While I think we all appreciate the call for increased attention to global inequalities, I do think that you slightly simplify the 'complacent world-view', and I don't think that this helps advocacy. Much of the rich debate that the Broker hosted was actually about whether inequality should be
added as goal beyond the current MDGs, including the one on poverty. There is a lot wrong with the current MDG framework, but it would be unfair to argue that 'growth' is still the predominant paradigm (or to ignore the role of the UN) - and if anything emerging economies particularly China (and changing politics in countries of 'like-minded donors' perhaps) have been most vocal to bring growth back on the agenda, even if this retains a critical role of the state.
Before we throw away the baby with the bathwater, it'd be good to consider the successes of the MDG framework of the aid industry, and under what conditions these have been achieved. Moreover, in the Broker debate, Martin Ravallion and Stephan Klasen made very important points about the difficulty of using inequality as a measure. For me, the question is not whether inequality should be put on the agenda, but who would bring it on which agenda. Historically, inequalities have started to be addressed by social movements, often under specific conditions where addressing inequality made sense for elites too and the nation as a whole (something we now I believe are witnessing in China for example). Except for support to social protection schemes, which play an important but small role for example in the declining inequality in
Latin America, the processes that address inequalities are quite different from the kind of transfers the aid industry has specialized in.
It’d be worth re-reading Kasirim Nwuke’s reaction to the debate on social protection, on this same email network a few days back, where he emphasized the need for
citizens to reassert their voice, over a globally defined agenda.
Arjan de Haan
Supporting Inclusive Growth
International Development Research Centre Ottawa