Publications / Essay

The World Monetary System

The following essay is a reaction to  the article “U.N. Special Session: A New Commodities Deal” published in Action for Development (September 1975 No. 18).

Some Thoughts

If, in the coming debacle of the world monetary system, the words of Pierre Parodi advocating nonviolence could be indelibly etched in the minds of every worker in the underdeveloped world, there would be great hope for finding the necessary nonviolent solutions to feeding, clothing, and housing the people in the Third World.

It is very important now, before the debacle imminently approaching, as the daily papers foretell, that his words should be heard here and abroad. Everywhere men of good will are working and struggling to right the balance of justice between the underdeveloped and the developed worlds. It is important now, because we must be prepared for the opportunity that the breakdown of this monetary system will afford us. It is, in fact, this monetary system that presents the greatest obstacle to accomplishing of what Parodi calls the “use of simple means” to produce far-reaching results.

For as long as we in the so-called developed world, and those in the underdeveloped world, continue our illusions that money (the World Bank) is the solution to the problems in the Third World, no solutions are possible. We have been chasing this illusion for many years, and the results are apparent. The difference between rich and poor, the well-fed and hungry, has only been increasing, with the exception of China. All that our “aid” has done is produce a few more wealthy people in Third World countries, and increase the poverty of the rest.

This is the essential violence—this injustice—and will, of course, lead to increasing physical violence, as it has already done on a massive scale in Vietnam. But Vietnam has revealed to Americans, as well as to the people of the world, the futility of using even the most sophisticated violence to try to impose an unjust rule. The revulsion that has taken place, and will continue, in the aftermath of the U.S. role in Vietnam will make it increasingly difficult for the powerful nations to impose their will on the Third World in the future. Moreover, the breakdown of the monetary structure will make such “solutions” virtually impossible in the future, since the power of the dollar has been equally important as the power of the gun.

The opportunity, then, is at hand for nonviolent means to work in the Third World. Nonviolent volunteers of all kinds, whether in voluntary agencies of the underdeveloped world (such as the Sarva Seva Sangh in India), or from the developed world, should go forth armed with knowledge and the simple prescriptions outlined in these essays. Aside from imagination and resourcefulness, and knowledge of where to find specific technical information when needed (such as VITA and Intermediate Technology in England), very little else is necessary for volunteers to spread nonviolent change.


Publication By

Robert Swann

Robert (Bob) Swann was the founder of the E. F. Schumacher Society, now the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. In 1974 E. F. Schumacher asked Robert Swann to start a sister organization to his own Intermediate Technology Development Group, but it was not until 1980, when prompted by Resurgence editor Satish Kumar, that Swann organized the E. F. … Continued

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