Visionaries: Ann Pettifor
1st April 2009
Ann Pettifor has changed the world once; now she wants to do it again.
She is an idealist. She was born in apartheid South Africa; she knows the world can change.
The driving force behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign, last year she was also a key player in the launch of the Green New Deal, a defiant public challenge to government to restructure the failing world of finance to save the environment. Early drafts of the document were written in Pettifor’s London flat, and it was at her insistence that its demands were as much economical as environmental. Does that make her a pragmatist? No, Pettifor replies. She is an idealist. After all, she was born in apartheid South Africa; she knows the world can change.
Pettifor grew up ‘in the shadow of a gold mine’, and saw how the price of gold governed all life around her. Gold had a power, she says, sending ‘very large numbers of black people burrowing down to the depths of the earth’. Later, she learned that South African gold was taken to build up the reserves Britain used to establish itself as the world’s banker. Gold backed the loans Britain made to other countries to build their factories, railways and ships. This, too, was a power, she understood. This is where economics as a lever for change comes in. ‘You have to be prepared to look at the world as it really is in order to change...
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