Sunday, July 13, 2008

OIL PRICES SHOULD GO DOWN, NOT UP!

(In The Long Run!)

By: Kassim Ahmad

21 June, 2008

The recent price rise of 40 percent in petroleum has come as a great shock to Malaysians. This is because of its rapidity as well as quantum.

What is the reason? Can it be stopped? Discussions in the media, even by experts, do not help us much to get to the bottom of this problem of rapid price rise of petroleum. Some blame it on the global market, and dismally recommend us to live with it! Some hint at speculation in the global petroleum market without providing us ways of solving it.

It looks as if those of us low-income, and even middle-income, earners are doomed to die in a hyperinflationary world, coupled with a world becoming seriously short of food. At this time of great crisis, we must surely invoke the mercy of the Lord!

One thing is clear. There is no lack of supply of the oil in the global marker. The spiraling price rise is due to usury in the present international financial system. Usury is allowed in Western neo-liberal economics, but it is strictly prohibited in truly Islamic economics.

“Those who charge usury are in the same position as those controlled by the devil’s influence. This is because they claim that usury is the same as commerce. God however, permits commerce and prohibits usury. Thus, whoever heeds this commandment from his Lord and refrains from usury, he may keep his past earnings, and his judgment rests with God. As for those who persist in usury, they incur Hell, wherein they abide forever. God condemns usury and blesses charities. ” (Quran, 2: 275-76)

I have qualified the above sentence by the words “truly Islamic”. This is to distinguish from what is now officially peddled as “Islamic banking”, because this system hides its equally usurious character behind various nice-sounding terminologies. Also we have been bombarded with the “sins” of subsidies. As the saying of greedy people goes, “There is no such this as a free lunch.” If we believe in the honorable position of every human being, as a creature created in the image of God, as we should, the society must take care of everyone us, the strong the weak. The Hobbesian society of “each against all” is not a human society. The word is not “subsidy”, but an obligation that society owes to its weaker members, who have a right to it.

The present international financial system controlled by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, from New York and London, is simply riddled with usury. It takes many forms, from the old burden on borrowing and unequal terms of trade, the murderous IMF “conditionalities” to the various newfangled financial tools, as hedge-funds, futures market, and such like that the laymen cannot understand. This international financial system, known as the Bretton Woods system created in July, 1944 and tied to the U.N. system, sorely needs reform, as the U.N. system itself sorely needs reform. The system worked well until 1971 when then U.S. President Nixon destroyed it and changed the fixed-exchange rate system to a free-floating one. Why the 125 nations of the world, comprising the U.N., have not brought about the necessary changes to this life-killing financial system is due to international geopolitics.

In February, 1996, the independent and internationally-known American economist, Lyndon H. LaRouche, published a proposal for a “New Bretton Woods” international monetary conference on the model envisioned by F.D. Roosevelt before his untimely death in 1945. This new system would eliminate colonial empires; create a new fixed-exchange rate monetary system based on gold; facilitate foreign exchange and long-term low-interest trade credits; and industrialize the Third World. It would also put into effect La Rouche’s 1991 Eurasian land-bridge plan – the “New Silk Road” – using large-scale, high-speed rail and associated “development corridor” projects as a “science driver”, thus helping to stimulate exports for the U.S. and other industrial nations. This would get the world out of the current depression.

However, the resources of the IMF were fully deployed to counter the international discussions of LaRouche’s policy through diversionary discussions of “Back to Bretton Woods” but only making minor reforms of the IMF dictatorship of the international monetary system. Our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir, mooted with Japan the idea of Asian Monetary Fund in 1998. This was immediately crushed by Washington.

With this system in full onrushing collapse at the present moment, the powers of the world, especially Russia, China, India and others including the U.S. and Europe, have no other choice but to undertake the changes that LaRouche had proposed. The alternative would be a descent into a new Dark Age.

This collapse has come at a time when another greater crisis has emerged – the food crisis. This crisis immediately threatens the lives of two billion people worldwide. The root cause of this crisis is none other than the so-called free-market system. This system which has looted the world to this extent has to go. We must care for the lives of humans more than the sacrosanctity of the devilish free-market (read flee-market).

As for Malaysia, we should eliminate wasteful expenses, corruption, cheating and usury in our own financial and monetary system, while at the same time work vigorously with other nations to reform the international financial and monetary system along the lines proposed by Mr. LaRouche. This would enable us to do far more for our people, including elimination of poverty, achieving self-sufficiency in food-production, and drastically bringing down the present increasingly-worrying crime-rates.

We should also be more vigorous, working with other nations in persuading the U.S. and its ally Israel to give up their warlike policy against Iran, which is nothing but a diversion from the inevitable sinking of the Anglo-American Titanic.

We would not like to conclude this essay without making the observation that, in the long run, prices should not go up, but should rather go down. This is because, against the belief of the Multhusians, population increase does not mean less food; it means increase of food, as a human being is not only a consumer, but also a producer. As we have seen, under conditions of scientific and technological progress, production of goods and services increases tremendously. As Mr. LaRouche has also said, with the present state of scientific and technological advancement, the world can support four times the present six billion population of the world. If we allow the neo-Malthusians in New York and London run the world, they would rather kill five billion people through wars and famines than change!

Kassim Ahmad is a Malaysia free-lance writer. He can be contected at kassim03@stremyx.com His web site is www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com

1 comment:

Ashraf said...

Pak Kassim,

I support Anwar Ibrahim for 50sen price decrease.