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Friday, June 24, 2011

Currency Tsunami By Wilson Riles Guest Commentator

Brothers and sisters let us stop trying to integrate into a “burning house” in any way! This is a realization that Dr. King came to before he was assassinated. Those elements of US foreign and domestic policy and values that were and are the source of our enslavement are still entwined deeply in the heart of US institutions. These aspects are still poisonous and oppressive despite the darkening of the faces of the institutional agents that ‘front’ the action. As King and others attempted, these moral cancers must be ‘stained’ into visibility and ‘cauterized’ to move this nation – that we are inextricably a part of – toward inclusive natural health. In his speech, Beyond Vietnam – Time to Break Silence, King named these evil aspects that must be conquered “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.” As a feminist I must add misogyny.

A dissection of US history will reveal the truth of the intertwining and the truth of the pandemic. It will also reveal that the principle carrier of this disease is the US and global currency system. Thomas Jefferson lost the argument with Alexander Hamilton about the creation of a centralized monetary system controlled by and for the benefit of the elite rather than for the benefit of what Jefferson called the local “yeoman.” Centralized banking allowed the government to borrow to sustain ‘standing armies’ to prosecute the genocide and the theft of land from indigenous Americans. Even former slaves were seduced into this Native American genocide as Buffalo Soldiers. Centralized banking accommodated the development of Southern militias intended principally for slave-catching. It promoted the growth of national corporations ‘feeding’ the intertwined snake. Again and again in US history, the critics of Hamilton’s monetary system were overcome and the system gained more power, more scope, and facilitated the growth of the military-industrial-complex.

In 1944, as the Second World War in Europe came to an end, the Bretton Woods Agreement cemented the US’ global economic domination as all competitors were laid waste by the war. US corporations moved into Europe to absorb the resources spent by the Marshall Plan. By 1946, the system was in full operation through the newly established International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, the World Bank) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Neocolonialism was in full swing.

Margaret Thatcher is famous for saying there is no alternative (TINA) to the current world economic system and global trade system. TATA – “there are thousands of alternatives” is a saying that has arisen from the World Social Forum as well as the phrase “another world is possible.” Those of us involved in the World Social Forum movement are not alone in finding and seeking alternatives to the current insanity. ‘Forced’ to adopt World Bank ‘structural adjustments’ that limited and oppressed the poor, countries throughout the world know what harm results from being integrated into the ‘burning house’ of global economic liberalism. This integration is no longer acceptable.

During meetings in 2009, 2010, and 2011 the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) have taken the first formal steps to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. They are calling for systemic reform. The US was denied admission to the meetings. If these world leaders succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value; the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket; and interest rates will climb. Foreigners see the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as Washington surrogates in a financial system backed by US military bases and aircraft carriers encircling the globe. But this military domination is a vestige of an American empire no longer able to rule by economic strength. US military power is muscle-bound, based more on the threat of atomic weaponry and long-distance air strikes than on ground operations, which have become resistible and too politically unpopular to mount on any large scale.

As US residents and citizens we need not fear these coming changes. We need not stand with our enslavers and oppressors - as the Buffalo Solders did - joining in the oppression of others. There are many viable alternatives available. A movement for sustainable economic localization is growing rapidly throughout the country and around the world. Throughout the history of the US and the world during times of economic crises, communities have found creative and practical ways to shun the institutions infected with racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. At one time or another more than 60 US communities have formed local currencies not dependent on the elites’ centralized banking systems. Modern examples are built on the lessons learned from earlier systems. These systems have saved communities and lives all over the world. They have promoted an ecological use and preference for local resources. They have inculcated the indigenous values of harmony with all beings and the earth. These systems have promoted peace rather than imperialism.

Time is short, brothers and sisters! Take up Dr. King’s banner for economic justice to put out the fire in th
is “burning house.” We can learn from the past and avoid the trap of Buffalo Soldier-ism.

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