Debt a longer view.

'INSANITY is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,' is a saying intended to suggest that such behaviour is stupid. Is that interpretation correct in the context of our debt crisis?

Pakistan is in an IMF programme for the umpteenth time. Neither the remedy nor the outcomes have ever varied. Instead, the situation has progressively deteriorated to the point where the country is staring into the abyss. How does one explain this endless repetition in the framework of stupidity?

It would be hard to argue that highly qualified IMF staffers are stupid. Those on our side are remarkably adept at advancing their own interests; their cleverness is the envy of many. So, what gives? Could it be there is a method to the madness and only the public is stupid enough to swallow the same story repeatedly, missing the forest for the trees?

Debt has an old history and we would gain by reading David Graeber's 2011 classic Debt: The First 5,000 Years whose major argument connects the enforcement of debt with state-sponsored violence. For our purposes, we need only go back 100 years to recall when India was a colony, ruled to enrich Britain not the Indian masses.

Former colonies have been kept economically captive, serving the same purpose in the global economy as they did before decolonisation.

Who would argue that after decolonisation the former colonists had a change of heart and became devoted to the welfare of their erstwhile subjects? The evidence is quite the contrary - neocolonialism emerged as the continuation of colonialism by other means.

Consider the evidence. First, the placing of ruthless strongmen like Somoza and Stroessner ('our bastards' according to one US president) wherever the interests of powerful states were at stake, reducing many nominally sovereign countries to 'banana' republics. Second, the removal, often by assassination, of leaders who threatened to prioritise national over foreign interests, eg Mossadegh, Allende, Lumumba. Third, by resorting to regime change when all else failed, eg Noriega and Saddam Hussein.

These extreme examples leave little doubt that the objective in every case was to ensure that former colonies - now politically liberated - remained economically captive, continuing to serve the same purpose in the global economy as they did before decolonisation. It was to make these countries safe for capital that needed profitable outlets and to serve as outposts of the imperial system on the...

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