Interview with Susan George

Interview with Susan George

Date: 20 January 2011

Iain Thom, WDM campaign assistant

Susan George, is a political scientist and world-renowned author writing about social justice issues for over 30 years.  Susan is the keynote speaker at this year’s Scottish campaigner convention in Glasgow on 19 March and I had the honour of interviewing her for WDM.

Iain: Please tell us a little about yourself?

Susan: American born, French resident for 50-some years and now a citizen, 3 university degrees at ten year intervals, first book published 1976, 14 others since if you count small ones and those written in French. I’m a scholar activist meaning I’ve always been active in organisations, particularly TNI and Attac. Personally: 3 children, 4 young adult granchildren, widowed 8 years ago, 77 this year, try not to look or feel it, I work every day.

Iain: What is the Transnational Institute and how are you involved?

Susan: TNI is a community of scholar-activists which has Fellows from many countries and in house projects. The strap line says it pretty well: The TNI carries out cutting-edge analysis on critical global issues, builds alliances with grassroots social movements, develops proposals for a more sustainable and just world.

I started there in very menial tasks, organised our first conference early in 1974, with Chilean exiles who were recent victims of the coup d‘etat and European progressives. Later I became a Fellow, wrote a lot of books and am now Board President. Our Fellows meetings are intellectual festivals – I hope not to miss one until I’m dead.

Iain: What motivates you to write about social justice issues?

Susan: Anger, concern, the total needlessness of such a level of human suffering; an intellectual interest in power and how it works, the utter ruthlessness of the haves versus the have-nots – the haves never have enough. As a late friend of mine used to say, What else is there to do?

Iain: What do you think of the work of WDM in campaigning for justice for the world’s poor?

Susan: I think it’s great. Everyone in Britain should join. I hope you will branch out further into environmental issues which are less and less distinguishable from social justice issues. People think I write about ‘the third world’ or ‘the poor’. I don’t. I write almost exclusively about what Northern policies, governments and institutions do against the poor – including our own in the so-called rich countries – and how we can try to stop them.

Iain: Do you have a favourite moment or thought that helps you take heart?

Susan: I spend a lot of time with those wrongly called ‘ordinary people’ plus a lot of other scholar activists in many countries and am always inspired by their commitment. William of Orange is hard to beat too: “One need not hope in order to undertake, nor succeed to persevere.”

picture of Susan George

Hear Susan George speak at Visions of Global Justice, WDM’s Scottish campaigner convention in Glasgow on 19 March – details here

Her new book Whose Crisis? Whose Future? will be available to buy at the event or from most good bookshops.