Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 7: The Victors Segment 11/14
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6. The "Unrelenting Nightmare"

The World Health Organization estimates that eleven million children die every year in the world of the Cold War victors ("the developing world") because of the unwillingness of the rich to help them. The catastrophe could be brought to a quick end, the WHO study concludes, because the diseases from which the children suffer and die are easily treated. Four million die from diarrhea; about two-thirds of them could be saved from the lethal dehydration it causes by sugar and salt tablets that cost a few pennies. Three million die each year from infectious diseases that could be overcome by vaccination, at a cost of about $10 a head. Reporting in the London Observer on this "virtually unnoticed" study, Annabel Ferriman quotes WHO director-general Hiroshi Nakajima, who observes that this "silent genocide" is "a preventable tragedy because the developed world has the resources and technology to end common diseases worldwide," but lacks "the will to help the developing countries."54

The basic story was summarized succinctly by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, chairman of the Organization of African Unity. Speaking at the U.N. conference of the world's 41 least-developed countries, he called the 1980s "an unrelenting nightmare" for the poorest countries. There was a plea to the industrial powers to more than double their aid to a munificent 2/10 of 1% of their GNP, but no agreement was reached, the New York Times reports, "principally because of opposition from the United States" -- as always, proudly defending the "universal values" at the core of "our traditions," which stand in such contrast to "theirs" (see p. 181).55 The decade was scarcely less of a nightmare elsewhere in the traditional domains of the Free World, apart from "the rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations."

As capitalism and freedom won their Grand Victory, the World Bank reports, the share of the world's wealth controlled by poor and medium-income countries declined from 23% to 18% (1980 to 1988). The Bank's 1990 report adds that in 1989, resources transferred from the "developing countries" to the industrialized world reached a new record. Debt service payments are estimated to have exceeded new flows of funds by $42.9 billion, an increase of $5 billion from 1988, and new funds from the wealthy fell to the lowest level in the decade.56 In short, Reaganomics and Thatcherism writ large.

These are some of the joys of capitalism that are somehow missing in the flood of self-praise and the encomia to the wonders of our system -- of which all of this is a noteworthy component -- as we celebrate its triumph. The media and journals are inundated with laments (with an admixture of barely concealed glee) over the sad state of the Soviet Union and its domains, where even a salary of $100 a month enjoyed by the luckier workers is "scandalously high by the niggardly standards of Communism."57 One will search far, however, for derisive commentary on "the niggardly standards of capitalism" and the suffering endured by the huge mass of humanity who have been cast aside by the dominant powers, long the richest and most favored societies of the world, and not without a share of responsibility for the circumstances of most of the others.

The missing view also unveils a possible future that may await much of Eastern Europe, which has endured many horrors, but is still regarded with envy in large parts of the Third World domains of the West that had comparable levels of development in the past, and are no less endowed with resources and the material conditions for satisfying human needs. "Why have the leaders, the media, the citizens of the Great Western Democracies cared long and ardently for the people of Central Europe, but cared nothing for the people of Central America?," correspondent Martha Gellhorn asks:

Most of them are bone poor, and most of them do not have white skin. Their lives and their deaths have not touched the conscience of the world. I can testify that it was far better and safer to be a peasant in communist Poland than it is to be a peasant in capitalist El Salvador.
Her question is, unfortunately, all too easy to answer. It has been demonstrated beyond any lingering doubt that what sears the sensitive soul is the crimes of the enemy, not our own, for reasons that are all too obvious and much too uncomfortable to face. The comparison that Gellhorn draws is scarcely to be found in Western commentary, let alone the reasons for it.58

As in Latin America, some sectors of Eastern European society should come to share the economic and cultural standards of privileged classes in the rich industrial world that they see across their borders, much of the former Communist Party bureaucracy quite possibly among them. Many others might look to the second Brazil, and its counterparts elsewhere, for a glimpse of a different future, which may come to pass if matters proceed on their present course.

Go to the next segment.

54 Ferriman, Observer, Oct. 1, 1989.

55 Reuters, BG, Sept. 5; Steven Greenhouse, NYT, 1990.

56 CAR, Oct. 5; Financial Times, Sept. 17, 1990.

57 Francis X. Clines, NYT, July 30, 1990.

58 Gellhorn, "Invasion of Panama." For extensive evidence on the reaction to comparable crimes of our enemies and our own, see Political Economy of Human Rights, Manufacturing Consent, Necessary Illusions, Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network (South End, 1982). KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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