By Matthew Rothschild on May 16, 2011

I don’t like using the word rape as a metaphor, but the charge against the head of the International Monetary Fund is almost a perfect metaphor for the IMF’s role in the world.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused of attempted rape against an African maid in a luxury hotel in New York City.

And while the truth of this allegation remains for the legal system to sort out, screwing helpless people over in the Third World (and Eastern Europe: see Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”) is what the IMF is all about.

For decades now, the International Monetary Fund — this instrument of the U.S. Treasury and global capitalism — has required developing countries that are in financial trouble to devalue their currency, slash employment in the public sector, and slash government subsidies for such essentials as food and fuel.

If the countries refuse to follow this advice, they don’t get the IMF’s bailout money and their economies continue to go down the drain.

This is coercion of the worst sort.

It results in drastic cuts in the living standards of millions of people literally overnight. It leads to mass unemployment— and often to food riots.

And while the IMF twists the arms of these developing countries, it also demands that they open up their economies to multinational corporations and banks, which imperils their sovereignty.

The IMF abuses power to get its way.

And that’s what the IMF’s chief is accused of doing, too.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Baldwin Likely to Run for Kohl’s Seat."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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