new Internationalist APRIL Issue 421
So a receding economic tide has exposed the naked bathers. Once upon a time, a rising economic tide supposedly lifted all boats. The tide will rise again. Won't it? Well, the passing likeness of capitalism to one force of nature does not eliminate all the others. Throughout my lengthening lifetime capitalism has segued from one 'crisis' to the next, more like a cancerous growth. I can't, off-hand, think of a single day when a capitalist crisis of one sort or another was not seeking immediate attention. Though reports of the death of capitalism have often proved exaggerated, the tide receded most memorably just before the tsunami in 2004. Capitalism, socialism, fundamentalism, nationalism, isms and ists of all kinds have apparently failed us, claiming by way of an excuse that perfection would come with the next rising tide. In one sense everyone has been bathing naked – and finally has that one thing, at least, in common. So we have little choice but to recognize ourselves for what we are and consider the remaining options afresh. Some of them are remarkably attractive and are explored a little further in this magazine. At the same time, the New Internationalist has for once stepped out of the commentary box and actively joined the growing campaign for a just and sustainable future. One immediate focus is the mobilization
(see pages i-xvi) around the 2 April meeting in London of the G20 – a self-appointed huddle of 'world leaders' that is part of the problem. In the years ahead, the real challenge will be to construct a more habitable and diverse economic, social and political 'architecture' from the bottom up, on much firmer foundations as a result. This will doubtless include the people of North Korea. You'll also find in this magazine a rare insight into the daily lives of people once judged to inhabit an 'Axis of Evil'. North Koreans may not be naked, but they are recognizable all the same. The financial meltdown has given the Minority World just a taste of what it has been like to live in the Majority World for far too long already. If the chickens do not eventually come home to roost, then eggs will be off the menu for good.
David Ransom for the New Internationalist Co-operative
Put people first maIn FeatuRe
13 (i) The Age of Possibility As the empire of international finance collapses, David Ransom finds the chance to reset the compass towards democracy, equality and the survival of our planet.
16 (iv) A month in the life of the Majority World Recession heads South – and meets resistance.
18 (vi) Meltdown –The FACTS
20 (viii) Naked Emperors It’s time to ask some very basic questions, like: What are banks for? What are houses for? What’s credit for? What’s the economy for? Or, for that matter, what’s the environment for? Vanessa Baird suggests a 10-point economic detox programme.
28 (xvi) ACTION – Campaigns, contacts and resources
4 Inside North Korea A rare glimpse into the world’s most secretive country, by French aid worker Jérôme Bossuet who spent three years there.
2 Letters Campaign to save mothers; military climate sins; and yet more dressing for sex. PLUS: Letter from Cairo
9 Big Bad World Polyp tackles climate change. The NI Crossword
10 Currents How sex with widows helps dead men; the World Bank bulldozes an Albanian village; bad chocolate still uses child labour. 29 Worldbeaters Egypt’s President Mubarak may have survived six assassination attempts but does not escape the NI treatment.
30 Mixed Media Congo’s amazing disabled rhythm-maestros; an horrific and repulsive Chilean take on Saturday Night Fever; and the first ever Arabic detective novel to be translated into English.
32 Southern Exposure A haunting and sensitive glimpse into a Malaysian orphanage by photographer Abdul Rahman Roslan.
33 Making Waves Viyakula Mary talks to Ewa Jasiewicz.
34 Essay: A Savage Environmentalism Jeremy Seabrook on how bogus environmentalism is threatening some of India’s best friends of the environment.
36 Country Profile: Ghana
Front cover: Andrew Kokotka. Magazine design: Andrew Kokotka. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.