From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States Can Change the World

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Seismic events have convulsed global markets since 2008, when this book was first published, and world news has been full of stories reflecting a profound sense of uncertainty about global futures. In response, this new edition of From Poverty to Power has been fully revised and now includes a new chapter with an in-depth analysis of the human impact of the global financial and food crises.

From Poverty to Power argues that a radical redistribution of power, opportunities, and ...

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Seismic events have convulsed global markets since 2008, when this book was first published, and world news has been full of stories reflecting a profound sense of uncertainty about global futures. In response, this new edition of From Poverty to Power has been fully revised and now includes a new chapter with an in-depth analysis of the human impact of the global financial and food crises.

From Poverty to Power argues that a radical redistribution of power, opportunities, and assets rather than traditional models of charitable or government aid is required to break the cycle of poverty and inequality. The forces driving this transformation are active citizens and effective states.

Why active citizens? Because people living in poverty must have a voice in deciding their own destiny and holding the state and the private sector to account. Why effective states? Because history shows that no country has prospered without a state structure than can actively manage the development process.

There is now an added urgency: climate change. We need to build a secure, fair, and sustainable world within the limits set by scarce resources and ecological realities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"From Poverty to Power has been fully revised and updated in this new second edition, and argues that a radical redistribution of power, opportunities and assets is required to make any real, meaningful dent in the cycles of poverty and inequality. It will take active citizens to drive this change, because those living in poverty need a voice in determining their own future and it also takes effective state structures to see this change move beyond the ideal process to full development and deployment. Climate change only adds a sense of urgency to matters, and all are considered in this wide-ranging, college-level analysis of the human impact of global financial and food crises, highly recommended for any social and political studies collection."

"In telling us what can be achieved by ordinary people through organised action, this book generates hope even as it enhances understanding of what is involved in the removal of poverty."

"A tour de force."

"The book is a must read for anyone who is concerned about ending poverty, reducing inequality and promoting environmental sustainability simultaneously in the world."

"Duncan Green combines academic expertise, a flair for storytelling and an activist’s sense of urgency in this essential guide to both what is wrong with the world and how to put it right."

"Duncan Green uses numerous case studies to demonstrate this book is not merely an academic textbook but a manual for real, practical and lasting social change."

"A unique blend of solid academic understanding, serious activist experience, and political acumen."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781853397400
  • Publisher: Practical Action Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/28/2012
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 490
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Duncan Green has been Head of Research at Oxfam Great Britain since 2004. He is the author of several books on Latin America, including Faces of Latin America (third edition 2006) and Silent Revolution: The Rise and Crisis of Market Economics in Latin America (2003). He has been a Senior Policy Advisor on trade and development at the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Policy Analyst on trade and globalization at CAFOD.
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Table of Contents

List of figures, tables, and boxes vii

About the author viii

Foreword Amartya Sen ix

Preface to the Second Edition xii

Acknowledgements xiii

List of acronyms xv

Part 1 Introduction 1

The unequal world 3

Part 2 Power and Politics 15

The political roots of development 17

I have rights, therefore I am 21

How change happens: A revolution for Bolivia's Chiquitano people 27

I believe, therefore I am 29

I read, therefore I am 34

I surf, therefore I am 43

We organise, therefore we are 48

How change happens: Winning women's rights in Morocco 55

I own, therefore I am 57

I vote, therefore I am 64

I steal, therefore I am: Natural resources, corruption, and development 69

I rule, therefore I am 73

From poverty to power 84

Part 3 Poverty and Wealth 85

An economics for the twenty-first century 87

Living off the land 98

How change happens: The fishing communities of Tikamgarh 120

The changing world of work 122

Private sector, public interest 138

Going for growth 148

How change happens: Two African success stories (Botswana and Mauritius) 159

Sustainable markets 161

Part 4 Human Security 163

Living with risk 165

Social protection 173

How change happens: India's campaign for a National Rural Employment Guarantee 180

Finance and vulnerability 182

Hunger and famine 186

HIV, AIDS, and other health risks 191

How change happens: South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign 200

The risk of natural disaster 202

Climate change: Mitigation, adaptation, organisation 212

Living on the edge: Africa's pastoralists 221

Violence and conflict 225

Shocks and change 236

Part 5 The International System 239

Who rules the world? 241

The international financial system 244

The international trading system 260

The international aid system 289

How change happens: The 2005 Gleneagles Agreements 311

International rules and norms 313

The international system for humanitarian relief and peace 317

How change happens: Landmines, an arms control success story 333

Climate change 335

Global governance in the twenty-first century 351

Part 6 The Food and Financial Crises of 2008-11 353

The food and financial crises of 2008-11 355

The global financial crisis 356

Living on a spike: The food price crises of 2008 and 2011 362

Part 7 Conclusion 367

A new deal for a new century 369

Notes 371

Bibliography 409

Background papers and case studies 447

Glossary 451

Index 457

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Cosying up to the state is not the way forward

    Duncan Green, who works for Oxfam International, recommends cooperation, active citizenship and organisation. He writes that the key to development is an active, national developmental state - "there are no shortcuts, and neither aid nor NGOs can take its place; the road to development lies through the state."

    Only the state can provide free access to primary health care, education, clean water and sanitation, the free public services that emancipate women. Countries need 'massive and long-term investment in public health services'.

    But the IMF still forces privatisation and liberalisation on countries wanting loans. Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Reduction Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, developing countries must implement Structural Adjustment Programmes for decades, to get the debt cancellation promised as the swift solution to their urgent problems.

    Africa has 24% of the world's disease burden, but only 3% of the world's health workers, too many of whom migrate to the West. Poorer countries give the West $500 million a year in health workers. Jamaica and Grenada train five doctors for every one that stays. Yet Green writes, "Increasing the quantity and quality of migration is one of the most effective ways to tackle global poverty and inequality." But increasing the supply of labour cuts its price - which increases poverty.

    He reminds us that profits taken from developing countries rose from $17 billion in 1990 to $169 billion in 2005. The banks profit from every debt crisis, while the crises have cost the developing countries a quarter of their output in the last 25 years. As NatWest boasts, "Currency and interest rate volatility provided significant trading opportunities."

    Green then says that powerful states and corporations must stop doing harm. Indeed, that would be nice. He admits, "the private sector on its own has never achieved growth with equity", but he says this is because we haven't understood markets properly.

    He notes that reform proposals are always blocked by 'powerful governments and financial interests', that "Powerful interests profit from the lack of regulation . global institutions are weak or are dominated by governments in thrall to those vested interests" and that 'local elites' violently oppose land reform.
    Then he writes, absurdly, "Sustainable growth means . acknowledging that the private sector and trade . are the ultimate drivers of the economy, and it means supporting them with policies, investment, and institutions." That will make them change their spots! He admits the flaws in development thinking, chiefly 'excessive reformism without politics or history' - which this book exemplifies.

    Green observes, "the misguided actions of global institutions and the short-sighted policies of wealthy countries often pose threats to development." But is the problem really a lack of knowledge and of vision, to be put right by Oxfam's wisdom? This is the academics' fallacy, that if only our rulers knew better, they would do better.

    Does Oxfam really think anyone can persuade the world's capitalist classes to act against their own interests? We need the world's working classes to act in their own interests, to get rid of this failed, destructive system.

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