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The battle between neoliberal and democratic values

A delegation of Humanists was recently invited to Greece in order to give two presentations at the TEDx event in Anogeia on the island of Crete, they also participated in meetings with members of the Greek national and local government.  Antonio Carvallo, former General Secretary of the Humanist International, was among the delegation and one evening in an event discussing the crisis situation in Greece he developed this analysis that we are very happy to have transcribed and present now for our readers. 

We perceive that we are in a moment of enormous change in the planet, as if tectonic plates were moving. After the Second World War, we lived in a world that was bipolar. After the war there was, only one power in the west: the USA. Britain didn’t win the war, it lost the war. Because they lost the empire. Their source of power was the empire because it was the source of cheap labour. They lost India, the African colonies, and the USA took over and instead of using military forces to control nations they established the Bank. They created the Bretton Woods institutions: the World Bank, the IMF, and all the systems of control.

So they forced the colonial powers to give apparent political freedom. Of course they don’t believe in political freedom because they manipulate nations in other ways. In Britain, for example, they finished repaying their war loans only 10 years ago. Through the Marshall Plan the USA provided Europe with financial support in order to take control. Europe used the money to rebuild, but the USA kept indirect control of all the key industries.

They kept military control via NATO which was protecting the world from Communism. Whenever they wanted to go to war, for example in Vietnam and elsewhere, they had to print money, but because they controlled all the financial systems in the world, they could export the cost of wars to the rest of the world. The system worked for them for over 60 years and they were the big hegemonistic power but with perestroika – the internal changes in Russia where they understood the processes well – the Iron Curtain came down. They dissolved the Communist Party and then the bipolar world that justified the controls that America had over Europe disappeared.

So the Americans said, “We have won the Cold War. We are the largest power in the world, and we dictate the conditions.” And they kept strengthening the financial system everywhere, but in reality, Europe started to consolidate and develop further. The European Union was formed. The European institutions started to consolidate, the Euro started to develop as a common currency. In Europe there are half a billion people with a very high standard of living and it’s a very old culture with lots of education and Europe has become richer than the USA. The GDP of Europe is about 18 to 20 trillion dollars. US GDP is 16.5. If we add Russia and Ukraine into the European system it would be around 25 trillion. The USA is losing its hegemonic superiority. Europe is no longer the vassal of the USA. Europe was the slave of the Americans for many years and this is creating enormous problems for the USA.

On the other hand China is becoming the largest economy in the world and is starting to gain geo-political control of Asia and the Pacific. So in fact the USA is losing its power and is becoming only one of three large regions on the planet and this is producing enormous economic problems for the USA because they cannot export their economic problems for other parts of the world to pay for them.

China has been manufacturing all the products sold in our supermarkets in the West and the USA. They had an enormous positive balance of trade because of cheap labour costs. They didn’t know what to do with the money so they bought US treasury bills. Billions of dollars every year went back to the treasury of the USA.

When the recession started and China understood that it had been created by the Americans, the financial institutions of the USA, the Chinese Finance Minister said to his counterpart in the USA that until yesterday we wanted to be like you but from today we are looking in the opposite direction.

So really, in the present situation they are not getting back all the investment from China and the American dollar is in a difficult position. In geopolitical terms, America wants to weaken Europe. The main target is Europe at the moment, but they cannot say it because Europe is their ally, so there’s a game of double standards. They have created wars in the belt around Europe; Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, in order to stop free energy coming from Russia. That gives them the opportunity to build up NATO and sell more weapons to Europe which has a commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence. They provide the defence; they have the best weapons, the best planes, that’s what they say. 2% is about 360 billion a year that Europe spends, a lot of which goes to the USA.

As a result of the wars around Europe we see increasing immigration and terrorism and Europe is in a state of panic and internal imbalance. Terrorism is growing. The financial groups in America that are connected to the German and British banks now want to weaken the nation states. They don’t want nation states anymore. They have been around for 200 years and before that there were kingdoms.

They want to get rid of the nation states because that represents the power of the people, so they promote policies where everything has to be privatised. All the sources of fundamental services: electricity, water, education, health, housing, roads, everything has to be private.

In the UK they just privatised the Royal Mail that was one of the best postal services in the world. They sold it to the market for 1.5 billion pounds, two months later the value of the shares in the market was 3 billion pounds so they took the money of the people, gave it to the corporations who made a profit. Now they want to do the same thing with Greece. They want to destroy the nation state in Greece by taking all the assets: ports, airports, islands, schools, so shares will be issued with the backing of all the real estate, all the property of the country, and sold on the international market.

Greece is being treated like a company. They are taking power from the people and giving it to the markets. And this is an experiment that they are doing which is why they are so interested in it. An analysis in the Chinese international media says that even if Greece defaults for the third time, Germany will make a profit.

In the UK, the government is also trying to privatise the NHS, the health service, which is one of the most efficient in the world. If you go for an operation you don’t have to pay anything and you receive excellent service and treatment.

They have convinced people that markets create the wealth and we are just useless people who take advantage of the benefits that the markets create for us. This is a fallacy, a lie. The only creators of wealth are the people. They change everything ideologically and convince us of things that are wrong.

Take the case of China that became independent in 1948 after the Long March of Mao Zedong who unified China, with the nationalists going to Taiwan. After years of civil war, China was absolutely impoverished. They didn’t have capital, motorways or dams. They needed big dams to hold back the water in the rivers and the Western world didn’t want to help them because China was communist and the Russians couldn’t help them because they didn’t have money, and the Chinese people had to build everything with their hands. They carried stones to build the roads. 40 or 50 years later they are the biggest economy in the world.

In the end, who created the wealth? The Markets? Who rebuilt Europe after the Second World War: the Markets or the people? Who are the biggest assets in Greece, in Europe, in every country? It’s the people. We create wealth every day, and they rob it, and they impoverish the people. And at the moment we are witnessing a continuous fight against the nation state, it’s a battle between neoliberal and democratic values, but people are very confused everywhere because history is moving very quickly. That’s why we as humanists in different parts of the world, we are reflecting, we are studying and we are training ourselves to reinforce the values of nonviolence, the faith in our own evolution as individuals, and to think and reflect on how we want our societies to be in the future.

We are not thinking so much about the past, but how society will be in 50 years’ time. How do we want the world to be?

We are in a moment of a big change in society, a big step forward for civilisation, but there are a lot of destructive powers affecting the world, because an imperial power is falling apart and generating lots of violence in different parts of the world. There’s a chance of a war in Ukraine and conflicts in other parts of the world. That’s why we are so concerned about the nuclear threat and why we create consciousness of it. There is a big risk of a nuclear accident and we want to strengthen ourselves as individuals and have a very clear vision and a centre of gravity placed in ourselves because there are lots of changes in the world.

For that we have lots of instruments, because we have the privilege of sharing a philosophy that Silo, the founder of this movement who anticipated these processes that we are talking about, has made available for us to share. It explains that only you can take responsibility over your life and develop. Nobody can do it for you. It’s an individual responsibility that we have to take in our hands.

When a person starts to think like that, it changes their position in front of the world. You don’t expect the government, other people or god to solve your problems. You take your responsibility and you do the best you can for other human beings around you and this can make us very strong to be able to move forward in the middle of all this turmoil.

The historical process is accelerating, time is accelerating, now we know immediately what is happening in China, all over the world, our mental time is spinning. We can imagine anywhere in the world because if we want to know where Anogeia is, for example, we go to google maps and look for it and find an image, so our concept of space is also changing. We can move from country to country very quickly, it’s expensive, but we can do it.

So some fundamental concepts of time and space are changing dramatically. We receive thousands of pieces of information every day that we need to process, so we need a strong centre of gravity and we need to work very closely with other human beings who feel the same way, and then when we do that there is nothing to fear because we have lots of things that are very valuable and with which we can move forward.