Sunday, May 21, 2006

Return of Resource Populism

We are living an early stage of an epochal change: return of resource populism (the idea of using the proceeds of natural resources for the needs of people and national economy, rather than for the profits of multinational corporations and their investors), after the exhaustion of neoliberal hegemony. It is significant that the leaders of the nations that have made a clear turn to resource populism -- Hugo Chavez (b. 28 July 1954), Evo Morales (b. 26 October 1959), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (b. 28 October 1956), and Vladimir Putin (b. 7 October 1952) -- are about the same age. They are also all from relatively humble class backgrounds. They all were young men during the 1970s, so they must all vividly remember what the control of strategic natural resources -- mainly fossil fuels -- can do. In addition, Chavez and Ahmadinejad have clear ambitions to remake not only their respective nations but regions as well.

Of the four, Ahmadinejad is the only one who actually participated in a victorious political revolution in the 1970s. Some call his presidency the second Islamic revolution. Rare are men on whom fortune smiles twice: participate in the making of a revolution as a youth and then take the helm of the state later, this time to initiate social revolution at home and abroad.

The missing link is Africa, where a leader comparable to the four standard bearers of resource populism has yet to rise.

3 comments:

md said...

I suspect that "an early stage of an epochal change" is only likely to be visible with hindsight.
But I of course share your wishful thinking. Why is there no resource populism in Africa. Do you see any prospects for it?

Otum said...

Over the last 30 years, the processes you describe as the "death of a nation" above have been carried to completion in much of Africa, leaving shattered societies with little or no scope for "resource populism".

Perhaps this destruction is an outcome that sort of makes sense from the point of view of neoliberalism and imperialism. After all societies like the Congo and Iraq are unlikely to be able to exercise sovereignity over their natural resources for a long time to come, if ever, thus eliminating the problem of these resources being used for purposes that might conflict with those of imperialism.

Mitchell said...

From a peak oil site: '[Putin wrote] a dissertation titled “Toward a Russian Transnational Energy Company.” His thesis: Russia should use its vast energy reserves for geostrategic advantage.'