By Patrick Bond
April 27, 2011 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal —
Bangladesh's once-legendary banking environment is now fatally polluted. The rot is spreading so fast and far that the entire global microfinance industry is threatened. Controversy ranges far beyond poisonous local politics, the factor most often cited by those despondent about Grameen Bank's worsening crisis.
Here's what I wrote about Grameen, microfinance, and Yunus back on Monday, September 04, 2006:
Microcredit has been trotted out as a compassionate and practical capitalistic approach to abject poverty. It is becoming a staple in so-called developing nations and even developed nations.
It is capitalism's last-ditch ruse to buy time. It is an evil temptation for the poorest of the poor who have been downtrodden by that very capitalism. It is the same Ponzi scheme that is all of capitalism: Depletion and fake, unsustainable, abundance.
The poor are given small loans at high interest but without any collateral requirements. They are also given equity in the micro-banks. These people are desperate. They will take the loans and will work themselves and their children to make these loans work as such within the capitalist system.
What this does is perpetuate capitalism that runs in the opposite direction from giving and sharing all freely and holding all things in common.
It is an attempted refinement of capitalism to silence and co-opt as much as possible the dissent against the capitalist spirit that runs on selfishness in the end and as its means.
Microcredit is not the gift economy. It is not the commons. It is not Christianity. It is at best a lesser of evils.
It threatens to turn many poor people into the bourgeoisie that will exacerbate the tendency to self-centeredness that is the root cause of all that ails humanity and its home planet.
One of microcredit's spokes persons, Susan Davis, chairwoman of the Grameen Foundation, said the following:
I think in this world, it's not rights deigned from on high. I think rights are only real when, in fact, people can exercise their rights.
How wrong that is. It's an atheist's position.
There is the spirit of light and there is the spirit of darkness. There is up and there is down. One becomes enlightened and ascends or selfish and descends. These are contextual words. They work both figuratively and literally. The final result does justify the means and the right end can never be reached with selfish means no matter how relatively small. This truth comes from on high.
Grameen Bank is the one that pushed the microcredit concept into the public consciousness again. The founder, Muhammad Yunus, received the Nobel Peace Prize in economics for 2006.