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Jean Ziegler: "This World Order is not just murderous, it is absurd"

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Crossposted from Axis of Logic

INTRODUCTION about Jean Ziegler (by Siv O'Neall)

Jean Ziegler is a senior professor of sociology at the University of Geneva and the Sorbonne, Paris. He is one of the leading protagonists in the world for the anti-globalization movement and has taken a continued stand for human rights, the right to food and a decent livelihood for all people. In 2000, he was appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.   He kept this position until March 2008 in spite of much hard criticism from the neoliberal leaders of the U.S. and the UN for his categorical stand for equal rights for all people. His continued fight against poverty, hunger and chronic malnutrition in the world has been a constant embarrassment to the West. He is now the Swiss member of the UN Human Rights Council. His is one of the very few voices heard on the international scene speaking out loudly against the criminal financial system that has put the world in its present tailspin with hunger and lack of human rights, devastating a continually increasing mass of the world's 6.6 billion population. Unfortunately he is not very well known in the Anglophone world, where, for obvious political reasons, his humanitarian message is hushed up.   He says in "Empire of Shame": "One thing is certain: world agriculture, in the current state of productivity, could feed twice the number of today’s global population. So it is not a matter of fate: hunger is man made." "Empire of Shame - A Conversation with Jean Ziegler"   He has written several books on the lack of justice in the world, condemning the vicious global power system that allows close to a billion people to be the chronic victims of hunger and permanent malnutrition and denouncing crimes committed in the name of global finance and capitalism.

See: Hunger in the Midst of Plenty, By Girish Mishra.

  In an interview with Daniel Mermet on French radio (Là-bas si j'y suis) on May 4, 2008, Mermet says: "According to Jean Ziegler there are today 854 million permanently undernourished people in the world." See: Insurrection of the Famished – Causes and Possible Remedies of the World Hunger Crisis   In his call for a moratorium on biofuel Ziegler says  "Nearly 900 million people worldwide suffer hunger"- UN rapporteur calls for biofuel moratorium) See Food or Fuel? – on "The myths of the transition towards biofuels" (Le Monde Diplomatique, June, 2007) Also see: UN rapporteur calls for biofuel moratorium
In the following interview (below) Jean Ziegler says that "923 million people [in the world], more than one in six, are permanently severely malnourished."  

Jean Ziegler has also forcefully condemned Israel for violations of the Palestinians' right to food. “Behind the headlines of military conflict and escalating violence, there is a continuing physical, social and psychological destruction of a whole and very ancient society,” said Ziegler.

New UN report condemns Israeli violations of the right to food

He has also criticized Israel's conduct in the 2006 Lebanon War. (05/10/2006)

UN envoy tells international court to probe Israel for war crimes  (By The Associated Press )


Interview with Jean Ziegler by Cathy Ceïbe

Fighting against the imbalance in the world, in the 'Hatred of the West'[1], Jean Ziegler calls for a new social contract based on global solidarity and dialogue between the South and the West.

Former UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler is now a member of the advisory committee of the board of Human Rights of the United Nations. His latest book, 'Hatred of the West' (Albin Michel), is a merciless indictment against "globalized capitalism and the cannibalized order it imposes on the planet."

The debate is heating up about the nature of the crisis. Some consider that rather than a crisis of the financial system which should be corrected, we are facing a multidimensional crisis, and there are those who even call it a crisis of civilization. Do you share this view?

Jean Ziegler. Yes. This is the unmasking of the capitalism of the jungle. There is, on the one hand, the suffering of American workers: 25 million families evicted from their homes since March, plus 10 000 tenants evicted every day since September. Thousands of pension funds are gone up in smoke. In France, unemployment is rising rapidly. Social budgets will be reduced. We must consider the scale of the unacceptable disasters that will follow. At the same time, we are witnessing an extraordinary fact: the mask of neoliberalism has come off. Theories that legitimize the present state of capitalism have fallen apart, namely the self-regulation of the market, the liberalization (deregulation) of all capital movements, goods and services, the privatization of all public sectors, the claim that economic laws are laws of nature, the defamation of the nation state and its regularizing powers. This ultra-liberalism, which reduced workers to impotence, has been caught in a trap. The real actors of the "invisible hand" appeared to be leading and we were told that there was nothing we could do against their power: the predators, the speculators, the oligarchs of the financial market whose only motivation is greed, cynicism and an obsessive taste for power. This unmasking paves the way for awareness about the true nature of global capitalism and the cannibal order it imposes on the planet.

In your opinion, has anyone measured the scale of the impact of this crisis on the South?

Jean Ziegler. "When the rich lose weight, the poor die," says a proverb. World hunger is increasing at a breathtaking rate. Every five seconds a child under ten dies of hunger in the world and 100 000 people die every day from hunger or its immediate after-effects. 923 million people, more than one in six, are permanently severely malnourished. The daily massacre of hunger is increasing. At the same time, President Nicolas Sarkozy has massively reduced public aid to development. In Africa, projects are suspended. The United Nations has identified eight priority tragedies to be eliminated. These are the objectives of this millenary that are to be achieved by 2015: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring all school-age children a basic education, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of  women; reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating AIDS, malaria and other epidemics; ensuring the protection of the environment, establishing a global pact for development. The cost of these objectives has been set at 82 billion dollars annually over five years. Since 2000, the West said there was no money. However, on October 12, at the Élysée Palace[2], in three and a half hours, the 27 EU countries released €1 700 billion for credit to be used between banks and to raise the floor of pure capital for the banks from 3 % to 5%. 1% of these €1 700 billion would suffice to eliminate the eight tragedies afflicting the Third World countries. This world order is not only mortal, it is absurd.

The G20 summit in Washington claims to develop responses to this global crisis [3]. As we know, the South will be the major absentees. Does this exclusion not increase the "rational hatred" by the South against the West that you mention in your latest book?

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Siv O'Neall was born and raised in Sweden where she graduated from Lund University. She has lived in Paris, France and New Rochelle, N.Y. and traveled extensively throughout the U.S, Europe, and other continents, including several trips to (more...)

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