Poverty is a downer, no two ways about it. It refuses to be made history, though, mercy knows, it should have been consigned to it long ago. And it resists jollying up – narratives of the ‘we were poor, but we were happy’ type notwithstanding.
Sure, one can talk about ‘breaks’. How the woman running ragged doing four different jobs on the periphery of an Indonesian city got hers via a small loan and now runs her own successful business doing x.
In reality, such stories of ‘making it’ are not commonplace (we have an example in our report from Brazil). It defies logic that inside every hardworking poor person is an entrepreneur waiting to emerge. Or that the deprived communities in which they operate have the cash to support a streetful of small shopkeepers.
The hillside the marginalized face is steep and it’s a heavy stone they must push up it. Far more useful and effective would be creating a more level surface where efforts and fruits could be better shared. This requires a system change against the undervaluing of everything that poor people do only to expand the fortunes of the already wealthy – a form of thievery that this edition lays bare. This argument for change is not new, but it acquires urgency because today there is no material reason whatsoever why poverty should still exist and why inequality should be spiralling out of control.
Elsewhere, we share stories of people fighting the power: doughty indigenous human-rights defender Virginia Pinares from Peru, Canadian youth taking a stand for the planet, and Sarawak islanders in Malaysia holding out for sustainable renewable power over destructive mega-dams.
Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
The globalized garment industry is as ruthless as they come, creaming off huge profits while paying workers a pittance. Trade unionist Anannya Bhattacharjee from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance is pressing the case for a living wage. She explains to Dinyar Godrej that the changes needed are surprisingly small – yet vehemently resisted.
For more than half a century, economists and policymakers have focused fanatically on growth as the only feasible way to end global poverty and improve people’s lives. But in an era of planet-wide ecological breakdown, that comfortable conventional wisdom is crashing to an end. Jason Hickel lays it on the line.
An epic struggle has been playing out between islanders defending their land, rivers and livelihoods and the Malaysian government’s vision of ‘development’. Veronique Mistiaen spoke with Peter Kallang, the campaigner in the thick of it.
Skipping meals to talk to the media, aiming to get arrested – and still making it to your hockey game. These are just some of the tasks found on the to-do lists of campaigners in Canada who are putting everything on the line to fight for a liveable, just future. Lucy EJ Woods went to meet them.
Prisons damage people and have always been used by the powerful to control the most marginalized. But when some criminals undoubtedly pose great danger to others, can society really do away with incarceration altogether? Kelsey Mohamed and Andrew Neilson go head to head.