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Who Owes Who?: 50 Questions about World Debt

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2004

    Flawed account of the need to cancel odious debts

    Millet is the General Secretary of CADTM France (Comite pour l'Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde). Toussaint is the President of CADTM and a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum. Their book examines the origins of the developing countries' debts, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's debt management, the efforts to reduce the debts and most important, the moral, political, economic and legal case for cancelling the debts. As Fidel Castro observed in 2000, 'The debt has already been amply repaid, given the terms under which it was contracted, the arbitrary and vertiginous growth of interest rates on the dollar during the preceding decade and the fall in prices of the basic products which are the fundamental source of revenue for countries still needing to develop. The debt has become a self-perpetuating vicious circle where new debts are taken out to pay off the interest on standing ones.' The authors quote the Russian legal theorist Alexander Nahum Sack who wrote, 'If a despotic power contracts a debt, not according to the needs and interests of the State, but to fortify the despotic regime, to put down the population which would combat it, this debt is odious for the population of the entire State. This debt is not binding for the nation, it is the debt of a regime, the personal debt of the power which contracted it. Consequently, it falls when that power falls.' So in 1776, the new revolutionary state of the USA repudiated all the debts due to bankers in London. Similarly, in 1917 the Bolshevik government repudiated the Tsar's debts to British and French banks. The authors cite a Touareg proverb, 'What you do for the others without the others, is against the others.' This hits the capitalist globalisers, and also the anarchists whose federal networks of committee and forums mirror their false internationalism. The workers in the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America do not need international committees or social forums to tell them what to do. They will decide when how they cancel their rulers' debts.

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