The approaching G8 summit in Scotland has led the World Council of Churches to renew its call for a debt-free world. That is, debt-free if you are one of those developing nations that have been victimized by “increasingly unconscionable levels of inequity,” according to Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary. There is nothing in Rev. Kobia’s letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that is new — the WCC has been lobbying for debt cancellation for years. And it is tempting to simply dismiss Rev. Kobia’s sentiments, if it weren’t for the fact that undoubtedly a great many clergy and faithful in the WCC’s constituent churches take his analysis seriously. Here’s a sample of Rev. Kobia’s economic thinking:
The WCC, therefore, urges the G8 to rethink the logic of corporate globalization, which we believe has only sharpened the gap between the rich and the poor and has led to a destruction of the environment. The grinding poverty experienced by millions in our world today is derived from economic models of excessive competition motivated by profits. The WCC cautions that if no drastic changes are made in the present paradigms of economic growth, there will only be an aggravation of poverty leading to insecurity, violence and unnecessary deaths.
He’s also calling for a debt cancellation that comes “without externally imposed conditions on impoverished nations.” Not one word about corruption or waste among the kleptocrats.
When the G8 ministers meet in July, they would be far better off with the much more thoughtful analysis of global economics offered by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a speech given in Sarajevo earlier this month. Rowan Williams would never find himself on the cover of Fortune magazine, but he is willing to view the poor — and developing nations — as something more than a class of individual and corporate victims. Get past the archbishop’s introductory and perfunctory slams at “multinational” corporations pulling the strings on the global economy, and you come across this:
Religious believers will be found among those who are sceptical of appeals to the market as the primary agent of benevolent change; but they should also be found among those who seek to encourage the kind of enterprise that creates wealth in the form of employment, which represents increased levels of control and capacity in a social environment. Perhaps one of the most distinctive contributions that can be made by religious communities is the active encouragement of local credit schemes. Whether in the shape of the Anglican ‘Five Talents’ initiative in Africa, or the Grameen banks of Muhammad Yunus in South Asia, there is a way of furthering economic maturity that belongs most obviously with religious conviction simply because it assumes that a dependable local community, bound by trust and common commitment, is an ideal unit in which economic empowerment can take place.
And, yes, there is a mention of “endemic corruption” which paralyzes economic life.