Skip to main content

Demystifying Alexander Nahum Sack and the doctrine of odious debt

Eric Tousaint’s study of the odious debt doctrine

by Eric Toussaint

Part 18 - Sack’s comments on several debt repudiations and abolitions

As examples of odious debts, Sack cites debts that have personally enriched government representatives, and creditors’ dishonest machinations: “We can also put into this category of debt, loans clearly incurred in the personal interest of government members or persons and groups related to government for purposes that are not related to the government.” (p. 159) Sack says immediately after this that debts of this kind were repudiated in the US in the 1830s, as we have seen. “Cf. the case of the repudiation of certain debts by several North American States. One of the main reasons justifying these repudiations was the squandering of the sums borrowed: they were usually borrowed to establish banks or build railways; but the banks failed and the railway lines were never built. These questionable operations were often the result of agreements between crooked members of the government and dishonest creditors.” (p. 159) Note that in this particular case that involved four different States, these debts were not incurred by despotic governments.

Sack gives another example “When a government incurs debt for the purpose of subjugating the population of a part of its territory or to colonise the same by its own colonists. These debts are odious for the indigenous population of that part of the territory.” (p. 159)

Sack mentions and comments on several cases. He starts by highlighting the fact that among the reasons the US repudiated the debts that Spain claimed on Cuba was that they had been used to maintain their colonial domination over the Cuban people.

Then Sack looks at two debt abolitions that were decided in application of the Versailles treaty signed on 28 June 1919. The first concerned German and Prussian debts incurred in order to colonise Poland and to install Germans on land purchased from Poles. Following the defeat of Germany an independent Poland was restored. The Versailles treaty decreed that newly freed and independent Poland should not be held liable for debt that had been used to impose its own colonisation and subjugation. Sack had reservations about this proviso; he considered that a part of the debt should not have been abolished because it was not odious: “The borrowing of the Prussian government over the thirty years of its colonial occupation was for the purpose of the general budget or, at least, was not for odious purposes. These debts cannot be considered as ‘odious’.” (p. 164)

Sack then comments on a second debt abolition in the Versailles treaty. The German empire was relieved of its African colonies and their debts were abolished. However, the colonies were not emancipated – they came under the control of the victorious powers. About this, Sack cites an extract of the reply that the Allies made to Germany, which was not inclined to accept forgiveness of the debt of its ex-colonies, because Germany would have to continue the repayments itself. The Allies replied: “The colonies should not bear any portion of the German debt, nor remain under any obligation to refund to Germany the expenses incurred by the Imperial administration of the protectorate. In fact, it would be unjust to burden the natives with expenditure which appears to have been incurred in Germany’s own interest, and that it would be no less unjust to make this responsibility rest upon the Mandatory Powers which, in so far as they may be appointed trustees by the League of Nations, will derive no benefit from such trusteeship.

Here are two more comments by Sack: “These considerations do not seem to be totally founded. Even if the spending was done in German interests it does not necessarily follow that it was odious for the colonies (...)” (p. 162). He adds: “We can question whether it is just, (...) that the colonial debt not be put to the charge of the respective colonies, seeing that much of the funds were used on productive spending in the colonies.” (p. 161).

What really highlights Sack’s conservative, Eurocentric and colonialist attitude is that he makes no reaction to the Allies’ affirmation that they gain nothing from exercising their new protectorates over Germany’s ex-colonies. What’s more, the Allies consider that expenditures for the colonies were productive. Whereas, in fact, they were used to rule over the peoples and to draw maximum profits towards the colonial powers.

Source and references:


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [19] [20]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Former Pentagon official confirms: Trump prepares for war with Iran

globinfo freexchange
Right after Trump's sudden announcement that he will withdraw the US forces from Syria, we had some mixed reactions. Some liberals reacted angrily, but most of the reactions from the liberal machine were rather moderate, or at least not as intensive as someone would normally expect.
On the other hand, Trump's supporters and all those who had enough of the pro-war neoliberal establishment, felt a kind of vindication, as it appeared that Trump would eventually keep its promise for an 'anti-interventionist' policy.
But the blog wrote immediately a 'not so fast' article to explain that most of the Americans and all those who are tired of the US endless wars, should not rush to celebrate. We estimated that Trump's move is probably a sign that he is going to re-organize troops and go after the big target called Iran.
Indeed, shortly after the move, Trump, suddenly again, announced that he will also pullout troops from Afghanistan.
And then, about…

Panicked neoliberal tools attempt to trigger a war of generations against AOC's progressive counterattack

globinfo freexchange
We were slightly surprised to see such an article title in one of the primary info tools of the global neoliberal regime and financial capital. But the subtitle immediately clarified everything.
When we read the title “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Revenge of the Millennials” of the article in Bloomberg, we thought that we might be in front of a small miracle. We thought that the time has come for some people inside the core of the establishment apparatus to admit that the younger generations have lost dramatically from this brutal system. And so, the time has come to overthrow it, take their 'revenge'.
But no, it was too good to be true.
The subtitle immediately revealed the trick: “The Democrats’ major economic initiatives tend to favor the young at the expense of the old.”
Then, inside the article we read: “Almost every major new economic initiative proposed by Democrats — the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, debt-free college — has a common feature: Un…

Confirmed: Germany builds its own imperialist empire

globinfo freexchange
Almost two years ago we identified Germany's efforts to develop its military in the context of its ambition to build its own sphere of influence.
As we wrote, Brexit will give the chance to Germany to increase influence due to the change of power balance, especially now that France appears weak - crawling behind Berlin's austerity, sado-monetarism and neoliberal destruction. These conditions (created in the Greek experiment), are necessary to Germany in order to retain a model in favor of its surpluses. These could become the solid ground upon which Germany could build a strong, modern military machine.
Therefore, Merkel knows that the economic domination is not adequate for a country to become a major power. It is also important to have a strong military presence in its “sphere of influence”, or, its financial/debt colonies, if you prefer. The German military presence in Lithuania is a first step towards this direction as the Baltic countries have already be…

The desperate efforts of the Western neoliberal establishment to build a new propaganda machine

globinfo freexchange
The UK government and other Western governments and the US in recent years have had increasing difficulties persuading enough of their populations as to the legitimacy of the foreign policies that they have been pursuing.
And at the same time, Western countries have been going through a period of political crisis and economic crisis.
Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at the University of Sheffield, further explains:
I think a lot of this drive is as much about trying to shore up shaky official narratives and trying to shore up political systems in a situation of political crisis, as it is actually about countering Russian propaganda.
I would suspect that that's a little bit of an excuse here to really what's going on of problems much closer to home.
This is not just to do to UK, this is Europe-wide. And there are also indications from the documents that they are intending to start to have some kind of impact within the United…

WikiLeaks disturbing and hopeful findings on Tulsi Gabbard's path to progressiveness

The definite detachment from the Clintonian machine
globinfo freexchange
Searching the Podesta emails inside WikiLeaks we found a rather disturbing fact about Tulsi Gabbard who recently announced that she will run for the 2020 US presidency. Iraq War Veteran, Jon Soltz, chairman at VoteVets at the time, sent an email on Aug. 2012 to Hillary Clinton top lobbyist, John Podesta, in order to thank him for his contribution to Gabbard's campaign in Hawaii.
Soltz wrote (emphasis added):
This morning, we are one step closer to making history. In Hawaii, VoteVets PAC-endorsed Iraq veteran Tulsi Gabbard has won her primary, in a stunning come-from-behind victory. If she wins in November, she along with Tammy Duckworth (who we also feel very good about), would be the first female combat veteran ever elected to Congress in United States history! This is happening because of you. Your tens of thousands of dollars in donations for Tulsi's campaign, through VoteVets PAC, allowed her to run a fir…

The difference between Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn and what the US elections won't allow you to decide

globinfo freexchange
A country that has been completely taken over by the banking mafia and the corporate power will never allow people to decide on the most important issue: the abolition of the dominant system that works against them.
Professor Richard Wolff explains:
Because of Bernie Sanders, particularly, we now have the word Socialism floating around, but typically it's about, more or less, really among Democrats. Like Mr. Sanders is ambiguously an independent but he's also a Democrat.
So, the ‘Socialists’ seemed to be the Democrats who want to do more for people. Social welfare, social supports, state supports, versus those who don't want to do quite so much - the centrist Democrats, like Clinton and Obama.
But the real question is a program of change. Socialism is a change of system it goes away from capitalism to do something else. It would be interesting if we could have an election ‘do we want that?’, ‘would we like a different system?’.
There are countries doing t…

The IMF is dismantling Argentina all over again

Part 1
In September, Argentine president Mauricio Macri accepted the 2018 Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Award. In attendance were many of world’s neoliberal power players and policy makers, among them International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Facing the crowd, Macri gleefully admitted that “with Christine, I have to confess we started a great relationship some months ago,” referring to a series of loan agreements with the IMF amounting to $57.1 billion dollars. “I expect that this is going to work very well, and we will end up with the whole country crushing on Christine,” he continued.
This dynamic of chasing an improved image with the world’s big banks and the dominant economies in the West is emblematic of Macri’s priority to secure a relationship with the IMF and improve the country’s image with global financial institutions. But it comes at a devastating cost for the majority of the population who will suffer from neoliberal policy prescriptions of…

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 11 – The Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal legacy: a bizarre form of a sinister political doctrine from which it would be difficult one to escape
But Thatcher had to fight the battle on other fronts. A noble rearguard action against neoliberal policies was mounted in many a municipality –– Sheffield, the Greater London Council (which Thatcher had to abolish in order to achieve her broader goals in the 1980s), and Liverpool (where half the local councillors had to be gaoled) formed active centres of resistance in which the ideals of a new municipal socialism (incorporating many of the new social movements in the London case) were both pursued and acted upon until they were finally crushed in the mid-1980s.
She began by savagely cutting back central government funding to the municipalities, but several of them responded simply by raising property taxes, forcing her to legislate against their right to do so. Denigrating the progressive…

Banishing Truth

by Chris Hedges
The investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, in his memoir “Reporter,” describes a moment when as a young reporter he overheard a Chicago cop admit to murdering an African-American man. The murdered man had been falsely described by police as a robbery suspect who had been shot while trying to avoid arrest. Hersh frantically called his editor to ask what to do.
The editor urged me to do nothing,” he writes. “It would be my word versus that of all the cops involved, and all would accuse me of lying. The message was clear: I did not have a story. But of course I did.” He describes himself as “full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship.
Hersh, the greatest investigative reporter of his generation, uncovered the U.S. military’s chemical weapons program, which used thousands of soldiers and volunteers, including pacifists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as unwitting human guinea pigs to measure…

All the right progressives are running for 2020 ... but they need a really smart strategy to have a chance against the neoliberal beast

globinfo freexchange
More than a year ago we wrote that the 2016 electoral process in the US was particularly useful because it highlighted many interesting unprecedented aspects. One of them, is that you don't need the mainstream media to promote you. Especially the young Americans discovered and promoted Bernie Sanders through the independent and social media on the Internet. Another aspect, is that you don't need big money to support you. These new conditions could be proven valuable towards the creation of a third political movement, coming straight from the people, which could seriously challenge the current corrupted political establishment.
We also wrote that we can think at least four progressives that should join forces to lead such a political movement right now: Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren.
Three of them already revealed their intention to run for the 2020 US presidency. Assuming that the Greens won't change leadership, Jill Stein wi…