Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on The Reproach of Hunger  CSPAN  February 21, 2016 8:45am-9:58am EST

8:45 am
republicans tend to get more delegates. there isn't a bellwether in the primary. [inaudible] >> thank you very match. you've been a great audience. buy the book. [applause] >> thank you all for being here. if you wouldn't mind doing us a favor of holding up your chairs and bring them against the bookshelf when you get out. thank you.
8:46 am
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
8:47 am
>> good evening and welcome to mid-library. please take a moment to silence her cell phone if they arrived. this event is being shown by c-span booktv. the microphone will be there and it will not project into this room, so please speak loudly and clearly. tonight's program is a talk based on the book search of hunger, chief justice and money in the 21st century. this is called into question and china levens. here he discusses pushing the ball of eradicating hunger out of reach. the rise in the price of food staples of the world market, the practice of using corn to make ethanol-based fuel. the global warming and its resulting extreme weather
8:48 am
pattern with severe droughts particularly in africa and increased function of china and india which produced as the supply of grain for direct consumption by people. approach of hunger received a stark review at publishers weekly which stated the stellar addition to development policy literature. david rieff is a cultural critic. he graduated with a degree in history from princeton university focus on integration, international conflict and humanitarian -- humanitarianism. he's the author of a previous book and a member of the new for the humanities and collaborated as editor with the world policy journal, the new republic and harper's magazine. for "new york times" magazine and additionally is the founder of war crimes in the american
8:49 am
university in washington d.c. please give a welcome to mr. david rieff. [applause] >> thank you very much for coming out in this beautiful weather, global warming or no global warming. seems we will get a little bit of what you're strange places. it is always -- i'm very old now, but even so it does feels like an obituary to me. but in fact, i have been doing this for a very long time. i started writing migration in the u.s. i wrote to miami for those of you who don't know my work and what about los angeles transformation and the great
8:50 am
immigration. i wrote particularly cuban-americans. they have some connections to that world. i became a kind of war correspondence between 1992 in bosnia and 2004 in bag that i pretty much was in all the critic to go places you can think of. the balkans, the great lakes region of africa. afghanistan, iraq, et cetera. i am much too old to do that now. in any case, i wasn't that interested and didn't feel i had that much to contribute about military question and i was already 40 when i started doing this stuff which is a preposterous age to begin. but i thought i had something to
8:51 am
say about the humanitarian side of war. first of all, just in terms of release. so i spent a long time following relief workers around in all of these places and many others. i was in liberia for a bit. and i was in central america. and they did that for a long time. in this book represents for me from emergency relief, humanitarian aid to have more general question about development. the book is about whether the current mainstream model development can work and the
8:52 am
optimism surrounding it, which i referred to is warranted or not, is justifiable or not. and so, i thought because in the end the darkest masher of poverty is hunger, but i would try to write a book about the development and debate over development over the effort to reduce or end extreme poverty and to end hunger, which are the stated goals of the major unh is to use at many ngos and great philanthropies of the bill and melinda gates foundation. and they really believe that this is the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty of hunger.
8:53 am
i come how come away my temperamental cards on the table. i'm sure if he spent 15 years of your one and only life thinking about war and watching horror clothes, you're probably not be most optimistic of people. but i nonetheless found it very startling as they try to begin to think this through and it took me seven years to write this book in endless amounts of travel in all kinds of places, rich and poor alike. dividend -- i'm at a loss to understand. hunger is -- then it is along with war the great killer in human history. that is what it is. there has been a famine every
8:54 am
generation as far as most experts believe, whether it's the great, the irish economic is tori and. the estimate is there probably was in every society since the beginning of time the great famine every 30 years. so 5000 years of human history as we enter that indefinable terms. they invented every society in seemingly with regularity. so why do people think as i read through the literature and talk to people within the u.n. system
8:55 am
in many different contexts, why is there so much? i want to does english if you'll indulge me between optimism and hope. it is something that should be empirically justifiable. you can hope in the religious sense, hope is a religious idea. you don't have to think that a good outcome is likely to hope for one. but if you are say you are optimistic, you are saying something very different. you are actually saying that you believe a rational person on empirical ground should believe things are going to get better. that is what optimism is. the batter doesn't have to be total. i don't want to caricature of
8:56 am
optimism if you'll permit me. but you know, optimism -- you can't just say i'm optimistic because i want things to be this way or i am optimistic because to abandon optimism is to abandon humanity. even though a lot of people i suggest of calm to think of that as the division between optimism and hope, the distinction between optimism and hope as less than people see. so why was there this optimism? after all, one reading of the world, one might have thought lead to very pessimistic conclusions. i'm not talking so much about
8:57 am
wars because wars are not finished over the last hundred years. while i don't agree with that in his argument that the world is getting better and better, he is absolutely right that the prevalence has diminished in the last century. he is also right that we made extraordinary progress. we, the human species here, not a particular country or region. there have been great programs made in famine. feminist leslie told that ever been. their whole confident in which famine is now unknown, even though it was known everywhere and all civilization since the beginning of time. the historic home of the famine,
8:58 am
which is not africa by which you read in asia has not seen a major famine since the chinese famine of 1968 to 1962, which was man-made, not largely speaking a function of the weather, although obviously the weather played a role, but was largely a function of terrible thing when mary decisions made by his colleagues in the people's republic of china. you know, you are already talking about a famine that in other words have been averted with sounder state policy throughout the murderous industrialization that now and
8:59 am
his colleagues decided to impose on the chinese people. i am not diminishing the lethality indeed. the great chinese famine they be the single most lethal event in human history. it is said somewhere around 40 million people died. that is in one search. you could say we don't have those anymore. he ran africa, which is some ways has become for all kinds of reasons the last renowned famine. they are less lethal. but give you a classic example. in the 1970s which killed something like a quarter million people. there was another one in 2005
9:00 am
and only 60,000 people died. that is a terrible thing, but it is still a fact that this is a famine in the same place, largely the result of the same climate conditions and confluence of various disasters thanks. and yet, many fewer people died because there are technologies to make, to allow many people, particularly the vulnerable to survive. it didn't exist even 30 years ago. despite this optimism and the world is a complicated place. there was a great german marxist philosopher in the night and 30s. some of you assert they know and
9:01 am
perhaps some of you know better than i do, he said every document of civilization is also a document of barbary. now, the record is mixed and it would be foolish in all of this. ..
9:02 am
9:03 am
in labs and controlled environments. just seeing what a particular germplasm of wheat, for example, does if you raise the temperature pick up and we know yield is false. they don't disappear. i'm not talking about the apocalypse here but it seems to me with climate change, anything but resolve. why are people so confident that as it says, you drive up on first avenue to past the un and you will see banners that organizations put up that say poverty will be eliminated by 2030. it's more sloganeering way of saying it but that's with the gist of the argument is so since we don't know whether we are going to have to degrees celsius if we are lucky or four degrees if the deal falls through, why are people so optimistic?and now is the
9:04 am
question i wanted to ask you these are pressing issues. if i can do my kind of global summary, there are 7+ billion people in the world today. it is dead certainty that there will be 9 billion by 2050 pickup. that is not any longer and alternate fact. the question then becomes will there be 12 billion in 2100 or will there be actually a stop to this. will it plateau? if you talk to demographers who are not the happiestpeople , they've been wrong so often that perhaps they are a little winded but most glasslike demographic prediction have been wrong extrapolating from
9:05 am
the present or distant future pickup the classic case is the inventor of demography more or less, the english divine thomas who argued in the early 19th century that because food production could only increase arithmetic that the population could increase geometrically that people were going to starve to death in the near future and yet that's not what happened. it's dangerous to talk to demographers but i don't think even the most optimistic among us would suggest that there will be less then 10 billion people by 2100. that's an increase, in other
9:06 am
words you will have a third more human beings on this planet in 85 years then you do now and a steady increase along the way to that so how are you going to feed these people? and how is one going to order the world so that the world doesn't become a place where again, the poor starve and the poor areas, and global warming has been very unfair if you will, you can't call a global phenomenon unfair because it gives the agency that obviously of phenomenon cannot have but nonetheless it will be the poor parts of the world, the regions of africa, parts of the near
9:07 am
middle east that are likely to be the most affected. in other words, the poorest people are going to get the worst of it the people least resilient toward it are going to get the worst that the situation, just to keep it on food, on their agriculture is going to be the worst affected. so why all this optimism? and i must say, the optimism is pervasive for those of you who made out this go i invite you to go on the websites of any of the major un agencies. of the world bank, the imf, any major philanthropy. most of the major relief and development ngos in the world. any government in the global south as well as the global north, it's not the optimistic, it's not restricted to the rich countries of the global north.
9:08 am
it is quite widespread pickup there's an organization based in ghana which the former secretary general of the united nations, kofi annan is now the president, called the alliance for a green revolution in africa. thereto you are talking about very smart people who think things are going to be steadily better. so that these disasters are going to be overrated and that, in the end, we are actually going to come out with these goals of ending extreme poverty and hunger. by the way, the definition of extreme poverty is those making a dollar 25 a day or less income of an individual and
9:09 am
there are probably 1 billion people like this in the world today. so one in seven of us. why shouldn't, if these regions, some of which are also the areas that have not begun what is conventionally called the demographic transition, that is to say the fall in birth rates that has come in many parts of the world. look at mexico. mexico is a very good example of a country that in 30 years has gone from about five kids per family to more or less replacement level. mexican birthrates are in freefall and yet again, coming back to my skepticism about what can or can't be predicted, i don't think anyone saw that 30 years ago pickup. it was a roman writer who once said, he wrote somewhere that
9:10 am
he didn't understand when two soothsayers met in the road why both didn't burst out laughing. and why the optimism? again, i freely admit my bias which is that having spent so much time in the parts of the world i spend time in, optimism is hard for me. there was a profile of me once years ago in "time magazine" that was actuallycalled mister pessimism so , be word. full disclosure, whatever the clichi. nonetheless, it did seem to me that with, that i couldn't figure out why people felt this way. and so i tried to look at the mainstream view which i tentatively describe and try to understand and then to look at the critics of that view, most of whom can be, some of whom
9:11 am
who are free-market, libertarians. there's a very good economic economist at nyu called william easterly who belongs to that school. there's also a canadian writer who is associated, wrote a book that was very controversial that bill gates denounced in the most savage terms called the end of aids whichis a critique of development aid in the global south . but the main opposition to this mainstream view, this view that asserts we are going to abolish extreme poverty and hunger by 2030, more or less is to be found among what you might some up as the members of the anti-globalization movement. people who think fundamentally that the problems that capitalism cannot solve the problem it's created and that
9:12 am
in the end, the slogan of the anti-globalization movement is another world is possible and that without that other world, which is a political and moral transformation, no amount of technological wizardry will solve these problems, will make hungry people have enough to eat or poor people not be poor anymore. so why do all these smart people, i understand the critiqueof the anti-globalization movement and to some extent i share it . in the book i talk about that at some length but why do all these smart people think that hunger is at an end?
9:13 am
or can be ended? why is jeff sachs written a book called the end of poverty? why does ban ki-moon, the current secretary-general of the united nations continually say, and in this he is firmly seconded by doctor jim young kim who is the head of the world bank, why do these people who are brilliant people think that we've reached this genuinely millennial moment? this moment unknown in all of human history? short of abolishing mortality? and obviously there are people who think they may be able to pull that off, they are pretty much ending poverty and its unheard-of, unexpected development as you can imagine. all the major religious traditions take poverty for
9:14 am
granted. the floor will always be with us the bible says. and there are equivalent views in buddhism and of course hinduism actually tells you that you deserve your fate. that you've obviously done the same thing terrible the last time out. at least that's a commonplace interpretation of why people suffer. that you find in india. so why are they so optimistic? and i think there are a couple of answers. the first is that what all these people fear is very smart people. is to some extent a belief that the great ideological battles of the past are over, or should be over.
9:15 am
it's whether explicitly or implicitly, they accept what you might call the francis googly, end of history point of view and at that point ofview says , one mustn't caricature it, he's a very smart guy. fuji, says basically, not that bad things would no longer happen. not that we've reached the end of days but that we now know what a successful society had to be and that was a liberal capitalist democracy and that's what, he said, so we should all agree and of course he said lots of people who accept this and they would beunsuccessful . i think that view, it's the thinking of the mainstream development world. i think basically they think
9:16 am
that the anti-blood globalization people who attack them are crazy. we all agree and weare all on the same page . we want free markets but also safeguards. we want fair taxation but not onerous taxation. we want democratic accountability, property rights, etc. and we all agree on that. if you think back, then what you think is there's no political problem so when the anti-globalization people say this isn't a technical problem, it's a politicalproblem. they think there is no political problem . to solve that. and i point you to jeffrey sachs, to the un, to relevant un agencies.
9:17 am
the man runs the fda. and certainly if you go on the website of the gates foundation, ford foundation, you name it, this is absolutely what people believe. so if you knocked politics out of the equation, it's much easier to be optimistic because you just think, oh, these people are not being constructive. i remember once having a debate with a guy at mit who said to me we want criticism but not the kind you give because your criticism isn't constructive. and i said to him, if that's really what you mean you're not talking about criticism. you're talking about brainstorming which is a very different thing altogether.
9:18 am
and sometimes it reminds me, i spent in the late 80s and very early 90s i was going back and forth to cuba, miami, to hume havana and like that and there's a famous speech of fidel castro's pickup it's known, you can find it anywhere in any proper versions in many languages. it's famously called the speech to the intellectuals. and at the end of this speech hesays , within the revolution outside of nothing. and i think that's now the view of the mainstream development world towards critics so what for them is the problem? what for them is, again these are very smartpeople. they know about global warming also . it's not like the critics have a monopoly on intelligence or
9:19 am
information. on the contrary. so what's the reason there optimistic? the reason they are optimistic beyond the politics, beyond the fukuyama end of history part , is a belief that technology and science will solve every problem. i call this techno-utopianism and i believe it's about as realistic as utopianism which i remind you means no place. but they believe, and you can find this. i quote a great many things in the book but of gates, i actually used to be a contributing writer to the new york times magazine and i did a long piece on the gates foundation, on their
9:20 am
agriculture programs and follow the guy called rajeev shaw who was most recently barack obama's administrator of the us agency for international development until last year and he, and all these people they say look , it's true that we don't have the solutions now. but in 10 years, science will provide those answers, even if we don't yet know what they are. and that's why i think it's utopian. it's also, again, a notion of problem-solving. there are no great moral questions. we already know the answers according to this view. there are no great political questions because we know what the successful quality will look like. so what everything else is, and it's typical of gates who is an engineer would think in these
9:21 am
engineering terms which is that problems arethere to be solved . not managed, solved. not debated, brainstormed over, etc. but gates said in a speec , he has his own blog and the foundation has a blogand its most revealing . it would have been nice to have similar insights into the thoughts of andrew carnegie or john d rockefeller for such people,whatever else you want to say about them these , he doesput out what he actually thinks . he doesn't necessarily put out what he thinks about what taxes microsoft should pay but that's another conversation for another day. but he basically says in one of his speeches, if i believed that we were going to make progress, i'd be pessimistic
9:22 am
but i know we are going to make progress just as we had in the past and that's the question. the question is, are we in effect living in a different time. bill gates thinks so. bill gates also said, he's a writers dream, bill gates. he said people live miserably for all of human history until the industrial revolution 250 years ago. since people are dumber than they were 250 years ago and since there were good politicians before, theanswer must be technology . the answer that transformed everything is technology. now he may well be right to some extent, although technology is also what's given us global warming so buyer beware.
9:23 am
but the question you need to ask is, does the past condition the future? if you look at cnbc or foxbusiness news or those sorts of stations, there will be ads for hedge funds. i'm sorry, for mutual funds and there's also a moment at the end after the happy mutual fund has made their profit where a little voice comes on. the small print. it said past performance is no guarantee of you to profit. now, if bill gates was buying a company he would not say that because it's been successful for the last 50years it will be successful the next 50 years . on the contrary, the smart business decision today is that eventually, companies outlive themselves . go it's all about creative destruction, about
9:24 am
transformation, about reimagining everything. in other words, transforming companies constantly. so you could say why do they think these last 250 years are a surefire guide to the future when they wouldn't think that if they were making an investment in a corporation? no one will ever answer that question when i ask it but i insist that it's worth asking. the fact that it must be asked. the former, late governor of texas and richards famously said of george hw bush that he was born on third base but thought he hit a triple.
9:25 am
you could say i think, the question is have we profited from these 250 years which i remind you are the 250 years when we ravaged the planet looking for possible fuel for cheap energy . is this a blip or is it the inevitable shape of things to come? that's the debate . and the fate of hundreds of millions, probably billions of people will be determined by the answer. i don't have a lot of answers here but i do have a critique of the mainstream view and a great worry that development has been largely taken over by business and business has its place. it's not a question of, you don't have to be an anti-globalization person of the radical left to say that
9:26 am
business is not everything and yet right now, the rhetoric is, the private sector does everything better than the state. the state is inefficient and moribund and all the creative thinking is in the private sector and the academy that supported by the private sector. if you believe that, fair enough. i think there's plenty of evidence to argue against that. most importantly, there's the evidence of paying taxes. it's been calculated that if businesses, multinational corporations paid the taxes that they pay in the global north, in the global south, and africa for example would be richer by half $1 trillion per annum. if bill gates has all this money to spend, it's probably
9:27 am
because microsoft does not have to pay or has chosen not to pay or has succeeded in not paying. one might consider its fair share of tax so if you don't have to pay tax, your share prices higher and if you are bill gates you can better stick the world on that or on the hinge of doing so. my view is that the state is in any of these things but rather that the state as largely speaking been murdered or at least undermined by the present system. that in fact what has gone on has been a kind of hostile takeover if you want to use the b-school term of the state by business area so that, it's typical. for poor people can't afford fedex unless it's an emergency so the u.s. postal service becomes the thing that serves
9:28 am
poor people and fedex is what serves business . does that make fedex more efficient than the postal service? that's what fedex would like you to think but ithink it's quite a different matter . if you take all the bright kids out of public school and just leave kids with difficult home lives and no tradition of learning in their family and then you say, the public schools are a failure, surely you've made a mistake intellectually and morally. i think it's the same mistake that's been made in the development world and unfortunately, i wish i could sympathize with the anti-globalization view but since i don't, i don't think for the moment anyway that those views are going to prevail even though i agree
9:29 am
with a lot of their analysis, i think we are stuck with, and this is the plea i make at the end of the book and i will stop after this. i hope i've provoked you sufficiently. i think the state needs to be strengthened again. needs to run development again. and there isn't in the world of hunger itself a great example of this. the brazilian government, and it's not a left right thing because this was a program started under a neoliberal president and continued under two socialist presidents. it's called zero hunger. and what the state did was it made it an absolute priority to radically reduce hunger in brazil and it succeeded. there's plenty of poverty in brazil. brazil is in many ways a very problematic place.
9:30 am
but it's also a place where in the last 30 years, 30 million people have been brought out of poverty and where malnutrition rates and undernutrition rates have really cratered. mexico, another society where people are very negative about it, i've spent a lot of time in mexico. i used to live in mexico and i am appalled of course by what happened in terms of justice, in terms of the crime rate but mexico has also reduced infant mortality during the same period with a program, and in which. you call it different things but they did it because the state imposed it. it wasn't with outside money. it wasn't done by the private sector. it was done by the state and i'm sorry. businessmen can talk all they like about their good
9:31 am
intentions and in their charitable work, they often do wonderful things. but in the end, they are accountable to their shareholders and their shareholders are the citizens just as a corporation is not a person which might be also a conversation for another day. so i think for now, it's all very well to imagine another world is possible indeed but it's not very likely. what is feasible, it seems to me is, particularly in the global south where for the state to reclaim its authority and act and that's where i end the book. it's not a great ringing conclusion. it's not, you know.
9:32 am
it's notpessimistic but it's certainly not optimistic either . but my analogy that the english philosopher john locke said that reason was a poor candle but it wasall we had . i think the state is a poor candle and i talk about all the misdemeanors and felonies and in competencies of states all over the world but i still think as locke said, reason is the only accountable structure we had because i remind you bill gates is accountable to absolutely no one except his partner, melinda gates. if you find jesus tomorrow and decides to put all his money into building churches, nothing will stop him. he is capable. he canclose the foundation anytime he wants .
9:33 am
now look, there's plenty wrong with democracy and american democracy, given the influence of money is in particularly poor shape but at least there some accountability. and some accountability in a very difficult time, in a world where lots of good things are happening but lots of terrible things as well . it's better than the alternative. so i meant to speak a little bit less but i did what i did and i'm happy to take some questions. i don't know how long, [applause] iq. >> if you have questions, raise your hand. i will come over.
9:34 am
okay. first of all, thank you for coming out tonight and sharing this with us. if i'm understanding you write, you are saying that we do have the answers to these problems, correct? well i'm being asked to repeat the question so i will do that. the gentleman asked, do i think we have theanswers ? i know there's a second part but let me start by answering that. i think we have some of the answers but i think it's, the mainstream view is incredibly hubristic. it's a view that says there are
9:35 am
a set of answers and once we figure out a way to applythose answers , we are home safe but please continue. >> do you subscribe to that? which view do you subscribe to and the reason i'm asking is if you do feel that it is, could you give some specific things that ordinary people could try to pursue or ask our representatives to you know, encourage that would be positive? >> the question was what can
9:36 am
citizens do to try to bring about a better world? first of all, there are a lot of groups doing that. there's a wonderful organization world of hunger which began as a lutheran organization , it's called bread for the world run by a guy called david beckman who i believe is a minister, i'm not certain but i'mpretty sure. and he , they do fantastic, popular mobilizations of people that try for example to change aspects of us foreign aid and also to defend policies that in this country are, without which a lot more people would go hungry. think of the wic program for those of you familiar with it. the wic program is constantly under attack and so citizens among other things can try to persuade their representatives or try to mobilize to protect those programs.
9:37 am
you abolish wic, you will have a 50 percent jump in child malnutrition within a year. it's already bad enough in countries with this rate. >> yes. >> i'm getting the gist of your theory and my question has to do with extremes. the blurb says, eliminate extreme poverty so where do we start in terms of, what's the tipping point when it goes from regular poverty to extreme poverty and then to famine and doesn't that factor in to the work that can be done by any organization, be it state or private? >> well, extreme poverty is not a metaphor. those people live on less than $1.25 us a day.
9:38 am
that's the development definition of a stream poverty. if you bring everybody above that level then you have indeed ended extreme poverty. the problem with the famine model, you referred to famine on a kind of continuum and i think there is a continuum but the problem is that using famine and a largely successful fight against famine or a disease model, for example the world has been very successful with certain kinds of diseases. polio is now restricted to a handful of countries, for example river blindness is largely a thing of the past, etc. . but the problem with that is that it's not at all clear that
9:39 am
the methods use to deal with famine are applicable to what most global hunger is which is not famine but chronic malnutrition and undernutritio . that is to say, most people who are either not getting enough calories or getting calories that don't provide them with the nutrients they need and we know, people don't die of this. that's not what happens. what happens though is in aggregate that the life chances of people who are malnourished between their birth and their 30 year of life are much diminished . there's real neurological damage, for example. the brothers foundation in toronto has done a lot ofwork on this . >> one further question regarding, are you familiar with the work and theories of
9:40 am
buckminster fuller in terms of world gain? >> it's been so long since i read what misterfuller that i think i better say no . >> . [inaudible conversation] >> he was very admired in the day. there are a lot of things i should reread. >> thank you for speaking. it's an honor to be in your presence. how much of trade do you think can be balanced and what countries are more reliable or more balance economy in those impoverished nations? >> there's a chapter in the economist called teaches at cambridge university and he's done a lot of work suggesting that the only way nations prosper is to begin by being protectionist and the korean model has, is very interesting in that regard because korea, in postwar korea which is now a
9:41 am
developed country started out with a tremendous protectionist dynamic. i'm not, he's very sure that he has the answers. i'm somebody who generally thinks if i think i have all the answers it means i must not have asked the right questions but there is certainly evidence that 19th century america was protectionist. that south korea after the end of the korean war was protectionist and at leastthe idea that free markets , and that china. what's the single greatest example of reduction in poverty in theworld today? it's china . china has a completely protectionist economy area the chinese economy is a rigged game and yet the prosperity of now about 300 million chinese is, you know, undeniable.
9:42 am
indeed, if you take optimistic statistics about development about poverty and you strip out the chinese contribution to it, you get much more dismal figures. people tell you about progress in aggregate but again, if progress is x and china is y, x minusy is not a good result . it may not happen. you look at india. maybe mister modi and the new government will succeed in making prosperity, that protectionism in india in the so-called license rod in the new peruvian times was not successful . in many important ways. but we will see. i don't think there's one
9:43 am
formula but i do think that trusting, i think things have to come from inside places. if i had my way, and it will never happen. ng owes in the global north would stop being operational and start just being funded. it's about time the imperial penumbra was ended even though a lot of these ngos, they do extremely good work and in emergencies in particular truly admirable work but in the end, societies don't change for the better from theoutside . in my view. that was the imperial fantasy that the british were going to abolish poverty in india. and even the war in afghanista
9:44 am
, george w. bush's and tony blair's war in afghanistan was justified because itwould empower afghan women . i don't think that's how enduring change, sustainable change happens, even if you grant that that was the intention rather than a kind of ipso facto justificationwhich is what i believe . >> this opposition by some countries, particularly in europe to gml was have any factor in this globally? >> i don't think so. the i don't have a strong opinion about gm owes. i don't think, there was a polish poet whose a great heroine of mine and she, toward the end of her life, she said i
9:45 am
don't know had become her favorite sentence. i'm tempted to take refuge in that at this moment but certainly i was absolutely convinced as i wrote this book that i just didn't have the science to have the right to an opinion about gm owes but as a political animal, if china , india in part, brazil in toto, argentina, the united states, canada, all except gm owes, what the europeans do is frankly of very little consequence inmy view . >> any others? >> i think the lady in the front pick up. >> my question, do we have enough production, the food, the production for everybody on
9:46 am
the earth? if we do, then it's not, i think i have to disagree with you. people who are hungry right now because they don't have the money to find food, it's not enough food on earth. >> that's certainly true now. the lady said the problem was partly distribution and partly access and in that, not absolute production and i certainly think and i make this point in the book and should have made it in the talk but again, unless you prepare a speech and wheni was a student people who lectured me from reading things bored me so completely that once people started asking me to talk in public i decided i would wing it for better or worse . one of these days i'll get up in asituation like this and absolutely nothing will come out but so far so good as the guy said at the 50th story
9:47 am
dropping down to the ground . the ladies question or comment is absolutely borne out by the fact that the great indian economist said, he had many roles as a political philosopher. as an economist, an economic historian is what he showed was that in the great bend golf famine of 1943 that there was enough food. there were strained resources because of the british empire was taking some of the food stocks and supply away from bengal and giving it to the troops but even then, it wasn't that there was no food. it was that poorpeople couldn't afford the price of the food . and so he has always argued that the problem of hunger
9:48 am
isn't a problem of access and what he called entitlement and i think that's right. as of now, is there enough food to feed everybody outside? yes, absolutely. i don't want to go too far down this road because remember, malthus only had to be right once. he can be wrong decade in and out but he only has to be right once and he's not going to be right globally. the problem is again partly climbing back to global warming. i call this book food, justice and money for a reason because i think the fundamental problem if of hunger is a lack of justice rather than a lack. my criticism of the us view and business driven development is that it's largely market-driven
9:49 am
and productive just but there is a fly in that appointment which is that let's say country x produces a huge surplus. is country x going to make it available to poor people who can't afford to pay for it? who are out of the world market in a certain sense? or are they going to exported to countries with rising middle classes? china is a good example of tha . or indeed, are they going to use food staples that could feed hungry people for meat production ? remember that a lot of, certainly of the staple grains are used to feed pigs and
9:50 am
chickens and cattle, particularly cattle and that that's a very inefficient way of providing for people because cattle eat, the energy in is much larger than the energy meat provides but these are cultural questions. you're not going to talk some newly prosperous person in shanghai, i had these conversations. i've spent a great deal of time researching this book in india. you go to somebody and they sa , i like to eat meat. it's my culture and now there's more of it and that's great. so i don't know how you make access possible except through more justice and less
9:51 am
inequality and those are political issues. that's the great problem with the scientific/technological account is that it's finally productive just and that's not the way we aregoing to get out of this . next question thank you for coming. you talk a lot about returning the power to the state and the global south. and with all the political unrest going on in the south and also in the middle east areas are impoverished, how would you recommend that ngos, even if they were going to stop organizing and start funding, how are these governments going to become stable enough to help and poverty within their regions?>> the first thing i would say is that it's not for us todecide these things .
9:52 am
that it's not up to, what is the legitimacy of the ford foundation in deciding what the government of chad should be? i'm sorry but i have a lot of friends at the ford foundation and they've done a lot of good work but in the end, countries, i will give you a counterfactual. maybe it's a better way to describe. we think it's perfectly normal to say, to have ngos going around in places where government is functional to use a polite term and it seems perfectly normal that the new york-based international rescue committee goes to malawi or goes to burma or goes wherever to do things. just ask yourself what people in this country, maybe not you but what mo piece that most people in this country would have thought if during katrina
9:53 am
the venezuelan government had sent a teams and yet that was no different. katrina was as royally botched as any emergency in modern memory. the same description you gave of these governments in the global south could have been given of all the actors from george bushes fema administrators unfortunately. in the end, absent world government,nations have to work it out .history doesn't go at thesame speed everywhere . i could show you books written by british imperial travelers about singapore in 1900 saying that the climate and the confusion of the culture made
9:54 am
it absolutely impossible that these people could amount to anything. it's by many measures the most prosperous and in pure health outcomes, educational wealth, etc. successful countries in the world but i don't think the imperial message is going to, is sustainable anyway. some things, countries have to go through things. here's another counterfactual for you. imagine that in 1861 when the american civil war was about to begin that the martians had landed and said we don't want you to fight this war. war is an uncivilizedbusiness . you must heed us.
9:55 am
there's first of all, societies have to work out. you don't want it to be worked out by war but i'm not a pacifist, sometimes i think there is a place for war and you know, i think maybe these countries have to go through the things they are going through. you can help but the biggest help would not be ngos. it would be making corporations pay for taxes. would a lot be stolen? sure. but at some point it's not unreasonable to believe that things might change. and that's not optimism but it's notpessimism either . i think this better be the las .
9:56 am
>> . [inaudible question] one woman came up with the idea is to since half the world why don't we coordinate so that when one part of the world needs it and the other one has it more efficient.
9:57 am
[inaudible question] tell that to someone who's in a boat risking their neck trying to get from libya. it doesn't make me want toread him again, i have to tell you . to me, that's just playingwith words . so i think unless someone has an absolutely depressing thing, thank you for your attention. [applause] >> thank you for coming out and if you would like to buy a book. >> . [inaudible conversation]

9 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on