What follows is a new introduction to Michel Chossudovsky’s (1998) paper Global Poverty in the Late Twentieth Century.
The onslaught of America’s war is occurring at the height of a global economic depression marked by the downfall of State institutions, mounting unemployment, the collapse in living standards in all major regions of the World, including Western Europe and North America and the outbreak of famines over large areas. This depression is far more serious than that of the 1930s. Moreover, the war has not only unleashed a massive shift out of civilian economic activities into the military-industrial complex, it has also accelerated the demise of the Welfare State in most Western countries.
War and globalisation are intimately related processes. The global economic crisis (which preceded the events of September 11) has its roots in the New World Order “free market” reforms. Since the 1997 “Asian crisis”, financial markets have plummeted, national economies have collapsed one after the other, entire countries (e.g. Argentina and Turkey) have been taken over by their international creditors precipitating millions of people into abysmal poverty.
“The post-September 11 crisis” in many regards announces both the demise of Western social democracy as well as the end on an era. The legitimacy of the global “free market” system has been reinforced, opening the door to a renewed wave of deregulation and privatisation, which could eventually result in the corporate take-over of all public services and State infrastructure (including electricity, municipal water and sewerage, inter-city highways, etc.).
Moreover, in the US and Great Britain, but also in most countries of the European Union, the legal fabric of Western societies has also been overhauled. Based on the repeal of the rule of law, the foundations of an Authoritarian State apparatus have emerged with little or no organised opposition from the mainstay of civil society. Without debate or discussion, “the war on terrorism” against so-called “rogue states” is deemed necessary to “protect democracy” and enhance domestic security.
A collective understanding of the war based on history, has been replaced by the need to “combat evil” and “hunt down Osama”. These “buzz-words” are part of a carefully designed propaganda campaign. The ideology of the “rogue state” developed by the Pentagon during the 1991 Gulf war, constitutes a new legitimacy, a justification for waging a “humanitarian war” against countries which do not conform to the New World Order and the tenets of the “free market” system.
While a worldwide economic depression looms, Washington, Wall Street and the Western media point in chorus to a “cyclical downturn” attributable to “market uncertainties” resulting from the September 11th terrorist attacks.