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Social Text 22.1 (2004) 59-84

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Reverse Postcoloniality

Mark Driscoll

The British Empire has had a pretty lousy press from a generation of "postcolonial" historians anachronistically affronted by its racism. But the reality is that the British were significantly more successful at establishing market economies, the rule of law and the transition to representative government than the majority of postcolonial governments have been. The policy "mix" favored by Victorian imperialists reads like something just published by the International Monetary Fund, if not the World Bank: free trade, balanced budgets, sound money, the common law, incorrupt administration and investment in infrastructure financed by international loans. These are precisely the things Iraq needs right now. If the scary sounding "American Empire" can deliver them, then I am all for it.
—Niall Ferguson, New York Times Magazine
We endorse the recent Pentagon Defense Planning Guidance's blueprints for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.
—Project for a New American Century
Modernization will create a new post-colonial relationship between the northern and southern halves of the Free World. . . . As the colonial ties are liquidated, new and most constructive relationships can be built. . . . a new partnership among free men—rich and poor alike.
—Walter Rostow, National Security memorandum to Theodore Sorenson
In 1993 Hussein was photographed with his gay lover. The daring dictator is famous for frequenting area gay bars and calling gay escort services. But this queer lifestyle may be taking its toll on the wacky Iraqi—his last few boyfriends have reportedly died of AIDS, and now there is speculation that Saddam may have contracted the deadly virus himself.
Weekly World News

Preempting Postcolonial Growth

Following on the boot heels of the privatization and deregulation agenda of neoliberal discipline, the last two decades have witnessed shrinking foreign-aid portfolios of the G-7, omnipresent signs of dramatically [End Page 59] increased poverty and infrastructure failure in the South, and huge transfers of wealth from the South to the North in the form of debt repayment and repackaging—worth $1.345 trillion in the 1980s alone (George 1992).1 Responding to this and the intensified resistance to what has been termed the "Washington Consensus" (WC), on 8 September 2000 U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a Financing for Development (FfD) conference scheduled for March 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico. Meant to address the issues raised in the Millennium Declaration against global poverty as they applied to economic development, Monterrey partly fell sway to pressure from two agencies suffering massive legitimation crises—the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Despite pressure from large NGOs to limit the role of the WTO and the IMF, the U.N. reiterated that the raison d'être of the FfD was to forge tighter alliances among states, business, and global civil society in order to improve governance in the world economy. From the beginning, Annan was adamant that new partnerships could not be reached without including all relevant "stakeholders," including the Bretton Woods agencies and the WTO.

Approximately seven hundred Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who attended the "Foro Global" (held just prior to and in preparation for the FfD) collectively denounced the official Monterrey report, as "it failed to offer new mechanisms to achieve the Millennium Development goals."2 The consensus at the Foro Global was that the U.N. document was merely a repackaging of the malodorous WC (Washington Consensus), marked by a constellation of policy dicta encouraging the dependence of developing nations on foreign investment, export-led growth, and massive government reductions in spending for infrastructure, health, and education. The CSOs expressed their suspicion of trade and financial liberalization forced on developing nations and "emerging markets," given the present horizon delimited by increasing protectionism (by the IMF's own admission, agricultural subsidies in the North in 2001 cashed out to $300 billion, six times the amount spent on development aid to the South) and growing financial volatility. In fact, these policies are construed by...


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pp. 59-84
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Archived 2005
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