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An End to Poverty? A Historical Debate

By David Feldman | Published in History Today 2005 
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David Feldman reviews a timely publication which traces the history of the debate on world poverty and globalisation and its relation to current thinking and policies.
An End to Poverty? A Historical Debate
Gareth Stedman Jones
Profile Books  288pp  £9.99 
ISBN: 1 86197 729 8

In the last decades of the eighteenth century the Marquis de Condorcet, Tom Paine and others imagined a world without scarcity; a world in which ‘there need no longer be such a thing as the poor.’ Gareth Stedman Jones’ book takes as his starting point their groundbreaking proposals for what we would now call a welfare state. In doing so he sets out to write a history that bears on questions of policy and politics in the present. Stedman Jones brings into view ways of thinking about poverty and welfare that briefly illumined Britain and France in the 1790s only to be extinguished quickly thereafter. It is the road not taken that is the starting point for his argument.

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