements into which the big powers continue to try to rope developing countries.

To borrow an image from the old western films, the train engineer has been shot and killed, but his dead hand continues to push down on the throttle, with the train gathering more and more speed. The takeaway from this is that so long as there are interests that are served by an ideology, such as corporate interests and knowledge institutions that have invested in it, even a succession of devastating crises of credibility isn’t enough to overthrow a paradigm.

Export-led Growth Is Still on Course

The second challenge is especially relevant to developing countries. It is the persistence of the model of export-oriented growth.

Now, this model of development through trade is shared both by neoliberals and non-neoliberals — the difference being that the former think it should be advanced by market forces alone and the latter with the vigorous help of the state. Now, over the last few years, the stagnation of the once dynamic centers of the global demand — the U.S., Europe, and the BRICS — has made this model obsolete.

It was, in fact, the non-viability of this once successful model of rapid growth in current global circumstances that pushed China, under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, to push the country away from an export-oriented path to a domestic demand-led strategy via a massive $585 billion stimulus program. They failed, and the reason for their failure is instructive.

In fact, a set of powerful interests had congealed around the export-oriented model — the state banks, regional and local governments that had benefited from the strategy, export-oriented state enterprises, foreign investors — and these prevented the model from being dislodged, even given its unsuitability in this period of global stagnation.

These same policy struggles are going on in other developing countries. In most cases, the outcome is the same: The export lobbies are winning, despite the fact that the global conditions sustaining their strategy are vanishing.

The Right Eats Our Lunch

A third challenge has to do with the fact that when major changes in trade policy do take place, it’s not because of the actions of progressive groups but of demagogues of the right. I think this is clearest in the case of the United States.

It was Donald Trump who shot down the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that had been the object of so much criticism coming from the left. Trump may be a demagogue and his motives may be opportunistic, but it was he who came through on one of the central demands of U.S. labor — not the Democrats — with the consequence that he’s been able to win over large parts of the white working class.

In Europe, working classes are moving to right wing parties in significant numbers as well, not only owing to a racist response to immigration, but also because these far-right parties are espousing anti-globalization and anti-free trade rhetoric. As in the case with the Democrats in the U.S., the Social Democrats in Europe are identified with financialization and free trade, and this is a central reason for their loss of credibility.

But it was the non-establishment left, the left of social movements, that began and developed the critique of globalization, neoliberalism, and free trade in the 1990s and the 2000s. But for a variety of reasons, we weren’t able to translate our politics into an effective movement. The extreme right, on the other hand, opportunistically expropriated our message, rebranded themselves as anti-neoliberals opposed to the center-right as well as the center-left, and now they’re eating our lunch.

The Alternative

The final challenge has to do with coming up with a credible alternative paradigm.

My first two points stressed the importance of powerful interests in sustaining a paradigm despite its loss of intellectual credibility. But this isn’t sufficient to explain the continuing powerful influence of neoliberalism. Our failure to move from a critique of neoliberal capitalism to a powerful alternative model — like socialism provided to so many marginalized classes, peoples, and nations in the 20th century — is part of the problem.

The theoretical building blocks of an alternative economic model are there, the product of the work of so many progressives over the last 50 years. This includes the rich work that has been done around sustainable development, de-growth, and de-globalization. The task is to integrate them not only into an intellectually coherent model, but into an inspiring narrative that combines vision, theory, program, and action, and one that rests firmly on the values of justice, equity, and environmental sustainability.

Of course, the work towards this goal will be long and hard. But we must not only be convinced that it’s necessary but also confident that it’s possible to come up with an alternative that will rally most of the people behind us. Ideas matter. To borrow the old biblical saying, “Without vision, the people perish.”

These are some of the central challenges confronting trade activists. We cannot leave the field to a neoliberalism that has failed or to an extremism that has appropriated some of our analysis and married them to hideous, reactionary values.

A progressive future is not guaranteed. We must work to bring it about, and we will.

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Walden Bello is an international adjunct professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He’s the author of Capitalism’s Last Stand? Deglobalization in a Time of Austerity (London: Zed, 2013), an associate of the Transnational Institute, and co-chair of the board of Focus on the Global South. 

*** 



http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/ <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/>
G20: the second Berlin War against Africa

Posted on July 13, 2017 <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/> by Yash <http://yashtandon.com/author/Nid-Yash/> 1 Comment <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#comments>
Germany holds this year’s presidency of the G20.[1] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn1> On 12-13 June 2017, the German government organised a high-level conference in the historic city of Berlin where Africa was fragmented in 1885. The ostensible objective of the June 2017 meeting was to support private investment, sustainable infrastructure, and employment in African countries, as well as contribute to the AU Agenda 2063.[2] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn2> Its real effect is to deepen Europe’s colonisation of Africa.

The “Compact with Africa”

The background document of the Berlin meeting had all the “correct” sound-bites that we have heard for more than 70 years in various institutions of global economic governance including the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, the European Union and others.[3] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn3>
Listen to the sound-bites of the “Compact with Africa” –  what I call the New Berlin initiative.  It is expected to:

Ensure that the Investment Compacts between African countries, G20 Partners and International Financial Institutions are demand driven;
Create a sound investment climate in relevant sectors of selected African economies;
Build on existing regional and international strategies in the context of addressing root causes of migration;
Strengthen the framework for private finance and investment – including Investment Compacts, which include a country specific set of measures to improve the macro, business, and financing framework for private investment;
Develop quality infrastructure, e.g. access to renewable energy… climate-related risk finance and insurance schemes… to implement the Energy Access Action Plan (Sub-Saharan Africa).
Launch an initiative to stimulate employment and income generating opportunities for young Africans including the empowerment of women and girls through digital inclusion – eSkills4Girls.
And so on and so forth – the whole liturgy of well-meaning phrases that are music to the ears of African regimes but, in reality, aimed at advancing the interests of global corporate capital in Africa.

The G20 at Hamburg: Who is the G20?

The Berlin conference was followed by the G20 Summit in Hamburg on 7-8 July with the whole panoply of the giants of world capitalism – including Trump, Xi Jinping <https://www.google.co.uk/search?biw=1366&bih=638&q=Xi+Jinping&stick=H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgVuLUz9U3MEtLMzMAALEflvgNAAAA>, Putin, Modi, Shinzō Abe, and Terisa May.  They were greeted by rallies, raves and riots by an army of anti-capitalist street protestors and civil rights movements.

The G20 (the Group of Twenty) is essentially a western creation with participation of some selected countries from the global South.  Look at the composition of the G20.

Group 1: Australia; Canada; Saudi Arabia; United States   (4)

Group 2: India; Russia; South Africa; Turkey                        (4)

Group 3: Argentina; Brazil; Mexico                                        (3)

Group 4: France; Germany; Italy; United Kingdom             (4)

Group 5: China; Indonesia; Japan; South Korea                  (4)

Besides the 19 individual countries, there are 2 representatives from the European Union (EU): one from European Commission and a second from the European Central Bank.  (That comes to a total of 21, not 20!)

It must be a genius who worked out this remarkable configuration:

Western countries and their allies (like Japan, South Korea and Mexico are spread out in 3 groups
There is no grouping for Africa. The only African presence is that of South Africa (in the mixed bag of Group 2)
In addition to a minimum of 11 members of the west and its allies (Australia; Canada; Saudi Arabia; United States; Mexico, France; Germany; Italy; United Kingdom; Japan; South Korea), there are two additional members from the European Union -representatives of the EU Commission and the EU Central Bank!
The G20 is more or less like the Green Room of the WTO, which makes all critical decisions on behalf of the so-called international Community.[4] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn4>  However, this body is different from the WTO in some ways that might be important to bear in mind. One is that its decisions are not binding.  Second is that while the G20 is a club of likeminded countries from the west (or close allies of the west), there is an increasing influence of China in it.  The last summit of G20 was held under Chinese presidency in Hangzhou in September 2016.  But at Hangzhou, Africa was side-lined.[5] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn5> China is a shrewd player in this game.  It is there not to fight for Africa’s battles, but for its own, whilst, at the same time developing parallel institutions (like CAFTA – China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, and the One Belt, One Road (the new Silk Route), and its own currency.

The financial iron fist of G20

G20 is the larger co-ordinating forum, but let us be clear about this: its real iron fist is its “finance track” which is coordinated by the German Federal Ministry of Finance headed by the dominant figure of Wolfgang Schäuble, the author of the financial package that has reduced Greece to a pauper nation held in captivity by largely German finance capital.  The five African countries that were invited to the Berlin meeting in June – Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia – wrote letters of appreciation to Wolfgang Schäuble.[6] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn6>
Germany is the real financial and industrial hub of Europe. The Compact with Africa was engineered by the German Ministry of Finance.  In its essence, its thrust was to force open African doors to European and generally western investments. African governments have been told in no uncertain terms that for them to receive FDIs (foreign direct investments), they need to improve conditions for such investments. To this end, the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank (ADB, which in reality is an extension of the WB, despite its name) produced a joint report that was well received by the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors at their meeting in Baden-Baden. This report proposed a catalogue of instruments and measures Africa should take to improve macroeconomic, business and financing frameworks. Using its financial muscle the West (through Berlin) is waging war against Africa.

Western countries have promised massive funds for Africa: for example, for Agriculture $21bn per year; Energy: $55bn per year, and so on.  These are just promises.  I can say with knowledge of similar past promises, namely, that none of these would materialise, and if they do, they would be hedged by multiple conditionalities that undermine Africa’s sovereignty and human rights.  The irony is that there is a net outflow of capital from Africa. According to the African Union’s High Level Panel on Illicit Flows, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, Africa loses more than $50 billion every year from such outflows.[7] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn7> These are “illicit” outflows. However, if you add the other “licit” or legal outflows – including super-profits that big corporations earn in Africa, and money sent through “transfer pricing” (which involves underpricing African exports and overpricing imports into Africa) – then the outflows from Africa, conservatively estimated, run into over $150 to $200 billion every year.

So what options does Africa have?

Options for Africa

As always, we need to make a distinction between the common people of Africa (and the civil society), and the regimes in control of state power.

At the G20 Hamburg meeting, Africa was officially represented by only one country – South Africa, which was obsequiously behaving like a neo-colony that it is.  Also present were some invited “guests” from Africa – Guinea, Kenya, and Senegal (why only these were chosen and by whom is anybody’s guess). We have already mentioned the countries that were invited at the July Berlin meeting on finance – Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.  The latter, as I said, wrote letters – bowing and scraping – to the king of German finance capital, Wolfgang Schäuble.

This said, I need to add that this is no reason why we who come from the civil society should spurn our regimes. So here are my recommendations.

1. Resource sovereignty

We demand from our governments that the resources of Africa be used for the development of the people of Africa. Of course, this is easily said than done. For over half a century, “independent” Africa has been exploited for its resources (especially oil, minerals and agricultural commodities). It is time for a “global compact” that we write (not the empire), and we (the civil society) strategise amongst our friends in the west on how to upfront “our” global compact for wider discussion among civil societies in the west. [8] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn8>
2. Taking advantage of current geopolitical shift

The world is going through a significant geopolitical shift. We need to work out ways of using this to Africa’s advantage. I mention only two of its manifestations. One is the emergence of China as the global leader displacing the USA in many aspects of global economic governance.  China (as I said above) is developing parallel institutions to the Bretton Woods structure (like CAFTA, the One Belt, One Road, and its own currency). This is opening space for Africa to play the west against China, and vice versa. There is nothing wrong in this. Also, Chinese investments in Africa are long term and are focused on infrastructural development as well as resource extraction; whilst Western investments are focused only on resource extraction. Of course, let me repeat, China is a capitalist state with its own interests. In trying to, for example, reforming the IMF and building parallel global economic structures, it does so for its own interests. That is to be expected. The question is how we in Africa can take advantage of this. (I will write more on this another time).

The second development is the changing political-economy of the United States under President Trump. My advice is that, despite his famously unpredictable personality, we can benefit from his challenge to globalisation and his “Make America Great” nationalism.  At the G20 Summit in Hamburg, whilst China and India came out against protectionism (the policy of building firewalls of protection for national industries), Trump was in its favour. Trump has threatened, for example, to impose 20% tariff on imports of steel and other products from China, Germany, Canada, and other countries on “security grounds”. Whether he will achieve this is a different matter, but on this issue he is on our side ideologically. Why? It is important that we use this aspect of Trumpism to, also, demand for the protection of our industries from the dangers of “globalisation” that has destroyed Africa’s industries (and now also agriculture).

3. Building state capacity to analyse and negotiate on global issues

At the national, regional and pan-African levels, we must continue with our nonviolent struggles for democracy and respect for our human rights. At the same time, we must help – yes, help – our governments to take the courage to stand up to the empire, and where possible to build the capacity of our state officials to analyse global events, and to negotiate in the global organisations for economic and political governance on matters related to trade, investments, and technology transfer and resource sovereignty.[9] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftn9>
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

@Yash Tandon

[1] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref1> The G20 is a group of twenty major countries that meet annually to discuss issues of global concern. See below for further details

[2] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref2> The AU Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years

[3] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref3> See:https://www.bmz.de/de/zentrales_downloadarchiv/g20/2017_03_Fact_Sheet_G20_Africa_Partnership.pdf <https://www.bmz.de/de/zentrales_downloadarchiv/g20/2017_03_Fact_Sheet_G20_Africa_Partnership.pdf>
[4] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref4> At the 10th Ministerial meeting of the WTO in Nairobi in December 2015, for example, the green room was convened on the last day which, essentially, laid out the program agreed, first, between the US, Europe and Japan, and laid before the rest of the members selected from the South (including, of course, China, India, and Brazil).  None of the countries of the South could overturn the decision made by the imperial countries. Although the chair was held Kenya, Kenya had no influence at all on the outcome.  I was present at the Ministerial, and made an appraisal of the outcome. See: http://yashtandon.com/trade-is-war-a-postscript-to-wto-mc10/ <http://yashtandon.com/trade-is-war-a-postscript-to-wto-mc10/>
[5] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref5> For a critical appraisal of the Hangzhou meeting, see: Aldo Caliari, G20 Hangzhou agreement unlikely to heal global economy’s malaise, SUNS #8316 21 September 2016

[6] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref6> Source:  Federal Ministry of Finance. Also see: https://www.g20.org/Webs/G20/EN/G20/meeting_ministers/meetings_ministers_node.html <https://www.g20.org/Webs/G20/EN/G20/meeting_ministers/meetings_ministers_node.html>
[7] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref7> Mbeki panel ramps up war against illicit financial flows. http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/april-2016/mbeki-panel-ramps-war-against-illicit-financial-flows <http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/april-2016/mbeki-panel-ramps-war-against-illicit-financial-flows>
[8] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref8> At the 7 June 2017 meeting of civil society representatives from Germany and Africa in Berlin (where I was present) it was decided that those coming from Africa write a “declaration” to be widely disseminated and discussed. Once it is out, I’ll write more on it.

[9] <http://yashtandon.com/g20-the-second-berlin-war-against-africa/#_ftnref9> This is what SEATINI (the Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information, and Negotiations Institute) has been doing since its creation in 1998.

*** 

______________________________

Jai Sen

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
www.cacim.net <http://www.cacim.net/> / http://www.openword.net.in

Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

Recent publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2016  – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (forthcoming in 2017 from New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press), ADVANCE PREFINAL ONLINE MOVEMENT EDITION @ www.cacim.net <http://www.cacim.net/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2013 – The Movements of Movements : Struggles for Other Worlds, Part I. Prefinal version of Volume 4 Part I in the Challenging Empires series. New Delhi : OpenWord.  Prefinal version 1.0 available @ http://www.into-ebooks.com/book/the_movements_of_movements/ <http://www.into-ebooks.com/book/the_movements_of_movements/>
FORTHCOMING PUBLICATIONS  :

Jai Sen, ed, 2017a – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  Volume 4 in the Challenging Empires series (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press).  Available for pre-order at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
&

Jai Sen, ed, 2017b – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance.  Volume 5 in the Challenging Empires series (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)

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