The imperialist powers have made headway in their efforts to advance their self-interest at the expense of the world’s workers, peasants, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous peoples, women and youth. The summit concluded with the leaders agreeing to expand the G-20’s role and making it more central to international economic policy-making. The US in particular has pushed for the IMF and WB to have a greater and resurgent role in advancing the imperialist agenda, especially in the over 170 underdeveloped countries outside the G-20.
When the G-20 was set up after the so-called Asian financial crisis in 1999, it was mainly a forum for finance ministers and central bankers. The intensification of the current global crisis last year however has seen the G-20 become conspicuously active with the world’s big powers aiming for a new way to craft global economic policies. Its first ever summit with heads of state was held in Washington in November 2008, followed by another in London in April 2009 and then this just concluded one. The scheduled summits in Canada in June 2010 and Korea in November 2010 will mean an unprecedented five top-tier meetings within just two years.
The international financial institutions (IFIs) are being rejuvenated to give imperialism more teeth in enforcing their will. The IMF has been formally tasked with ‘monitoring’ economic policies, especially of countries outside the inner circle of imperialist powers, and over US$500 billion has been added to its resources for imposing conditionalities. The WB and other regional development banks are meanwhile expected to become more aggressive in pushing the ‘free market’ and corporate plunder under cover of ‘development’ issues such as climate change, clean and renewable energy, and food security. Imperialism’s increasing attention to the global climate crisis and the food crisis is ominous and the capitalist drive for profits will only worsen these crises.
The G-20 is also seeking to increase the perceived legitimacy of the IMF and WB through supposed reforms such as increasing a little the persistently minority voting shares distributed to under-represented countries like China. This puny adjustment is calculated to enhance the long-discredited interference of the aforesaid institutions in the underdeveloped countries and to conceal the overwhelming control by the imperialist powers. Among all the big powers, the US i has the sole veto power and greatest control over the IMF and the WB.
The G-20 is not and can never be about radically overhauling the world and national economies in order to meet the needs of the people. It cannot but persist with peddling “free market globalization” to misrepresent monopoly capitalism and the illusion that opening up to foreign investment and trade are the keys to domestic growth and development. There certainly are such new catch phrases as seeking a “balanced and inclusive” global economy with “multiple poles” of growth. But these are only the latest rationalizations for prying open domestic energy, natural resource and infrastructure sectors, for promoting profit-seeking monopoly interests, and for pushing so-called regional integration.
There has also been the ritualistic expression of commitment to free trade and open markets and in particular to trade liberalization through a conclusion to the WTO’s Doha Round of talks. Yet the imperialist powers as ever remain two-faced and push for opening up the backward economies while taking for themselves as much trade and financial protectionist measures as they deem necessary. In any case, although the WTO remains a key instrument for imperialist economic aggression the US appears to have somewhat less enthusiasm for it because it is faced with demands by major member states that it cannot meet and because it can use bilateral and regional trade agreements
The G-20 cannot but recognize the worst aberrations and excesses of capitalism’s irrational and destructive financial system. The leaders have made much of trying to curb these through tougher financial supervision, discouraging excessive leverage and risk-taking, regulating derivatives trading and policing tax havens. But the deadline they set for themselves is 2010 or later, confirming the lack of real commitment to rein in finance capital.
In any case, even if they adopt new regulations, these cannot solve the deeply-seated economic and financial crisis. The history of capitalism has seen that seeming unity and disciplines always eventually give way to the intrinsic compulsion for profit and inter-imperialist competition through any and all means possible.
It is likewise with the destructive competition between the major capitalist economies. The G-20’s call for “coordinated policies” and evening out the “lopsided global growth model” acknowledges how countries will advance their interests as they see fit even if these exacerbate the intrinsic anarchy of the system. Monopoly capital will invariably always seek to boost profits using the entire range of economic powers of states including their budgets, exchange rates, monetary and debt policies.