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       Civil Society, Changing Contemporary Politics with the return of multi-party politics in the Third World & Religion: An Introduction, p.3

           Terry R. Lynch
 
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  Multi-party democracy (MPD) and capitalism seem to be the most accepted doctrine for the modern emphasis for poverty reduction however to what extent and does democracy really bring any improvements to the lives of poor people?

  With the return of MPD to the third world can democracy and globalisation powered by “turbo-capitalism”21 result in a new global civil society motivated with the aim of civilizing uncivil capitalism now succeed in improving the lives of poor people as democratisation establishes a healthier civil society?

  Huntington (1991) theorises the third “waves of democratisation … in the modern world” came in between 1974-1991 within the third world states of Latin America and parts of Africa, however was revised to the second wave in 1958-1975 in much of Latin America and postcolonial Africa. To account for the return of MPD to the third world we must look at the domestic with the origins of civil movements with the pro-democracy protests and the legalisation of opposition parties in the 1990s following these waves of democratisation.22

  Antonio Gramsci reveals a “third force”23 between the state and the market with a realm of potential emancipation to the lives of the poor people. With increased globalisation and reconciliation of the world economy it can be argued as by Andrew Linklater, that a new idealistic world political community has become possible. However, this is a complex issue and globalisation has different experiences within different communities especially so in the third world.

  With the triumph of liberal democracy at the end of the cold war referring to Fukuyama, the marginalisation and diffusion of the third world and the shift of strategic importance to Eastern Europe was the return of democracy due to external political pressures for democratisation as aid was offered conditionally upon improved political pluralism?

  Does Huntington’s argument of a clash of civilizations now have more force as the western policy of democratisation is bringing the third world into a new co-operation within a liberal democratic world order aiding the plight of the poor peoples?

  Has Christianity in the third world played a part in the calls for democratisation and poverty reduction through teachings of compassion, due to westernisation or was it purely due to the failings of the authoritarian nature of rule that bought democracy to the third world?24

  In Kenya the Church played a significant role in supporting the secret ballot and as an advocate of democracy opposed the one-party system following the regimes silencing of politicians and repressive moves towards civil society, however it was also collaboration between professional bodies such as the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) that bought a significant pro-democracy force. However the conditions pinned to aid seemed avoidable for a pro-western regime as Kenya demonstrated that despite concerns over the direction and increased tyranny of President Moi’s regime aid agencies, donors and world governments were not going to abandon a ‘legitimately elected’ ally.25

  Did internal pressures such as the failings of authoritarian rule, economic decline, and social injustice, the loss of legitimacy for one-party regimes and the pro-democracy movements combined with the external pressures that motivated the return of MPD?

  Zambia would suggest that the domestic problems were mainly created by the structural adjustment programmes (SAP) by the international momentary fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) that created the food crisis in 1990 and resulted in a destabilisation, loss of legitimisation and moves towards democracy.

  Capping farming subsidiaries through budget rationalisation these programmes intended to aid economic recovery limit the ability to meet demand therefore little consideration is given to provisions for cushioning the poor against their possible side effects due to the speed of implementation, planning and preparation.

  Karl Marx argued that economic development was linked to the mode of production and exchange that shapes the social-political institutions, therefore the SAPs disrupted production and hindered development, certainly capped trade subsidiaries disrupted food production and underdeveloped industry, and debt hampers exchange or trade with the rest of the developed world.

  Economic and food security crisis in Zambia increased vocalization of the pro-democracy movement combined with external pressures from donors resulted in President Kenneth Kaunda’s legalisation of political parties resulting in greater political pluralism and marking the start of MPD in the 1990s.

  However was this multi-party system more to do with factions than legitimate parties and did parties what Almond and Verba called the corner stone of democracy really improve the lives of poor people?

  Does this advocate a more state directed economy or a sign that uncivil capitalism does not always work in favour of both partners and that more work needs to be done on the side of global civil society on improving standards and regularisation of the third world economy.

  This presents the idea that although democracy improves the participation and rights of the poor within politics and civil society it does not however provide shelter or nourishment.

  Following the debt crisis in 1980 the Washington Consensus advocated that the state should not take a more directive role and strengthened capitalist principles of privatisation of state enterprises and reduction of trade barriers, while implemented initially in Latin America26 has this been taken a step further with the privatisation of security in Africa or is this one example of preventative strategy from years of civil wars and unrest?

  Does this privatisation of security reveal the failings of the third world states to provide adequate security for their citizens or is it simply capitalism at its finest, valued at 85 billion dollars with a growth rate of 6-8 percent.27 It is open to analysis as to whether this revenue has aided the ability of the democratic welfare state to provide for the poorest communities or whether it has hindered improvement to the poor with only rich areas gaining protection.

  The third world economy is neo-colonial based on a dependency upon western industrialised nations. Tanzania illustrates an attempt to break from this trend and produce a self-reliant industrial economy that with strong socialist ideology aims to spread the benefits more evenly both spatially and structurally however there is still reliance upon importing secondary products. There are no actual markets for products that Africa actually produces and there is a pressing need for developing countries to access existing channels of world trade, George Monbiot argues doing so “in direct competition with big business overseas is like learning to swim in a torrent: you will be swept away and drowned long before you acquire the necessary expertise”. 28

  Monbiot calls upon the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to create an “infant industry protection” that would allow an internal economy to develop and allow a degree of protectionism to enable these industries to compete with international companies and achieve universal fair trade. Arguing that the rich countries are hindering the transfer of wealth and improvement to the lives of the poor by defending their markets against imports from poor countries, “The policy makes sense. Established industries have capital, experience and economies of scale on their side; infant industries in poor nations do not”.29

  Monbiot argues that the WTO cannot do this as the IMF refuses to allow loans on this pretext. The author of ‘a manifesto for a new world order’ he argues that we must embrace capitalism, capture it and shape it to produce a global democratic revolution.

  Non-governmental movements such as Fair Trade, whereby third world producers get a fixed sum to cover production costs in all products sold this is now growing into big business with companies such as Nestlé affiliating themselves with the foundation challenging the hold of exploitive companies who are motivated by profits and exploit the poor communities. However with companies such as Nestlé under boycott by pressure groups is this association more to do with improving their company’s image?30

  Certainly with help of international charities such as the Make Poverty History campaign which has managed to pressure the G8 Nations to s
crap third world debt, aid can now reach the poor people rather than pay-off debts however the "promise to the world's poor is being broken”. Furthermore the United Nation’s (UN) Millennium development goals to tackle extreme poverty, disease, and inequality by 2015 have failed so far according to the 2005 Human Development Report.

  Globalisation in theory helps redevelopment of third world economies however they are unregulated by a weak state where workers have little protection by law and therefore exploit local communities and pay relatively low wages in some cases creating more problems.

  Within a healthy civil society, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can aid the development of local poor communities and with foreign or state aid can revitalise the economy.

  Democracy, or one person one vote, combined with uncivil capitalism is no guarantee of social and economic equality and justice; however with the emergence of democracy the poor are now empowered and can work within the mechanism of government to gain significant protectorate or welfare legislation within theoretically a healthy economy.

  Nigeria rich in oil reserves, ranking eleventh in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, takes a capitalist line of development which includes privatising state-owned entities with high oil prices the driving force behind Nigeria’s economic growth in 2005. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew approximately 4.5 percent in 2005 and is expected to grow 6.2 percent in 2006 but with this growth and considerable oil wealth have the lives of the poor of Niger improved? No. It is still ranked one of the poorest countries in the world with 70 percent living in poverty and an income of only 1, 000 dollars per capita. However some 60 percent debt had been cancelled in October 2005 but with conditions and 12.4 billion dollars of arrears. However with an additional 34 percent of debt being scrapped, Nigeria will still owe debts to many leading nations. However the IMF can now monitor development without disbursing loans. 31

  Was the country’s transition to democracy due to the failure of previous non-democratic and non-capitalist system to produce the current trend of economic growth following the failure to survive the oil crisis of mid-1970s, which was defined by the UN as “the most seriously affected by the oil crisis” along with 20 other African nations?

  Paul Cammack argues that the doctrine of democracy and capitalism for political development has triumphed and now as argued by Fukuyama the world will be concerned with “resolving mundane economic and technical problems”32 signifying economic development for the third world and thus an emphasis upon poverty and debt reduction following the end of the Cold war.

  As third world debt, development and the balance of trade is run not by its people but by a handful of unelected or under-elected executives who make the decisions on economic development policy and control its benefits to poor communities prioritising debt repayment.

  It would seem that with the spread of democracy throughout the third world and the return of multi-party politics these unelected executives are placed under further pressure from an increasing civil society that through various associations campaigns for economic and through the accountable democratic third world government more accountability. With the new waves of democratic revolution in the third world there are now needs for further reform of the UN for better accountability and increased abilities to achieve set aims for policy reduction, reform of the WTO to enable third world industry to develop and compete with international companies and see the benefits filter through to improving the life’s of poor people.

  Improvement to the poor through economic development and so political stability can come only if the third world can disengage from its exploitative, dependant relationship with the industrialised nations.

  Social-political progress is determined not so much by economic failure or progress but rather the reverse that an economy’s success or progress is itself caused by the social and political system to which they operate and that the only effective answer to economic failure is to change the social and political context.

  Therefore democracy and capitalism is the most effective answer for improving the lives of the poor but until the third world industry can internally develop to compete with multinational companies through protectionism and debt is scrapped or reduced, the benefits to the poor will not be significant.

  BIBLIOGRAPHY

 
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