Against a tide of unrelenting good news the Alamists and doomsdayers are fighting a rearguard battle, one they hope to win by enlisting the support of supranational organisations like the UN, the Catholic Church, the EU and other organisations that are daily being exposed as corrupt and untrustworthy.
Noah Smith, 'Lower global inequality defies Piketty's dark vision', shows how global inequality is falling.
Tomas Hellbrandt of the Bank of England and Paolo Mauro of the International Monetary Fund show in a new working paper that global inequality is falling, as poor countries power ahead. The global Gini coefficient - a standard measure of income inequality - is falling fast. In 2003 the coefficient was 69 (with 0 being perfect equality and 100 being perfect inequality). In 2013 it was down to 65. If current trends continue, it is on course to reach 61 by 2035.
Around the world, a rising tide is lifting all boats, and it's lifting the boats at the bottom faster than the boats at the top.
If the forces that move inequality really are global in nature, then it means that capitalism and trade really are a force for good.
So we may be seeing something like a global Kuznets Curve. In the early stages of global growth, rich countries - and the rich people in them - zoom ahead of the pack, but eventually the masses catch up. If the forces that move inequality really are global in nature, then it means that capitalism and trade really are a force for good. It means that we don't really face a tradeoff between wealth and inequality in the long run. And it implies that once the poor countries have done some more catching up, inequality will begin to fall within countries, too.
The new data, and the global Kuznets narrative, also destroy the idea that the wealth of rich countries is based on the exploitation of poor countries. Capitalism is not colonialism after all. Most of our global wealth is created by trade and industriousness, not plundered or extracted by force. The world isn't a zero-sum game.
For now, the economic optimists are still winning.
Until now, green thinking has wanted us to go back to nature: to reject innovations such as genetically modified food, give up commerce and consumption and energy and materials and live simpler lives so that nature is not abused and the climate is not wrecked. The eco-modernists, who include the veteran Californian green pioneer Stewart Brand and the British green campaigner Mark Lynas, say this is a mistake. “Absent a massive human die-off, any large-scale attempt at recoupling human societies to nature using these [ancestral] technologies would result in an unmitigated ecological and human disaster.”
The Ecomodernist Manifesto promises a much needed reformation in the green movement. Its 95 theses should be nailed to the door of the Vatican when the pope’s green-tinged encyclical comes out, because unlike the typical eco-wail, it contains good news for the poor. It says: no, we are not going to stop you getting rich and adopting new technologies and leaving behind the misery of cooking over wood fires in smoky huts with no artificial light. No, we do not want you to stay as subsistence farmers. Indeed, the quicker we can get you into a city apartment with a car, a phone, a fridge and a laptop, the better. Because then you won’t be taking wood and bushmeat from the forest.