Review of 'Arguments against G8', editors Gill Hubbard and David Miller, Pluto £11.99
Five years ago thousands of protesters formed a human chain around Edinburgh Castle in support of the Jubilee 2000 campaign. This July, even if you take the most conservative estimate, 100,000 will ring the whole of the centre of Edinburgh. Four days later, and 50 miles to the north, the G8 rulers of the world arrive at Gleneagles. Poverty and debt are greater than they were five years ago but the movement for global justice has grown too and the arguments and the debates have grown sharper.
Gill Hubbard and David Miller, who have been at the centre of organising the G8 Alternatives network in Scotland, are the editors of Arguments against G8. The book is written as an intervention in the debate around the G8 and brings together 15 contributions from diverse perspectives. In their introduction Hubbard and Miller make it crystal clear that the issues of poverty, debt, trade and climate change cannot be separated from war and imperialism, and the growth of corporate globalisation.
The book is structured in two sections with the first on 'Concentrated Power' framing the discussion of specific issues in part two. In section one Noam Chomsky contributes a potent chapter on globalisation and war and concludes with an assessment of the gravity of what's at stake and the growing strength of the movement of resistance. Other contributors to this section include Lindsey German on the global anti-war movement and Mark Curtis on 'Britain, the G8 and the Poor'. Curtis demolishes Blair and Brown's claims to be working towards ending debt and poverty in Africa and shows how, on the contrary, the aid and development budgets are overt tools for shaping the world in the interests of the big corporations.
In section two the issues around the G8 are tackled by an impressive and varied list of authors. Salma Yaqoob contributes a brilliant chapter on the war on terror, racism, asylum and immigration and shows how the freedom that the G8 proclaims is only for the rich and powerful. Bob Crow writes on privatisation, Tommy Sheridan on poverty, George Monbiot on climate change, and there are also chapters on debt, Aids, corporate power, food and trade. Haidi Giuliani makes the links between the Gleneagles G8 and Genoa and makes a passionate appeal for the unity of the anti-capitalist and anti-war movements.
The concluding chapter of the book is a call to action: Hubbard and Miller argue that, 'as the polar ice caps melt, Iraq burns and millions live in hunger and poverty, the time for us to raise our voices ever louder is upon us.' But the call is also a challenge to those who believe that the leaders of the G8 can be persuaded to change by strength of argument and appeals to common humanity. The leaderships of many of the big NGOs are organising Make Poverty History to this end, but those who march in Scotland in July have the Jubilee, Seattle, Genoa and the mass anti-war movements behind them. As David Miller suggested at a meeting to launch the book in Edinburgh, 'People are learning that the truth is the opposite of what the G8 leaders say' and that this is as true of debt and poverty as it is of war. Arguments against G8 is a really useful contribution to tearing away the mask of deceit from the faces of the leaders of the G8.