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The end of poverty is something the left has always fought for. Whether local, national or global, progressives have battled notions that poverty is the fault of the poor, or that human nature makes it inevitable. For us, poverty’s continued existence in a world of extraordinary wealth is proof of the moral bankruptcy of capitalism.
But over the past two decades, the war on global poverty has been subverted and co-opted. In an age when obscene wealth became once again something to boast about, those big campaign groups and politicians concerned about poverty moved with the times. To keep ‘poverty’ relevant to Thatcher’s children, they gutted it of political content. Through the new concept of ‘extreme poverty’, it became possible both to believe in me-first individualism and free market economics, and to care about the very poor.
International development, which had once spoken of liberation to countries suppressed by empire, often missed the point, even 50 years ago. Too often, it was something technical experts did to or for poor people. But grounded in the national liberation politics of the ‘third world’, with heavy emphasis on those nations’ newly gained sovereignty, its amateur idealism at least looked in the right direction.
‘Development’ ripped from that emancipatory context and shaped instead by an economics of unregulated markets became an opportunity for the political right to rapidly extend capitalist relations into those parts of the world other forms of empire couldn’t reach. No wonder that, before the last election, the Conservative Party said ‘Capitalism and development was Britain’s gift to the world.’ Our ‘Mythbuster’ pulls apart the fantasy of neoliberal development.
This issue of Red Pepper has been produced with my organisation, which has just changed its name from World Development Movement to Global Justice Now. We’ve taken this step so we can say more clearly what we mean: you can’t separate poverty from power or politics.
Neither can you separate struggles in the global South from those in the North. As Red Pepper goes to press, we don’t know the result of the Greek election. But, as Lisa Mittendrein reports, the rapid rise of left-wing party Syriza is as important for the fight for a more just world as what is happening in Latin America.
There’s positive news from Africa too. While Bob Geldof would like to convince us that the continent is made up of passive people who don’t know when it’s Christmas, real Africans are fighting Monsanto in Ghana and tyranny in Burkina Faso – a country where ‘development’ has been on the opposite side to ‘democracy’ for 25 years.
We don’t just need clearer language; we need to revisit our worldview, and engage with the politics of real struggles for democracy going on worldwide. As we start to lay out as a manifesto, if we want to re-energise a real movement for global justice, we need to confront development, and replace it with our own vision for a world based on equality, solidarity and democratic control.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
How can the heavily-armed Israeli state claim to be victimised by one teenage activist? By Richard Seymour.
Governments are manufacturing a new 'enemy within', write Yasser Louati and Malia Bouattia
The online currency started as an alternative to the failed financial system – but as a huge bubble inflates and bankers board the bandwagon, Tom Walker argues bitcoin has drowned in greed
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism