The End of Poverty?

Presumably a rebuke to the book of the same title, sans question mark, by economist Jeffrey Sachs, filmmaker Philippe Diaz’s radical neo-Marxist screed affirms once again the inherent cinematic dullness of seething liberal guilt. Well, at least its many talking heads — comfortable, variously credentialed pronouncement-makers of the first world and pitiable, variously disenfranchised sufferers in the third — do hail from all over the globe. And at least it goes deeper than the usual our-awful-world doc by surveying five centuries worth of history, albeit to insist that the economic exploitation of underdeveloped nations has been insidiously entrenched via corporatism and colonialism since 1492. It’s dodgy, but determined. The rest, quite blandly academic except when narrated with bloated speechifying smugness by Martin Sheen, is a blizzard of unsourced factoids, with no coherent alternative to the alleged poison of privatization save for some hazy nostalgia about the concept of “the commons.” Probably what’s worst, though, is that the Diaz diatribe ultimately seems so impersonal. At least Sachs’ book, which posited restructuring international aid to abolish such horrific and widespread destitution, was partly a memoir of his own direct experience of doing exactly that.

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