Economics and politics - comment and analysis

The G-7 and the intellectual colonialism of the West

So that was G-7, the summit par excellence, especially if you believe the media hype in the small countries that were represented there – with the seemingly big ones (you can find the extremely thin communiqué here). Those who are using their own brain come to quite different conclusions. But being critical is out in these times, mega-out even.

The G-7 format was actually buried a long time ago, because at the beginning of this century it was clear to some smart people that G-7 and global economy simply no longer go together. G-7 became G-8 (with Russia) for a very short time and finally the G-20 emerged, which can indeed claim to talk about the world economy and whose next summit will be held in Indonesia in autumn.

The G-7 was only reinvented in the West to annoy Russia in the times of the Crimea crisis, because it was possible to exclude Russia from the G-8, which it was not possible to do with the G-20. The wonderfully old and wonderfully petty G-7 format remained. In this format, embarrassingly, the EU Commission (in the person of the President) and even the President of the European Council still squeeze in, who really have no business being there. This leads to a huge over-representation of Europe and considerably reduces the interest of the USA in this “summit”.

Infrastructure versus Silk Road?

It is even more embarrassing that the G-7, under German hosting, has acted as if it could replace or even anticipate the G-20. The invitation to five countries from different continents that do not belong to the group of industrialised countries is an easy-to-see attempt to break away from the image of a purely Western association. The fact that Indonesia, the current presidency of the G-20, was invited is understandable, but the fact that India was invited while at the same time China was declared a “system rival” and now even wants to build its own “Silk Road” is simply ridiculous. Also invited was Argentina, the country which has just been terribly battered (see here) by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) on behalf of the G-7. Presumably, Argentina was invited because they did not have the courage to rein Brazil’s ultra-right-wing President Bolsonaro.

What is fatal about this summit of “the industrialised countries”, however, is above all the complete ignorance of the mistakes that they themselves have made and make every day in relation to the countries that they would like to pull over to their own political side right now. Arrogance and open hostility towards poorer nations still dominate in the developed industrialised countries. Everyone who tries to overcome poverty and is able to catch up to a certain extent is seen as a rival and potentially dangerous competitor. Open colonialism may have been overcome, but intellectual colonialism is as present as it was 200 years ago.

The initiative to expand global infrastructure (“to fill the global investment gap”) shows this in unmistakable terms if one takes into account the political background. Many of the world’s less developed countries do not need money from the G-7 to ramp up their investments, but they need appropriate macroeconomic conditions that allow them to raise more public and more private investment on their own. The grand-sounding infrastructure initiative is apparently meant as a response to Chinese investments in many countries in Africa and Asia, but it will come to nothing just like similar attempts before.

Democracy versus dictatorship?

China is successful with its kind of development policy not because it finances concrete projects, but because it implements these projects without interfering in the politics of the recipient countries. The West, on the other hand, which through the IMF still has a near monopoly on aid to countries in financial distress, always and systematically combines its aid with brutal neoliberalism, a neoliberalism that none of the G-7 countries would apply to themselves. From the point of view of the government of a developing country, which may need international aid through no fault of its own, the aid of the “democratic” states via the IMF is undoubtedly intellectual colonialism dictated to them by the democrats, while the aid of the Chinese dictators comes entirely without such dictatorial elements.

On the occasion of the G-7 summit, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Katarina Barley, has just expressed the spiritual colonialism of the West in no uncertain terms. She says China is acting cleverly because it does not attach conditions to its aid to poorer countries. The West, however, must insist on conditions such as democracy, the fight against corruption and respect for human rights, because it is a community of values.

One wonders whether the Vice-President of the European Parliament is incredibly naïve and ignorant or just incredibly brazen. Over the past 70 years, the “value-based” West, completely independent of democracy and human rights, has imposed an economic ideology on countries in need that was not only fundamentally wrong and stupid, but usually dramatically worsened the situation of the countries concerned. The IMF under the leadership of the G-7 countries, on the other hand, has systematically refused to even think about the real problems of the affected countries if it had to fear that its own economic interests (of Wall Street, the City of London or the Frankfurt banking centre) might be negatively affected. Brazil under its former president Lula is only the most significant of these cases. When Lula’s finance minister rightly spoke of a currency war against his country, people and politicians in the Western world simply ignored him.

The G-7 are directly responsible for all this because they call the shots in the IMF and exercise their economic power from there without any scruples. Every person in the developing countries knows this and draws his conclusions from it. Only in the “democratic” nations no one has a clue about it because we don’t care at all how much misery there is in the rest of the world and how much damage our ideologies causes. Those who are looking for someone to blame for the fact that in the rest of the world today, the willingness to clearly side with the West is vanishingly small, must take a look at their own noses.

Without a complete turnaround on the Wests economic dogma, the world beyond the G-7 will reorient itself. After all, China has shown that it is possible to be economically successful without embracing radical neoliberalism. One can only hope that the major countries of the developing world will succeed in creating their own monetary fund as soon as possible, which will completely steal the IMF’s thunder.