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The Prosperity Hoax


NO ONE DENIES THAT A LARGE number of people worldwide live in drudgerous poverty. But it would appear that we are in the midst of a historic transformation. In recent years, a spate of articles in the anglophone press and academia have suggested that global poverty has entered terminal decline—all thanks to capitalism. Writing for the World Economic Forum in 2015, Ricardo Hausmann lamented that “capitalism gets blamed for many things nowadays: poverty, inequality, unemployment, even global warming,” which was unfair, since “it also lifted [thousands] out of poverty and made them more prosperous.” The following year, Charles Lane proclaimed in the Washington Post that “freer flows of international trade and private capital” have produced “historic progress, with its overwhelmingly beneficial consequences for millions of the world’s humblest inhabitants.” In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote that 2017 was “probably the very best year in the long history of humanity . . . a smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before.”

The World Bank has churned out a series of reports over the last six years promoting this cheery story. “The world has made tremendous progress in reducing extreme poverty,” the Bank declared in its “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018” report. Over a quarter of humanity had escaped indigence in the past twenty-five years, its research showed. Where once the majority of the world population lived in poverty, now the figure was just 10 percent. Just a decade earlier, it had seemed like hard times for free-market triumphalists, particularly in America, as the financial crisis rudely discredited their fantasies of ineluctable progress. Against this, the World Bank offered a redemptive story. Whatever the injustices and corruptions of globalized capitalism, it had lifted millions out of destitution. The spread of privately owned capital and free trade would see extreme poverty disappear by as early as 2030. With that, the most basic form of human suffering would be consigned to history.

It was clear to those who lived in poor countries that there were problems with the World Bank’s data. Consider only the Middle East. Anyone who visits Egypt for even a short time will not fail to notice that at least half of the country’s one hundred million people live in terrible penury. Egypt’s military regime, which had every reason to downplay the problem, pegged the official poverty headcount at 33 percent in 2019. Yet the World Bank announced in 2015 that poverty had been all but eliminated in Egypt. Not nearly a third, but only 1 percent of the Egyptian population were deemed to be living in extreme poverty by the Bank’s calculations. In Algeria it was zero percent. The scavengers who scrape a living from the edges of the Diyarbakir garbage dump in southeastern Turkey were not living in extreme poverty either. According to the Bank, no one in Turkey was.

Of course, there’s another side to the story—one that reflects reality on the ground. In July 2020, Philip Alston, the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published a remarkable report on the global response to poverty. Alston argues that there has been a wholesale misrepresentation of the facts. “Single-mindedly focusing on the World Bank’s flawed international poverty line,” he writes, “facilitates greatly exaggerated claims about the impending eradication of extreme poverty and downplays the parlous state of impoverishment in which billions of people still subsist.” Appointed to his position in 2014, Alston served during the apogee of the World Bank’s triumphalist rhetoric on poverty reduction. His report was the culmination of five years of research. Its conclusions are as damning as is conceivable in the context of a sober UN document.

Where the World Bank states that “extreme poverty is nearing eradication,” Alston responds that “that claim is unjustified by the facts, generates inappropriate policy conclusions, and fosters complacency.” This is not just a quibble about the statistics. The Alston report is rather a wholesale critique of the World Bank’s framework. It shows that hundreds of millions of people have been “airbrushed out” of survey data. A more honest assessment, the report argues, would reveal that global poverty, far from seeing an unprecedented reduction, is in fact rising. International efforts at poverty eradication are failing. The message delivered by the World Bank has allowed the international policy community to adopt a fantasy vision of progress.

8 Comments on "The Prosperity Hoax"

  1. DT on Wed, 11th Nov 2020 9:21 am 

    If capitalism is so great why is there still poverty on any level? Answer from a capitalist,”well there will always be poverty no mater what”

  2. Goebbel's grandaughter on Wed, 11th Nov 2020 9:30 am 

    How do you cook a Zionist Jew?:
    Slowly at first and then all at once

  3. FamousDrScanlon on Wed, 11th Nov 2020 10:41 am 

    Here’s some more half-faggot Cosplayers.

    Angry Vikings of America.

    “Our Mission

    The mission statement of The Angry Viking is that regardless of race, ethnicity, sex or religion, we are all Americans. We will foster opportunities of patriotism and social gatherings in the form of rallies that will allow us to provide leadership, encourage the rights of the Constitution and form an alliance with all Patriots across the United States. We do not seek to insight a revolution; however, we will defend our lives, liberties, and properties as necessary. Aggression/violence will always be a last resort, and should only be used as a defense against overwhelming assault”

    They simply have no idea of how corny & goofy they look & sound.

    I don’t think most Americans get that their retard level of LOUD! patriotism is a joke to the rest of the world.

    Again, they need to play dress up & take on the mantle of some incorrect mythical version of Vikings who hailed from, Norway, Denmark & Sweden, not the USA.

    Why do they need to bring assault rifles to sunny day rallies with no threat to life & limb?

    Are they really that terrified of rock throwing Antifa boys?

  4. peakyeast on Wed, 11th Nov 2020 11:32 am 

    The capitalists thought that the world was endless.

    What is endless is human stupidity outfucking and outbreeding any advantage that it happens to come across.

  5. FamousDrScanlon on Wed, 11th Nov 2020 12:18 pm 

    “… the horrifying realisation that the world of the Good God was a dead one, and that He had been replaced by a usurper – a God of Evil … It was the deep realisation of this truth, and its proclamation that had caused the gnostics to be suppressed, censored, destroyed. Humanity is too frail to face the truth about things – but to anyone who confronts the reality of nature and of process with a clear mind, the answer is completely inescapable: Evil rules the day.

    What sort of God, the gnostic asks himself, could have organised things the way they are – this munching world of death and dissolution which pretends to have a Saviour, and a fountain of good at its base? What sort of God could have built this malefic machine of destruction, of self-immolation? Only the very spirit of the dark negative death-trend in nature – the spirit of nothingness and auto-annihilation. A world in which we are each other’s food, each other’s prey …”

    —Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet

  6. FamousDrScanlon on Thu, 12th Nov 2020 1:01 pm 

    The Physics of Life

  7. Theedrich on Fri, 13th Nov 2020 2:42 am 

    Forge the fixation of Christianity.  Both materialism and religion are wrong.  Both are based on false premisses.  Materialists assume that there is nothing other than what can be seen and touched (or maybe what can be mathematically conjectured).  Religionists assume that fanciful doctrines based on primitive wishdreams and political propaganda are true and even justify mass murder.

    Modern quantum mechanics has reveled that the tiniest particles constituting “matter” are everywhere appearing out of “nowhere” and self-annihilating back into it.

    Modern serious (i.e., NOT  holybook-pounding) religiology has shown that the belief systems of various scripture-based faiths have been concocted out of whole cloth with large amounts of hopeful fancy, political propaganda, and illiterate mythologies underlying them.

    The truth is that the material cosmos rests on an infinite psychic base partly revealed and experienced or sensed by mystics, shamans, those who have Near-Death Experiences (“thanatonauts”), and others with extrasensory characteristics such as Buddhist saints, yogis, and the like.

    That base is an endless ocean of memory.  The souls of living beings are in fact “memory-waves” or “morphic fields” (in the words of Rupert Sheldrake) in this ocean.  They inform living creatures and non-living objects from atoms to galaxies, and hold them in being.  The soul, briefly, is the form of a body, a form which instantiates (not “reincarnates”) in germinating matter which is “conformant” with it, then “programs” its form and behavior.

    When a material body dies or disintegrates, its memory-field — the soul — does not cease to be, but remains more or less timelessly suspended until a suitable material configuration such as a fitting crystal, a seedling or egg is available that can “tune into” or “resonate with” the given memory, which then takes over and is “instantiate,” even expressing in the new body remnants of the mortal wounds of previous incarnation (or instantiation) as birthmarks or birth defects.  (See, e.g., Ian Stevenson on this.)  This “tuning” or “resonance” is made possible through very sensitive “antennae” such as complex molecules, often carbon-based as in nucleic acids, or in the microtubules and T-proteins in neurons of the brain.

    In other words, matter is a creation which both receives and transmits information about its own form, function and behavior.  It is a “transceiver” to and from the soul and the cosmic inframind in which the soul subsists.

    Further, evolution operates “cybernetically” — that is, by negative feedback.  This is the principle known in biology as “survival of the fittest.”  Pain and suffering are the primary expressions of this feedback, along with death and extinction.  Life, in other words, is a cybernetic process with a goal of survival, with survival dependent on knowledge.  Evolution, in other words, is epistemological:  an ongoing quest for ever more knowledge.

    This is in a nutshell a summary of the underlying nature of the universe.

  8. Theedrich on Fri, 13th Nov 2020 2:44 am 

    “Forget,” not “Forge.”

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