WEF Meeting: War, Exploitation, Famine

WEF Meeting: War, Exploitation, Famine

THE WORLD Economic Forum (WEF) – the annual get-together of politicians and big business representatives – takes place this week in New York rather than its usual venue, Davos in Switzerland.

No doubt the organisers hope that by holding the forum in New York, with 11 September still fresh in many people’s minds, anti-globalisation protests won’t be as big as at previous events.

One multinational company won’t be there. US energy corporation Enron have been struck off the guest list. Andersen, Enron’s disgraced auditors, still got an invite but nobody’s sure if they’ll dare show their faces.

The Enron scandal shows exactly what forums like this are really about – multinational corporations and pro-big business politicians united together to exploit workers and the world’s resources in the interests of profit.

Their system means that 16 million people die every year from easily preventable diseases; four-fifths of the world’s population live below the poverty line and the richest 50 million people have the same income as the poorest 2.7 billion.

Yet, the UN estimates that “the additional cost of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all, and safer water and sanitation for all is roughly $40 billion. This is less than 4% of the combined wealth of the world’s richest people” (UN Human Development Report 1997).

Thousands of young people and workers will protest outside the WEF, while hundreds of delegates will converge on Porto Alegre, Brazil for an alternative World Social Forum.

At both events, members of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) – which the Socialist Party is affiliated to – will be explaining that the only alternative to capitalist exploitation worldwide is a socialist system.

This would mean public ownership of the multinational companies under democratic workers’ control and management. Then the world’s resources could be democratically planned and used in the interests of the majority of the world’s people and environment, and not just the privileged few.