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Poor? Lets mean it in English

20 February 2005

When John Berger wrote his 'ten dispatches' about endurance in the face of the walls that surround poverty (around two billion of us live on $2 a day) he wanted a good old-fashioned print readership. He wanted readers to take it like poetry and think - and even act. Now we have just published it in openDemocracy.

Strike one for the web.

Around the world, other editors also got the point. Print ones, that is. In Sweden's biggest: Aftonbladet, in Spain's El Pais, in France's Le Monde Diplomatique, in Argentina's Clarin and Mexico's La Journada and even in Italy's International. Nor will it stop there. But try as hard as he could, in his once native England and in the United States, John found his essay was repeatedly rejected. Could it be something that Anglo-Saxons have about 'the poor'? They can be generous in helping them with aid and donations but when it comes to taking them seriously, not patronising them, breaking through that wall... bringing it home, so to speak, it seems that, well do we need to go on about it, I mean don't we know it already, I mean, hasn't it been said before (unlike all the original articles that fill our papers and magazines).

Freud had a word for it. It was, um, er, now just remind me again...

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