Brian Holmes on 2 Oct 2000 14:43:51 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] IMF/Yugoslavia

To me, the article by Chossudovsky is absolutely pertinent to the Kosova
and IMF threads. These are complex matters, but intellectuals should
consider them before they begin repeating the positions of Blair, Clinton,
and their local newspaper. An argument similar to Chussodovsky's appeared
in 1999 in The New Left Review no. 234, "The NATO Powers and the Balkan
Tragedy," by Peter Gowan. Catherine Samary has also worked on the role of
the debt and its administration in ex-Yugoslavia, in her book "Yugoslavia
Dismembered" (1994/95) and in various articles.

Chossudovsky's subheadings on "Overhauling The Legal Framework," "The
Bankruptcy Program," and "Shedding Surplus Workers" illustrate exactly what
I meant in my September 16 post to nettime, when I said that the IMF, when
it intervenes to reschedule debt, "uses its orthodox expertise to remodel
the financial, juridical, and social relations of entire societies to favor
intensified international exchange and competition." The competition also
takes place between regions, such as the ex-Yugo republics, over the fruits
and burdens of economic production.

Mark Weisbrot, from the NGO "Center for Economic and Policy Research," has
written: "The Fund, which has 182 member nations but is basically run by
the US Treasury department, makes the major economic decisions for more
than 50 countries... This makes the Fund the most powerful institution, of
any kind, in the whole world, in terms of its influence over the lives of
hundreds of millions of people­-and indirectly, billions." (from
"Globalization on the Ropes" available at:

That said, there is never one cause for historical events. I ran into
Catherine Samary on the train back from Prague, and when we talked
(inevitably) about structural adjustment in ex-Yugo, she pointed to a
number of internal dynamics, both social and political, that had seriously
weakened Yugoslav unity beginning in the seventies. The worst thing that
could have been done to Yugoslavia in 1989-90, the thing guaranteed to
cause violent disintegration, was to impose austerity measures on a country
already beset by centrifugal tendencies. This is what the Fund and the
other international financial institutions did. The amazing thing is that
similar civil wars have not erupted in Russia, where the damage done by the
IMF is greater yet. But unfortunately, this period of history is not yet
behind us.

Brian Holmes

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