Monday, July 11, 2011

Diary 7/11/11: Lack of sensitivity and misuse of word "rape" helps muddy Workers World newspaper's IMF article

Thanks to regular readers' kind concern over my recent health issues. I am feeling better, and am pleased to report I now have a new full-time job.

Not every article in a revolutionary socialist newspaper needs to be a programmatic recapitulation of our continuity from 1848 to today.

Not every article in a revolutionary socialist newspaper needs to explain contemporary social relations and particular manifestations of class struggle with reference to a half millenia of capitalist political and economic development.

But an article about the International Monetary Fund demands more serious treatment than the vulgar, histrionic, unscientific farrago presented to WW's readership in the July 7 article "The IMF rapes the world."

We expect, especially after Workers World party's 2011 national conference ["National conference says 'Down with capitalism, fight for world socialism' ], a serious Marxist definition of the IMF and its role as a subaltern bureaucracy at the service of imperialist banks.

But mostly Marxist readers of WW, and those who by reading the paper hope to educate themselves in Marxism, expect to see the myriad mechanisms of capitalist plunder and immiseration explained with something more than the lazy and inflammatory shorthand "rape".

Rape is one of the most horrific expressions of capitalist social relations at the level of individual and social psychology. Anyone who has been the victim of rape has little patience for this word being used to describe anything else, no matter how brutal and destructive. Surely Marxists have a 180 years' vocabulary of greater scientific precision which we can call upon when discussing the effects of Structural Adjustment Programs and their devastation of our brothers and sisters around the world?

Aside from the insensitive and completely editorially inappropriate use of the word rape to describe the workings of the IMF, the WW article raises a few other points that strike the reader. Why no simple declarative sentence saying the IMF is part of the capitalist system, and subordinate to it? The article as it stands makes it sound like the IMF runs the world, or at least floats free of the imperialist nation-states. This is the epitome of middle class radicalism, Naderism, Green Party obscurantism, or what-you-will. Cashing in on crimes which an IMF official may or may not have committed as the jumping-off-point for a retreat from Marxist clarity is not the road to rebuilding a movement for world socialism.

The IMF has met its match not in the courts and tabloids of New York City, but in the streets of Greece, Spain, Portugal, the UK, France, and soon Italy. Retreats from Marxism in the pages of a socialist newspaper today are more costly and embarassing than ever.

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DSK: presumed guilty?

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The IMF rapes the world
By Heather Cottin
New York
Published Jul 7, 2011 6:49 PM

The hotel housekeeper who accused then-head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn of raping her is fighting back after a media barrage meant to defame her character and undermine her credibility. This brave woman has filed a libel suit against the New York Post for a series of articles in which the paper, in vulgar and demeaning terms, openly claimed she was a prostitute.

The Post, a right-wing Murdoch tabloid, is infamous for its vicious language and disregard for truth. But it wasn’t that newspaper that started this campaign to discredit the woman who says she was attacked by Strauss-Kahn. That role was taken by the supposedly liberal New York Times, which opened an offensive against her with several articles, beginning June 30 with “Strauss-Kahn Prosecution Said to Be Near Collapse.” The articles were supposedly based on information from two unnamed “well-placed law enforcement officials.”

Immediately, a judge granted Strauss-Kahn bail, and he was released.

The Times articles unleashed a media frenzy of attacks and speculation on the woman’s character. None of it had anything to do with whether this powerful and wealthy man had actually attacked her. The conclusion that the case against Strauss-Kahn had now been totally blown apart disregarded the fact that her account of what happened was corroborated by DNA findings in the hotel room and by a medical check of her body after the event.

Moreover, other women who say they were attacked by him are coming forward. Tristane Banon, a French journalist and writer, has filed a lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn for attempted rape. It had already been known that in 2008 he coerced a subordinate into an affair who filed a complaint. The IMF board called Strauss-Kahn’s behavior “regrettable” but took no other action.

“All journalists knew he had a special behavior with women,” says Marion Van Renterghem, a reporter for Le Monde. “Why did all we journalists ... never write a line about this?”

Guilty of raping whole countries

The word “rape” means “sexual violation or ravishing” of a person by force. It also means plundering and despoiling a country, often during war. As head of the IMF Strauss-Kahn administered a program of worldwide rape of women and children — the majority of the world’s people.

He began before he was head of the IMF. As the French Minister of Economics, Finances and Industry, he implemented a wide privatization program, selling France’s public property to the highest bidder. As director of the IMF, he was in charge of the largest public lender of funds in the world. In league with rich and powerful leaders of 186 countries, the IMF sets up economic “reform” programs, otherwise known as structural adjustment programs.

SAPs require poor countries to privatize public property and reduce spending on health, education and development to pay their debt service. This lowers the standard of living of poor nations. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner for economics, said, “The IMF likes to go about its business without outsiders asking too many questions. ... But all the power in the negotiations is on one side — the IMF’s.” This, he said, forces farmers in some countries to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. agribusiness, which “drives down the price and forces these farmers out of business.”

IMF policies have been raping poor people all over the world for some time. In Guinea, the African country from which the housekeeper emigrated, life expectancy is 45 years. SAPs forced Guinea to privatize its government-owned enterprises, remove price controls, raise the price of food and lay off public workers. It is a rich country with almost half of the world’s bauxite reserves, but only 24 percent of the population is literate; there is one doctor per 46,000 people.

During Strauss-Kahn’s tenure another big loan was set up, so that Guinea is now more than $3 billion in debt. (CIA World Factbook) This is the rape of a nation.

The IMF can be held responsible for the hundreds of millions of African, Latin American and Asian people, like the hotel housekeeper, who, because of increasing poverty, have been forced to migrate. As a report by the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants states, “Migration of peoples from these poor countries became a forced one as people were left with no option but to find work overseas.” The IMF has actually encouraged the Philippine government to export its own people. (, July 2009)

Immigrants send more than $200 billion home annually in remittances to keep their families alive.

Jamaica is an example. Debt service comprised more than 56 percent of its 2009-2010 budget. Jamaica has become one of the IMF’s most highly indebted countries in the world. Its payments for debt service steal food, health care and education from the people.

This is rape: “Two out of every three poor adults are women.” “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.” (Richard H. Robbins, “Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism”)

This is rape: “It is estimated that each year more than half a million women — roughly one woman every minute — die as a result of pregnancy complications and childbirth,” 99 percent of which occur in developing countries. Yet “many of these women’s lives could be saved if they had access to basic health care services.” (

This is rape: Half the world — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day and at least 80 percent on less than $10 a day. The gap between rich and poor is widening. This is directly due to the IMF’s programs.

This is rape: 22,000 children die every day around the world, mostly in the poorest countries indebted to the IMF. This has been going on before, during and after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was in charge.

When Dominique Strauss-Kahn took over in 2007, the countries of the world owed the IMF more than $4 trillion — a 70 percent increase since 2000. This went up even more during his tenure. Strauss-Kahn raped the world.

Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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