Friday, 31 July 2009

To End Poverty: The Starvation of the Periphery by the Core by Richard Hunt

Politicians  need to be able to promise their elecotrs that they can end poverty. The politicians' economists say that that can only be done by economic growth. But economic growth is poisoning the planey. Everyone now quietly realizes that there are limits to growth; water and timber are getting short; the seas and rivers are getting polluted; the climate is heating up. So at the moment the politicians can only promise to end poverty at the cost of the planet.

Therefore an answer must be found for the politicians to end poverty without destroying the planet. That answer lies in decentralisation and cutting indirect taxes on the poor., hardly an unpopular programme, but in direct conflict with conventional economic wisdom. Politics in the future will be a battle between the centralists and the decentralists, right wing centralists with left wing centralists against against right wing decentralists with left wing decentralists. The conflict of trends, globalisation versus nationalism, signals this new battle. History is beginning again!

It is the economic and historical analysis of To End Poverty which will underpin this decentralist movement, for it disputes the claim of both capitalism and marxism to create wealth, rather than just move it around from periphery to core.

This seminal book is a carefully researched historical survey of the causes of poverty showing where the economists went wrong and the simple and popular steps to end poverty which don't require any of the radical and unrealistic changes in human nature that green movements usually demand. These ideas are strictly materialist.

An important book, written with a light touch, it is scholarly but accessible.

The proof reader writes: "Here are your proofs, which I enjoyed reading very much... I am not equipped to evaluate your arguments, but your prevailing theme has my utmost sympaty". - Nina Wilkes 

The above was taken from the inside flap of the hardcover. The below is from the back cover.

Economists have always invented a theory of economics and then tried to fit history into it. This analysis looks at the historical causes of poverty and then derives a theory from that history.

It first shows that hunter-gatherers were 'the original affluent society' and that therefore ignorance or laziness were not the causes of poverty. It then shows how rulers, with the fiat of religion, forced their peoples to produce a surplus and hand it over to them, making the rulers and their companions rich and the people poor. It examines how the periphery and hinterland were stripped of their resources to feed, clothe and shelter the people  of the core and how that periphery expands as the population of the core increases until the Third World of today is the impoverished periphery of the core developed world.

It describes how a core dies when no longer able to extract the resources from its periphery as when the Roman Empire fell because the resources were transferred to Constantinople. It shows that the Industrial Revolution was caused by Britain's highest labour costs in Europe, caused by the highest indirect taxation. To sell cloth we had to industrialise to cut labour costs, or starve. It is therefore reversible.

It disproves the Theory of Division of Labour showing that it benefits the rich and impoverishes the poor. It points out that Keynes, in killing off Say's Law, inadvertently killed off Division of Labour and Comparative Advantage, the justification for Free Trade.

"Hunts ideas may be considered fringe at the moment but I've got a funny feeling that one day he'll be seen as one of the shapers of the 21st century" - Robert Hill in 'Radical Shift'.

Hardcover: 223 pages
Publisher: Alternative Green (14 Oct 1997)
His curriculum vitae is one of principled radicalism. Former Editor of GREEN ANARCHIST, ALTERNATIVE GREEN and author of TO END POVERTY: THE STARVATION OF THE PERIPHERY BY THE CORE (a ground-breaking work influencing the development of National-Anarchism), there is little doubt that RICHARD HUNT was one of the most stimulating and original thinkers of the last decade.

See also