Sunday, 4 March 2012

Quantum World - A Post from the Past (Jul 2007)

A retort to the argument that: "Corrupt African leaders provide a big obstacle to African development".
Sure there are some dreadful leaders in Africa but so there are in Asia and South/Central America (often serving as client regimes of the US and/or business interests). Countries which have an economic value to the First World, in a broad sense, are impacted upon in two ways. Firstly, some money from, say, the oil or mineral deposits finds its way into the wider society (to an extent) but, additionally, it becomes a necessity for the west to exert absolute or client-controlled power to maintain economic and political stability in the country/region which is fortunate (?!) enough to possess the said commodity.
If we can accept that the leaders that have yielded power in the last half century in countries like Nigeria, South Korea, Indonesia, Colombia, Mexico, pre-Lula Brazil, Rhodesia etc share equivalence in mal-governance with equally appalling leaders in Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Myanmar, North Korea etc then we are left, logically, with the situation whereby a country that can bring nothing to the global economic feast is simply left to rot. If organisations in the First World applied themselves to any global famine zone with a clear strategy for sustainable growth to the advantage of the community/society at large, it could be done. You probably know about Jeffrey Sachs - this is what he does but his impact is limited as he does not achieve the backing that he should from the global institutions that could afford to bankroll the projects. Fortunately (again, to an extent), some of the highly effective business-orientated philanthropic ventures like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pooling proper money and approaching the issue from a more stakeholder humanitarian than stakeholder or shareholder capitalist angle is potentially able to make a big change on the ground. Yet Gates and Buffett are merely the modern day equivalent of Schindler and may only be judged as such. The problem with the corrupt leadership in lower Third World countries is that the western leaders are only willing to make the effort to interact with the business/ political elite in such a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPCs). It simply isn't worth their time and effort to penetrate any deeper into the hierarchy and attempt to source funding directly to communities under effective management. The very name HIPCs gives the game away. There are many names that the World Bank and the IMF could have selected as a generic name for the masses at the sharpest end of globalised capitalism - Countries Most In Need of Unconditional Financial Support, for example; Hellholes, perhaps?! By focusing on the issue of debt, the rich world reveals its true agenda and the overwhelming structural dynamic is for the west to give misdirected aid to ineffective leadership on the one hand while the other hand neatly takes much of this cash back in the form of debt repayments (with appropriate levels of interest, of course). And, don't forget, bribes were tax deductible until earlier this decade in both Britain and Germany! Whose corruption eh?!
To achieve proper change simply isn't complex. Community projects work. They by-pass the corruption in both the First and Third World (to fully exagerate a hopefully pertinent point) and they yield proper change at a great rate of improvement per buck. Unless one approaches it from an entirely racist perspective which, I suspect IS a hidden agenda with some of the more fascistic western business and political leaders, such a micro-business approach would be an enhancement to the economic system that these people purport to favour. The countries and regions as they developed stability would undoubtedly gravitate towards the huge elephantine global financial system that dwarfs them. It is a strategic choice by the First World. Unfortunately, the prime community projects developed by the First World are the ones that incorporate profit into the incentive spectrum. In India, for example, micro-lending is the template that is being utilised for financial control for the rural poor and, yet, the main impact has been to massively increase the rate of suicide among farmers who are unable to deal with the shame of debt.
Some American think tanks see an improved bottom line by implementing a carrot and stick approach of linking highly improbable possible future rewards (HIPFRs??) for entirely unachievable short term targets. It is not feasible for the vast majority of HIPCs to develop any form of western monetary infrastructure as the institutions necessary to oversee the projects simply do not and cannot exist currently. Its an impossible carrot. It can only be reached by, effectively, ceding ownership of your whole infrastructure to the IMF or the hyperpower. And, to be totally honest, they are not that interested. The incremental difference to the global economic pie that would be created by, say, Mali developing a sustainable economic system is just not worth the effort to the sort of capitalist who is unidirectionally focused on profit. Why should he care?
We should not expect a flawless execution. The western media selects any instance of corruption rearing its ugly head in a micro-economy project to justify its media positioning that such people are incapable of looking after themselves. Incidentally, but as an aside, I have lost count of the number of people who I have heard proclaim that the reason that they choose not to give money to the charities and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is because of some fuzzy memory of a news story that somebody at some charity had their hand in the till. Do we deconstruct the whole system of shareholder capitalism on the very many occasions an Enron or similar explodes onto the scene? Of course not and neither should we expect unrealisable levels of performance from the disenfranchised as they struggle to claw an existence out of an economically unforgiving world. The very best of these micro projects have as flattened a hierarchy as is achievable in the immediate term although anyone on the left would be hoping for self-sufficiency and sustainability as a preferable societal quantum model in the future. It is a choice, remember.
One of the reasons that so many physicists end up working in the City of London and Wall Street is the application of quantum physics type thinking to global markets and structures. Physicists bring other key skills too like modelling techniques, self-similarity and holistic approaches. A quantum framework with chaotic fractals forms a robust paradigm. This ability to frame a fundamental concept is of value in the setting of news agendas too. The framing of a reality is quantumised by the global media barons (I bring up again the fact that 75% of French media is owned by two defence companies - what is their view likely to be on military matters? What happens to editorial and, even more so, journalistic freedom in such a get up?).
The selection of which of our global realities is aired is a fundamental corruption that underpins our existence. This is the prime reason why master mason Murdoch should not be allowed anywhere near the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones (in fact, he shouldn't really be allowed too near anything at all...).
In conclusion, our globalised system quantumises our existences, our realities. There is a limited spectrum of strategies that the globalisers are willing to instigate in the Third World and, indeed, at HIPCs level, no option. The media similarly quantises the realities and we all throw up our hands in despair at what we are told is a problem beyond solution.
Finally, this whole subject area is a prime example of one of those occasions when it is imperative that a short term strategy must necessarily replicate the longer term goals. The very poorest countries cannot just be provided with a rickety financial framework that sways in the wind of capital flight.
Community based and sustainable is a reality choice...