11 3 / 2013
Further, though, the TOMS campaign — like the million shirts — misses the fundamental point that not having a pair of shoes (or a shirt, christmas toy, etc.) is not a problem about not having shoes. It’s a problem of poverty. Shoelessness, such as it is, is a symptom of a much bigger and more complex problem. And while donating a pair of shoes helps shoelessness, it does not help poverty.
Things like jobs help poverty. Jobs making things like shoes, for example. But TOMS doesn’t make its shoes in Africa, it makes them in China where it’s presumably cheaper to make two pairs of shoes and give one away than it is to get people in a needier community to make one pair of shoes.
The result of this setup, as Zizek explains most succinctly, is that on a big-picture level, TOMS (and other buy-my-product-and-donate companies) are busy building the exploitative global structure that produces economic inequality, while on the other hand pretending that supporting them actually does something to fix it.
It doesn’t. It just gives people shoes."
12 9 / 2012
Over 1950-2001. countries with below-average aid had the same growth rate as countries with above-average foreign aid. Poor countries without aid had no trouble having positive growth.
This is a critical finding - the poorest countries can grow and develop on their own. Since foreign aid received does not explain these successes, perhaps they happened for entirely homegrown reasons. The Searchers among the poor can find a way toward higher living standards; they do not have to wait for the West to save them."
William Easterly providing empirical evidence - in The White Man’s Burden - debunking the poverty trap myth developed by Rostow and used by Jeffrey Sachs in his 2005 book The End of Poverty, to justify white saviorism:
“When people are … utterly destitute, they need their entire income, or more, just to survive. There is no margin of income above survival that can be invested for the future. This is the main reason why the poorest of the poor are more prone with becoming trapped with low or negative economic growth rates. They are too poor to save for the future and thereby accumulate the capital that could pull them out of their current misery.”
07 9 / 2012
"But debt is not just victor’s justice; it can also be a way of punishing winners who weren’t supposed to win. The most spectacular example of this is the history of the Republic of Haiti-the first poor country to be placed in permanent debt peonage. Haiti was a nation founded by former plantation slaves who had the temerity not only to
rise up in rebellion, amidst grand declarations of universal rights and freedoms, but to defeat Napoleon’s armies sent to return them to bondage. France immediately insisted that the new republic owed it 150 million francs in damages for the expropriated plantations, as well as the expenses of outfi tting the failed military expeditions, and all other nations, including the United States, agreed to impose an embargo on the country until it was paid. The sum was intentionally impossible (equivalent to about 18 billion dollars), and the resultant embargo ensured that the name “Haiti” has been a synonym for debt, poverty, and human misery ever since."
01 9 / 2012
"Imperialism is evidently one such monster: Whenever it is chased off, it slips into another, seemingly benign, form in order to re-insinuate itself and ultimately smother its hosts. It used to be ‘civilising the savages’; now it comes as ‘development’."
Madhusree Mukerjee gives great insight in Himal. Mukerjee’s new book exposes the myths behind India’s ‘growth miracle’, and looks for ways out of the ecological and social devastation of the current neoliberal model.
In the early 1990s, when India needed a loan, the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) used the opportunity to impose constraints on its domestic policies. These ‘structural adjustments’, followed by India’s entry into the World Trade Organisation, remodelled the country’s economy to conform with the profit-making imperatives of international and domestic corporations. The result has been enormous wealth for a few – which has trickled down to an extent in cities and towns – but a disaster for rural areas, in which two-thirds of the Indian people reside.India’s forests and villages supply the land, water, minerals and other natural resources necessary for industrialisation, commodity trading, toxic waste disposal and corporatised agriculture. The poor are being robbed, often at gunpoint, of the very environs in which they live. “What we see is actually a well-disguised form of imperialism, sophisticated enough to leave room for the national … elite to share the spoils of exploitation with the dominant classes in industrialised nations,” explain economist Aseem Shrivastava and ecologist Ashish Kothari in their meticulously documented treatise.
20 8 / 2012
This is not a ‘DON’T VOTE FOR OBAMA’ post. Vote for him if you want, don’t vote for him if you don’t. Voting is a personal decision and people shouldn’t be browbeaten into being ‘proper citizens.’ As long as you aren’t voting for Romney or aren’t decrying Obama for dumb stupid and racist reasons, I have no beef with what you do in the ballot room.
This is not a post that apologizes for the brutality and the sins of the Obama administration. This is not a post that placates to the simplistic thinking of liberal, establishment politics. This is not a far-left critique that undermines what this administration has meant for women, people of color, and other marginalized folk— nor does it ignore the REALITY that bargaining with the establishment is essential for hundreds of million of people. This post also doesn’t misunderstand How Politics Work— when I say ‘Obama,’ I don’t mean the man, I mean the institution of the American presidency. One man cannot and does not do much.
What I want to do here is talk about the myopic way we criticize Obama and his imperial ventures, and the apologetic way we discuss his presidency w/r/t people of color. But the brunt of this critique is not on marginalized people who are responding to real changes in their life— whether good changes (affordable birth control) or bad changes (families getting deported, homes getting bombed).
It is more about the conceptual space where we interact with Obama and evaluate him as good/bad/unworthy/fantastic, and how we can better understand the limits of such a space.