The Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets
More than four billion people--some 60 percent of humanity--live in debilitating poverty, on less than $5 per day. The standard narrative tells us this crisis is a natural phenomenon, having to do with things like climate and geography and culture. It tells us that all we have to do is give a bit of aid here and there to help poor countries up the development ladder. It insists that if poor countries would only adopt the right institutions and economic policies, they could overcome their disadvantages and join the ranks of the rich world.
Anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that this story ignores the broader political forces at play. Global poverty--and the growing inequality between the rich countries of Europe and North America and the poor ones of Africa, Asia, and South America--has come about because the global economy has been designed over the course of five hundred years of conquest, colonialism, regime change, and globalization to favor the interests of the richest and most powerful nations. Global inequality is not natural or inevitable, and it is certainly not accidental. To close the divide, Hickel proposes dramatic action rooted in real justice: abolishing debt burdens in the global South, democratizing the institutions of global governance, and rolling out an international minimum wage, among many other vital steps. Only then will we have a chance at a world where all begin on more equal footing.
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About the AuthorJason Hickel is an anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research spans several related themes, including political conflict, inequality, postdevelopment, and ecological economics. He is the author of Democracy as Death: The Moral Order of Anti-Liberal Politics in South Africa (University of California Press, 2015) and The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions (Penguin, 2017). He writes a column on political economy for The Guardian and Al Jazeera, sits on the executive board of Academics Stand Against Poverty, and serves as Policy Director for The Rules collective. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Sharply argued. . . . Sure to distress the neoliberals in the audience but a powerful case for reform in the cause of economic justice.
Advocates a strategy of development focused less on material consumption and more on meeting the basic human needs. Accessible to all readers, Hickel's revealing and sometimes angry critique will spur deeper thought about the inequities of the global economy.
Penetratingly explores those forces that perpetuate global inequality and shreds the notion that the fissure between rich and poor is anything other than intentional.
The Divide is exceptional, necessary, and essential...Written in a captivating and easy-to-read style, this book must become the standard text for everyone studying, working, or interested in development.--Firoze Manji, editor of African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions