The twenty-first century will be defined by the fight against the scourges of poverty, inequality, and the threat of environmental collapse – just as the fight against slavery or for universal suffrage defined earlier eras.
Rooted in decades of Oxfam’s experience across the developing world, From Poverty to Power argues that it requires a radical redistribution of power, opportunities, and assets to break the cycle of poverty and inequality and to give poor people power over their own destinies. The forces driving this transformation are active citizens and effective states.
Because people living in poverty must have a voice in deciding their own destiny, fighting for rights and justice in their own society, and holding the state and private sector to account, there is a need for active citizens and effective states because history shows that no country has prospered without a state structure than can actively manage the development process.
There is now an added urgency in addition to the moral case for tackling poverty and inequality: climate change. We need to build a secure, fair, and sustainable world within the limits set by scarce resources and ecological realities. This book argues that leaders, organisations, and individuals need to act together, while there is still time.
How does the Second Edition differ from the first, published in 2008?
The book has been updated throughout with the latest statistics and with a new section summarising the human impact of the global financial and food price chaos of the last five years. It looks at new thinking and research in relation to the Arab Spring and climate change. It also incorporates large amounts of analysis from the blog of the same name, which was launched in 2008 to promote the first edition, but rapidly acquired a life (and readership) of its own.
About the Author
Duncan Green is the author of From Poverty to Power and Oxfam GB’s Senior Strategic Adviser. He was Oxfam’s Head of Research from 2004–12. From Poverty to Power contains the accumulated knowledge of 25 years spent researching and writing about reducing poverty and combating injustice and, as he says, trying to “do justice to the complexity of the world, while still believing there is a story about how it can be changed for the better”.
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Redi Tlhabi, author of Endings and Beginnings, talked about the scourge of rape across the globe, and invited three discussants on her Al Jazeera talk show South2North, to help understand why there is the kind of violence against women that we are currently witnessing.
Tlhabi talked to Ratna Kapur, a professor of Law at Jindal Global Law School in New Delhi, who said that the outpouring of support for rape victims and survivors was extraordinary, and that it’s not helpful “really to call this a hate crime, all that really does is set up men against women … men as women-hating …”
Another guest on the show, Farid Esack, head of the department of religious studies at the University of Johannesburg, said that “Crimes against women isn’t a problem of women … it is a crisis of how we define ourselves as men.” Also joining the discussion was Amelia Kleijn.
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In a post for Africa Is a Country, Christopher Webb reviews Marikana: A View From the Mountain and a Case to Answer and finds that it “proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that NUM, the police and Lonmin management are to blame for the slaughter”.
Webb delves into the details of the book and shows the meticulous research and interviewing skills that went into collecting a rounded view of events, from the six weeks following the shootings. He says that the authors of the book note that it would be an introductory tome for future researchers. What the book notes is stark: “From worker testimony, it is clear that what ensued is nothing short of premeditated slaughter, as the majority of those killed were hunted down across the veldt. “People were not killed because they were fighting,” notes one striker, “they were killed while they were running away.””
The day after the police shot 34 miners at Marikana a small group gathered outside the gates of parliament in Cape Town. Barely 100 people, holding signs calling for answers and justice, we marched to the police station on Buitenkant, across from the District Six Museum, to deliver a petition calling for the arrest of Nathi Mthethwa, National Chief of Police. The march, for South African standards, was small and made stranger by the fact that few joined us as we passed the rush-hour crowds outside Cape Town station. Commuters looked away as they rushed to their taxis. Later that day I went to a dinner in the very-white, very-gated southern suburbs where the massacre was discussed as if it were a police briefing: a violent mob of uneducated thugs, fuelled by muti and brandishing all manner of weaponry had attacked police who responded with necessary force. A local ANC activist expressed similar sentiments to me a few days later, as he urged me not to place blame until truth had been established.
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- Marikana: A view from the mountain and a case to answer by Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell, Bongani Xezwi
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It was announced yesterday that president Jacob Zuma has dropped the law suit against Zapiro over his infamous Lady Justice cartoon. Following the withdrawal of charges, the Presidency has today challenged Zapiro to a public debate.
In an article for the Mail & Guardian, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj is quoted as saying: “Let’s look at [the cartoon] through the multicultural lens of South Africa … in an atmosphere where we can listen to each other and stop pretending that any one individual has the infallible answers to all our problems.” Zapiro told the newspaper that he finds the idea of a debate intriguing.
In an article for The New Age Zapiro expressed his relief that Zuma’s R5 million claim, which was subsequently reduced, has now been dropped completely. He considers it a victory for freedom of speech.
According to an IOL article, the claim was withdrawn so as to not set a legal precedent that could harm freedom of speech.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj, who extended the invitation to Shapiro, said a debate would help “create an environment of dialogue rather than confrontation”, the Star reported on Tuesday.
On Monday, the suit against Shapiro and the Sunday Times over the Lady Justice cartoon was formally withdrawn.
Cartoonist Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro is relieved the “Lady Justice” cartoon court battle with President Jacob Zuma is over, he said on Monday.
It’s a great victory for freedom of expression and for satire and for comment,” he said by telephone from Cape Town.
Media lawyer Dario Milo said the case was formally withdrawn on Monday morning.
President Jacob Zuma withdrew his claim for damages against cartoonist “Zapiro” to avoid setting a legal precedent, the presidency said on Sunday.
“The president… would like to avoid setting a legal precedent that may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech, with the unforeseen consequences this may have on our media, public commentators and citizens,” his spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement on Sunday.
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Pierre van Rooyen, author of Saturdays Are Gold, has written a column for Times LIVE in which he details his ideas for wealth creation among South Africa’s unemployed.
Van Rooyen’s concept melds entrepreneurship with kibbutz-style collective projects and has, at its heart, the interests of individual communities.
One of the best things I ever did was spend the royalties I received from my first novel on sending a matriculant to the teachers’ training college in Eshowe.
Themba Nguni told me he couldn’t believe how good the Afrikaner lecturers were to the students, treating them as if they were their own sons. Themba had been born out of wedlock and didn’t have a father. So he adopted me as his father.
He became a high school teacher in Newcastle, used his salary to enrol at UNISA and majored in maths and science.
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Adekeye Adebajo, author of UN Peacekeeping in Africa, has written an article in the Mail & Guardian commenting on a recent United Nations gathering in New York which commemorated the 10th anniversary of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty report. Adebajo looks at the commission in light of recent debates regarding intervention in Syria:
As reports continue of massacres in Syria (at least 3 500 deaths so far), the good and great of the United Nations community recently gathered in New York, sponsored by the Stanley Foundation, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty report of 2001.
The commission was established by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and its principle of “responsibility to protect”, or “R2P”, stated that if governments were unwilling or unable to protect populations at risk then the international community had a duty to intervene. It was adopted at a UN summit in 2005.
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Denis Hirson, poet and novelist who has been living in France since 1975, has written a tribute to George Whitman, the Paris-based bibliophile who founded the famous bookshop Shakespeare and Company.
The bookstore has been a cultural icon, becoming the home of the Anglophone literary scene in Paris circa 1951 and having the patronage of customers such as Norman Mailer, William Styron, James Jones, George Plimpton, humorist Art Buchwald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, TS Eliot, Ford Maddox Ford, F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, as well as Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller and William Burroughs. Most recently the bookstore made a cameo in Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris.
In his tribute, Hirson reports on the funeral of Whitman, celebrating not only his life as a generous ex-GI American who would offer expats refuge, but as someone who established a literary and historical icon:
George Whitman, the man who founded the Mistral Bookshop, later changing its name to Shakespeare and Co., died in Paris on 14th December 2011, two days after his 98th birthday. His funeral took place
at Père Lachaise cemetery on Thursday 22 December. The way the ceremony was thought out was exceptional, the organizers’ generosity palpable; the speakers were uncommonly eloquent and their presence moving in the extreme.
By 3pm, about 200 people had filled the wooden seats or were standing to the sides of the round Salle de la Coupole. Many held a white rose they had been handed at the door. Ahead of them, beyond the cupola and up some low stairs were the shadowed depths of the hall, with a mosaic of a city in panels of bright colour at its far end. To one side stood a group of musicians led by guitarist Alex Freiman and including a saxophone player. They began the ceremony with a low- pitched, lilting, almost hoarse version of “My Funny Valentine” as George Whitman’s plain wooden coffin was borne in by four pallbearers and set down in the central aisle. They later played “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “J’ai deux amours”.
More tributes to Shakespeare and Company:
Shakespeare and Company was only part bookshop; it was also part library, part youth hostel and part cultural shrine. As Anaïs Nin recorded in her Paris diaries of the 1950s: “And there by the Seine was the bookshop… an Utrillo house, not too steady on its foundations, small windows, wrinkled shutters. And there was George Whitman, undernourished, bearded, a saint among his books, lending them, housing penniless friends upstairs, not eager to sell, in the back of the store, in a small overcrowded room, with a desk, a small stove. All those who come for books remain to talk, while George tries to write letters, to open his mail, order books. A tiny, unbelievable staircase, circular, leads to his bedroom, or the communal bedroom, where he expected Henry Miller and other visitors to stay.”
More than a distributor of books, Mr. Whitman saw himself as patron of a literary haven, above all in the lean years after World War II, and the heir to Sylvia Beach, the founder of the original Shakespeare & Company, the celebrated haunt of Hemingway and James Joyce.
As Mr. Whitman put it, “I wanted a bookstore because the book business is the business of life.”
George Whitman, who has died aged 98, was the proprietor of Shakespeare and Company in Paris, probably the world’s most famous bookshop. He took the name from an equally celebrated establishment, from which James Joyce’s novel Ulysses had been published in 1922.
The original Shakespeare and Company, run by Sylvia Beach on Rue de l’Odéon, had closed during the second world war. Whitman opened his first shop in 1951 under a different title, renaming it Shakespeare and Company 13 years later, shortly after Beach’s death. When his only daughter was born in 1981, he named her Sylvia Beach Whitman after his bookselling predecessor. By this time the venture was a celebrated centre of English literature beyond the English-speaking world.
George Whitman has died. He was 98.
You may not know his name but if you speak English and have ever visited Paris you probably know his bookshop: Shakespeare & Co.
Whitman set up the shop in 1951. He was one of a generation of Americans – mostly ex GI’s on the GI bill – who went to Paris after World War II and tried to re-start the party that made the French capital the center of western culture in the 20′s and 30′s, the place where the Hemingway and Fitzgerald legends were born.
The Paris Review was started. William Styron, Norman Mailer, James Jones, George Plimpton, humorist Art Buchwald and jazz musicians too numerous to mention moved back. There were so many Americans in the city that M-G-M made a Gene Kelly musical about ex-patriot life called “An American in Paris” the year Whitman opened his shop. It won the Best Picture Oscar.
For decades, Mr. Whitman presided over the store with a benign if somewhat mercurial presence, holding poetry readings and providing free room and board to thousands of would-be Hemingways. It has been featured in books, documentaries and the recent Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris.”
Mr. Whitman originally called his store, at 37 rue de la Bucherie, Le Mistral.
“I came to Paris in 1946 and stayed on,” he told the Literary Review in 2003. “I started a little lending library for American GIs who had stayed on in Paris. I finally decided I’d open a bookstore here to make room for all my books.”
INDIFFERENT as he was to modern amenities, George Whitman took some convincing to snuff out the candles for good and install electric lights in his Paris bookshop in 1959. His ramshackle labyrinth of dusty nooks and sagging bookshelves, some secured with twisted coat-hangers, was more a commune than a shop. Over the 60 years since he bought the place from an Arab grocer, using inherited money, an estimated 40,000 travellers have slept among the books, on makeshift beds or the floor, in his “socialist Utopia that masquerades as a bookstore”.
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Jacob Dlamini, author of Native Nostlagia, says that some of the best English fiction in the 20th and 21st centuries has come from writers living outside the orbit of the English metropole, like South African author JM Coetzee.
According to Dlamini, this lends credence to the view that English cannot be owned by any person or country. As such, it points out that those with a vehement adherence to the rules of grammar are being pig-headed. Dlamini refers to Winston Churchill, a winner of the Nobel prize in Literature, who pointed out the absurdity of strictly adhering to the split infinitive rule. Dlamini says, “rules only make sense until they don’t”:
A friend recently sent me the following fragment from the 1983 annual report of the English Academy of Southern Africa: “To complete the picture as far as our specifically language-related activities are concerned: we (the English Academy of SA) were represented at a ‘Military Language Congress’ organised by the SA Defence Force (SADF) at Voortrekkerhoogte, in May this year; we have finally won our battle to have the ‘equals’ sign banished when a word is broken at the end of a line — the hyphen is back, in both English and Afrikaans.”
As my friend, with whom I share a dark sense of humour about SA’s past, said: “Hurrah, then, all is well again in the land.”
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In an article in the Mail & Guardian, Maggie Davey tells the story of the banning of Peter Wright’s MI5 memoir, Spycatcher, in the UK in the 1980s. Davey argues that the case of Spycatcher holds an important lesson for the ANC ahead of the implementation of the controversial Protection of Information Bill:
England was the land of Argos. Not Argos, Odysseus and Telemachus but Argos, the catalogue store. A place where you could buy almost anything. Things that, in the main, were not available in middle-Ireland, or even left, right, top and bottom Ireland. Mini-sewing machines, deluxe hair-curling tongs (I had just had the obligatory 1986 perm and had no use for this anyway), bouncy castles. Snooker tables for the home Portable synthesisers Fondue sets Useless things.
Which is why, in the mid-1980s, when Peter Wright’s Spycatcher, the memoirs of an ex-MI5 man, was banned in the United Kingdom, the very fact that it was available in Ireland was cause for some smugness. In an Argosless land, here was a commodity that we had and they did not. It was not a sophisticated line of thought, granted. But those were the days when the BBC television weather forecast stopped at the Northern Ireland border and middle-Ireland had more in common with East Germany than with our English neighbours.
Maggie Davey is a director of Jacana Media
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Anthony Butler, author of Paying for Politics, says that the ANC is facing a succession dilemma. On the one hand, Butler believes that Jacob Zuma is incapable of serving a second term as state president, but on the other, he sees no clear alternative to Zuma:
African National Congress (ANC) leaders find themselves impaled on the horns of a succession dilemma as their movement approaches its centenary year.
It is clear that President Jacob Zuma should not be allowed to serve a second term as state president. His judgement has been poor and his leadership has been weak. Youth League agitation, community protest, and the sober analysis of the National Planning Commission all point to the same conclusion: the country urgently requires capable executive leadership.
In another Business Day column, Butler says that SA businesses are ignorant of the looming war with workers’ unions:
SA’s business leaders have mostly expressed little concern about the current wave of industrial action. Their conventional wisdom is that strikes simply oblige managers to adopt labour-saving strategies that mainly affect the poor and the unemployed. This lazy analysis ignores the ramifications of the coming decade of confrontation between trade unions and employers.
First, unions’ negotiating capacity is being eroded by organisational and intellectual decay. The once- productive alliance between urban workers and progressive intellectuals has ossified. Trade unions continue to produce gifted worker intellectuals, but too many of them now acquire superfluous capabilities in the critique of capitalist and bourgeois institutions rather than instrumentally useful skills in economic and social analysis. Populist competition from the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League is meanwhile driving unions towards symbolic anti- capitalist positions.
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- Paying for Politics: Party Funding and Political Change in South Africa and the Global South edited by Anthony Butler
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