Monday, 12 October 2009

The European sense of guilt

I have read today an article in a Polish newspaper under a significant title 'Waiting for the Barbarians'. The author talks about a recent book of Christopher Caldwell „Reflections on the Revolution in Europe". And a very interesting notion is about the Europe whose main reason of political action is the sense of guilt. Guilt for Holocaust (Jews), colonialism (Third World), discrimination (women, homosexuals). And this is right you would say. But actually when guilt is the source of our actions they not always leading to good results.
Many time I struggle to understand why we continue huge packages of development aid know that a big chunk of it finishes in the coffers of corrupt politicians. There are cases when development money turned an apparently functioning state (Ghana) into one driven by corruption. Only in 2000 we managed to come with a kind of benchmark - Millenium Developement Goals. So what were we doing before? Pumping money to keep dependence and pursue our political objectives? Probably partly so. But there is one issue which gets lost from this picture. The whole development sector, the insiders who profit so much from this neocolonial lifestyle and their priviliged roles in the African societies.
Of course there are plenty of people who come to development for ideological reasons and there really exist a lot of good projects. But my deep belief is that it can only function where there is face to face relation. I think that there are only few politicians who can sustain the pressure of easy money.
So what do I propose? I think that the EU should stop to be the biggest development donor in the world. We should rather provide European citizenship with tax deduction for all the money they give for charity. Let them finance projects that they deem beneficial. And we can use all the officials in DG DEV and AIDCO to better control Member States who want to pursue adverse economic policies against the developing countries. Maybe AIDCO should move in the direction of DG Competition... but this time we would talk about world unfair competition. Maybe this would be a better investment than in all the anti-immigration measures, border controlls etc. Policy coherence for development - this is what we try but rarely succeed. The name of the game is global governance.

Coming back to the sense of guilt - maybe it is time to admit that this feeling does not lead us far. A feeling of responsibility towards the future should become the guiding one.