Politics

Why is it so much harder to talk about politics than about policies?

Duncan Green - August 12, 2014

I’ve been running into some resistance recently in writing about politics, and some interesting patterns are starting to emerge. Firstly, when I sent round a draft piece on the politics and policies of national redistribution (i.e. when you look at the countries who have reduced inequality, what did they do and what were the politics that led to them doing it?) the subtext from a …

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How can politics change to serve future generations (on climate change, but lots of other stuff too)?

Duncan Green - July 24, 2014

No-one objected to yesterday’s rehash of a recent BS (blue sky, OK?) session, so here’s another. An hour in a cool café in Brixton market with Kiwi academic Jonathan Boston, wrestling with the really big question on climate change and the survival of our species: how could political institutions emerge that govern for future generations? Jonathan, who used to run the Institute for Governance and …

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Ending poverty is about the politics of power: guest piece for the OECD

admin - December 9, 2013

This guest rant of mine appeared in the OECD’s Development Cooperation Report 2013, published last week. The report, subtitled ‘Ending Poverty‘, is worth a skim – it’s a good survey of current debates on poverty and aid, with contributions from piles of wonks, followed by a donor-by-donor aid overview. A necessary starting point in any discussion of ending poverty is “What do we mean by …

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Thinking and Working Politically: an exciting new aid initiative

admin - November 27, 2013

Gosh I love my job. Last week I attended a workshop in Delhi to discuss ‘thinking and working politically’. A bunch of donors, academics, NGOs and others (Chatham House rules, alas, so no names or institutions) taking stock on how they can move from talk to walk in applying more politically informed thinking to their work. That means both trying to do the normal stuff …

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Why does climate change adaptation in Africa ignore politics? Great broadside from Matthew Lockwood.

admin - October 24, 2013

My friend Matthew Lockwood has a habit of asking really big, sensible questions about politics that change the way you see the world. He was so fed up with what he saw as the lazy, apolitical thinking behind aid in general and Make Poverty History in particular, that he abandoned the development scene, writing The State They’re In: An Agenda for International Action on Poverty …

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Governance for Development in Africa: Solving Collective Action Problems: Review of an important new book

admin - October 23, 2013

The last year or so has been a bit quiet in terms of big new books on development, but now they are piling up on my study floor (my usual filing system) – Angus Deaton, Deepak Nayyar, Ben Ramalingam, Nina Munk etc etc. I will review them as soon as I can (or arm-twist better qualified colleagues to do so). But I thought I’d start …

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Has the Arab Spring Failed? Not yet, reckons the Economist – Highlights from its excellent Special Report

admin - July 16, 2013

By blog-reader standards, the Economist’s Special Reports can be pretty long (15 pages in this case), but they are sharply written and stuffed full with great stats. As long as they steer clear of economic policy, they are also not as ideology-laden as some of the magazine’s other content. So if you can spare half an hour, read this week’s report on the Arab Spring by …

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Politically smart aid? Of course! Political aid? Not so sure. Guest post by Tom Carothers and Diane de Gramont

admin - June 17, 2013

Thomas Carothers and Diane de Gramont summarize the arguments of their new book on aid and politics How political is development assistance? How political should it be? These questions provoke divergent reactions within the aid community. For some, being political means using aid to advance geopolitical interests aside from development. Others emphasize the far-reaching political consequences aid can have on recipient countries, from bolstering dubious …

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Are you a Progressive? If so, what’s your footprint?

admin - March 4, 2013

I get irritated sometimes when a nameless Oxfam colleague (and no, there aren’t any prizes for guessing) asks ‘yes, but are you/they left wing?’, to which I of course, respond ‘depends what you mean by ‘left wing’’ (I think he finds me pretty annoying too). So in an effort to improve on this rather un-nuanced discussion, how about moving from 1D (left-right) to two (are …

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Why ‘Why Nations Fail’ Fails (mostly): review of Acemoglu and Robinson – 2012’s big development book

admin - December 12, 2012

Every now and then, a ‘Big Book on Development’ comes along that triggers a storm of arguments in my head (it’s a rather disturbing experience). One such is Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and James Robinson (Harvard). Judging by the proliferation of reviews and debates the book has provoked, my experience is widely shared. First, what does the book say? ‘The focus of our …

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