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Notes from the editors.

There are two ways of looking at the Mexican financial crisis that erupted in the final days of 1994 and is still making waves as we write (mid-January). One has to do with the situation in Mexico itself, the other with what may be called its exemplary character. Let us consider the latter first.

The term exemplary is usually applied to something that is positive and worthy of emulation. But an example can just as well be something that is negative and, if possible, to be avoided. In both cases, to qualify as exemplary it must be reasonably representative of the class of phenomena to which it belongs.

No one thinks the Mexican crash is something to be emulated, but hardly anyone who is knowledgeable about today's global financial situation is in any doubt about its representative character. A few citations from recent press reports should be enough to establish the point. "Mexico," says Business Week (January 16), "is hardly the only country whose currency has become vulnerable to attack. In fact many economists think 1995 could see debt and currency crises that will make the 1992 European Monetary System blowup look tame by comparison. It's just the latest sign that as global investors become increasingly able to switch from economy to economy at the tap of a computer key, some countries may find themselves getting a drubbing they never anticipated." At the bottom of the page is a listing of "trouble spots in the currency market" which includes (in addition to Mexico) Argentina, Canada, Italy, France, and Spain. Others could of course be added. In its following issue (January 23), Business Week quotes George Soros, the legendary Hungarian financier who was reported to be the biggest winner in the 1992 currency debacle: "I'm concerned about the crash in Mexico and Latin America. That, I think, can have very severe repercussions throughout the world." Finally, President Clinton speaking at a news conference: "Solving Mexico's current troubles is important for the rest of Latin America and developing countries throughout the world. So we have to work on the confidence and on the liquidity crisis, and I think it's in our own interest to do so." (New York Times, January 12)

What does Clinton mean by "solving Mexico's troubles"? Does he mean helping Mexico to restructure its economy so that it can live within its means and escape from its perennial and increasing dependence on injections of foreign capital? No way. He means putting together a package of new loans and guarantees that will calm things down and enable Mexico to resume doing business as usual--at a reduced standard of living, the reduction of course to be absorbed by the masses, not by an obscenely wealthy ruling class that already has most of its assets safely stashed away in New York or Zurich. With luck that should solve the problem, the way capitalism always solves problems, i.e., by postponing them. As Marx once said, "Apres moi le deluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and every capitalist nation." (Capital, Vol. 1, ch. 10, sect. 5). The United States and Mexico are no exceptions.

The Zapatista uprising in Chiapas on January 1, 1994, suggests the only real solution to the current Mexican crisis. Despite all the hype emanating from Mexico City and enthusiastically swallowed by the U.S. media about the miraculous post-modern Mexican model ("a new First World country in the making") Chiapas tapped out a very different message and, against all odds, got it through to the whole world: underneath a glittering surface Mexico is a sinkhole of corruption and oppression.

We sadly report the death on December 11, 1994, of Carl Marzani, a close personal friend as well as a contributor to and supporter of Monthly Review. It is significant that in the report of his death in the New York Times, the Marzani family asked that in place of flowers, contributions should be sent to MR in Carl's memory. An article on his life and work will appear in the next issue.

We would like to remind teachers--both in college and elsewhere--that copies of the special November issue of MR, dealing with the work of Harry Braverman, are still available and may be ordered at bulk-discount rates (see ad on page 47). The same rates also apply to other back issues of MRwhile they last.

Particularly valuable for classes or study groups are the two MR pamphlets listed in the ad. Harry Magdoff's Globalization: To What End? provides a concise explanation of the background to current controversies over such issues as economic growth ,job dislocation, privatization, and free-trade agreements. John Bellamy Foster's The Limits of Environmentalism Without Class places the political struggles between environmentalists and growth-advocates in the Pacific Northwest in the wider context of a system that routinely falsifies the real choices imposed by the needs of nature and of people. Both works are written in an accessible style that is ideal for students.

We are now finalizing arrangements for a Monthly Review Tour to Vietnam, with an optional four-day trip to Angkor Wat via Phnom Penh. The trip will leave November 29 and return on December 12. If you are interested, write to Monthly Review--Vietnam Winter Tour, 122 West 27th St., New York, NY 10001.

Readers in the New York area should be interested to know that Leo Panitch, editor of the Socialist Register, will be giving a lecture at the Marxist School on Friday, February 17, and a seminar on Saturday, February 18. He will discuss efforts by social movements to mobilize against the logic of competitiveness and profit on the national and municipal levels. Those
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Title Annotation:Mexico's economic crisis; includes information on Carl Marzani's death and other topics
Publication:Monthly Review
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Feb 1, 1995
Words:941
Previous Article:Churchill.
Next Article:Global ecology and the common good.
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