The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have a well-deserved
reputation for being the loan sharks of global capitalism. Both
institutions are infamous for forcing poor countries in the global south
to ruin their own economies in order to further enrich Western
corporations. Nations who decline to borrow money at exorbitant interest
rates and then beggar their populations to pay it back (or worse, default
on their existing debt), are subjected to trade sanctions that have been
described as "the economic equivalent of nuclear war."
The neoliberal regime represented by the IMF has generated intense, and
largely successful, resistance across the world. In Argentina a popular
revolt in response to the 2001 economic collapse, caused by strict
adherence to neoliberal policies, saw three governments toppled in a
month. Piqueteros threw up barricades of burning tires on the highways,
workers took over their factories, and "Que se vayan todos!" became the
rallying cry for an entire nation. After the passage of NAFTA in 1994, the
established their own autonomous territory in the Mexican state of Chiapas
that survives to this day, in spite of continuous government repression.
In North America and Europe massive protests greeted neoliberal elites at
every summit, including Seattle in 1999 when the World Trade Organization
meeting was completely shut down. In Barcelona in 2001 the World Bank
canceled a summit entirely for fear of protests.
More recently, world leaders have attempted to re-establish neoliberalism
under the guise of recovering from the economic collapse that they
themselves caused. The IMF has been recapitalized with 1.1 trillion
dollars from the G20 group of nations. Employers everywhere are slashing
wages, as governments cut social services correspondingly, all justified
by calls to "share the pain." Resistance has intensified accordingly.
Wildcat strikes in Bangladesh have periodically crippled the garment
industry there, as workers demand safety improvements and back wages.
Protesters in Romania have held huge demonstrations against
government-imposed austerity measures. The entire country of Greece has
been virtually ungovernable since the riots over the police murder of a
15-year old in December 2008. Riots, general strikes and insurrection are
common occurrences. Farmers blockade the Bulgarian border with their
tractors and banners are dropped from the Acropolis. The announcement in
April that the Greek government would be instituting austerity measures as
part of an IMF/European Union bank bailout sent 200,000 protesters into
the streets in Athens alone.
Here in the US, ground zero for neoliberalism, reaction to the financial
collapse has been comparatively muted. Recent protests have not approached
the size and intensity of those of the antiglobalization era. The IMF
Resistance Network exists to help change that. We are an East coast-based
antiauthoritarian group dedicated to organizing demonstrations against IMF
and World Bank summit meetings in Washington, DC. The next one is on
October 9 - 11 of this year.
You're all invited. Details will follow shortly.
See you in the streets,
The IMF Resistance Network