The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions

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Random House, May 4, 2017 - Social Science - 368 pages
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‘There’s no understanding global inequality without understanding its history. In The Divide, Jason Hickel brilliantly lays it out, layer upon layer, until you are left reeling with the outrage of it all.’ - Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics

For decades we have been told a story about the divide between rich countries and poor countries.

We have been told that development is working: that the global South is catching up to the North, that poverty has been cut in half over the past thirty years, and will be eradicated by 2030. It’s a comforting tale, and one that is endorsed by the world’s most powerful governments and corporations. But is it true?

Since 1960, the income gap between the North and South has roughly tripled in size. Today 4.3 billion people, 60 per cent of the world's population, live on less than $5 per day. Some 1 billion live on less than $1 a day. The richest eight people now control the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world combined.

What is causing this growing divide? We are told that poverty is a natural phenomenon that can be fixed with aid. But in reality it is a political problem: poverty doesn’t just exist, it has been created.

Poor countries are poor because they are integrated into the global economic system on unequal terms. Aid only works to hide the deep patterns of wealth extraction that cause poverty and inequality in the first place: rigged trade deals, tax evasion, land grabs and the costs associated with climate change. The Divide tracks the evolution of this system, from the expeditions of Christopher Columbus in the 1490s to the international debt regime, which has allowed a handful of rich countries to effectively control economic policies in the rest of the world.

Because poverty is a political problem, it requires political solutions. The Divide offers a range of revelatory answers, but also explains that something much more radical is needed – a revolution in our way of thinking. Drawing on pioneering research, detailed analysis and years of first-hand experience, The Divide is a provocative, urgent and ultimately uplifting account of how the world works, and how it can change.

 

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The Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

According to this blistering diatribe from Hickel (Democracy As Death), an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, there is little distinction between the old colonialism and the ... Read full review

Contents

About the Book
TWO The End of Poverty Has Been Postponed
THREE Where Did Poverty Come From? A Creation Story
FOUR From Colonialism to the Coup
FIVE Debt and the Economics of Planned Misery
SIX Free Trade and the Rise of the Virtual Senate
SEVEN Plunder in the 21st Century
EIGHT From Charity to Justice
NINE The Necessary Madness of Imagination
Endnotes
Acknowledgements
Copyright

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About the author (2017)

Jason Hickel is an anthropologist at the London School of Economics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is originally from Swaziland and spent a number of years living with migrant workers in South Africa, studying patterns of exploitation and political resistance in the wake of apartheid. Alongside his ethnographic work, he writes about global inequality, post-development and ecological economics, contributing regularly to the Guardian, Al Jazeera and other outlets. He serves on the Labour Party task force on international development, works as Policy Director for /The Rules collective, and sits on the Executive Board of Academics Stand Against Poverty. His work has been funded by the Fulbright-Hays Program, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust. He lives in London.