Johannesburg – World Bank president Jim Kim is an ex-leftist who claims that in the mid-1990s he wanted to shut down the Bank. At the time, it was an entirely valid, realistic goal of the 50 Years is Enough! campaign and especially the World Bank Bonds Boycott. Kim’s co-edited Dying for Growth (2000) book-length analysis of the Bank’s attacks on Global-South public health offered very useful ammunition.
However, not only did Kim subsequently make an ideological U-turn, as we see below, but more importantly, among the casualties of the 9/11 attacks were many such movement-building efforts aimed at a common international enemy. The global justice scene faded quickly as a result of new divisions between social activists and U.S. labour patriots, the shift by internationalists into anti-war mobilising, and the ascendance of NGO-led World Social Forum talk-shopping. Other more hopeful recent leftist waves also ebbed: Latin America’s Pink Tide and 2011’s Occupy moment in many sites across the world. Perhaps the recent revival of social-democratic politics in the two core (Anglo-American) sites of neoliberalism will make this post-2001 lapse appear as an only temporary setback.
If so, one inevitable site to identify neoliberalism’s coldest logic – and sometimes most brute-force muscles – is the World Bank, an institution often engaged in self-delegitimisation. So if activists across the globe do not currently have a central site of resistance, nevertheless countless battles are being waged at any given time against Bank projects and ideology. The battle over its leadership is worth close attention. Continue reading
The situation for the many constituencies hopeful about Jim Yong Kim’s ‘election’ as World Bank president is comparable to early 2009.
Recall, Barack Obama entered a US presidency suffering institutional crisis and faced an immediate fork in the road: make the changes he promised, or sell out his constituents’ interests by bailing out Wall Street and legitimizing a renewed neoliberal attack on society and ecology, replete with undemocratic, unconstitutional practices suffused with residual militarism. As president-elect, surrounding himself with the likes of Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Paul Volcker, William Gates, Rahm Emmanuel and Hillary Clinton, it was obvious which way he would go. Continue reading
It is onto the terrain of unprecedented global financial malgovernance that Kim now strides. To be sure, on the way, he’s being tripped up a little by disgruntled neoliberals like Reuters columnist Felix Salmon, who concludes, correctly, “the US government in general, and the Geithner-Clinton axis in particular, doesn’t actually want any real change at the World Bank. Change can only come from a strong president who is strongly supported by Continue reading
If you want a world without poverty or species-threatening climate change, then let’s fast-forward a bit, to the point World Bank President Jim Yong Kim breaks your heart by endorsing what remains the world’s worst financial coal-addiction (http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/art.shtml?x=569967), which in turn is required to power the world’s most active financing of Resource-Curse economics in some of the world’s most despotic regimes (http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/art-569560). Continue reading
That 66th birthday month of his, March 2012, was auspicious for adding a little spice to his dreary life, but no, it just can’t last. Born in March 1946 alongside his evil twin, IMF, in Savannah Georgia, after conception in what must have been a rather sleazy New Hampshire hotel (the ‘Bretton Woods’) in mid-1944, the old geezer known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or much better by his nickname World Bank (but let me just use WB), really ought to be considering retirement. Continue reading