McDougall Memorial Lecture – F.A.O., Rome, 1963 – Conference of Food and Agriculture Organization
Table of Contents
- 1 McDougall Memorial Lecture – F.A.O., Rome, 1963 – Conference of Food and Agriculture Organization
- 1.1 ‘One World’ or Not?
- 1.2 Economic differences
- 1.3 The Importance of the Growing Gap
- 1.4 The Need a Total Change
- 1.5 Change Must be Planned
- 1.6 The Importance of Aid
- 1.7 Importance of Food and Agriculture Organization
- 1.8 Food and Agriculture Organization’s Specialists
- 1.9 Food and Agriculture Organization is Incapable of Dealing with the Marketing
- 1.10 The Confusion of International Marketing
- 1.11 Experience of Post-War International Trade
- 1.12 A World Plan Essential
- 1.13 Our Own Policies Contribute to the Chaos
- 1.14 The Isolation Alternative
- 1.15 Food and Agriculture Organization as a charitable organization
- 1.16 In Summary
The President was invited to deliver a commemorative lecture at the opening of the 12th Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, on November 18, 1963. This speech is a very important analysis of the economic complexity facing developing countries, and the alternative courses open to them.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very aware of the respect you have given me by inviting me to speak here today. I am also aware that many in this audience know much more about the Food and Agriculture Organization and its functions than I am aware of, and that many of you are knowledgeable in the areas in which this organization is involved. In these things I can’t have anything important to tell you, and I don’t intend to try.
Instead I want to look at the issue of world development from the perspective of those who are on the wrong side of the statistical conditions of life. The Food and Agriculture Organization is, for an agricultural country like mine, a very important institution and therefore in my opinion it is worth considering the issue of development around this organization. Yet much that I will have to say goes far beyond the responsibilities of the Food and Agriculture Organization, because this international body does not work and cannot function on its own. Its success is largely determined by all. Economic hardship and political ties are outside its control or influence.
First, I think it is important to remind ourselves from time to time that it is human beings – despite all their hatreds, hopes, ignorance, and abilities – they are the target of every human institution and organization. The purpose of the government is to protect the conditions of the people where they can live happily and peacefully, and the concept behind its work claims that it should do so in a positive manner. Protecting people from violence seems to be just part of the government’s job. For some it is expected to be a living tool for the preservation of that in their lives which people think is a good thing, and a change of what they know to be bad.
For a democratic government in developing countries, like mine, this goal of change must be the ultimate goal of government activity. Peace alone cannot, and should not, be protected without general change, because the conditions in which most people now live and govern themselves are a denial of human dignity, and a disgrace to the twentieth century world. Our governments will be so obliged to acquire development that is a better in such a way it requires a complete social and economic revolution in the country.
And just as this change must be the goal of government in developing countries, it must also be declared the goal of all international organizations. The United Nations itself has peacekeeping as its specific role, but through the Economic and Social Council, and through specialized agencies, the goal of fundamental change in living conditions for the billions of people has been articulated. It is my intention today to look at these international instruments of change from the perspective of someone who is daily engaged in bringing about change in a small African region.
‘One World’ or Not?
Apart from South Africa – which I intend to ignore today – now the United Nations recognition of humanity is almost universal, and human brotherhood continues to grow. Presence of Food and Agriculture Organization actually express these feelings of involvement in each other’s well-being. This idea is in fact so common that it is no longer justified by argument, it is simply defended and accepted. And indeed there are many foundations of our concept that we are now in one world, which is in unity.
Technologically there is no doubt that the world is getting smaller every day; even thirty years ago, before some of us were in school, an international conference like this would have been very difficult to hold because of the time the delegates would spend. Right now I think that very few have taken more than thirty-six hours to get here, and soon travel time will be shorter. In line with the pace of global development there is a global impact on every modern scientific development; it was the whole world that was worried about the end of nuclear tests, because the whole world is affected by it. And in addition we have mass production methods which in fact mean that one production unit can often effectively supply the needs of thousands of people scattered around the world at a much cheaper price than any small factory or domestic worker can supply to those around them.
Because technologically we, it is one world we have, however, we got into the habit of using words in different contexts that are not real or important, and where its use discourages us from thinking that way.
Politically we are talking about one World, but we remain as hundreds of separate nations that are taking the very first steps towards realizing the issue of dependency to each other. We are not talking about a ‘one nation’ when there are two governments vying for control of one area, no matter the magnitude of needing each other if peace and prosperity for the whole region are protected. Similarly, we should only justify the right to use the words ‘one world’ in a political context if our little sense of nationalism is controlled by a world peacekeeping authority that has the power to fulfill its mission.
Economically, I believe the magnitude of the absurdity of this expression is still big. Indeed, the division of international trade means that products manufactured in London, New York, or Tokyo, affect people’s lives in bushes within Tanganyika; and in fact the names of one company seem to also be trending in Germany, America, India and Africa.
But despite this fact the world paints a different picture of a violent economy that, in all relations there can be. Different parts of human beings living not only on different planets, but in different solar systems, I am sure it is not necessary for me to expand this fact further. You know the statistics of poverty compared to wealth. Obesity in one country and famine in another. You also know that although in every country there is a state of economic inequality – and even in the United States being poor and malnourished – it is an astonishing state of inequality brought about between all levels of life in different countries of the world. $ 6o per head is India’s National Income, and $ 2,000 per head in the United States — these figures come from Food and Agriculture Organization. From this perspective, there is no need for me to tell anyone that most people in the world do not have enough to eat, or that they do not have the kind of food that will keep them healthy.
There is not a single fact that is new; when talking about this, it is difficult to avoid saying words we are tired of hearing. They are the
reason for the establishment of special UN agencies; and the origin of the Food and Agriculture Organization itself can be found in President Roosevelt’s call to the world to fight for the freedom of four things, one of which was freedom from hunger.
But when these facts are not new, nor are they outdated. This is an issue that should concern us right now. In the 1950s it is estimated that the average annual income in the United States and western Europe rose by more than $ 200. In less developed countries the annual revenue started around $ 8o, and by the end of the decade it was around $ 90, an increase of $ 10 over the period. In other words, the people living in the richest countries on average had an increase in their wealth which was greater than all the wealth that one person had in less developed countries, The gap between these two groups, apart from declining, continued to grow very rapidly. There is no indication that this trend has changed in the last three years; there is a high probability that it has progressed.
The Importance of the Growing Gap
I want to emphasize this point, because it has a broader meaning. With all the awareness of global economic inequality, for all international organizations that have been set up to rectify this situation, the gap between those who have and those who do not have continues to widen dramatically. The wealthier one is the more the individual continue to accumulate, and the poor – apart from their efforts – are unable to escape the situation. Economically there are still two worlds, not one.
It can be said that I am speaking in comparative terms, and that that is the key, and what is the reason for satisfaction, is that there has been a trend showing an increase in wealth per head in less developed countries. It can also be argued that with the rapid population growth that has been suffered by so many poor countries, these small ‘per capita’ increases hides large percentage increase in gross domestic product.
I would not like to underestimate these developments, nor fail to commend those who have been responsible for the progress made. It is still true that world’s wealth is not evenly distributed among the people of the world right now than it was in 1945. This is important, its importance is only emphasized by 1945 in the fact that some minor improvements have been made in economically oppressed areas.
The fact that the world is technologically one thing, and that people and goods from rich areas come to poorer areas for business reasons, tourism — even development itself means that we are in a position to promote aspirations among the world’s poorest. Tensions over what possible living conditions are may be very different now from what used to exist during the neighboring village communities for the past few decades. Then poverty abounded, for all. Nothing else was expected, and people throughout their lives and cultures were trained to fight the world for a living. In the 1960s, however, all of our people have seen and can see that there are better ways to live, which others like them have reached. Is it possible for a mother to see the wonders of fresh water from a tap and without needing it for her son? Bicycles, bright clothes, education, aluminum cooking pots — all of these things in the hands of others no doubt lead to dissatisfaction with poverty which is the result of hard work. That dissatisfaction is ‘Good’ if it could lead to a change in the situation.
It is very certain, therefore, that for the sake of human dignity, and for the sake of peace and justice, this global economic inequality must be alleviated and the public must be able to escape the burden of poverty. I do not believe that it is impossible for these conditions of life to be changed; I believe that what is important is for us to agree that they will change, and to attack the problem impartially and scientifically.
The world can produce more of the goods needed by people; less developed countries can produce more on their own too. Certainly one of the distinguishing features of developing countries is the low productivity of its workers and land. When we talk about a country not developing this is what we mean – that its national product is low compared to its population. People do not produce much and do not spend much – two things that do not interact directly as pure economic theory implies.
The Need a Total Change
The problems of developing countries are twofold. First, increase the production of goods and services that people need: and second, increase the use of products and services that symbolize a good and free life. The latter means that the products and services produced must either be directly required by the manufacturers; or they must be able to rotate through a business system that returns to the producers, a purchasing power that is equal to the wealth that their efforts have created. In other words, promotions of these products and services must be organized so that farmers can sell their products at a reasonable price, and the products they need are also available at affordable price rates.
I think it is safe to say that in every undeveloped country, neither increased output, nor increased consumption, can be achieved without much drastic and fundamental changes in the whole economy and social structure. We in Tanganyika, for example, (and you must forgive me if I frequently give my illustrations from the country I know best) have about ninety-seven percent of our people living in rural areas, and most of them earn their living from agriculture. It is obvious that we have to think in terms of increasing our agricultural output.
We have to do this not by adding more acres but by improving our farming methods, and this has a huge impact on our entire social system. Our farming methods have become part of our culture, and with the change of tools we will introduce the use of irrigated agriculture, even the introduction of hybrid seeds, affects things like family dependence, ethnic social security programs, or heritage practices.
The same thing applies to the establishment of national institutions that are different from the village economy. Cultural relations between people in rural areas are being disrupted.
Don’t get me wrong. these things need to be changed if you want to increase productivity in agriculture or in manufacturing. What I want to make clear is that two things, social and economic are intertwined and you will not succeed in changing one unless you simultaneously change the other as agricultural change brings about social change, so social change is a very important requirement for agricultural change. It has been said that good nutrition is important for development, and it is also evenly important, development is the key to good nutrition.
Change Must be Planned
Because of this connection between all aspects of change it is important not to stop looking at even one corner. These is very simple to do. One of the most difficult things to get from a government formed by different Ministries is to coordinate and cooperate in attacking a particular problem. Every Ministry or department seems to consider others as its opponents to satisfy or call them if it is inevitable, but in general it is to ignore them. I have seen the same behavior among different specialized UN agencies, and between them and the Technical Assistance Board. They all often set up separate offices that appear on the outside to have minimal working relationships with each other!
The relationship between all the different aspects of change also means that the full effect must be taken into account when any change is implemented. The methods used to achieve agricultural change, and the new methods that have been chosen, must all be decided on the basis of three factors.
First, what are the goals of social change? For example, we Tanganyikans would reject the creation of a rural class system even if it could be proven that this provides a significant increase in productivity. We would reject this approach to national economic development because it would affect the whole purpose of change, which is the well-being of all our people.
Second, what are the cultural perspectives of the people and how can they be changed together? So, as an expert you have to prepare an agricultural plan that requires technique, socially unacceptable to the people of the area concerned, then the plan is meaningless even if it is good on the basis of agriculture. All programs must be prepared according to the people who are directly involved and the amount of cultural change required should not be greater than they can afford.
Third, what resources are available to society as a whole? In Tanganyika it does not help much to produce a program that requires an army of skilled or trained agricultural workers because we do not have that kind of people now, and despite all our efforts we will not have it for many years to come – in fact part of the purpose of that change is now to enable us to train such people.
There is none of this, however, it should not be considered that change can be allowed to come slowly, or that the hatred of the people and those who do not like change will not hesitate to hinder progress. It is one of the truths that must be taken into account; that’s all;
This can be done in many different ways; sometimes inherited attitudes can be – the avoidance of village plans or new settlements that create separation from the past and influence the reception of new ideas and approaches. Sometimes it is necessary to do expensive projects that are economically impossible because of the education and social value they have. And it will always be important to run an adult education campaign as an integral part of economic development education – adult education that is not always done well by putting people in front of the teaching board or giving them books to read! May I say in passing that this need is our problem; it is very rare for any organization or investor — and I do not exclude Food and Agriculture Organization – to consider these immeasurable financial, but very important, the costs of adult education when considering either or assisting in a particular program.
There is one thing on top of everything else that goes hand in hand with everything I have been saying here. The systemic change I have identified can only be achieved without chaos and great social stress if it is a planned change. With each passing day we see the need for, in addition to the complexity of, the National Development Plan. It may be a plan that is simple, but it must be one that covers all aspects of the change plan, and must always be considered in its entirety.
The Importance of Aid
No plan; however, becomes successful by just the basic needs of development – people and money. Every change we make requires capital investment, even if it is just the provision of plough and working animals to replace hand hoes. Also every change requires a skilled and educated workforce for all administrative and professional work. And each of them needs to be allocated money for education, both long-term and short-term. It is an indisputable fact for developing countries that all these things are not fully realized.
When a person’s income is less than $ 100 a year it is very difficult to get ‘extra’ on current spending that can be used to invest in the future, and this is true even if the government is strict, or even if people are passionate about it. The distribution of an educated workforce is a product of past national income and past policies and social priorities, so that a small number of us less developed countries have fewer well-trained people. This means that if we are to act quickly to achieve our desired change we need to get people and money from outside our own country. It is much better if we can do these things through the international equity of redistribution of domestic taxes within a single nation, i.e. in aid that does not leave a debt burden. But if that is not possible, getting them on the basis of delays will pay off.
However, none of these ways of overcoming our short-term limitations are as simple as we think. After independence we came to realize that there is a great need for a world of capital and a skilled workforce that we need. We also quickly learned that our determination to decide for ourselves the future of our society hinders our efforts to attract capital to our countries.
Once you need foreign aid it is impossible to avoid decisions with political content made outside your own country. With any intention of theirs, no organization with limited resources can avoid these issues affecting Africa’s development path. It has been said that politics is the language of priorities; therefore the decision to support a project in one area instead of another is a political decision, and often affects both economic and social planning.
No undeveloped country complains specifically about this; it does not represent a deliberate attempt to intervene, and its effects can be avoided to some extent by the different trends of external aid and internal resources. But sometimes the type or state of aid has more ideological content, and then we have to choose whether to accept the situation or slow down our economic development. It is because we expect international organizations not to impose these types of conditions on which we prefer to get our support through them if possible.
I acknowledge, however, that these hopes are sometimes unfounded as I am concerned that the historical impact of foreign investment in the nation is not always justified, nor is our assumption that all international organizations will leave us free to form our own development institutions. The International Monetary Fund, for example, seems to set a requirement to be able to participate in their programs whereby private, especially local businesses – are made partners. In many countries this prevents them from having any value. First, we don’t want to create a class of entrepreneurs, especially when we have nothing at the moment! And second, it often requires commitment from private investors that is inconsistent with their economic incentives. All private investors have doubts and changes; their purpose is to make money, and by that logic they want to know the political and social future of the country without relying on the predictions of illusions or magic. In times of radical change this is difficult if not impossible, from this perspective both needs and ideologies make non-developing countries reluctant to get assistance under conditions that require the participation of private capital.
But in general we see that the political problems of accepting aid are greatly reduced if these go through international agencies. However this is not the popular choice to followed at any cost. Donors generally choose whether to provide their assistance by mutual agreement or otherwise; the total amount available is probably not significantly affected. To all donors and beneficiaries, the concern is the same, that the international agency approach – aid should be managed efficiently and economically to achieve the highest results. This is a factor that I think should be considered very carefully by organizations themselves if they are to fulfill their responsibilities. The relationship between administration and operating costs, the number of high paid employees at Headquarters offices, and the number of the tough jobs on the ground (field), the state of service related to the work to be performed, all of these factors must be kept under constant scrutiny at all times.
Importance of Food and Agriculture Organization
This reminder is made because in principle and practice international organizations are very important to us. Our membership is not just a matter of form, something that is ‘done’ by independent states. We feel involved in their success. This applies to all Special Organizations of which we are members. Support for all is needed to get the overall change we seek, and we are aware that their functions are intertwined. But of course it is true that, for an agricultural country like Tanganyika, the Food and Agriculture Organization is at the forefront of our fight against poverty. We want to establish an industrial sector in our economy, but we believe that a strong agricultural base is a priority as well, and the content of low-capital, agricultural development makes it a little easier for us to do this.
Let me say without hesitation that I believe that this Organization has been doing a very important work in the last eighteen years and that it has been doing so, in general, well. The integration and dissemination of research and information has brought simpler and less costly approaches on finger tips of many countries that would have not made progress without this assistance; and this international development perspective has been invaluable in implementing certain development programs. All development is the collective effort of the local people, their governments, men and funds from abroad. It is therefore impossible to gauge Food and Agriculture Organization’s role in the fact that India has increased its food production by forty-six percent within a decade, or that Greece and Mexico were about to double their grain production. Definitely it is among one of the high moral standards of international organizations that no one is expected to try and evaluate this! However I believe that the Food and Agriculture Organization contribution must have been judging by the benefits that my own country is just beginning to reap from the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Food and Agriculture Organization’s Specialists
This, however, does not mean that it is flawed! If it were so I wouldn’t have anything to say in a speech like this, so maybe it’s luck that I did. I can see areas for improvement! In doing so I intend to speak differently about two different aspects of your work in the fight against poverty; efforts to help increase agricultural production on the one hand, and efforts to create international marketing plans on the other.
From our point of view a great difficulty regarding the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization in our commitment to increased output is that the organization does not recognize and will not recognize the minimum level we have started with, for this reason from time to time there is a huge gap between the support they provide and our ability to benefit from it.
Tanganyika’s experience in this regard may not be valid for all other less developed countries, but it signifies a lack of flexibility in meeting existing needs rather than those that are thought to exist! So when we ask for professional help we are almost always given the best and most competent consultants, and the best environment to offer, the ‘partner’ who will absorb the wisdom available to us. The problem is that we do not desperately inquire to get people with special and high expertise, except in rare and special cases. What we really need are people who know their jobs and who will come and work with our people while training them, and who are willing to take on executive responsibilities under the direction and control of our governments where needed. A world-renowned professional is often a disgrace to us; we have to admit that although we have forty-six graduates in agricultural service that employs more than 1,900 people with some form of training, the majority in this 2.5 percent are not local people, and those that are we find ourselves placing them in sensitive political positions. The result is that very often we cannot provide effective counterparts at this level.
Of course there is an answer in this which Food and Agriculture Organization already knows it: training. And we have found this organization, with every mutual aid agreement program, very generous in their corporate offerings for overseas training. Unfortunately we have the same problem again. It is certainly important for our few highly educated people to expand their experience and keep pace with new developments, but they often cannot be given a break for this. Our particular need is to educate the field officer’, a person whom farmers receive advice from directly; and the best way to teach him – collectively and with ease – is in our own country, in our own language, and starting with the knowledge he already has.
Food and Agriculture Organization is Incapable of Dealing with the Marketing
It has never been my intention, however, to mean that in these matters related to increased production Food and Agriculture Organization has been doing a bad job. That will not be true. All I was trying to do was contribute to the already pool of knowledge, my few thoughts on how it can be more effective. Many other constructive criticisms will no doubt be made during the next meeting.
It is the other side of the Food and Agriculture Organization responsibilities that I really wish to challenge this organization and all member states to rethink. If the Food and Agriculture Organization wants to achieve its goals, the increase in productivity that is successful has to be translated into an increase in purchasing power for developing countries.
Food and Agriculture Organization has made significant efforts to alleviate the chaos of international primary commodity markets, and some of the achievements have been preserved. I suggest, however, that in this regard Food and Agriculture Organization failed before starting. As it is now neither the Food and Agriculture Organization, nor any other international organization, nor any of their allies, has the capacity to deal with the fundamental problem; that is, in addition to eradicating poverty in undeveloped parts of the world.
This is very difficult, and it is a very serious matter to mention. But I believe it is an inevitable conclusion to any definite inquiry into the question of global markets.
Internally it is very acceptable – and I have always explained – that the increase in production and the increase in consumption requires effective planning. Production growth alone will be minimal; Strong and reliable markets are essential. Commercial infrastructure – institutions, roads, loans, etc. – are equally important for measures aimed at raising agricultural output.
Within the political arena we are trying to meet these marketing and logistical needs; we are trying to create the hunger that exists in the best economic needs for food. We can, to some extent, do that because we control the currency and loans, because we determine the direction of food crops flow; and because we can make some sort of balance between the conflicting push of farmers for higher prices and consumers for cheaper prices.
But let us compare the situation nationally and internationally. Within our national units, we are providing security to poor farmers against rising and falling daily prices; we encourage farmers and help them organize their sales and buy in partnership with fellow farmers, so that they do not get exploited by the wealthy merchants who control the outlets. Through these systems of Marketing and Cooperative Boards, and through our deliberate control of trade and investment trends, we strive to bring products where they are needed at a price that is fair to both parties. And we do so under conditions that enable producers to plan for their future, and for the nation as a whole to plan development projects that are an important part of fighting poverty.
The Confusion of International Marketing
As long as it is able to work within one political unit this system of planning works, and works better the more effective the organization is done. It enables us to increase the prosperity of all parts of the country, bringing the poorest people together through budget planning and planning. But in the global market widespread opposite situations comes into the picture.
Even when we give the organization the responsibility to export certain products, or with more crops each of the less developed countries become less efficient in the world market as our farmers were when we left them to deal with rich business organizations individually. The poverty of our nation makes it difficult for us to store goods ready for a growing market; we sell as and where we can at any price we can get for the day – which can be quite different from a month later. So it is inevitable, at the beginning of each year we find ourselves not knowing what our full purchasing power will be for the next period. We may know – how much we will grow, but we do not know what this means in terms of our availability of the products we want to buy. Our development plans can be reduced to absurdity and market changes, either based on demand or supply, which are beyond our control and which we cannot even expect. The overall result is often chaos in our internal plans and a serious deterioration of our efforts to give our people the best benefits for the hard work they have done.
In some brands Food and Agriculture Organization has helped draft Product Agreements that have enabled unrest in the industry to be avoided – usually, however, at the expense of restricting growth in countries where growth is critical. But even so, these individual product arrangements are all uniquely made, becoming like unrelated islands of tranquility during a hurricane. They cannot affect the underlying problem, which is even bigger. These are in the nature of free, uncontrolled marketing while producers and consumers are at different levels of economic powers and technicality. The impact of the current system – or lack thereof – on the creation and distribution of new levels of efficiency demand is made clear by the statistics of the diversified growth of the national economies and by a more common view in the post-war international trade experience.
Experience of Post-War International Trade
Despite a severe famine in the world – a real shortage of nutritious food – trade conditions have continued to draw on the loss of major
commodity producers in developing countries. The uniqueness of this statement comes during a war or threat of war. Korea’s ‘Incident’ did more for the economies of developing countries than all the efforts made on their behalf for ten years! But we paid for it later when the temporary ceasefire agreement made buyers decide that they could use the stocks collected and stop buying new ones altogether. So we come to a paradox where two underdeveloped countries have different foods to sell on the world market that neither can afford to buy from each other, and where the only ‘remedy for the market’ seems to be an explosion of war that could destroy them!
At the same time, when we try to sell to developed countries we discover one of two things; either they protect their own industries from what they call ‘sweated labor products’, or they can produce cheaply than us because of the ‘investment edge of their capital.’ The fact that our work is ‘sweated’ because we cannot afford to invest – that we have nothing more than to use our own hands – is not in line with the interests of developed countries. Neither is it the fact that the only way we can stop ‘sweated labor’ is by building our economy.
Again, we see that even in agricultural products in developed countries, for domestic distribution reasons, they pay farmers the same price, and offer products on the world market at a much lower price – or even free offer. Individually, few of us can afford to reject these gifts; in fact, my own country was very pleased with them when we suffered from famine two years ago through crop failure. But the impact is likely to be disastrous in efforts to build new trade routes between poorer countries in such a way that everyone will increase his or her wealth. And the existence of these stocks under national control means that while less developed countries can supply existing markets at affordable prices, the withdrawal of savings from rich countries could at any time make the price we find completely unsustainable.
None of these are factors that can bring about mutual agreement in isolation, product by product. The whole question of global financial liquidity is concerned, along with other factors related to finding existing and growing global commodity markets. These issues can never be settled when every step must be discussed between several countries, and a single statement is always important. We all know that any discussion we enter into, a country that has reserves of a particular product, or that controls a large supply chain or demand effectively, that country must agree to the final decision to be the value needed. Such countries – and by experience are almost always rich – thus determining the outcome; they pretend to be plaintiff and judge in one case. The ‘free international market’ is inevitable, unavoidable, a fighting ring in which the weak ones get squished to the wall.
A World Plan Essential
This is not a shocking new discovery. Everywhere in the world success produces success, development attracts development, success facilitates training that provides more efficiency and so on. Almost all countries are aware of this. As it pertains to their interior affairs; they acknowledge that certain parts of the country are developing at the expense of other countries and when they decide that the integration of rich and poor areas in one nation; is socially unacceptable they deliberately take steps to fix inequalities due to ‘market freedom’. So, for example, we see; Tennessee Valley Development in the United States, the ‘Development Areas’ in the United Kingdom, and Government investment in southern Italy.
Internationally, however, theoretical rejection of the rich and powerful alliances has resulted to ‘Aid’ — voluntary gifts from the rich to the poor. For this we must try our little effort against the whole trend of global investment and world trade.
On this basis the gap between rich and poor nations cannot be widened. The effect of the ‘Aid’ we receive can be reversed – and often – by a small price change on a single raw material. This trend will undoubtedly continue until we have planned development, and planned trade, both internationally as well as nationally.
Our Own Policies Contribute to the Chaos
For a strong push against world poverty that has hopes for immediate success there is no alternative. At present, however, many under developed countries, including my own, contribute to widening the gap between rich and poor. We do so because in practice we seem to embrace the belief that the World is one, and we agree to abandon international agreements on trade theory and only a small amount of protection and revenue taxes.
Our GATT membership for example prevents our discrimination between suppliers who favor other less developed countries; Our freely convertible currency means that any impact of our development not only spreads abroad, but often spreads in the pockets of those who do not need it. And we accept ‘closed loans’ — often called ‘aid ’— which sometimes force us to buy in expensive markets and then pay interest in total. In addition, we allow in our economy the importation of any kind of luxury goods that large advertising campaigns can persuade people to buy!
There is a lot to be said by looking at every policy individually, and some of them are in any form, for a variety of reasons, inevitable. But the end result is that economically we, and other nations like us, act as if all individual nations were equal. We poor countries (in any way our potential can be sure we are now poor) apply from the rich on the one hand, and at the same time compete with them to get capital and strong skills for investment, and markets for commodities manufactured at very different technique levels. On this basis the difference between us will continue to grow further, like a puppy who is weaker among others who is always hungry.
As sensible people, in the control of our own destiny, it is clear, undeveloped nations cannot allow the current situation to continue indefinitely. Either we are moving forward with other people in the Global Economic Development Plan, or we will have to go back to a time when we will be economically isolated. At a time when the law of each individual is to be fought individually, the struggle for existence must usually end up – the fittest being the ones who survive. This may be okay if the situation is applied to wild animals; as a means of communication between human beings it cannot be tolerated. But as this law progresses it is only wise for the weak to separate at a sufficient distance between themselves and the powerful.
The decision is clear. Either we are actually one world, and the problem of poverty in some areas is solved scientifically by the measure of the world; or, otherwise, let us realize that there are two worlds, a rich world and a poor world, and this one of the poor enters into the problem of self-defense against the rule of that rich man.
The Isolation Alternative
Clearly the best way to achieve economic success for a marginalized group that is acting individually, would be equal to a solution to a global problem – one economic program. If there is no plan for one world, then let there be a plan for that part of the world whose poverty excludes the luxury of uncontrolled economic selfishness. Between the poor anywhere, there can always be business exchange – and activities of development, as long as they do not try to lay this foundation on trade exchanges that are held and accepted by the rich.
I suggest that, unless we can get a complete global plan to fight poverty, we have to create a separate global economic unit that only involves developing countries, and this unit should have its own Economic Development Plan, backed by its managed loan. Communication between this unit and others should be kept to a minimum and strictly controlled and deliberately controlled. This would allow us to build ourselves up until we could compete on the same criteria.
However, if there is lack of reality in talking about one global economic plan, then it is probably not realistic either in expecting the poor half of the world to see that the long-term benefits of each of its parts lie in their unity against the rich. But any under developer country that is poor and has the power to create control over its currency and its loan, its economic development, and its trade with the outside world, would still benefit from the step away from the rest of the world.
In any case, if even this is not possible outside the existing state of nations there is still no reason to agree with the existing limits of this jungle international law. If we have exports that no one can pay for we will have to go back so that we can exchange among ourselves. We will live and begin to prosper by helping each other. Through these methods we can see that even if we cannot buy exactly what we would like using our produce, at least it would not rot on the ground without any benefit to us or others. Even a completely free market allocated to the world’s poor only would be better for us than relying directly on the current system in which the poor are at the mercy of the rich. Unrest in an unplanned market would at least mean that the weak do not continue to fatten the powerful; the unfair advantage between the ‘very poor’ and the ‘somehow poor’ would in any way work towards reducing rather than widening the gap between the two worlds!
Isolation is the antidote to the current economic ills of the world, and I am not confused about the difficulty or discomfort of any of the reversal measures I have suggested. Both would demand strict control of imports, and domestic exports, all in bulk, by source or destination. They would all claim the level of economic activity of the state and the regulation of which we are not capable enough to do so, and which would therefore have its effects on the individual freedom of the people in our areas.
If we are motivated to make these separation decisions – any size of economic unit – the task of development will be difficult in most ways, and will certainly require more sacrifices from the current generation. Certainly the cost of getting their co-operation in the face of adversity can be a deliberate development of vicious hostility to, the world’s richest few.
But these costs can be met; for by separating ourselves we will eventually be able to succeed. Through the brutal influence of such a policy we will finally be able to overcome poverty, both targets and balance, which now is oppressing us. Continuation of the existing mix of ‘aid’, and ‘free international competition’ will never do so.
Food and Agriculture Organization as a charitable organization
Food and Agriculture Organization. These are the reasons for my earlier statement that it cannot address the fundamental problem of global poverty. The definition of increased production that turns into increased consumption is beyond its capacity. Food and Agriculture Organization is a creature of the present system, and its function can have very little effect on problems, and even such improvements can be erased at any time by ‘market forces’. Food and Agriculture Organization must either have the power to PLAN global food and agriculture, both in production and marketing, or will remain as it is now; charitable organization.
I do not want to undermine this work, because where poverty exists, charity has its place. ‘Business not Aid’ is our goal, but at the same time ‘Aid’ can be very important in helping us achieve that goal. The generosity designed to help us support ourselves is invaluable and will remain so even if there are other changes. The World Food Program, developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization, and in fact every successful professional or even the little information that the organization sends our way, is of this type. For this reason we do and will continue to support this and other specialized UN agencies. But we must realize that Food and Agriculture Organization was established for greater purposes than these; mainly ‘improving the living conditions of the rural population,’ and ‘thus contributing to the expansion of the world economy.’ These broad responsibilities in the fight against poverty cannot be fulfilled as long as this organization operates in the current global economic environment.
All this comes down to is that the Food and Agriculture Organization helps developing countries, and can do more. I have tried to convey constructive suggestions on how to make the Organization more effective where it can be more effective. But basically I say that it will not be able to fulfill its purpose until it becomes a global food and agricultural planning and policy-making body – the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the World Authority.
I know that the short answer to this proposal is that it is impossible, that such an institution cannot be found. This may be true. My argument is that we don’t even try to find it, and that if it is true, then we must take alternative measures to fight the war on poverty in the two third of the world instead.
Continuing the existing chaos in which the rich increase wealth and the poor remain poor is unacceptable for those of us who are aware of our poverty. The only alternative – the global plan is, therefore, the acceptance of economic inequality and deliberate isolation while we are building ourselves.
I don’t think there is a short and appropriate answer to that. It may be true that we need the whole world more than the world needs us even though there are some resources that the whole world wants from us. And of course our economic development will be faster and less painful if we can order capital and a skilled workforce. But this does not make sense for the challenge on the table. The real question is whether any foreign aid or investment will enable us to rebuild our economy, or whether its impact will be eradicated from the operation of the unplanned global market.
Every developing country is like a man who desires to build a fleet of ships. First he builds a canoe. For this he sweats, carrying people every trip until he gets enough profit to build a ship. With the development of the coastal trade he builds the first, and later many ships around the sea. If, however, he tries to send his rowing canoe into the sea it will sink, and he will return to where he started. If his ship does not stir away from the storm, that will also sink and he will be pushed back to the first stage of the canoe. Only when he builds his fleet of ships will he be ready to send those ships to the hurricane areas.
The economies of developing countries will not dare to venture into the stormy sea of unplanned international markets until they become like a boat sailing on the sea. They will get to that position very quickly if there is outside aid suitable for the needs of the time. But until then – regardless of whether aid is available or not – if the sea cannot be calmed by international planning, then we must avoid it and instead focus on building a strong enough economy to withstand the unpredictable risks of a ‘free market’.
Mr. Chairman, the goals of the people of the developing world can, I believe, be summarized in the words of trade union phrase: Fair pay for a fair work of the day. Our people are ready and eager to contribute to the latter; it is the duty of their representatives to protect the other goal and in doing so there is no greater sacrifice. We welcome the solidarity of those who join us in this struggle ; we thank those who contribute to our strength when we fight; but either we are alone or in unity we must move forward to achieve success.