RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

writing for godot


Written by   
Wednesday, 05 June 2019 00:35


-In the current process of globalization, the fight against poverty is a futile exercise as it is not poverty that should be considered the core problem, but affluence. (Theo Ruyter)


Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars on poverty are fought to map changes (Mohamed Ali)


-Wars kill, so does indifference.


1. The only useful definition of poverty is a subjective one in that poverty simply is the unavailability, in a given society, of what that society considers the basic necessities. (Tony O’Brien)


2. Or, if you prefer, poverty is just the lack of enough assets to buy solutions to problems, problems like hunger that, people in the same societies with just a little more assets, find easy to buy solutions to. [So let us focus on why some people lack that modest stock of assets and how their condition can be remedied]. (Roy Lanston)


3. Or, furthermore, for Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach, poverty is not a condition, but a process, and alleviating poverty is not a question of providing commodities or income to the poor*, but of giving them the opportunities, the choices to achieve their own well being. (Asuncion St Clair) [Of course, my very own plea for moving the optic and the discussion towards disparity reduction instead does not fit well here with the capability approach…].

*: You know this: All too often, we attack poverty by giving something to those rendered poor, providing them with food and other things that do little or nothing to address the poverty status. We may make people more comfortable in their poor condition, but we fail to look at the vested interests in maintaining poverty! (Harry Pollard) …and looking at poverty as a human rights (HR) violation.


4. Poverty is a structural matter and ought to be dealt with as such. It is ‘the structure that militates against people’s potential to act on their own behalf’. (Fackson Banda)


5. Charles Darwin said: “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by institutions, great is our sin”. And I say “Amen” to that. (T. O’Brien)


The rich cannot get richer without the poor getting poorer


-Those rendered poor are not self-destructive or short-sighted, they are oppressed --their human rights violated.

-Let us talk straight: What has happened is that the lower class has become ‘inmisered’ and the middle class impoverished.  (Boaventura de Sousa Santos)

-The rich are very charitable. They understand that they have to pay ransom for their riches. (Bernard Shaw)


6. There is the unspoken assumption that there is no particular group responsible for poverty, that poverty somehow persists despite all our efforts; that all our good intentions have unfortunately gone awry. This is intellectual dishonesty! As long as the elites continue to pursue their obscene agenda, poverty will deepen.** (Marc Bombois). [You tell me how this is not a human rights (HR) issue…].

**: We need to understand why China was able to lift more than 300 mill people from abject poverty in the last 25 years and India, a ‘more democratic’ society, has failed to make a dent. […draw your own conclusions].


7. Actually, it is the people living in poverty who have the key instrumental knowledge about the causes and remedies of their situation --so much more than people detached from that reality… Since I think this is 100% true, this challenges the whole international development approach. The most affected are simply not involved as they should. (Warren Feek)


8. The rich have come up with the much used Poverty Index that considers illiteracy, life expectancy at birth, malnutrition rates, access to health and access to water --all stricto-senso economic, social and cultural determinants closely related to HR. Should then not the citizens of rich donor countries take to task their own society of origin, its economy, its politics and its disregards for HR in foreign aid? (Theo Ruyter)


Speaking out, people do not necessarily eat better; not speaking out, they eat much worse


9. As we look at the assumptions of wealth creation in capitalist societies, we discover that it is actually necessary to have poverty in order to support capitalism (Marx). The logical action starting point then is to, with claim holders’ participation, raise issues within and to question excesses in the context of the present ideology dominating the current world order. (Richard Makopondo)


10. Who is asking what do the those rendered poor want?: Do they want more Northern development schemes that follow the capitalist model to tackle poverty …that has proven to lead not out-of, but rather into poverty for the majority of people? Certainly not! People rendered poor interpret reality in a different way than conventional academic orthodoxy does. …and it is that reality we need to tackle to get out of the vicious cycle of maldevelopment.


A pertinent aside


11. In the same context as the above: Who is asking why and how the subsistence of indigenous cultures is threatened?*** (J. Sillars)

***: We have seen how proselytizing churches deliberately distort(ed) indigenous knowledge; over the years, they learned enough about local cultures to be able to use their myths to too often pursue Northern ‘development’ goals. Compare this with international NGOs that have also used local myths to help spread the idea of hygiene, vaccination or education. Most development workers would regard these goals as praiseworthy if and when the NGOs have been culturally sensitive and the approach being used draws on indigenous knowledge acquired in true partnership. (Paul Mundy)


Bottom line


12. Those rendered poor sure need more organization. But not to be guided, controlled or segregated in regions or ghettos or being made to accept ‘new’ development packages without further discussion.****    (Angela Siqueira)

****: For instance, trying to reduce population growth: Clearly not the No.1 right response; what is needed is to reduce the poverty that causes it!


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

Your comments are welcome at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

All readers up to 480+ are available at



Poverty is an affront to human rights. It makes a mockery of the stipulations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.