Jason Hickel

The death of international development

International development is dying; people just don’t buy it anymore. The West has been engaged in the project for more than six decades now, but the number of poor people in the world is growing, not shrinking, and inequality between rich and poor continues to widen instead of narrow. People know this, and they are…

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Exposing the great ‘poverty-reduction’ scandal

The received wisdom comes to us from every direction: poverty rates are declining and extreme poverty will soon be eradicated from the face of the earth. This narrative is delivered by the World Bank, the governments of rich countries, and – most importantly – the UN Millennium Development campaign. Relax, they tell us. The world…

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How to save capitalism from the capitalists

It is always a bit surprising to hear an economist described as a “rock star” in the media, but Thomas Piketty has been collecting this accolade in spades since the publication of his runaway bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It surely says something interesting about our times that this 700-page tome packed with dense…

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The new shock doctrine: ‘Doing Business’ with the World Bank

One of the problems with neoliberal economic policy is that it’s tough to get countries to agree to it; especially democratic ones. It has often required quite extreme measures, such as invasion — the classic example being the US-backed coup against Chile’s democratically elected president — or debt bondage and structural adjustment led by the…

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South Africa at 20: Storms behind the rainbow

April 27 marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections. Most of us remember those iconic images of citizens queuing up in long, snaking lines to vote Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) into power. It was an extraordinary moment, replete with hope and pregnant with expectation, enough to supply years’…

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Flipping the corruption myth

Transparency International recently published their latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), laid out in an eye-catching map of the world with the least corrupt nations coded in happy yellow and the most corrupt nations smeared in stigmatising red. The CPI defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit,” and draws its data…

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‘Free trade’ and the death of democracy

“Free trade”. The term itself is a trap — a brilliant framing device that neatly neutralises opposition. If you take a stand against free trade you appear to be taking a stand against freedom itself, which is clearly not a tenable position. In fact, in recent decades the term “free trade” has become very closely…

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Aid in reverse: How poor countries develop rich countries

The idea of international development aid lies at the heart of a tremendously successful PR campaign. The narrative we have been sold claims that aid has been effective at reducing global poverty. Here I will argue that there are three problems with this narrative. First, poverty is not disappearing, despite what we have been told…

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The madness of capital

Last month the Associated Press reported that the income gap in the United States broke a new record in 2012, with the 1% grabbing a greater share of total household wealth than ever before in history. This news follows on the heels of the fact that the 1% not only captured all of the income…

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It’s time for a global minimum wage

Last April, 1 127 workers were killed when Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh, collapsed. To put this in perspective, that’s more than twice the number of Americans that have been killed in mass shootings since 1983. This unfathomable tragedy reached us around the world in the form of images troubling enough to make…

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