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65

Three

Where Did Poverty Come From? A Creation Story

1
terms
4
notes

Hickel, J. (2017). Three. In Hickel, J. The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions. William Heinemann, pp. 65-103

74

[...] The sugar and cotton plantations of the New World supplied Europe with another ecological windfall, much as silver did. For example, sugar came to account for up to 22 per cent of the calories Britain consumed, which reduced the need for domestic agricultural production and freed up labour power for industrial pursuits. Cotton provided a key raw material for Europe's Industrial Revolution, and without diverting from food production or straining labour and land capacities. [...]

—p.74 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] The sugar and cotton plantations of the New World supplied Europe with another ecological windfall, much as silver did. For example, sugar came to account for up to 22 per cent of the calories Britain consumed, which reduced the need for domestic agricultural production and freed up labour power for industrial pursuits. Cotton provided a key raw material for Europe's Industrial Revolution, and without diverting from food production or straining labour and land capacities. [...]

—p.74 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

a economic theory relating to the origin of capital (Adam Smith saw it as a peaceful process with natural imbalances in wealth distribution; Karl Marx saw it as a violent enclosure of the commons etc etc)

76

Adam Smith [...] called this 'previous accumulation' [...] Karl Marx called it 'primitive accumulation', perhaps to highlight its barbaric nature, for the process of accumulation was violent

—p.76 by Jason Hickel
notable
3 years, 3 months ago

Adam Smith [...] called this 'previous accumulation' [...] Karl Marx called it 'primitive accumulation', perhaps to highlight its barbaric nature, for the process of accumulation was violent

—p.76 by Jason Hickel
notable
3 years, 3 months ago
83

[...] What made this famine so appalling was that it was completely avoidable; it would never have happened if peasants had retained full rights to their ancestral land, where they would have had plenty of space to produce a diversity of crops. In other words, the scarcity that led to the famine was artificially created. But even with the new agrarian system in place, Ireland was still producing plenty of food, in aggregate; the problem was that it was all being siphoned away by the British. Ireland was exporting thirty to fifty shiploads of food to England and Scotland each day during the famine, while the local population starved to death.

  • enclosure of Irish common land by English colonisers
  • many had to flee to England/Scotland to work as wage labourers
  • those that remained had to plant only potatoes on the small amount of marginal land they had left (for its calorie-to-land-use ratio)
  • thus when the blight occurred, they were fucked
—p.83 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] What made this famine so appalling was that it was completely avoidable; it would never have happened if peasants had retained full rights to their ancestral land, where they would have had plenty of space to produce a diversity of crops. In other words, the scarcity that led to the famine was artificially created. But even with the new agrarian system in place, Ireland was still producing plenty of food, in aggregate; the problem was that it was all being siphoned away by the British. Ireland was exporting thirty to fifty shiploads of food to England and Scotland each day during the famine, while the local population starved to death.

  • enclosure of Irish common land by English colonisers
  • many had to flee to England/Scotland to work as wage labourers
  • those that remained had to plant only potatoes on the small amount of marginal land they had left (for its calorie-to-land-use ratio)
  • thus when the blight occurred, they were fucked
—p.83 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago
88

The Indian famines of the late 19th century were not a natural disaster, as the British insisted at the time. They were the predictable consequence of imposing a foreign market logic that saw fit to eliminate basic human food security and sacrifice tens of millions of people in the service of profit. The famines had nothing to do with endogenous economic problems; rather, they were caused by India's incorporation into the emerging capitalist world system. As the historian Mike Davis puts it:

We are not dealing, in other words, with 'lands of famine' becalmed in stagnant backwaters of world history, but with the fate of tropical humanity at the precise moment (1870-1914) when its labour and products were being dynamically conscripted into a London-centred world economy. Millions died, not outside the 'modern world system', but in the very process of being forcibly incorporated into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of Liberal Capitalism.

wonderful quote

—p.88 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

The Indian famines of the late 19th century were not a natural disaster, as the British insisted at the time. They were the predictable consequence of imposing a foreign market logic that saw fit to eliminate basic human food security and sacrifice tens of millions of people in the service of profit. The famines had nothing to do with endogenous economic problems; rather, they were caused by India's incorporation into the emerging capitalist world system. As the historian Mike Davis puts it:

We are not dealing, in other words, with 'lands of famine' becalmed in stagnant backwaters of world history, but with the fate of tropical humanity at the precise moment (1870-1914) when its labour and products were being dynamically conscripted into a London-centred world economy. Millions died, not outside the 'modern world system', but in the very process of being forcibly incorporated into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of Liberal Capitalism.

wonderful quote

—p.88 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago
101

It is tempting to see this as just a list of crimes, but it is much more than that. These snippets of history hint at the contours of a world economic system that was designed over hundreds of years to enrich a small portion of humanity at the expense of the vast majority. By the early part of the 20th century, this new order was complete, designed so that the core of the system--Europe and the United States--could siphon cheap raw materials from the periphery and then sell manufactured products back to them while protecting themselves from competition by erecting disproportionately high tariffs.

I really like the framing of the world economic system here ("contours" is a great way of thinking about it)

—p.101 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

It is tempting to see this as just a list of crimes, but it is much more than that. These snippets of history hint at the contours of a world economic system that was designed over hundreds of years to enrich a small portion of humanity at the expense of the vast majority. By the early part of the 20th century, this new order was complete, designed so that the core of the system--Europe and the United States--could siphon cheap raw materials from the periphery and then sell manufactured products back to them while protecting themselves from competition by erecting disproportionately high tariffs.

I really like the framing of the world economic system here ("contours" is a great way of thinking about it)

—p.101 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago