[xmca] Antidote to the economic crisis from civic organizations

From: Jonna Kangasoja <jonna.kangasoja who-is-at helsinki.fi>
Date: Mon Oct 20 2008 - 03:35:56 PDT

Dear all,

Below is a set of proposals for comprehensive transformation produced
at the Asia-Pasific People's Forum in Beijng. I assume many on xmca
might find this interesting - it is also an example of how agency is
forming and at work at the moment.

best. Jonna

* * *

The global economic crisis: An historic opportunity for transformation

An initial response from individuals, social movements and non-
governmental Organisations in support of a transitional programme for
radical economic transformation Beijing, 15 October 2008


Taking advantage of the opportunity of so many people from movements
gathering in Beijing during the Asia-Europe People's Forum, the
Transnational Institute and Focus on the Global South convened
informal nightly meetings between 13 and 15 October 2008. We took
stock of the meaning of the unfolding global economic crisis and the
opportunity it presents for us to put into the public domain some of
the inspiring and feasible alternatives many of us have been working
on for decades. This statement represents the collective outcome of
our Beijing nights. We, the initial signatories, mean this to be a
contribution towards efforts to formulate proposals around which our
movements can organise as the basis for a radically different kind of
political and economic order. Please sign on to this statement at

The Crisis

The global financial system is unravelling at great speed. This is
happening in the midst of a multiplicity of crises in relation to
food, climate and energy. It severely weakens the power of the US and
the EU, and the global institutions they dominate, particularly the
International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade
Organisation. Not only is the legitimacy of the neo-liberal paradigm
in question, but the very future of capitalism itself.

Such is the chaos in the global financial system that Northern
governments have resorted to measures progressive movements have
advocated for years, such as nationalisation of banks. These moves
are intended, however, as short-term stabilisation measures and once
the storm clears, they are likely to return the banks to the private
sector. We have a short window of opportunity to mobilise so that
they are not.

The challenge and the opportunity

We are entering uncharted terrain with this conjuncture of profound
crises - the fall out from the financial crisis will be severe.
People are being thrown into a deep sense of insecurity; misery and
hardship will increase for many poorer people everywhere. We should
not cede this moment to fascist, right wing populist, xenophobic
groups, who will surely try to take advantage of people's fear and
anger for reactionary ends.

Powerful movements against neo-liberalism have been built over many
This will grow as critical coverage of the crisis enlightens more
people, who are already angry at public funds being diverted to pay
for problems they are not responsible for creating, and already
concerned about the ecological crisis and rising prices - especially
of food and energy. The movements will grow further as recession
starts to bite and economies start sinking into depression.

There is a new openness to alternatives. To capture people's
attention and support, they must be practical and immediately
feasible. We have convincing alternatives that are already underway,
and we have many other good ideas attempted in the past, but
defeated. Our alternatives put the well-being of people and the
planet at their centre. For this, democratic control over financial
and economic institutions are required. This is the "red thread"
connecting up the proposals presented below.

Proposals for debate, elaboration and action

- Introduce full-scale socialisation of banks, not just
nationalisation of bad assets.
- Create people-based banking institutions and strengthen existing
popular forms of lending based on mutuality and solidarity.
- Institutionalise full transparency within the financial system
through the opening of the books to the public, to be facilitated by
citizen and worker organisations.
- Introduce parliamentary and citizens' oversight of the existing
banking system
- Apply social ( including conditions of labour) and environmental
criteria to all lending, including for business purposes
- Prioritise lending, at minimum rates of interest, to meet social
and environmental needs and to expand the already growing social economy
- Overhaul central banks in line with democratically determined
social, environmental and expansionary (to counter the recession)
objectives, and make them publicly accountable institutions.
- Safeguard migrant remittances to their families and introduce
legislation to restrict charges and taxes on transfers

- Close all tax havens
- End tax breaks for fossil fuel and nuclear energy companies
- Apply stringent progressive tax systems
- Introduce a global taxation system to prevent transfer pricing and
tax evasion
- Introduce a levy on nationalised bank profits with which to
establish citizen investment funds (see below)
- Impose stringent progressive carbon taxes on those with the biggest
carbon footprints
- Adopt controls, such as Tobin taxes, on the movements of
speculative capital
- Re-introduce tariffs and duties on imports of luxury goods and
other goods already produced locally as a means of increasing the
state's fiscal base, as well as a means to support local production
and thereby reduce carbon emissions globally

Public Spending and Investment
- Radically reduce military spending
- Redirect government spending from bailing out bankers to
guaranteeing basic incomes and social security, and providing
universally accessible basic social services such as housing, water,
electricity, health, education, child care, and access to the
internet and other public communications facilities.
- Use citizen funds (see above) to support very poor communities
- Ensure that people at risk of losing their homes due to defaults on
mortgages caused by the crisis are offered renegotiated terms of payment
- Stop privatisations of public services
- Establish public enterprises under the control of parliaments,
local communities and/or workers to increase employment Improve the
performance of public enterprises through democratizing management -
encourage public service managers, staff, unions and consumer
organisations to collaborate to this end
- Introduce participatory budgeting over public finances at all
feasible levels
- Invest massively in improved energy efficiency, low carbon emitting
public transport, renewable energy and environmental repair
- Control or subsidise the prices of basic commodities

International Trade and Finance
- Introduce a permanent global ban on short-selling of stock and shares
- Ban on trade in derivatives
- Ban all speculation on staple food commodities
- Cancel the debt of all developing countries - debt is mounting as
the crisis causes the value of Southern currencies to fall
- Support the United Nations call to be involved in discussions about
how the to resolve the crisis, which is going to have a much bigger
impact on Southern economies than is currently being acknowledged
- Phase out the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World
Trade Organisation
- Phase out the US dollar as the international reserve currency
- Establish a people's inquiry into the mechanisms necessary for a
just international monetary system.
- Ensure aid transfers do not fall as a result of the crisis
- Abolish tied aid
- Abolish neo-liberal aid conditionalities
- Phase out the paradigm of export-led development, and refocus
sustainable development on production for the local and regional market
- Introduce incentives for products produced for sale closest to the
local market
- Cancel all negotiations for bilateral free trade and economic
partnership agreements
- Promote regional economic co-operation arrangements, such as
UNASUR, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the Trade
Treaty of the Peoples and others, that encourage genuine development
and an end to poverty.

- Introduce a global system of compensation for countries which do
not exploit fossil fuel reserves in the global interests of limiting
effects on the climate, such as Ecuador has proposed.
- Pay reparations to Southern countries for the ecological
destruction wrought by the North to assist peoples of the South to
deal with climate change and other environmental crises.
- Strictly implement the "precautionary principle" of the UN
Declaration on the Right to Development as a condition for all
developmental and environmental projects.
- End lending for projects under the Kyoto Protocol's "Clean
Development Mechanism" that are environmentally destructive, such as
monoculture plantations of eucalyptus, soya and palm oil.
- Stop the development of carbon trading and other environmentally
counter-productive techno-fixes, such as carbon capture and
sequestration, agrofuels, nuclear power and 'clean coal' technology.
- Adopt strategies to radically reduce consumption in the rich
countries, while promoting sustainable development in poorer
countries Introduce democratic management of all international
funding mechanisms for climate change mitigation, with strong
participation from Southern countries and civil society.

Agriculture and Industry
- Phase out the pernicious paradigm of industry-led development,
where the rural sector is squeezed to provide the resources necessary
to support industrialisation and urbanisation
- Promote agricultural strategies aimed at achieving food security,
food sovereignty and sustainable farming.
- Promote land reforms and other measures which support small holder
agriculture and sustain peasant and indigenous communities Stop the
spread of socially and environmentally destructive mono-cultural
- Stop labour law reforms aimed at extending hours of work and making
it easier for employers to fire or retrench workers
- Secure jobs through outlawing precarious low paid work
- Guarantee equal pay for equal work for women - as a basic principle
and to help counter the coming recession by increasing workers'
capacity to consume.
- Protect the rights of migrant workers in the event of job losses,
ensuring their safe return to and reintegration into their home
countries. For those who cannot return, there should be no forced
return, their security should be guaranteed, and they should be
provided with employment or a basic minimum income.


These are all practical, common sense proposals. Some are initiatives
already underway and demonstrably feasible. Their successes need to
be publicised and popularised so as to inspire reproduction. Others
are unlikely to be implemented on their objective merits alone.
Political will is required. By implication, therefore, every proposal
is a call to action.

We have written what we see as a living document to be developed and
enriched by us all. Please sign on to this statement at http://

A future occasion to come together to work on the actions needed to
make these ideas and others a reality will be the World Social Forum
in Belem, Brazil at the end of January 2009.

We have the experience and the ideas - let's meet the challenge of
the present ruling disorder and keep the momentum towards an
alternative rolling!!

Initial Signatories
Transnational Institute, The Netherlands Focus on the Global South,
Asia Red Pepper magazine, United Kingdom Institute for Global
Research and Social Movements, Russia
xmca mailing list
Received on Mon Oct 20 03:36:22 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Sep 18 2009 - 07:30:00 PDT