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A short history of the G8...

von playful | 19.06.2005 21:36 | G8 Japan 2008 | G8 2005 | Analysis | London | World

A short history of the G8...

A short history of the G8...

G8 stands for group of eight nations. It is an exclusive grouping of the political leaders of eight specific countries. It is not an institution, it has no constitution or charter, and it has no permanent secretariat or headquarters. The US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Canada are the nations represented and these are of course the world's most industrialised, wealthy and powerful States; the world’s most powerful capitalist countries, sharing approximately two-thirds of global wealth.

The G8 began as a group of six countries at a time of significant global economic insecurity. Gathering in the White House Library in 1973, finance ministers of the US, West Germany, France and the UK (known as the ‘Library Group’), met against a backdrop of economic crisis - unemployment, inflation & the first oil crisis - to discuss the need to bring stability to the world economy and preserve the ability of capital to function amidst increasing economic turbulence. This grew into a series of regular meetings that became solidified as the G6 in 1975 with the inclusion of Italy and Japan. It became the G7 a year later after the U.S. insisted on the inclusion of Canada, because it was economically dependent on the U.S. and in order to counterbalance what it saw as growing European influence.

The leaders of these countries would argue that they gathered, as the leading nations, in order to manage this crisis in the interests of global stability. A stability that of course ensured that they retained their power, with their interests at the heart of the global agenda and this has meant, increasingly over time, the nudging of the global economy in a direction which reinforces the supremacy of private and corporate interests over democratic and collective ones. (e.g. favouring privatisation, deregulation, capital mobility and the erosion of sovereign control over domestic economies). With the end of communism, the G7 began to court Russia in order to integrate former Soviet countries into the global capitalist system. This arrangement was formalised as the G8 in 1998. But the G7 countries continue to exclude Russia from their most important meetings between finance ministers and central bank directors, saying Russia is not economically large enough to enjoy equal rights with G7 leaders. The membership of the G8 has evolved over time to also include the president of the European Union. (For more detailed information – a brief ‘Prehistory of the G8’ which includes explanation of the Bretton Woods agreement signed in 1944 {together with the World Bank and IMF} and its significance on the global economy as it is now - visit Briefing_Econ_and_Power; attachment at: Information About G8 (

The scope of the topics for discussion have also evolved from the first, supposedly one-off meeting that focussed on macro-economic policy. Now issues of security, trade, relations with ‘developing countries’(including debt) and other trans-national issues and even domestic issues, such as employment have been discussed. It is important to be clear that the G8 Summits are not a policy-making forum. They are a time for the leaders of these states to network and build relationships, a time to discuss complex international issues and crises, to allow for a more powerful collective response.

The G8 is an informal grouping and has no legal or formal powers - rather it is a gathering where the finance ministers, and others, of the world's largest economies gather to hammer out a consensus on how capitalism is to be run. They are then in a position to enforce this consensus on the rest of the world through their combined economic (and military - as we’ve recently clearly been shown) power – remembering of course that between them they control approximately 70% of the world's economic output. They are able to put this in place through their influence in institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, NATO, WTO, OECD etc. (The G8 nations hold just under 50 per cent of voting rights of global bodies as the IMF and World Bank; the other 176 member states hold the rest.)

Though the G8 has claimed to be putting forward solutions to the world's problems, it has singularly failed to have much real impact instead ruthlessly pushing the agenda of free trade in its own and particularly the U.S.'s interest it seems clear. It remains committed to the Bretton Woods doctrine of the unimpeded flow of trade and capital and indeed has overseen a massive expansion of this leading to the present situation of ‘Globalisation’ and ‘Neo-Liberalism’.

The years since the Library Group first met have seen a massive reconstruction of the world economy in order to create a free circulation of money. In particular this occurred in the Regan/Thatcher years where traditional manufacturing industries were devastated, and, not co-incidentally, much of the power of organised labour was lost. The world (and British) economy was rebuilt to one based upon the free flow of finance (under Thatcher the U.K. economy went form one that was 90% manufacturing & 10% finance to one that was 10% manufacturing and 90% finance). The power of Trans-national Corporations grew massively while much of the world's population faced increasing instability. It’s through this process that the decisions of the G8 trickle down into our everyday lives - from the Starbucks on every corner in UK cities, driving local small concerns out of business to traditional manufacturing jobs being replaced by unemployment; poorly paid precarious employment in call-centres and the like… ever under the threat of being moved elsewhere at the whim of profit; economic collapse in Argentina to debt in Africa; this is an inescapable common thread that links it and us all together. It is the G8’s corporate and political interests first and foremost, which dictate their decisions and in turn dominate the (economic) world order. (More info on the changing economic face of the UK can be found in the ‘Briefing_PFI’ attachment at; Information About G8 ( Also downloads reviewing the Summit in connection specifically to the African nations; Environmental/Climate issues; the IMF and World Bank can be found at this site. These are the issues that really count.

As such the G8 Summits have always been a focus for protests and counter summits. Following the Peoples Global Action call for a united global day of action in 1998, the Summit protests have, however, grown and strengthened, forcing the G8 Summits to more and more remote locations with ever increasing security costs. The three-day Summit is estimated to cost some £150m to wine and dine the 1,500 delegates, pay overtime to 10,000 police officers and help accommodate more than 3,000 members of the world’s media. The Treasury is providing £20m for security alone, citing the global terror threat of al-Qaeda and the prospect of tens of thousands of anti-capitalist protesters attempting to shut down the summit.

More information can be found at the following sites. This article has been cut, pasted & edited together from the following 3 sites;
Bristol Dissent! Briefing Papers - From PFIs to Africa: Check out Information About G8 in the publicity section of document downloads. - G8 link

More info on the G8 can be found from links on these sites; (a list of wonders!)

von playful


Display the following 2 comments

  1. wow — caffeine addict
  2. re: caffeine addict — mcw


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