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30 / 06 / 2004
Susan George, vice-president of Attac France: “The most serious problem today is to be excluded from the labor market; being exploited has become a privilege”

Forum 141 Questions (52): “Is Globalization an opportunity to make worldwide labor rights or is it a danger?” Susan George, vice-president of ATTAC France (Citizen’s Coalition for Excise Taxes on Cross-Border Currency Transactions) pointed “that is an easy question to answer: globalization is a real danger as it poses threats all over: from human rights to the environment.” George defended a policy of redistribution of wealth and emphasized the need to take human needs rather than corporate financial needs as a basis for the economy.

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Susan George is one of the most outstanding defenders of alternative globalization. She stated before her audience at the Haima stage, “Neoliberal globalization is a real danger for the world, except for a small minority.” George gave her views on an ideal political system that would consist of a combination of Socialism, –“not state Socialism” –, and Democracy: “a much stronger Democracy than the one we have nowadays.” According to George, this system should allow for “a taxing and redistribution of wealth that would prevent social exclusion.” George explained that the present-day situation is worrying “since today it is a privilege to be exploited while the most serious problem is to be excluded.” George stated that economics needs to be shaped on the basis of human needs and not on the basis of the financial needs of large corporations.

The vice-president of ATTAC explained the organization’s goal of “ expanding Democracy throughout the world and to implement international taxing, which would benefit the economy of Africa.” In this respect George reminded that Africa pays 28,000 dollars per minute to honor the external debt and did not hesitate to describe as “a scandal” the fact that the U.S. subsidizes the American cotton growers with three billion dollars every year. “Each of the cotton growers receives 130, 000 dollars per year, a sum that any African grower would take 500 years in collecting.”

Susan George pointed out the importance of the World Trade Organization’s admission Brazil’s complaint against U.S. protectionism. “The U.S. will appeal and we will see the outcome of this but for the moment the acceptance of the complaint is good news.”

With regard to the future of trade unions, George pointed that representation percentages need to be revised. “In France union affiliates are 9% of the workers while in the U.S. they amount to 13% of them.” Regarding the issue of global warming George expressed her concern “because rich countries should launch priority programs for finding substitutes to oil as sources of renewable energy, and the U.S. is not willing to do this because the entire the economy of the country is based on oil.”

Susan George took part in the Forum 141 Questions following the presentation of The Lugano Report in the Forum building auditorium. The play is based on a book by George and was produced by the Trilateral theater company, Forum Barcelona 2004 and the Raimon Llull University and it depicts “a world situation in which the masters of the universe ask a group of experts to study what is needed in order to allow for capitalism to continue its development into the 21st century.” In a world inhabited by eight billion people, the experts conclude that it is absolutely essential to reduce the world population to guarantee the survival of capitalism. “it has no relation with the Nazi holocaust; it is about not doing anything in the face of famine, poverty and conflicts... The play is a satire, but one that resembles more and more to our present-day reality,” she concluded.

At the end of the debate session the organizers presented George with a bouquet of roses for her 70th birthday. Born in the U.S. but a French citizen since 1994, George gave out the flowers from her bouquet to the women attending the 141 Questions debate.