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At first glance, the central premise of Rick Rowden’s book – that a neoliberal IMF has perpetrated a quiet genocide – may appear a bit over the top. We all know neoliberal economic policies favour the rich but surely it’s stretching things to slap a mass murder charge on the organisation?
Yet Rowden succeeds impressively in carefully guiding the reader to the point of agreeing (if you didn’t already) with the judgement of S N Muchiri, Kenya’s chief economist in the Ministry of Health, on IMF-dictated spending cuts: ‘The only difference from what happened in Rwanda is that here they don’t use pangas [machetes], they use policies.’
Rowden starts with an erudite and concise summary of the AIDS pandemic and key current health debates, all of which are now ‘hitting the wall’ of insufficient public health finance as a result of neoliberal economic policy. He then leads you through a very accessible tour of development economics from the 1940s to the Reagan and Thatcher-initiated neoliberalism of the 1980s. This is followed with a detailed, but essential, explanation of how each promise of neoliberal policy reform was ‘debunked by the actual outcomes … a significantly lower rate of progress on social indicators for the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries.’
The final third of the book draws the first two parts together to explain how the neoliberal paradigm drew the emphasis away from the community-level primary healthcare focus of the 1970s towards privatisation and a massive and devastating under-resourcing of public health, contributed to and maintained by IMF policy. In the past ten years, there has finally been a consensus on the need for a dramatic scale up of funding for health and a renewed focus on primary healthcare. However, even the inspiring AIDS activists who secured treatment for half of those in need have hit a wall of neoliberal and IMF policy. It is a wall that must be climbed in order to realise universal access to HIV and health services.
This book is a welcome and timely rallying call, especially to health activists and development NGOs, to confront and challenge the IMF and question ‘its specific definition of macro-economic stability’.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns