Disappearing The Poor
How World Bank policies led to famine in Haiti, The Real News
As if to demonstrate that poverty is now a residual issue in the world, the poor are being slowly eliminated from the imagery of the busy global media. […]
If they have not yet been completely eclipsed, at least their wellbeing is now entrusted to NGOs, charities and international institutions, far more dependable custodians of their welfare than any self-help, or organisation on their own behalf. “The poor” have become an object of piety in a secular world. Who does not strive to raise them out of their misery? Is that after all not the purpose of wealth-creation?
Window-dressing is perhaps the highest art in the culture of globalism. In spite of appearances, poverty exhibits a disagreeable tenacity in the world. Since its removal would be an arduous process, it is, perhaps, easier to obliterate the representation of the poor in the world’s media than to wipe out poverty.
It may also be that the media vanishing trick prefigures something far more sinister, preparatory, perhaps, to more material disappearances. For their persistent presence remains a spectre at the global feast. What an agreeable place the world is – or would be – without them: nothing to mar the smiling imagery of plenty, the abundance of the display window and the publicity machine, the shopping mall and the showroom, the wall-to-wall entertainment and TV channels of endless music and laughter.
There are daily intimations of a more brutal dematerialisation of the poor. Wholesale clearances of city slums intensify whenever some spectacular event is to be staged – Beijing has unceremoniously removed its urban poor for the Olympics. Delhi has been cleansing its slums in readiness for the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Bengaluru is to become “slum-less” as a result of its “slum clearance with a mission” programme. On almost every map of the world’s major cities, the areas occupied by the urban poor appear as blank spaces, emblem of their future erasure.
[…] At least 140,000 farmers in India committed suicide between 1997 and 2007 […] “accidents of modernity”, people for whom nothing has replaced decaying structures of meaning. […]
[…] How simple for the state to shoot them down, and write off their no-account lives as an “encounter” with militants, ultras, extremists, and all the other inventive taxonomies devised to justify the elimination of those they have impoverished to the point of hopelessness.
Arundhati Roy sees preparations for a “genocide” against the poor […]
As if to support this grim scenario, the ghost of hunger is presently being invoked by the global information machines. […] The Malthusian insight, that no place is set at nature’s banquet for the poor, has been revised: no longer nature’s banquet, it is now a feast crafted by a global food manufacturing industry.
[…] In the perpetual artificial sunshine of the technosphere, within the global gated community in which all the inhabitants are rich, the poor have already ceased to exist. But it is one thing to banish them from the enchanted islands of plenty, that virtual reality of the fantasists of wealth, but quite another to erase them from a material world in which they remain an obdurate majority. Their refusal to go quietly into the oblivion for which they are apparently destined is likely to take unpredictable and malignant forms; since they are the footsoldiers of the militias, Maoists, mafiosi and militants who have flooded the spaces evacuated by governments for whom the poor no longer count. Read the article
“… we’ll plan for 8% of the world’s population … and, as if somehow, magically, the few NGOs … will take care of the remaining 92% …”