Jubilee 2000 – Great leap or faltering step


For those who have not heard of Jubilee 2000, it is a high profile campaign to get the rich countries of the world to cancel the debts which the poorest countries owe them. The debts are mostly rocketing interest on old loans which were designed in such a way that they could never be fully repaid which, of course, keeps the poor countries in hock, politically and economically, to the rich (imperialist) countries.

These poor nations grow food and produce other raw materials which, instead of feeding their own people or improving the majority’s miserable conditions, is used almost exclusively to pay the ever spiralling interest on old loans, which, in turn, leaves the poor nation with no other choice (under capitalism) than to seek further loans or wage war on a weaker neighbour in order to struggle with the poverty caused by loan repayments. It is a sickening cycle of ever increasing debt which leaves the blood of millions on the hands of the uncaring imperialist powers.

Jubilee 2000, a collection of pop stars, bourgeois politicians and assorted clergy, including the Pope, has the stated aim of cancelling all the debts of the Third World to their imperialist oppressors. But is this possible? Horse trading is going on at the moment in the various centres of imperialism around the world with a view to throwing a sop to the third world. Gordon Brown is seeking 1 billion dollars’ worth of debt relief from the EU (this is a minuscule sum in comparison to the debt, which increases week on week) and the other centres will not offer much more. But even if the campaign to ‘cancel the debt’ were to achieve its aim of cancelling the debts entirely, would this bring about the great change in international relations that the supporters of Jubilee 2000 forecast? I am reminded of the words of an old comrade who patiently explained the workings of capitalism to me when I first took an interest in politics:

“What do you think would happen

,” he asked me

, “if the capitalist oppressors all over the world took in into their heads to gather up all their money and divide it equally among all the people of the world?”

I had to confess that I did not know and had never even thought about such an unlikely event. “

Within a very short time they would have the vast majority of their money back

,” he replied, “

because while ever they own the means of production, distribution and the financial centres and institutions, they own the very means of life and their money cannot but flow straight back to them


Now, if this common sense lesson is applied to the Jubilee 2000 project, it must be remembered that all the means of production etc. are owned or controlled by the multinational companies of the imperialist nations, you start to see a picture a little different to that which both Jubilee 2000 or the likes of Gordon Brown would have us view. Then consider that the Third World countries, being economically decimated (in spite of their wealth in raw materials) and not owning the means of production or fair (even in the bourgeois sense) access to the rigged world markets for their raw materials, would need to seek loans, in order to kick-start their economies, from the IMF banks and other imperialist institutions which certainly would not give the loans without very high interest attached to them, (probably higher than usual to recoup the lost ‘earnings’ from the debts they had just cancelled) and you can see the cycle starting up again almost immediately.

For the Third World to be given an equal chance on the proverbial level playing field, the debts must not only be cancelled, the world markets must be freed of all bias in favour of the imperialist nations (a completely impossible task) and the poor nations must be given time, non-repayable financial assistance and organisational help to build up an indigenous manufacturing and financial base (and of course a military base which is essential in the era of imperialism) equal to those of the imperialist powers. This, of course, would make them competitors and, as imperialism is in the business of monopolies not competition, the chances of the forces of imperialism seriously contemplating giving the Third World an even chance are considerably less likely than of Ian Paisley swearing undying allegiance to the Pope. To the extent that countries such as Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, etc., try to assert economic independence, we have seen how imperialism stops at nothing to reduce them to rubble.

Jubilee 2000 must be seen for what it really is: either a well-meaning campaign by people who have no understanding of imperialism; or a cynical campaign by people who hope we have no understanding of imperialism. Whichever it is, it seeks only a reform, a very temporary respite – although a temporary respite is better than nothing, especially if it is used to prepare an assault on imperialism. The only real solution to the Third World debt crisis is the ending of imperialist exploitation of the poor nations by the rich nations. And the only way of doing this is either by the oppressed nations overthrowing imperialist domination thorough national revolutionary wars and democratic revolutions as a prelude, and a precursor, to socialist transformation of their societies under the leadership of the working class or by the working classes of the imperialist countries overthrowing the rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie in proletarian revolutions – thus ending forever the exploitation of one human being by another human being, and of one nation by another nation.