Thursday, June 28, 2007

At the sea


Today, the journey took me south, in fact all the way down to the Atlantic ocean in Brighton where I (surprisingly enough) plan to stay for the coming days…

On the train I read an article in The Guardian by one of my favourite journalists, Timothy Garton Ash, who apparently has traded Central Europe for Brazil this summer. Writing about the favelas of Sao Paulo, he asks how long Brazil will be able to sustain its liberal democracy with such extremes of inequality, poverty, social exclusions, crime, drugs and lawlessness?

It is clearly a warranted question. Witnessing the affluence in Cambridge last night made me once again aware of the urgent need for progressive politics, both within and between the countries of the world. As I have argued elsewhere, I believe we have a unique opportunity to strike a global Fordian compromise between the capital intensive North and the labour intensive South. Instead of keeping billions of people at subsistence level (or, more often, below), we should recognize that we all are to gain from development. This is why I felt so saddened last weak when learning that the G4 group failed to reach an agreement, further squandering the already slim chances of success for the Doha round of free trade negotiations.

As always, the problem this time was agriculture, a sector in which both the European Union and the US pursue insane policies of over-production, dumping and subsidies – all at the expense of the global poor, especially in Africa. The current regime, in combination with the ongoing securitization of migration, creates a sense of ultimate despair, perhaps most evident in the thousands of people who every year drown in the waters of Malta or the Canary Islands, trying to make their way into Festung Europa.

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