From Socialist Voice, July 2005

Make poverty history—
Give power to the poor

The G8 leaders met earlier this month outside Edinburgh to determine the lives of billions of people around the globe. This gathering had no legal standing: it was not established by the will or by any demand of the people; it is purely a creature of imperialism and its representatives. This is merely the public face of global capitalism.
    It is also interesting to note that the Gleneagles Hotel, in which they met, is owned by Diageo, the giant global drinks corporation, which also happens to be a member of Blair’s Africa Commission, which is now bullying small drinks manufacturers and local brewers in Asia out of business.
    The Communist Party of Ireland had a number of representatives at the weekend’s events in Edinburgh, and the general secretary spoke at two meetings of the Alternative Summit, which took place on Sunday 3 July. The demonstration on Saturday the 2nd was a tremendous success, in that it mobilised more than 200,000 people. The lead-up to the G8 summit provided an opportunity to engage in mass public education in relation to global poverty and world debt.
    The rally on Saturday the 2nd was a major success; but one of the noticeable things about it was the almost complete absence of politics. It was highly controlled, and everyone was “on message” with the organisers. There was little or no analysis of the cause of global poverty, or of the massive exploitation of the countries of the majority world. Few if any of the speakers made any connection between the G8 leaders’ meeting on 6–7 July and the economic policies they pursue in the interests of global capitalism.
    It is difficult to see those same G8 leaders—who already control the lives of tens of millions of their own citizens who wake up every morning living in real poverty—bothering to take global poverty seriously.
    It was clear that a number of the speakers wanted to say more and new things about the relationship, but the event was dominated by aging white rock stars and television “personalities,” many of whom still admire the “New Labour” of Blair and Brown. The speakers, audience and participants were overwhelmingly white. The demonstration was heavily controlled, and the majority of political groups were kept well to the back, after queuing for more than four hours to get into the march.
    At the Alternative Summit on the Sunday there were dozens of meetings to choose from, covering a wide range of issues relating to global poverty, fair trade, sweatshops, and building links with organisations from the majority world. It was an opportunity in some cases to hear the authentic voices of the majority world, unhindered and not filtered through the establishment’s mass media or aging white “personalities.”
    The general secretary of the CPI, Eugene McCartan, spoke at two meetings as part of the Alternative Summit. The first was a meeting organised by the Communist Party of Britain on “Neo-liberalism, the EU, and global poverty,” at which the other speakers were from the communist parties of Denmark, Germany, and Britain. The meeting looked at the role of the EU and its imposing (not negotiating) neo-liberalist policies on many countries in the majority world through its Economic Partnership Agreements, particularly on countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. The majority of these countries are former colonies of the European colonial powers.
    The second meeting the CPI spoke at, on Sunday afternoon, was on “Strategies for the Left in the EU after the French and Dutch Referendums.” This was a joint meeting organised by the Communist Party of Britain and the British Labour Party (Campaign for Socialism). There was a lively debate, with clear differences about the way forward. The speakers included Katy Clarke MP (British Labour Party), Rob Griffiths (general secretary of the CPB), and speakers from Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and Italy.
    The CPI argued that we need to defend the democracy of the outcome of the French and Dutch votes and that the struggle around the constitution had taken on the character of intense class struggle, with the elites of Europe, the representatives of monopoly capitalism, launching a full-scale attack on the gains made by European workers over many decades.
    The differences were on both strategy and tactics. Could we transform the structures of the European Union into its opposite? What are the immediate steps to be taken? It was argued that we need to press home the advantage of the defeat and to build and re-engage with those forces that are pro-EU but opposed to neo-liberalism, that it is with those forces that we could once again take a serious look at what has been given away in the belief that the European Union itself would protect the European “social model.” In fact it is the powers and control that have already been ceded to the European Union that are required back at the national level in order to oppose the same neo-liberalism of the European Union, an institution set up by, controlled by and reflecting the interests of monopoly capitalism—the very people who are the beneficiaries of neo-liberalism within the European Union itself.
    An interesting observation was made by one member of the audience, who said that probably more people of colour would clean up the mess left after both the rally in Edinburgh and the Live 8 concerts than took part in all those events. The Cornwall concert, involving musicians from majority world countries, was only an afterthought.
    The only real and lasting solution to global poverty is to give power to the poor; but that is most certainly not on the agenda of the G8 leaders—in fact the reverse is true.
    The papers delivered by the CPI delegates can be read on our web site at www.communistpartyofireland.ie/g8.

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