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A holiday visit to Waterloo, Or: The Janus-head of war commemoration

The memory of war has many faces. Or perhaps it has only two?

I have just returned from a journey to Belgium where the start of the Battle of Passchendaele, one hundred years ago, was being commemorated with much stately pomp.

The long Battle of Passchendaele, which killed many hundreds of thousands of people, was part of the Great War. In Belgium, the words ‘Great War’ still apply to the First World War, as they do in the UK. Meanwhile, in many other western-European countries World War Two has taken its place as the most vividly remembered and eagerly memorialised war.

It would be revealing to compile a longer list of fights, some probably much more recent, that figure as the war for different cultures across the world. For my own specialist area as an historian, the case is clear: for much of the nineteenth century, the ‘great war’ of Europe and of many colonised areas, too, was formed by the French and Napoleonic Wars which lasted from 1792 to 1815.

The panorama near Waterloo (see below), by Louis Dumoulin.

This duration alone makes clear that these wars shaped a generation or two in their thinking. Like with the First and Second World Wars, the human, material and economic devastation of these wars was enormous. And they were likewise turned to political profit by both winners and losers for ages to come. In sum, for nineteenth-century Europeans, the French and Napoleonic Wars were what shaped their consciousness of what war means, and why it should never happen again.

During my stay in Belgium I did not visit Passchendaele, but I did go to Waterloo, most famous of Napoleonic war locations.

In and around the village of Waterloo a string of visitor attractions has been erected that can keep you busy for a long weekend, even if you are not the kind of person who engages in historical role playing or studying detailed maps of military campaigns – for both of which there is also plenty of opportunity around Waterloo. When I got out of our car I still half wondered whether Abba is partly responsible for current interest in Waterloo, but the tourism we encountered is clearly long-established and focused on different things.

Tourism of what is now called the Battle of Waterloo started in 1815, right after the fighting. (I am writing a separate article about this, from which I might also publish extracts here.) An important impetus was given in the 1820s, when one of the victors who also happened to own the land commanded a monument on the site: an artificial hill mounted by a cast-iron lion. The commissioner: the king of the Netherlands.

For him, the lion symbolised the Dutch monarchy, although it has historically also been associated with other aristocratic families and their territories, such as Flanders and England. At that time, Waterloo was still situated within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the lion was positioned to face the old opponent, France.

In 1830, however, Belgium began its fight for independence from the Netherlands, aided by France. As a display in the local museum tells us, the lion came under serious threat. Yet the battle field’s economic function as a tourist magnet saved the lion: armed locals successfully defended one of their main sources of income. Still, the lion had at that point changed from just being an anti-French symbol to also being a hated symbol of Dutchness.

Marcellin Jobard, lithography (1825) of the Butte du lion under construction.

In 1912, another important attraction was added: a panorama of the fight itself, panoramas being a much-loved type of entertainment throughout the long nineteenth century. Visitors can still enter the white circular neoclassical building, climb the staircase in the centre, and emerge amidst a gruesome spectacle of dead horses and groaning soldiers. (I wonder when the sound effects were added?)

Like in other panoramas, the scene partly consist of three-dimensional models and partly of an enormous circular painting. The painting, ironically, was done by Frenchmen. After all, the site now belonged to (French-speaking) Belgium. Evidently, Frenchness had lost its political sensitivity in this region, especially in these years leading up to the First World War, when tensions were building between Belgium/Wallonia and Germany rather than France.

Present-day visitors, with the panorama’s spectacle of despair fresh on their retina, are then invited to climb the mound and imagine the historical war painting as an overlay of the peaceful fields surrounding the lion.

The fields around the lion look peaceful now. In the distance: two more monuments.

Next to these two sights (the lion’s mound and the panorama), visitors can wander around the site of the battle itself, including a brand-new museum and the ruins of the Hougoumont farm-fortress, one of the locations where the allied forces were beleaguered in 1815 and which again includes many visitor displays. In the village of Waterloo itself, moreover, is a Wellington museum, and nearby Napoleon’s headquarters can be seen.

Near the mound tourists can rest in the ‘Bivouac de l’Empereur’: the name of the brasserie refers to Napoleon, its logo to the Dutch lion, and its menu and website to beef Wellington and English tea rooms. When we have our lunch, we are in fact a little uncertain as to whether we are sitting in ‘Napoleon’s bivouac’ or in ‘Wellington’s café’. Signage is ambiguous – and perhaps on purpose, for why not cast your net for customers wide?

Such re-appropriation of history by authorities, visitors and shopkeepers alike, was and is visible throughout the site.

A strange mixture of merry entertainment and ear-splitting education – for those who want to hear the message.

The museum bookshop has sections in English, French, Dutch and German, with the English section focusing heavily on the worshipped Iron Duke (Wellington) and including such volumes as the ironically titled ‘How the French won Waterloo (or Think They Did)’.

The museum itself, meanwhile, is more Napoleon-oriented, with displays on his social innovations and a wall-high portrait towering over all the other portraits in the room, which feature the diminutive heads of state that opposed him. Has the fact that the museum was created by the mostly French-speaking Walloon region, which contains some fiercely anti-Flemish figures, anything to do with this? Or perhaps Napoleon simply appeals to the international imagination a little more than does Wellington?

The German historical forces receive less attention both in the museum and by German visitors themselves, judging for instance from the languages represented in the museum bookshop and restaurant menu. The Prussian, Hanoverian and other German contribution to the 1815 fighting was in fact enormous, but German military admiration has fallen rather out of fashion in the twentieth century, unlike e.g. the British, which may explain the modest German presence in Waterloo. Another explanation is that the Battle of Leipzig (1813, Napoleon’s first defeat) perhaps takes a greater part in the German collective memory.

The Scottish identity, on the other hand, is given a boost in Waterloo, with special Scottish days being organised and visitors walking around with the Scottish flag across on their bellies.

The little chapel at Hougoumont is an equally many-faced space. Here, Catholic rather than nationalist pilgrims may find a scorched crucifix hanging over the door: the very crucifix which extinguished the fire at the farm in 1815.

Yet in the same chapel, British regiments and other UK visitors lay wreaths of poppies, thus appropriating a symbol from their Great War for a much older war. They leave messages in the chapel’s visitor-book: ‘They fought for our freedom’. Freedom from whom, one wonders, and freedom to do what? So far, I have not come across the use of poppies in relation to the Norman invasion of the eleventh century; possibly because the English did not win that war. Such selective memory rings uncanny bells.

I must immediately add that the visitor-book does contain a great diversity of opinions, with many tourists simply being deeply touched by the horrors on display.

On behalf of commercial interests, as many as five flags are displayed from the buildings near the mound: the French flag, in a generous gesture to include the war’s losers (this would be harder to find in commemorations of more recent wars: where were the German representatives in Passchendaele? Time has healed some wounds here near Waterloo); the Dutch; the British; and the Belgian and the German, flags of two states that did not even exist when the battle took place, suggesting that modern nationalist feeling is more important here than commemorating the events of 1815.

I am also pretty sure I have seen the flag of the EU somewhere, symbol of a short-lived phase of cooperativeness between Britain, France and Germany. In short, there is a little something for everyone here, nationalists and cosmopolitans, pacifists and militants.

The Walloon monument service have also made a clear effort to paint a many-sided picture, whether they did so for pedagogical or commercial reasons. Probably both. The museum does some decent historical background explaining; there are the necessary displays of weaponry including little videos showing their operation, which no doubt stir different sentiments in different visitors; there are various films on the different sites that show the cruelty of war but also, through their choice of music, invite heroism and admiration; there are moving archaeological finds of individual items found on soldiers’ dead bodies…

One striking point though: in a somewhat insincere attempt at reconciling all the different viewpoints of past and present visitors, the concluding display in the museum tells us that although many nations have warred over Waterloo and tried to make it their own, in the end it really only belongs to one place: Wallonia. How about this for a pacifying conclusion to an exhibition about war, in a country torn apart by Flemish and Walloon nationalists?

So do these commemorations have many faces? Or just two faces?

Janus is the two-faced god, the god of beginnings and endings; but also, appropriately, the god of war and peace, and the god of journeys. Perhaps he is also the god of people who travel to places of war.

A Belgian friend commented on the commemorations at Passchendaele: ‘All these people, these politicians go to Passchendaele to say “never again”. But they don’t mean it’.

A Janus-head has two faces, but also two mouths. One is used at commemorations. It shouts ‘never again’. Meanwhile, the other mouth whispers new commands.

 

 

Photos by HG and AG, 30 July 2017.

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‘My greatest fear is of waiters and porters’

I am fascinated by the relation between people’s looks and the freedoms they are given by others. An important aspect of this is that I do not believe that so-called public spaces are accessible for everybody. The way people dress, or the way they behave, can be a reason for others to exclude them.

UBL01-P326N312-largeVieuxDoelen

Print of the Vieux Doelen from 1844, published by A.P. van Langenhuysen, now in the University Library of Leiden (Bijzondere Collecties).

The twentieth-century Dutch poet Gerrit Achterberg wrote an evocative poem about this – about being out of place and not feeling welcome in the poshest hotel of the Netherlands’ poshest city (translation below):

Du Vieux Doelen

Het kijken van voorbijgangers braveren.
Doen of ik iemand ben bij elke stap.
Zoals ik deed als knaap en voor de grap,
om mij daarmee allure aan te leren.

Doen of ik niemand ben en zo riskeren
te zweven tussen schouderklop en trap,
tussen toenadering en achterklap,
maar altijd dupe van de hoge heren.

Voor obers en portiers ben ik het bangst.
Een klein vergrijp tegen de etiquette
moet ik bekopen met een blik die kwetst.

Ook al beweeg ik me op ‘t allernetst,
ze blijven uit de verte op mij letten.
Het eind waaraan zij trekken is het langst.

[rough-and-ready translation:]

Hotel Du Vieux Doelen

Braving lookers-on.
At every step pretend to be someone.
Like I did as a boy for a laugh,
in order to teach myself some class.

Pretend to be no one and risk
both pats on the shoulder and kicks,
both friendly approach and backbiting,
but remaining the victim of gentlemen.

My greatest fear is of waiters and porters.
The tiniest breach of etiquette
must be paid for with glances like bayonets

However politely I move about,
they keep an eye on me from afar.
They always get the last laugh.

The poem is part of a series about The Hague, about the modernity of The Hague, and about the lonely flaneur wandering through the glittering city.

Apart from the wonderful rhyme in the original (‘kwetst’ – ‘allernetst’, etc.), this poem is also interesting for what it says about looks and belonging.

Two themes run through the whole of Achterberg’s series of poems about The Hague:

  1. the staggering modernity of department stores with customer lifts and ready-priced items, of shop girls and businessmen; and, perhaps most importantly, of huge shop windows with their live male window-dressers and lifeless female fashion mannequins.
  2. the loneliness of the man who walks through this modern space; the lack of meaningful, long-term relations he experiences; the city-dwellers’ business-like communication that is often wholly reduced to financial transactions.
622px-Eaton%u2019s_College_Street_Store_Toronto_-_ca._1930

Eaton’s Department Store, Toronto, Canada. Archives of Ontario: T. Eaton Company. Available on Wikipedia.

By the time Achterberg was writing in the 1950s, this image of the modern city already had a long tradition in European writing (Baudelaire, Zola, Simmel, Benjamin…). Although attractive enough to many, it is a limited image that stresses the experience of wealthy male observers.

However, Achterberg is a more interesting poet than what I’ve just said suggests, and one of the ways in which he shows this is in this poem about the hotel Du Vieux Doelen. Here, the protagonist is not the wealthy but alienated flaneur who buys empty luxury and empty love on the streets of the city; instead, he is an outsider, not rich and educated enough to be at home in this hotel. Meanwhile, porters and waiters are the princes of the palace.

 

The poem is taken from Gerrit Achterberg, Voorbij de laatste stad, Paul Rodenko (ed.) (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1955, 1978), p. 148.

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Labour day: a fairy tale

Once upon a time, in a country across the sea, there was a king. The king was in a bad state, because all the money that he made from selling bread to his subjects was spent on his subjects’ wages, so that there was no money left on Sunday for himself and his ministers to eat raspberry cake. On this particular day, all they could afford was plain cake, and when the young heir, who had been taking tea in the nursery, entered the great hall and asked: ‘Daddy, where are the rahbries in my cake?’, the king’s heart broke in two.

So the king gathered his ministers, and the first minister said: ‘sell more bread’, but there was only so much grain the king’s farmers could grow in a week, and only so much flour his millers could grind, and bread his bakers could bake. Then the second minister spoke, and he said: ‘stop paying wages to the people’, but the king had tried that, and noticed that the people had stopped buying his bread. Besides, there had been a lot of shouting in front of his palace and his roses had been trampled on; in short, the whole business had been very unpleasant. But then two new ministers stepped forward. They had only just arrived at the court, but the king had heard they had greatly helped out a befriended head of state with his wardrobe.

The two ministers stepped forward and announced they could take away all the king’s worries. All he had to do was run a lottery. Everyone who worked for him would enter the lottery: their ticket came instead of their wages. Each Sunday, the king would have to draw a winner and that winner would receive a fifty-fold weekly wage and could loaf about for an entire year if they so chose.

So that evening the king issued lottery tickets, and everything worked splendidly. The whole week long, his subjects worked away diligently, and the king still saved ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine weekly wages in one week. The winner of the lottery came to the palace – but rather than trample on the king’s roses, he shook hands with him. Meanwhile, the rest of the people mustered fresh courage for the following week’s lottery.

And everyone in the kingdom lived happily but on average very shortly.

 

The drawing is by Queen Victoria, of her son Albert Edward (1843), and now in the UK Royal Collection RCIN 980062 (reproduction from Wikimedia Commons). Unnecessary to add that Albert Edward was not the prince in the fairy tale; Victoria’s drawing is used purely because it offers such a beautiful illustration to the story.

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Military gender-bending in 1848

This is a self-portrait by Adolf Dauthage.

Photo of lithograph (1848) posted on Wikimedia Commons by collector Peter Geymayer

Dauthage was a nineteenth-century Austrian lithographer. Working for the most part before photography became available, this means it was his job to draw portraits of high society, which could then be multiplied without limit using the new technology of lithographic printing, and serve as publicity material.

At the very start of his career as a portraitist, however, he drew himself (pictured here), as a soldier. And not just any soldier: this is the uniform of the Viennese Academic Legion, one of the many militia that were formed by students across Europe during the 1848 revolutions.

A contemporary from Germany described the Viennese students in his memoir:

They looked like a troop of knights of old.

Indeed the uniform can be said to express a very romantic masculinity.

Yet Dauthage’s posture subverts this masculinity. From under his feathered hat, he looks coyly out at the spectator. Add to this his tight waist, skirted coat, slightly stuck-out bottom, handkerchief (or single glove) in hand, the fact that he has kept his hat on (whereas men would always take theirs off indoors), and perhaps also his somewhat strangely positioned sabre, and his portrait reminds us more of the aristocratic and theatrical ladies he drew than of the statesmen and male artists:

Actress Friederike Gossmann, by Dauthage (1857). Wikimedia Commons.

General Ferdinand von Bauer, by Dauthage (1882). Wikimedia Commons.

Or, the ones drawn by his colleagues:

Lady Selina Meade Countess Clam-Martinics, by Thomas Lawrence (1835), photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

 

It is rare to see a man portrayed with his head bent down, looking up at the spectator. Especially a military man.

Perhaps this is all a figment of the imagination and we should look for the reason behind Dauthage’s posture in the history of self-portraiture: perhaps the coy look I saw is in fact the penetrating look of an artist looking at their own face in the mirror (think Rubens, Van Dyck… Gluck…).

Yet looking at the portrait naively, I felt Dauthage might be having a private cross-dressing party in his studio.

 

Quoted are The reminiscences of Carl Schurz (New York: McClure, 1907-1908.), p. 145.

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Sexism by anti-sexist activists

Change doesn’t come easily.

7 March is International Women’s Day, activism against gender inequity is experiencing a ‘third wave’, supported by writers, scholars and civic organisations alike – and yet, old habits are hard to shake off, even by these feminists themselves. Old habits, such as belittling women by the way they are named.

Carpenter around 1875 (from Wikimedia Commons).

As I was reading a biography of the activist Edward Carpenter, written by eminent women’s historian Sheila Rowbotham, it struck me that she referred to the women in Carpenter’s life by their first names, while the men were called by their family names. (This is especially clear in the chapter ‘Love and Loss’.) For an online example, see Rowbotham’s earlier publication Hidden from History. 300 Years of Women’s Oppression and the Fight Against It.

In European culture, the use of first names traditionally implies intimacy, but also low status and a form of infantility or immaturity. First names are used for children, servants, nurses: Katie; Maud; Mary. Second names, on the other hand, have for a long time been reserved for people of power and authority, such as (male) politicians, authors, and teachers in secondary or higher education: Gladstone; Byron; Snyder.

(For a bitter laugh: google-image search ‘professor’ and then ‘teacher’.)

A romanticising painting of the Shelleys: William Powell Frith (1819-1909), ‘The Lover’s Seat: Shelley and Mary Godwin in Old St Pancras Churchyard’.

The distinction becomes abundantly clear in English literary history with the Shelleys, who were both famous writers. In most narratives about the Shelleys, Percy is ‘Shelley’ while Mary is ‘Mary’. It leads to such statements as ‘In mid-1816, Shelley and Mary made a second trip to Switzerland.’ (This one from Wikipedia, but exemplary of much academic writing as well.)

Another example, about contemporary writers: I use an appointment diary published by an international human-rights organisation, which contains poetry by political dissidents. Two Soviet poets from the 1980s are quoted: Irina Ratushinskaya and Nizametdin Akhmetov. She is ‘Irina’. He is ‘Akhmetov’.

Ratushinskaya, photographed by Mikhail Evstafiev. CC BY-SA 2.5.

Some women seem to be especially prone to being named in a way that places them at the bottom of the pecking order: these are immigrant women and women who have received less formal education.

Not too long ago, I was at a university conference about some of the work scholars in Britain are doing with local communities. Part of the aim was to show that such projects are a two-way street involving true collaboration between academics and people with other kinds of knowledge: knowledge from experience, or from family stories, for instance.

Unfortunately, these good intentions did not translate itself into the naming practices adopted by the (academic) presenters. The non-academic participants, mostly female and immigrant, were referred to by their first names, while the mostly indigenous/white scholars (also women in majority, in this case) were referred to by their family names.

Even scholars who make it their task to challenge racism and sexism have been immersed in a racist and sexist culture from a young age, and clearly even they find it difficult to shake of its influences.

No doubt I have been guilty of the same unfair practice over the course of my life. But once we start to notice how often it occurs, we can begin to be more careful about what we call people.

Michelle? Or Obama? (official White House portrait by Joyce N. Boghosian, 2009, from commons.wikimedia.org)

N.B. When I tried to locate the original source of this photo, the following message appeared on my screen:

Thank you for your interest in this subject. Stay tuned as we continue to update whitehouse.gov.

Sheila Rowbotham’s otherwise excellent biography is called Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (Verso, 2009).

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The forefathers of our populists

Populist politicians are nothing new. And I am not talking about the 1930s. Populists have existed since the beginning of representative democracy, if not longer. This was brought home to me once more as I was reading a story from the nineteenth century.

The story is from the book Familie en kennissen, ‘family and acquaintances’. It was written by one of the few historical Dutch authors who are still read in schools today: Piet Paaltjens. Piet Paaltjens is famous for his ironic verse. But under a different name, the same author – a vicar in everyday life – also wrote sentimental tales in the accessible style of Hans Christian Andersen. His name: François HaverSchmidt. His stories have long been out of print, so I was happy some years ago to stumble on a second-hand copy.

This story, that shows so presagiously the workings of populism, is about two men who share the same house: a cobbler, who lives in the basement; and the owner, a man of independent means who dabbles in poetry. He lets the basement to the cobbler, and occupies the rest of the house himself. He is known throughout country to be a ‘great man’.

Illustration by Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht for the third edition (1893). http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/have010fami01_01/have010fami01_01_0004.php

In 1893, the story was illustrated by Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht.

It quickly becomes clear that this man is primarily great for his great inheritance and his great political acumen. After a period of liberal hospitality and generosity towards established leaders of the national Church, he lands in a powerful ecclesiastic position. Next on his list is parliament.

First and foremost, [the great man] was great in his popularity. He was friendliness personified towards all. He not only lifted his hat for every unknown lady with a sweet face, but he even shook hands with all kinds of ordinary folk, stroked the children on the street under the chin – sometimes by accident also their nannies – and greeted the wharf loafers and layabouts by name. ‘They are people too,’ the great man used to say, ‘and we are all children of the same big family.’

On the day he is elected as a member of parliament,

several grocers put out their flags; he had stolen their hearts by making familiar conversation with them on their doorsteps. One of them had even had the text ‘the man of the people’ pasted on his banner in gold paper letters.

Yet men of the people are often better at telling the people what to think, than at listening to the people.

Not long after, one man from the ‘people’, a small cobbler […], was in The Hague, where he had a petition to make […] in the interest of his sister’s children, and on that occasion, [near parliament,] he met the representative of the people, who was in the company of several distinguished gentlemen. At first, he thought that the gentleman looked him sharply in the face, but he must have been mistaken, for one moment later the gentleman passed him at an inch’s distance, engaged in busy conversation and without even the slightest greeting.

It does not become clear in the story what political programme the great man adheres to, but it does not matter much either. His voters do not choose him on the basis of his ideas – they do not choose him on the basis of the way he proposes to solve their problems – but because they believe he embodies ‘the people’. His political programme can be very flexible therefore. And once he is elected, he no longer needs to acknowledge individual members of the people, or attempt to solve their problems.

Cover of the edition digitised by the Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren. http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/have010fami01_01/

Quotations are from ‘Een groot man en een goed man’, on p. 14 of the third edition of Familie en kennissen (Schiedam, 1894)

Images are from the edition available in the Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren.

 

 

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Christmas reading: The Bottom Billion

This Christmas, I finally got around to reading a book that shook the world of international development almost ten years ago: The Bottom Billion, based on research by Paul Collier plus a host of collaborators.

Paul Collier argues that instead of seeing poverty as the problem of the 5 billion people who live in developing countries, that is, countries that are substantially poorer than for instance the United Stated, South Korea or Luxembourg, we should focus on the 1 billion people living in the poorest countries in the world.

The book offers a number of strategies that the international community can follow to tighten the growing gap between the 5 billion that will be ok, and the 1 billion than might not be. These strategies are designed to curb the existing problems the bottom-billion countries suffer from: unceasing military conflict; the possession of natural resources, such as oil, which profits are spoiling the reliability of their politicians and the soundness of their economical investments; the absence of infrastructures through which they can reach potential markets for their products; and bad economic policies and bad governance.

Much of the book’s research was convincing to me. An important limitation, however, seems to be its exclusive focus on countries-as-a-whole. Problems are identified as residing in national governments; solutions in the relations between those national governments (‘international relations’), and especially in interventions by the wealthiest states, e.g. the G8 or, nowadays, the G20.

To be fair, this book is aimed at readers living in those wealthy countries (referred to in the book as ‘we’). So the focus on international relations is not altogether surprising. Still, the book makes the assumption that as soon as the economies of the bottom-billion countries will take off, everyone in those countries will sufficiently benefit from this. In other words: as soon as state-level statistics will be all right, everyone in those states will be all right.

Collier leaves you curious about the dynamics within the countries at risk of ‘falling behind’. What happens between their citizens and their national and local governments? Can we feel reassured, once the national government of a bottom-billion country has secured a good tax income? How will the grown wealth of the country as a whole, reach all parts of the population? This bottom billion that we should be concerned about – is that the entire populations of the 58 (mostly small) countries that he mentions? Or is it, rather, large chunks of a far greater number of countries, including huge countries like India and Mexico?

One of the global game-changers over the past years has been the fact that wealth disparities between countries have for the first time since many centuries been falling. At the same time, however, inequality among citizens within countries has in many countries been on the rise since the 1980s, and especially since the crisis of 2008. For this reason, I would have liked to hear more about intra-national politics in Collier’s book.

Another question raised by the book’s emphasis on economic growth is the question whether the economy of a country can ever be big enough, or whether it will always need to grow further. Will the bottom-billion countries have to grow until the people in them will have reached a certain living standard? Or until they have reached a nominal income comparable to the wealthier countries? Will it help if the growth of the wealthy countries slows down (which has happened after 2008)? Or is the global aim everlasting growth? But then again, is this even theoretically possible, considering the limited amount of soil and other natural resources on the planet? Without giving his readers a rough idea about where these issues fit in with his development theory, some important parts of his story remain unconvincing.

Still, I was pleased to see that Collier’s ideas have not been standing still since the publication of The Bottom Billion. Whereas in the book he writes a little derisively about ‘sustainable’ or ‘pro-poor growth’, in his later popular publications he is not afraid to speak of ‘inclusive’ and even ‘sustainable growth’.dsc04609 One cruel irony that I cannot resist sharing: have a look at the banner which the publisher has placed right across the cover image of a child soldier.

Two critiques of Collier’s book that raise similar points as I have tried to do here, and which come from specialists in the field, are by A. Sumner and Michael Lipton.