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253

Eight

From Charity to Justice

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Hickel, J. (2017). Eight. In Hickel, J. The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions. William Heinemann, pp. 253-274

255

People find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty [...] They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive. But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good. Charity degrades and demoralises.

he's quoting Oscar Wilde from the Soul of Man Under Socialism but I can't find a source that has the exact same wording that Hickel uses ...

—p.255 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

People find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty [...] They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive. But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good. Charity degrades and demoralises.

he's quoting Oscar Wilde from the Soul of Man Under Socialism but I can't find a source that has the exact same wording that Hickel uses ...

—p.255 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago
256

[...] food aid from the West, for example, is carefully calculated to prevent the worst famines, to ensure that people receive at least enough calories to stay alive, because otherwise the injustices of the global economic system would become so apparent that its legitimacy would collapse and political upheaval would almost certainly ensure. To avoid this outcome, the more cynical among the rich are happy to channel some of their surplus into charity.

you can see neoliberalism as this very careful tightrope--too much of it and you end up redpilling/radicalising people against it; too little of it and you risk making capitalists unhappy

—p.256 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] food aid from the West, for example, is carefully calculated to prevent the worst famines, to ensure that people receive at least enough calories to stay alive, because otherwise the injustices of the global economic system would become so apparent that its legitimacy would collapse and political upheaval would almost certainly ensure. To avoid this outcome, the more cynical among the rich are happy to channel some of their surplus into charity.

you can see neoliberalism as this very careful tightrope--too much of it and you end up redpilling/radicalising people against it; too little of it and you risk making capitalists unhappy

—p.256 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago
259

Some NGOs have called for debt 'relief' or even 'forgiveness', but these words send exactly the wrong message. By implying that debtors have committed some kind of sin, and by casting creditors as saviours, they reinforce the power imbalance that lies at the heart of the problem. The debt-as-in framing has been used to justify 'forgiving' debt while requiring harsh austerity measures that replicate the structural adjustment programmes that contributed to the debt crisis in the first place, effectively saying 'we will forgive your sins, but you will have to pay the price'. In other words, until now, debt forgiveness has largely just perpetuated the problem. If we want to be serious about dealing with debt, we need to challenge not only the debt itself but also the moral framing that supports it.

he cites Graeber on debt earlier in the book (you could even say that this book, as well as basically any other that mentions debt since 2011, is indebted to Graeber)

—p.259 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

Some NGOs have called for debt 'relief' or even 'forgiveness', but these words send exactly the wrong message. By implying that debtors have committed some kind of sin, and by casting creditors as saviours, they reinforce the power imbalance that lies at the heart of the problem. The debt-as-in framing has been used to justify 'forgiving' debt while requiring harsh austerity measures that replicate the structural adjustment programmes that contributed to the debt crisis in the first place, effectively saying 'we will forgive your sins, but you will have to pay the price'. In other words, until now, debt forgiveness has largely just perpetuated the problem. If we want to be serious about dealing with debt, we need to challenge not only the debt itself but also the moral framing that supports it.

he cites Graeber on debt earlier in the book (you could even say that this book, as well as basically any other that mentions debt since 2011, is indebted to Graeber)

—p.259 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago
265

[...] there is a strong case to be made that the most essential technologies--like public health medicines--should be exempt from the patent system altogether. [...]

the standard pro-free-market response to this: this is bad bcus firms will stop investing in R&D etc etc

but this is just reification of the highest order, in all its absurdity. surely the fact that firms would penalise countries who do this very sensible thing means that these firms are being driven by the wrong factors? and thus perhaps we should reorganise our economic system to prevent it? pro-free-market ideology feels like a matter of limiting the imagination to the most dire point, when it would be so easy to just go a little beyond

—p.265 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] there is a strong case to be made that the most essential technologies--like public health medicines--should be exempt from the patent system altogether. [...]

the standard pro-free-market response to this: this is bad bcus firms will stop investing in R&D etc etc

but this is just reification of the highest order, in all its absurdity. surely the fact that firms would penalise countries who do this very sensible thing means that these firms are being driven by the wrong factors? and thus perhaps we should reorganise our economic system to prevent it? pro-free-market ideology feels like a matter of limiting the imagination to the most dire point, when it would be so easy to just go a little beyond

—p.265 by Jason Hickel 3 years, 3 months ago