Fashion fix won't mend failed states

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Vogue Australia, November 2008In a survey of fashion magazines' tips for hard financial times, Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman found one writer suggesting a pair of $350 designer gloves as 'a smart way to get your fashion fix'. Another proposed that 'blowing the budget ... on something outrageously extravagant will let you know you're still alive'.

Freeman concludes that few can afford to buy the items featured in such magazines, and that is the point. Their real purpose is fantasy.

It's well known that the fantasy sector of the economy — which includes the film industry — usually thrives during periods of recession. The recession itself was indeed caused by assumptions about credit and the economy that amounted to fantasy.

Fantasy is known to fulfill an important psychological need during challenging times. But it does not replace the practical and moral requirement to act decisively to deal with the economic situation that is closing in on us.

We cannot deny or escape the human cost of the recession. This applies particularly to those who live in the developing world. In the understated words of United Nations Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto, 'things cannot go on as before'.

D'Escoto was speaking ahead of the United Nations Financing for Development Conference, which began in Doha on Saturday and continues until tomorrow. The event focuses on the need to strengthen financing for development in poor countries during a time of global economic turmoil. It is assessing how developed countries have honoured commitments made in the Monterrey Consensus, at a similar conference in 2002.

D'Escoto is critical of developed countries, who now feel the need to scale back their commitment to the developing world. He also points out that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are absent from the Doha meeting because they are controlled by the USA, which is 'anti-United Nations' and avoids international cooperation initiatives it does not control.

There are strong moral reasons for acting to ease the pain of developed nations, for the global economic slowdown hits them hardest. There is less demand for their exports, and prices of raw materials are falling.

D'Escoto maintains that the developed countries' inability to keep even their existing commitments is part of the 'insane selfishness' of modern times. He consequently appeals to the 'enlightened self-interest for developed nations to deal with the time bomb of massive poverty'.

This is related to the growing number of weak or failed states, and the ungoverned areas which they allow to develop, that could become launching pads for acts of terror and transnational crime, with direct impact on developed countries.

However we analyse the acts of terror that occurred in Mumbai last week, there's a good chance that the poverty existing in developing nations had at least something to do with them. There is no room for complacency.


Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.

 

 

 

Topic tags: michael mullins, fashion magazine, global financial crisis, d'escoto, hadley freeman

 

 

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Existing comments

You can not equate terrorism with poverty.The 9/11 bombers were not poor and underprivliged. Neither is Bin Laden. But wealthy terrorists can play on the poverty of others in poor societies.
Paddy Dwyer | 01 December 2008


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