Put people first

A note from the editor

David Ransom

Jobs, climate, justice

So a receding economic tide has exposed the naked bathers. Once upon a time, a rising economic tide supposedly lifted all boats. The tide will rise again. Won't it?

Well, the passing likeness of capitalism to one force of nature does not eliminate all the others. Throughout my lengthening lifetime capitalism has segued from one 'crisis' to the next, more like a cancerous growth. I can't, off-hand, think of a single day when a capitalist crisis of one sort or another was not seeking immediate attention. Though reports of the death of capitalism have often proved exaggerated, the tide receded most memorably just before the tsunami in 2004.

Capitalism, socialism, fundamentalism, nationalism, isms and ists of all kinds have apparently failed us, claiming by way of an excuse that perfection would come with the next rising tide. In one sense everyone has been bathing naked – and finally has that one thing, at least, in common. So we have little choice but to recognize ourselves for what we are and consider the remaining options afresh.

Some of them are remarkably attractive and are explored a little further in this magazine. At the same time, the New Internationalist has for once stepped out of the commentary box and actively joined the growing campaign for a just and sustainable future. One immediate focus is the mobilization (see pages i-xvi) around the 2 April meeting in London of the G20 – a self-appointed huddle of 'world leaders' that is part of the problem. In the years ahead, the real challenge will be to construct a more habitable and diverse economic, social and political 'architecture' from the bottom up, on much firmer foundations as a result.

This will doubtless include the people of North Korea. You'll also find in this magazine a rare insight into the daily lives of people once judged to inhabit an 'Axis of Evil'. North Koreans may not be naked, but they are recognizable all the same. The financial meltdown has given the Minority World just a taste of what it has been like to live in the Majority World for far too long already. If the chickens do not eventually come home to roost, then eggs will be off the menu for good.

David Ransom for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

Gathering strength at the World Social Forum, Belém, in February 2009. Photo: Paulo Santos / Reuters

Financial meltdown and the Age of Possibility

As the empire of international finance collapses, David Ransom finds the chance to reset the compass towards democracy, equality and the survival of our planet.

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Given to us – perhaps once in a lifetime – is the chance, the responsibility, to see the world with fresh eyes. George Orwell described the fleeting, deceptive intoxication of such a moment in Barcelona in 1937. More recently, the people of Bolivia may well have felt it with the election of Evo Morales in 2005. There could even have been a trace of it after Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. On any given day, in a city or village somewhere in the world, people are probably experiencing something ...




Features

A month in the life of the Majority World

A month in the life of the Majority World

Recession heads South – and meets resistance.

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Photo: Eddie Keogh / REUTERS

Meltdown - The FACTS

How free-market fundamentalism brought the world to its knees

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Naked Emperors

Naked Emperors

It’s time to ask some very basic questions, like: What are banks for? What are houses for? What’s credit for? What’s the economy for? Or, for that matter, what’s the environment for? Vanessa Baird suggests a 10-point economic detox programme.

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Inside North Korea

A rare glimpse into the world’s most secretive country, by French aid worker Jérôme Bossuet who spent three years there.

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Blogs

G20: what we want - made simple

G20: what we want - made simple

Positive points that might come in handy...

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Currents

Murdered for music

Murdered for music

11 members ambushed and shot at by an armed group, on their way home from a wedding performance.

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Sweet nothings: chocolate companies have failed to curb child labour on cocoa farms in Cote d'Ivoire.Photo by International Labor Rights Forum

Slaves to chocolate

Major chocolate companies still using child labour

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Healthy conversation: a group of men discuss the taboo of widow  cleansing and (left)former cleanser Esban Ochanga.Photo: Frederic Courbet

Male cleansers for hire

How sex with widows helps dead men

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Badge of dishonour

Badge of dishonour

Scouts log tens of thousands of acres of forestland

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Paradise lost: much of the picturesque village of Jale has been demolished.Photo by Gjergj Erebara

Bulldozed lives

World Bank project leaves families homeless

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Regulars

A Savage Environmentalism

A Savage Environmentalism

Jeremy Seabrook on how bogus environmentalism is threatening some of India’s best friends of the environment.

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Photo by Sven Torfinn / PANOS

Ghana

Facts, figures and the history of Ghana.

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Abdul Rahman Roslan

A haunting and sensitive glimpse into a Malaysian orphanage by photographer Abdul Rahman Roslan.

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Hosni Mubarak Photo by World Economic Forum

Hosni Mubarak

Egypt’s President Mubarak may have survived six assassination attempts but does not escape the NI treatment.

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Viyakula Mary talked with Ewa Jasiewicz.Photo by DAVID KIRKWOOD

Viyakula Mary

Viyakula Mary talks to Ewa Jasiewicz.

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Making room

Making room

Even when the odds are stacked against them, Maria Golia observes her neighbour’s family taking life as it comes.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar

Although Gandhi is a household name all over the world, Babasaheb Ambedkar, architect of the Indian Constitution and the first person to fight effectively for the rights of dalits (aka ‘untouchables’)

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Fat: A Cultural History of Obesity

Fat: A Cultural History of Obesity

Sander L Gilman delves into culture to demonstrate that our belief that fat can be identified with a number of character flaws

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The Final Bet

The Final Bet

The first ever Arabic detective novel to be translated into English

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Africa to Appalachia

Africa to Appalachia

Sissoko’s warm-toned vocals and fluid kora work, counterpointed by Stone’s banjo-picking make for a wonderfully expansive sound on Africa to Appalachia

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Très Très Fort

Très Très Fort

Congo’s amazing disabled rhythm-maestros Staff Benda Bilili

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Modern Life

Modern Life

Respectful, real and engrossing: Modern Life in rural France.

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Tony Manero

Tony Manero

The late 1970s. A kitsch television show is looking for a Tony Manero impersonator. Tony who? Horribly, wonderfully real, and incredibly repulsive.

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