NEW BOOK: THE DIVIDE
London: Penguin Random House, 2017
New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2018
We have been told that development is working: that the global South is catching up to the North, that poverty has been cut in half over the past thirty years, and will be eradicated by 2030. It’s a comforting tale, and one that is endorsed by the world’s most powerful governments and corporations. But is it true?
Since 1960, the income gap between the North and South has roughly tripled in size. Today 4.3 billion people, 60 per cent of the world's population, live on less than $5 per day. The richest eight people now control the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world combined.
What is causing this growing divide? We are told that poverty is a natural phenomenon that can be fixed with aid. But in reality it is a political problem: poverty doesn’t just exist, it has been created.
Poor countries are poor because they are integrated into the global economic system on unequal terms. The aid narrative hides the deep patterns of wealth extraction that cause poverty and inequality in the first place: rigged trade deals, tax evasion, land grabs and the costs associated with climate change. The Divide tracks the evolution of this system, from the expeditions of Christopher Columbus in the 1490s to the international debt regime, which has allowed a handful of rich countries to effectively control economic policies in the rest of the world.
Because poverty is a political problem, it requires political solutions. The Divide offers a range of revelatory answers, but also explains that something much more radical is needed – a revolution in our way of thinking. Drawing on pioneering research, detailed analysis and years of first-hand experience, The Divide is a provocative, urgent and ultimately uplifting account of how the world works, and how it can change.
Praise for The Divide
"This book will radically change the way you understand the global economic system and the challenges faced by poor countries trying to advance within it." -- Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
"The Divide is myth busting at its best." -- Danny Dorling, University of Oxford, author of Inequality and the 1%
"There’s no understanding global inequality without understanding its history. In The Divide, Jason Hickel brilliantly lays it out, layer upon layer, until you are left reeling with the outrage of it all." -- Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics
"Hickel's clear-eyed debunking of the platitudes of international aid is refreshing and revolutionary. His writing penetratingly explores those forces that perpetuate global inequality and shreds the notion that the fissure between rich and poor is anything other than intentional." -- Publishers Weekly
"A sharply argued analysis of the traditional explanations for wealth and poverty in the world. Sure to distress the neoliberals but a powerful case for reform in the cause of economic justice." -- Kirkus Reviews
"The Divide is an extremely clear and well-argued diagnosis of our contemporary economic malaise. It confronts the reader with the impossibility of environmentally sustainable development within the parameters of the current global system and puts forward an optimistic manifesto for change. As Hickel writes: ‘when myths fall apart, revolutions happen.'" -- LSE Review of Books
"The Divide provides an evolutionary leap in our understanding of inequality and poverty. It should be required reading for anyone hoping to realise a better world." -- Alnoor Ladha, Greenpeace
"This is a timely book that cuts to the heart of the problem of global inequality. Jason Hickel lays down a challenge to policymakers everywhere which must not be ignored." -- Jonathan Bartley, Co-Leader of the Green Party UK
"The Divide should be on the curriculum of every undergraduate course in international development and international relations." -- Ann Pettifor, author of The Production of Money
"Jason Hickel tears apart the destructive myths surrounding global inequality. He shows that colonialism has not disappeared, only changed form. Full of explosive information and devastating argument, The Divide is essential reading." -- Raoul Martinez, author of Creating Freedom
"We all like to think of aid and development as benign in a world full of inequality and violence. Jason Hickel rightly challenges this dangerous myth with a book that crackles with facts, indignation and heart. Journalists, aid workers and anybody who has ever given aid should read this book. Hickel should be applauded." -- Antony Loewenstein, author of Disaster Capitalism
"The Divide is an exceptional and essential book about the processes that produce and perpetuate impoverishment. Jason Hickel provides here not only a devastating critique of ‘development’ and the aid industry, but also one of the best explanations of how it all works. Written in a captivating and easy to read style, this book must become the standard text for everyone studying, working or interested in development." -- Firoze Manji, author of African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions
"A brilliant book which is engrossing, challenging and revealing in equal measure. Read it and learn why the world has such staggering inequality." -- Francesca Martinez, comedian and author of What the **** is Normal?
"For years now, we have all been sold a false story about international development. In this broad, compelling book, Dr Hickel deconstructs every false assumption, misleading statistic and overblown claim to expose a sector in crisis. If international development charities and institutions want to turn the ship around, they need to read this book." -- Martin Kirk, /The Rules
"Jason Hickel offers a compelling analysis of economic inequality in our world today. Hickel explains how current models of Western development and philanthropy have actually made the problem worse, as if they were designed explicitly to support entrenched structures of power and privilege. The book is ultimately an outcry for a new politics based on empathy and shared responsibility." -- Daniel Pinchbeck, author of How Soon is Now?
"Jason Hickel's bold book is full of stark facts and assumption-busting pronouncements." -- Geographical
"Well-written, accessible and thoroughly referenced. The Divide is a timely reminder of the pain, misery and suffering forced on so many worldwide in the name of ‘development’ and of the need to constantly rekindle our anger and passion for what is the key story in today’s world. As an introduction to the debate on international development and inequality, it is hard to better Hickel. Without doubt, a ‘must read’." -- Colm Regan, Development Education
"A radical and original approach… a well-argued and bracing alternative account of world development and sustainability." -- Irish Times