A state exists in the global community as a peer among equals. It has the right over its own destiny and failures. This is the ideal situation for any state; the promise of a common destiny for its citizens, a destiny secured by its right to defend itself and the pursuit of its own goals. However, this state of existence of is a fallacy. ’The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.’ This is the sad reality captured vividly by Thucydides in The History of the Peloponnesian War
The developing nations live at the whims and mercy of the industrialized countries. They cannot do anything without the consent and go ahead of their ‘big brothers’, to do so would be at their own peril. Some of the dire consequences that may result include; imposition of economic sanctions, political alienation and clandestine support for opposition elements.
This means continued and unfettered interference in the activities of developing nations. They cannot do as much as sneeze without a go ahead from ‘big brother’. This state of affairs is more so perpetuated under the guise of Foreign Aid. It has long been used to force economic, social and political change in developing countries often to the detriment of the same countries. Foreign Aid as postulated by earlier scholars was intended to alleviate poverty and enhance social equity within the international community. It first came under a backdrop of growing world sentiments of democracy, peace and international cohesion after the 1st World War. It can be no further from the truth today.
Foreign Aid is composed of loans and grants given to recipient nations through multilateral or bilateral trade agreements. The loans or grants are either given by each nation, regional economic bodies or world financial institutions. The most prominent of these financial institutions is the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Stringent conditions attached to foreign aid include; compulsory expatriate labor and purchase of capital from donor nations, liberalized market systems along with political reforms deemed democratic.
A liberalized market system entails the reduction of tariff barriers, cutting down on or completely phasing out of government subsidies, and the privatization of government corporations especially monopolies.
As enticing as these changes may seem, the short-term effects are disastrous and usually run into the long-term. The reduction of customs and duties on imports immediately suffocates infant industries by exposing them to competition from highly established companies that enjoy economies of scale and managerial experience. This is because imports are cheaper, of higher quality and are produced en masse. The after effects of such a system are; the loss of jobs, significant drops in national output and unnecessary dependence on the supply of certain goods from foreign nations e.g. textile products.
Cutting down on government subsidies effectively locks the poor in poverty. This is because subsidies are meant to at least ease some of the huge burden the poor suffer in their day to day lives. They mostly live on less than $1 a day, hardly enough to meet their food requirements but still meant to be somehow subdivided into school fees, hospital bills, fertilizer costs and transport expenses. The lack of subsidies in essential and life altering sectors such as education, health, agriculture and energy in essence means that they is no escape for the poor in society. They are left to their own devices; hunger, squalor and disease.
Privatization of government-owned corporations may come with unimaginable opportunities for private investment, competition driven markets and increased productivity due to the profit motive. However, all that glitters is not gold. What of the social costs? The labour layoffs due to employment of capital-intensive techniques, the unequal distribution and access to national wealth, the neglect of perceived non-economical practical areas such as ASAL areas and the perversion of Multinational Companies in the affairs and activities of host nations. Privatization may be a good idea but he who champions it may just be an indication of he who has the most to gain.
It is thus evidently visible that Foreign Aid is like a velvet covered fist. It is aimed solely at keeping developing nations in a constant state of want and despair for a starving man would do almost anything he is told if at the end of it he can finally eat a morsel of food. Liberalized market systems allow developed nations to get access to our markets unhindered, sustain jobs for their home workers and grow their industries. The cutting down of government subsidies frees up capital for the purchase of capital goods required for industrial growth. Capital goods that are bought from developed nations. Most of the shareholding rights issued under privatization of public corporations are taken up by multinational corporations which are owned by capitalists in developed nations.
Who is fooling who? Who does Foreign Aid really benefit? The African, Latin America and Asian poor know little of it. It is a self-sustaining system, a metamorphic and ingenious way of keeping the poor, poor. It benefits only the elitists and tribal kings commonly known as presidents in developing nations. These people grow fatter and fatter around dinners, seminars, luncheons to discuss the plight of the poor, with champagne, lobster and caviar as they sing to the tune of western imperialists.
Foreign Aid is modern-day enslavement, it is time to break the chains, time to seek freedom and walk on a path towards a common destiny of our own choosing. The minds of our youth are rich with truth and powered by wisdom, our will is weak and that is what we must strengthen. It is in the poor that salvation will come for they are our labor and our cause; that is our cause should be the alleviation of poverty. Without cause they can be no unity, without unity there can be no strength and without strength ‘the strong will do what they can and the weak will suffer what they must.’