[permaculture] MIKE DAVIS PLANET OF SLUMS NEW BOOK plus article from New Left Review
Wesley Roe and Marjorie Lakin Erickson
lakinroe at silcom.com
Wed Mar 15 09:52:48 EST 2006
Planet of Slums Mike Davis NEW BOOK
A celebrated urban theorist raises the lid on the effects of a global
explosion of disenfranchised slum-dwellers.
According to the united nations, more than one billion people now live in
the slums of the cities of the South. In this brilliant and ambitious book,
Mike Davis explores the future of a radically unequal and explosively
unstable urban world.
From the sprawling barricadas of Lima to the garbage hills of Manila,
urbanization has been disconnected from industrialization, even economic
growth. Davis portrays a vast humanity warehoused in shantytowns and exiled
from the formal world economy. He argues that the rise of this informal
urban proletariat is a wholly original development unforeseen by either
classical Marxism or neo-liberal theory.
Are the great slums, as a terrified Victorian middle class once imagined,
volcanoes waiting to erupt? Davis provides the first global overview of the
diverse religious, ethnic, and political movements competing for the souls
of the new urban poor. He surveys Hindu fundamentalism in Bombay, the
Islamist resistance in Casablanca and Cairo, street gangs in Cape Town and
San Salvador, Pentecostalism in Kinshasa and Rio de Janeiro, and
revolutionary populism in Caracas and La Paz.
Planet of Slums ends with a provocative meditation on the war on
terrorism as an incipient world war between the American empire and the
In this trenchantly argued book, Mike Davis quantifies the nightmarish
mass production of slums that marks the contemporary city. With cool
indignation, Davis argues that the exponential growth of slums is no
accident but the result of a perfect storm of corrupt leadership,
institutional failure, and IMF-imposed Structural Adjustment Programs
leading to a massive transfer of wealth from poor to rich. Scourge of
neo-liberal nostrums, Davis debunks the irresponsible myth of self-help
salvation, showing exactly who gets the boot from bootstrap capitalism.
Like the work of Jacob Riis, Ida Tarbell, and Lincoln Steffans over a
century ago, this searing indictment makes the shame of our cities urgently
clear. Michael Sorkin
From Planet of Slums
What is clear is that the contemporary mega-slum poses unique problems of
imperial order and social control that conventional geopolitics has barely
begun to register. If the aim of the war on terrorism is to pursue the
erstwhile enemy into his sociological and cultural labyrinth, then the poor
peripheries of developing cities will be the permanent battlefields of the
Night after night, hornet-like helicopter gun-ships stalk enigmatic
enemies in the narrow streets of the slum districts, pouring their hellfire
into shanties or fleeing cars. Every morning the slums reply with suicide
bombers and eloquent explosions. If the empire can deploy Orwellian
technologies of repression, its outcasts surely have the gods of chaos on
PLANET OF SLUMS
Download a PDF version of this article
New Left Review 26, March-April 2004
Buy this issue: New Left Review 26, March-April 2004
Sometime in the next year, a woman will give birth in the Lagos slum of
Ajegunle, a young man will flee his village in west Java for the bright
lights of Jakarta, or a farmer will move his impoverished family into one
of Limas innumerable pueblos jovenes. The exact event is unimportant and
it will pass entirely unnoticed. Nonetheless it will constitute a watershed
in human history. For the first time the urban population of the earth will
outnumber the rural. Indeed, given the imprecisions of Third World
censuses, this epochal transition may already have occurred.
The earth has urbanized even faster than originally predicted by the Club
of Rome in its notoriously Malthusian 1972 report, Limits of Growth. In
1950 there were 86 cities in the world with a population over one million;
today there are 400, and by 2015, there will be at least 550.  Cities,
indeed, have absorbed nearly two-thirds of the global population explosion
since 1950 and are currently growing by a million babies and migrants each
week.  The present urban population (3.2 billion) is larger than the
total population of the world in 1960. The global countryside, meanwhile,
has reached its maximum population (3.2 billion) and will begin to shrink
after 2020. As a result, cities will account for all future world
population growth, which is expected to peak at about 10 billion in 2050. 
1. THE URBAN CLIMACTERIC
Where are the heroes, the colonisers, the victims of the Metropolis?
Brecht, Diary entry, 1921
Ninety-five per cent of this final buildout of humanity will occur in the
urban areas of developing countries, whose population will double to nearly
4 billion over the next generation.  (Indeed, the combined urban
population of China, India and Brazil already roughly equals that of Europe
plus North America.) The most celebrated result will be the burgeoning of
new megacities with populations in excess of 8 million, and, even more
spectacularly, hypercities with more than 20 million inhabitants (the
estimated urban population of the world at the time of the French
Revolution).  In 1995 only Tokyo had incontestably reached that
threshold. By 2025, according to the Far Eastern EconomicReview, Asia alone
could have ten or eleven conurbations that large, including Jakarta (24.9
million), Dhaka (25 million) and Karachi (26.5 million). Shanghai, whose
growth was frozen for decades by Maoist policies of deliberate
under-urbanization, could have as many as 27 million residents in its huge
estuarial metro-region.  Mumbai (Bombay) meanwhile is projected to
attain a population of 33 million, although no one knows whether such
gigantic concentrations of poverty are biologically or ecologically
But if megacities are the brightest stars in the urban firmament,
three-quarters of the burden of population growth will be borne by faintly
visible second-tier cities and smaller urban areas: places where, as un
researchers emphasize, there is little or no planning to accommodate these
people or provide them with services.  In China (officially 43 per cent
urban in 1997), the number of official cities has soared from 193 to 640
since 1978. But the great metropolises, despite extraordinary growth, have
actually declined in relative share of urban population. It is, rather, the
small cities and recently citized towns that have absorbed the majority
of the rural labour-power made redundant by post-1979 market reforms. 
In Africa, likewise, the supernova-like growth of a few giant cities like
Lagos (from 300,000 in 1950 to 10 million today) has been matched by the
transformation of several dozen small towns and oases like Ouagadougou,
Nouakchott, Douala, Antananarivo and Bamako into cities larger than San
Francisco or Manchester. In Latin America, where primary cities long
monopolized growth, secondary cities like Tijuana, Curitiba, Temuco,
Salvador and Belém are now booming, with the fastest growth of all
occurring in cities with between 100,000 and 500,000 inhabitants. 
Moreover, as Gregory Guldin has urged, urbanization must be conceptualized
as structural transformation along, and intensified interaction between,
every point of an urbanrural continuum. In his case-study of southern
China, the countryside is urbanizing in situ as well as generating epochal
migrations. Villages become more like market and xiang towns, and county
towns and small cities become more like large cities. The result in China
and much of Southeast Asia is a hermaphroditic landscape, a partially
urbanized countryside that Guldin and others argue may be a significant
new path of human settlement and development . . . a form neither rural nor
urban but a blending of the two wherein a dense web of transactions ties
large urban cores to their surrounding regions.  In Indonesia, where a
similar process of rural/urban hybridization is far advanced in Jabotabek
(the greater Jakarta region), researchers call these novel land-use
patterns desokotas and debate whether they are transitional landscapes or a
dramatic new species of urbanism. 
Urbanists also speculate about the processes weaving together Third World
cities into extraordinary new networks, corridors and hierarchies. For
example, the Pearl River (Hong KongGuangzhou) and the Yangtze River
(Shanghai) deltas, along with the BeijingTianjin corridor, are rapidly
developing into urban-industrial megalopolises comparable to TokyoOsaka,
the lower Rhine, or New YorkPhiladelphia. But this may only be the first
stage in the emergence of an even larger structure: a continuous urban
corridor stretching from Japan/North Korea to West Java.  Shanghai,
almost certainly, will then join Tokyo, New York and London as one of the
world cities controlling the global web of capital and information flows.
The price of this new urban order will be increasing inequality within and
between cities of different sizes and specializations. Guldin, for example,
cites intriguing Chinese discussions over whether the ancient
income-and-development chasm between city and countryside is now being
replaced by an equally fundamental gap between small cities and the coastal
2. BACK TO DICKENS
I saw innumerable hosts, foredoomed to darkness, dirt, pestilence,
obscenity, misery and early death.
Dickens, A December Vision, 1850
The dynamics of Third World urbanization both recapitulate and confound the
precedents of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Europe and North
America. In China the greatest industrial revolution in history is the
Archimedean lever shifting a population the size of Europes from rural
villages to smog-choked sky-climbing cities. As a result, China [will]
cease to be the predominantly rural country it has been for millennia.
 Indeed, the great oculus of the Shanghai World Financial Centre may
soon look out upon a vast urban world little imagined by Mao or, for that
matter, Le Corbusier. But in most of the developing world, city growth
lacks Chinas powerful manufacturing-export engine as well as its vast
inflow of foreign capital (currently equal to half of total foreign
investment in the developing world).
Urbanization elsewhere, as a result, has been radically decoupled from
industrialization, even from development perse. Some would argue that this
is an expression of an inexorable trend: the inherent tendency of silicon
capitalism to delink the growth of production from that of employment. But
in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia,
urbanization-without-growth is more obviously the legacy of a global
political conjuncturethe debt crisis of the late 1970s and subsequent
imf-led restructuring of Third World economies in the 1980sthan an iron
law of advancing technology. Third World urbanization, moreover, continued
its breakneck pace (3.8 per cent per annum from 196093) through the locust
years of the 1980s and early 1990s in spite of falling real wages, soaring
prices and skyrocketing urban unemployment. 
This perverse urban boom contradicted orthodox economic models which
predicted that the negative feedback of urban recession should slow or even
reverse migration from the countryside. The African case was particularly
paradoxical. How could cities in Côte dIvoire, Tanzania, Gabon and
elsewherewhose economies were contracting by 2 to 5 per cent per
yearstill sustain population growth of 5 to 8 per cent per annum? 
Part of the secret, of course, was that imf- (and now wto-) enforced
policies of agricultural deregulation and de-peasantization were
accelerating the exodus of surplus rural labour to urban slums even as
cities ceased to be job machines. Urban population growth in spite of
stagnant or negative urban economic growth is the extreme face of what some
researchers have labelled over-urbanization.  It is just one of the
several unexpected tracks down which a neoliberal world order has shunted
Classical social theory from Marx to Weber, of course, believed that the
great cities of the future would follow in the industrializing footsteps of
Manchester, Berlin and Chicago. Indeed, Los Angeles, São Paulo, Pusan and,
today, Ciudad Juárez, Bangalore and Guangzhou, have roughly approximated
this classical trajectory. But most cities of the South are more like
Victorian Dublin which, as Emmet Larkin has emphasized, was unique amongst
all the slumdoms produced in the western world in the nineteenth century .
. . [because] its slums were not a product of the industrial revolution.
Dublin, in fact, suffered more from the problems of de-industrialization
than industrialization between 1800 and 1850. 
Likewise Kinshasa, Khartoum, Dar es Salaam, Dhaka and Lima grow
prodigiously despite ruined import-substitution industries, shrunken public
sectors and downwardly mobile middle classes. The global forces pushing
people from the countrysidemechanization in Java and India, food imports
in Mexico, Haiti and Kenya, civil war and drought throughout Africa, and
everywhere the consolidation of small into large holdings and the
competition of industrial-scale agribusinessseem to sustain urbanization
even when the pull of the city is drastically weakened by debt and
depression.  At the same time, rapid urban growth in the context of
structural adjustment, currency devaluation and state retrenchment has been
an inevitable recipe for the mass production of slums.  Much of the
urban world, as a result, is rushing backwards to the age of Dickens.
The astonishing prevalence of slums is the chief theme of the historic and
sombre report published last October by the United Nations Human
Settlements Programme (un-Habitat).  The Challenge of the Slums
(henceforth: Slums) is the first truly global audit of urban poverty. It
adroitly integrates diverse urban case-studies from Abidjan to Sydney with
global household data that for the first time includes China and the
ex-Soviet Bloc. (The un authors acknowledge a particular debt to Branko
Milanovic, the World Bank economist who has pioneered the use of
micro-surveys as a powerful lens to study growing global inequality. In one
of his papers, Milanovic explains: for the first time in human history,
researchers have reasonably accurate data on the distribution of income or
welfare [expenditures or consumption] amongst more than 90 per cent of the
world population.) 
Slums is also unusual in its intellectual honesty. One of the researchers
associated with the report told me that the Washington Consensus types
(World Bank, imf, etc.) have always insisted on defining the problem of
global slums not as a result of globalization and inequality but rather as
a result of bad governance. The new report, however, breaks with
traditional un circumspection and self-censorship to squarely indict
neoliberalism, especially the imfs structural adjustment programmes. 
The primary direction of both national and international interventions
during the last twenty years has actually increased urban poverty and
slums, increased exclusion and inequality, and weakened urban elites in
their efforts to use cities as engines of growth. 
Slums, to be sure, neglects (or saves for later un-Habitat reports) some of
the most important land-use issues arising from super-urbanization and
informal settlement, including sprawl, environmental degradation, and urban
hazards. It also fails to shed much light on the processes expelling labour
from the countryside or to incorporate a large and rapidly growing
literature on the gender dimensions of urban poverty and informal
employment. But these cavils aside, Slums remains an invaluable exposé that
amplifies urgent research findings with the institutional authority of the
United Nations. If the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change represent an unprecedented scientific consensus on the dangers of
global warming, then Slums sounds an equally authoritative warning about
the global catastrophe of urban poverty. (A third report someday may
explore the ominous terrain of their interaction.)  And, for the
purposes of this review, it provides an excellent framework for
reconnoitering contemporary debates on urbanization, the informal economy,
human solidarity and historical agency.
3. THE URBANIZATION OF POVERTY
The mountain of trash seemed to stretch very far, then gradually without
perceptible demarcation or boundary it became something else. But what? A
jumbled and pathless collection of structures. Cardboard cartons, plywood
and rotting boards, the rusting and glassless shells of cars, had been
thrown together to form habitation.
Michael Thelwell, The Harder They Come, 1980
The first published definition of slum reportedly occurs in Vauxs 1812
Vocabulary ofthe Flash Language, where it is synonymous with racket or
criminal trade.  By the cholera years of the 1830s and 1840s,
however, the poor were living in slums rather than practising them. A
generation later, slums had been identified in America and India, and were
generally recognized as an international phenomenon. The classic slum was
a notoriously parochial and picturesquely local place, but reformers
generally agreed with Charles Booth that all slums were characterized by an
amalgam of dilapidated housing, overcrowding, poverty and vice. For
nineteenth-century Liberals, of course, the moral dimension was decisive
and the slum was first and above all envisioned as a place where a social
residuum rots in immoral and often riotous splendour. Slums authors
discard Victorian calumnies, but otherwise preserve the classical
definition: overcrowding, poor or informal housing, inadequate access to
safe water and sanitation, and insecurity of tenure. 
This multi-dimensional definition is actually a very conservative gauge of
what qualifies as a slum: many readers will be surprised by the uns
counter-experiential finding that only 19.6 per cent of urban Mexicans live
in slums. Yet, even with this restrictive definition, Slums estimates that
there were at least 921 million slum-dwellers in 2001: nearly equal to the
population of the world when the young Engels first ventured onto the mean
streets of Manchester. Indeed, neoliberal capitalism has multiplied
Dickenss notorious slum of Tom-All-Alone in Bleak House by exponential
powers. Residents of slums constitute a staggering 78.2 per cent of the
urban population of the least developed countries and fully a third of the
global urban population.  Extrapolating from the age structures of most
Third World cities, at least half of the slum population is under the age
of 20. 
The worlds highest percentages of slum-dwellers are in Ethiopia (an
astonishing 99.4 per cent of the urban population), Chad (also 99.4 per
cent), Afghanistan (98.5 percent) and Nepal (92 per cent).  The poorest
urban populations, however, are probably in Maputo and Kinshasa where
(according to other sources) two-thirds of residents earn less than the
cost of their minimum required daily nutrition.  In Delhi, planners
complain bitterly about slums within slums as squatters take over the
small open spaces of the peripheral resettlement colonies into which the
old urban poor were brutally removed in the mid-1970s.  In Cairo and
Phnom Penh, recent urban arrivals squat or rent space on rooftops: creating
slum cities in the air.
Slum populations are often deliberately and sometimes massively
undercounted. In the late 1980s, for example, Bangkok had an official
poverty rate of only 5 per cent, yet surveys found nearly a quarter of the
population (1.16 million) living in slums and squatter camps.  The un,
likewise, recently discovered that it was unintentionally undercounting
urban poverty in Africa by large margins. Slum-dwellers in Angola, for
example, are probably twice as numerous as it originally believed. Likewise
it underestimated the number of poor urbanites in Liberia: not surprising,
since Monrovia tripled its population in a single year (198990) as
panic-stricken country people fled from a brutal civil war. 
There may be more than quarter of a million slums on earth. The five great
metropolises of South Asia (Karachi, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Dhaka)
alone contain about 15,000 distinct slum communities with a total
population of more than 20 million. An even larger slum population crowds
the urbanizing littoral of West Africa, while other huge conurbations of
poverty sprawl across Anatolia and the Ethiopian highlands; hug the base of
the Andes and the Himalayas; explode outward from the skyscraper cores of
Mexico, Jo-burg, Manila and São Paulo; and, of course, line the banks of
the rivers Amazon, Niger, Congo, Nile, Tigris, Ganges, Irrawaddy and
Mekong. The building blocks of this slum planet, paradoxically, are both
utterly interchangeable and spontaneously unique: including the bustees of
Kolkata, the chawls and zopadpattis of Mumbai, the katchi abadis of
Karachi, the kampungs of Jakarta, the iskwaters of Manila, the shammasas of
Khartoum, the umjondolos of Durban, the intra-murios of Rabat, the
bidonvilles of Abidjan, the baladis of Cairo, the gecekondus of Ankara, the
conventillos of Quito, the favelas of Brazil, the villas miseria of Buenos
Aires and the colonias populares of Mexico City. They are the gritty
antipodes to the generic fantasy-scapes and residential themeparksPhilip
K. Dicks bourgeois Offworldsin which the global middle classes
increasingly prefer to cloister themselves.
Whereas the classic slum was a decaying inner city, the new slums are more
typically located on the edge of urban spatial explosions. The horizontal
growth of cities like Mexico, Lagos or Jakarta, of course, has been
extraordinary, and slum sprawl is as much of a problem in the developing
world as suburban sprawl in the rich countries. The developed area of
Lagos, for instance, doubled in a single decade, between 1985 and 1994.
 The Governor of Lagos State told reporters last year that about two
thirds of the states total land mass of 3,577 square kilometres could be
classified as shanties or slums.  Indeed, writes a un correspondent,
much of the city is a mystery . . . unlit highways run past canyons of
smouldering garbage before giving way to dirt streets weaving through 200
slums, their sewers running with raw waste . . . No one even knows for sure
the size of the populationofficially it is 6 million, but most experts
estimate it at 10 millionlet alone the number of murders each year [or]
the rate of hiv infection. 
Lagos, moreover, is simply the biggest node in the shanty-town corridor of
70 million people that stretches from Abidjan to Ibadan: probably the
biggest continuous footprint of urban poverty on earth. 
Slum ecology, of course, revolves around the supply of settlement space.
Winter King, in a recent study published in the Harvard Law Review, claims
that 85 per cent of the urban residents of the developing world occupy
property illegally.  Indeterminacy of land titles and/or lax state
ownership, in the last instance, are the cracks through which a vast
humanity has poured into the cities. The modes of slum settlement vary
across a huge spectrum, from highly disciplined land invasions in Mexico
City and Lima to intricately organized (but often illegal) rental markets
on the outskirts of Beijing, Karachi and Nairobi. Even in cities like
Karachi, where the urban periphery is formally owned by the government,
vast profits from land speculation . . . continue to accrue to the private
sector at the expense of low-income households.  Indeed national and
local political machines usually acquiesce in informal settlement (and
illegal private speculation) as long as they can control the political
complexion of the slums and extract a regular flow of bribes or rents.
Without formal land titles or home ownership, slum-dwellers are forced into
quasi-feudal dependencies upon local officials and party bigshots.
Disloyalty can mean eviction or even the razing of an entire district.
The provision of lifeline infrastructures, meanwhile, lags far behind the
pace of urbanization, and peri-urban slum areas often have no formal
utilities or sanitation provision whatsoever.  Poor areas of Latin
American cities in general have better utilities than South Asia which, in
turn, usually have minimum urban services, like water and electricity, that
many African slums lack. As in early Victorian London, the contamination of
water by human and animal waste remains the cause of the chronic diarrhoeal
diseases that kill at least two million urban babies and small children
each year.  An estimated 57 per cent of urban Africans lack access to
basic sanitation and in cities like Nairobi the poor must rely on flying
toilets (defecation into a plastic bag).  In Mumbai, meanwhile, the
sanitation problem is defined by ratios of one toilet seat per 500
inhabitants in the poorer districts. Only 11 per cent of poor
neighbourhoods in Manila and 18 per cent in Dhaka have formal means to
dispose of sewage.  Quite apart from the incidence of the hiv/aids
plague, the un considers that two out of five African slum-dwellers live in
a poverty that is literally life-threatening. 
The urban poor, meanwhile, are everywhere forced to settle on hazardous and
otherwise unbuildable terrainsover-steep hillslopes, river banks and
floodplains. Likewise they squat in the deadly shadows of refineries,
chemical factories, toxic dumps, or in the margins of railroads and
highways. Poverty, as a result, has constructed an urban disaster problem
of unprecedented frequency and scope, as typified by chronic flooding in
Manila, Dhaka and Rio, pipeline conflagrations in Mexico City and Cubatão
(Brazil), the Bhopal catastrophe in India, a munitions plant explosion in
Lagos, and deadly mudslides in Caracas, La Paz and Tegucigalpa.  The
disenfranchised communities of the urban poor, in addition, are vulnerable
to sudden outbursts of state violence like the infamous 1990 bulldozing of
the Maroko beach slum in Lagos (an eyesore for the neighbouring community
of Victoria Island, a fortress for the rich) or the 1995 demolition in
freezing weather of the huge squatter town of Zhejiangcun on the edge of
But slums, however deadly and insecure, have a brilliant future. The
countryside will for a short period still contain the majority of the
worlds poor, but that doubtful title will pass to urban slums by 2035.
 At least half of the coming Third World urban population explosion
will be credited to the account of informal communities. Two billion slum
dwellers by 2030 or 2040 is a monstrous, almost incomprehensible prospect,
but urban poverty overlaps and exceeds the slums perse. Indeed, Slums
underlines that in some cities the majority of the poor actually live
outside the slum strictosensu.  un Urban Observatory researchers
warn, moreover, that by 2020 urban poverty in the world could reach 45 to
50 per cent of the total population living in cities. 
4. URBAN POVERTYS BIG BANG
After their mysterious laughter, they quickly changed the topic to other
things. How were people back home surviving sap?
Fidelis Balogun, Adjusted Lives, 1995
The evolution of the new urban poverty has been a non-linear historical
process. The slow accretion of shanty towns to the shell of the city is
punctuated by storms of poverty and sudden explosions of slum-building. In
his collection of stories, Adjusted Lives, the Nigerian writer Fidelis
Balogun describes the coming of the imf-mandated Structural Adjustment
Programme (sap) in the mid-1980s as the equivalent of a great natural
catastrophe, destroying forever the old soul of Lagos and re-enslaving
The weird logic of this economic programme seemed to be that to restore
life to the dying economy, every juice had first to be sapped out of the
underprivileged majority of the citizens. The middle class rapidly
disappeared, and the garbage heaps of the increasingly rich few became the
food table of the multiplied population of abjectly poor. The brain drain
to the oil-rich Arab countries and to the Western world became a flood. 
Baloguns complaint about privatizing in full steam and getting more
hungry by the day, or his enumeration of saps malevolent consequences,
would be instantly familiar to survivors, not only of the other 30 African
saps, but also to hundreds of millions of Asians and Latin Americans. The
1980s, when the imf and World Bank used the leverage of debt to restructure
the economies of most of the Third World, are the years when slums became
an implacable future, not just for poor rural migrants, but also for
millions of traditional urbanites, displaced or immiserated by the violence
As Slums emphasizes, saps were deliberately anti-urban in nature and
designed to reverse any urban bias that previously existed in welfare
policies, fiscal structure or government investment.  Everywhere the
imfacting as bailiff for the big banks and backed by the Reagan and Bush
administrationsoffered poor countries the same poisoned chalice of
devaluation, privatization, removal of import controls and food subsidies,
enforced cost-recovery in health and education, and ruthless downsizing of
the public sector. (An infamous 1985 telegram from Treasury Secretary
George Shultz to overseas usaid officials commanded: in most cases, public
sector firms should be privatized.)  At the same time, saps devastated
rural smallholders by eliminating subsidies and pushing them out, sink or
swim, into global commodity markets dominated by First World agribusiness.
As Ha-Joon Chang points out, saps hypocritically kicked away the ladder
(i.e., protectionist tariffs and subsidies) that the oecd nations
historically employed in their own climb from agriculture to urban
high-value goods and services.  Slums makes the same point when it
argues that the main single cause of increases in poverty and inequality
during the 1980s and 1990s was the retreat of the state. In addition to
the direct sap-enforced reductions in public-sector spending and ownership,
the un authors stress the more subtle diminution of state capacity that has
resulted from subsidiarity: the devolution of powers to lower echelons of
government and, especially, ngos, linked directly to major international
The whole, apparently decentralized structure is foreign to the notion of
national representative government that has served the developed world
well, while it is very amenable to the operations of a global hegemony. The
dominant international perspective [i.e., Washingtons] becomes the de
facto paradigm for development, so that the whole world rapidly becomes
unified in the broad direction of what is supported by donors and
international organizations. 
Urban Africa and Latin America were the hardest hit by the artificial
depression engineered by the imf and the White House. Indeed, in many
countries, the economic impact of saps during the 1980s, in tandem with
protracted drought, rising oil prices, soaring interest rates and falling
commodity prices, was more severe and long-lasting than the Great Depression.
The balance-sheet of structural adjustment in Africa, reviewed by Carole
Rakodi, includes capital flight, collapse of manufactures, marginal or
negative increase in export incomes, drastic cutbacks in urban public
services, soaring prices and a steep decline in real wages.  In
Kinshasa (an aberration or rather a sign of things to come?)
assainissement wiped out the civil servant middle class and produced an
unbelieveable decline in real wages that, in turn, sponsored a
nightmarish rise in crime and predatory gangs.  In Dar es Salaam,
public service expenditure per person fell 10 per cent per year during the
1980s: a virtual demolition of the local state.  In Khartoum,
liberalization and structural adjustment, according to local researchers,
manufactured 1.1 million new poor: mostly drawn from the salaried groups
or public sector employees.  In Abidjan, one of the few tropical
African cities with an important manufacturing sector and modern urban
services, submission to the sap regime punctually led to
deindustrialization, the collapse of construction, and a rapid
deterioration in public transit and sanitation.  In Baloguns Nigeria
extreme poverty, increasingly urbanized in Lagos, Ibadan and other cities,
metastatized from 28 per cent in 1980 to 66 per cent in 1996. gnp per
capita, at about $260 today, the World Bank reports, is below the level
at independence 40 years ago and below the $370 level attained in 1985. 
In Latin America, saps (often implemented by military dictatorships)
destabilized rural economies while savaging urban employment and housing.
In 1970, Guevarist foco theories of rural insurgency still conformed to a
continental reality where the poverty of the countryside (75 million poor)
overshadowed that of the cities (44 million poor). By the end of the 1980s,
however, the vast majority of the poor (115 million in 1990) were living in
urban colonias and villas miseria rather than farms or villages (80
Urban inequality, meanwhile, exploded. In Santiago, the Pinochet
dictatorship bulldozed shanty towns and evicted formerly radical squatters:
forcing poor families to become allegados, doubled or even tripled-up in
the same rented dwelling. In Buenos Aires, the richest deciles share of
income increased from 10 times that of the poorest in 1984 to 23 times in
1989.  In Lima, where the value of the minimum wage fell by 83 per cent
during the imf recession, the percentage of households living below the
poverty threshold increased from 17 percent in 1985 to 44 per cent in 1990.
 In Rio de Janeiro, inequality as measured in classical Gini
coefficients soared from 0.58 in 1981 to 0.67 in 1989.  Indeed,
throughout Latin America, the 1980s deepened the canyons and elevated the
peaks of the worlds most extreme social topography. (According to a 2003
World Bank report, Gini coefficients are 10 points higher in Latin America
than Asia; 17.5 points higher than the oecd, and 20.4 points higher than
Eastern Europe.) 
Throughout the Third World, the economic shocks of the 1980s forced
individuals to regroup around the pooled resources of households and,
especially, the survival skills and desperate ingenuity of women. In China
and the industrializing cities of Southeast Asia, millions of young women
indentured themselves to assembly lines and factory squalor. In Africa and
most of Latin America (Mexicos northern border cities excepted), this
option did not exist. Instead, deindustrialization and the decimation of
male formal-sector jobs compelled women to improvise new livelihoods as
piece workers, liquor sellers, street vendors, cleaners, washers,
ragpickers, nannies and prostitutes. In Latin America, where urban womens
labour-force participation had always been lower than in other continents,
the surge of women into tertiary informal activities during the 1980s was
especially dramatic.  In Africa, where the icons of the informal sector
are women running shebeens or hawking produce, Christian Rogerson reminds
us that most informal women are not actually self-employed or economically
independent, but work for someone else.  (These ubiquitous and vicious
networks of micro-exploitation, of the poor exploiting the very poor, are
usually glossed over in accounts of the informal sector.)
Urban poverty was also massively feminized in the ex-Comecon countries
after capitalist liberation in 1989. In the early 1990s extreme poverty
in the former transitional countries (as the un calls them) soared from
14 million to 168 million: a mass pauperization almost without precedent in
history.  If, on a global balance-sheet, this economic catastrophe was
partially offset by the much-praised success of China in raising incomes in
its coastal cities, Chinas market miracle was purchased by an enormous
increase in wage inequality among urban workers . . . during the period
1988 to 1999. Women and minorities were especially disadvantaged. 
In theory, of course, the 1990s should have righted the wrongs of the 1980s
and allowed Third World cities to regain lost ground and bridge the chasms
of inequality created by saps. The pain of adjustment should have been
followed by the analgesic of globalization. Indeed the 1990s, as Slums
wryly notes, were the first decade in which global urban development took
place within almost utopian parameters of neo-classical market freedom.
During the 1990s, trade continued to expand at an almost unprecedented
rate, no-go areas opened up and military expenditures decreased. . . . All
the basic inputs to production became cheaper, as interest rates fell
rapidly along with the price of basic commodities. Capital flows were
increasingly unfettered by national controls and could move rapidly to the
most productive areas. Under what were almost perfect economic conditions
according to the dominant neoliberal economic doctrine, one might have
imagined that the decade would have been one of unrivalled prosperity and
social justice. 
In the event, however, urban poverty continued its relentless accumulation
and the gap between poor and rich countries increased, just as it had done
for the previous 20 years and, in most countries, income inequality
increased or, at best, stabilized. Global inequality, as measured by World
Bank economists, reached an incredible Gini coefficient level of 0.67 by
the end of the century. This was mathematically equivalent to a situation
where the poorest two-thirds of the world receive zero income; and the top
third, everything. 
5. A SURPLUS HUMANITY?
We shove our way about next to City, holding on to it by its thousand
survival cracks . . .
Patrick Chamoiseau, Texaco (1997)
The brutal tectonics of neoliberal globalization since 1978 are analogous
to the catastrophic processes that shaped a third world in the first
place, during the era of late Victorian imperialism (18701900). In the
latter case, the forcible incorporation into the world market of the great
subsistence peasantries of Asia and Africa entailed the famine deaths of
millions and the uprooting of tens of millions more from traditional
tenures. The end result, in Latin America as well, was rural
semi-proletarianization: the creation of a huge global class of
immiserated semi-peasants and farm labourers lacking existential security
of subsistence.  (As a result, the twentieth century became an age, not
of urban revolutions as classical Marxism had imagined, but of epochal
rural uprisings and peasant-based wars of national liberation.) Structural
adjustment, it would appear, has recently worked an equally fundamental
reshaping of human futures. As the authors of Slums conclude: instead of
being a focus for growth and prosperity, the cities have become a dumping
ground for a surplus population working in unskilled, unprotected and
low-wage informal service industries and trade. The rise of [this]
informal sector, they declare bluntly, is . . . a direct result of
Indeed, the global informal working class (overlapping but non-identical
with the slum population) is almost one billion strong: making it the
fastest growing, and most unprecedented, social class on earth. Since
anthropologist Keith Hart, working in Accra, first broached the concept of
an informal sector in 1973, a huge literature (mostly failing to
distinguish micro-accumulation from sub-subsistence) has wrestled with the
formidable theoretical and empirical problems involved in studying the
survival strategies of the urban poor.  There is a base consensus,
however, that the 1980s crisis inverted the relative structural positions
of the formal and informal sectors: promoting informal survivalism as the
new primary mode of livelihood in a majority of Third World cities.
Alejandro Portes and Kelly Hoffman have recently evaluated the overall
impact of saps and liberalization upon Latin American urban class
structures since the 1970s. Congruent with un conclusions, they find that
both state employees and the formal proletariat have declined in every
country of the region since the 1970s. In contrast, the informal sector of
the economy, along with general social inequality, has dramatically
expanded. Unlike some researchers, they make a crucial distinction between
an informal petty bourgeoisie (the sum of owners of microenterprises,
employing less than five workers, plus own-account professionals and
technicians) and the informal proletariat (the sum of own-account workers
minus professionals and technicians, domestic servants, and paid and unpaid
workers in microenterprises). They demonstrate that this former stratum,
the microentrepreneurs so beloved in North American business schools, are
often displaced public-sector professionals or laid-off skilled workers.
Since the 1980s, they have grown from about 5 to 10 per cent of the
economically active urban population: a trend reflecting the forced
entrepreneurialism foisted on former salaried employees by the decline of
formal sector employment. 
Overall, according to Slums, informal workers are about two-fifths of the
economically active population of the developing world.  According to
researchers at the Inter-American Development Bank, the informal economy
currently employs 57 per cent of the Latin American workforce and supplies
four out of five new jobs.  Other sources claim that more than half
of urban Indonesians and 65 per cent of residents of Dhaka subsist in the
informal sector.  Slums likewise cites research finding that informal
economic activity accounts for 33 to 40 per cent of urban employment in
Asia, 60 to 75 per cent in Central America and 60 per cent in Africa. 
Indeed, in sub-Saharan cities formal job creation has virtually ceased to
exist. An ilo study of Zimbabwes urban labour markets under
stagflationary structural adjustment in the early 1990s found that the
formal sector was creating only 10,000 jobs per year in face of an urban
workforce increasing by more than 300,000 per annum.  Slums similarly
estimates that fully 90 per cent of urban Africas new jobs over the next
decade will somehow come from the informal sector. 
The pundits of bootstrap capitalism, like the irrepressible Hernando de
Soto, may see this enormous population of marginalized labourers, redundant
civil servants and ex-peasants as actually a frenzied beehive of ambitious
entrepreneurs yearning for formal property rights and unregulated
competitive space, but it makes more obvious sense to consider most
informal workers as the active unemployed, who have no choice but to
subsist by some means or starve.  The worlds estimated 100 million
street kids are not likelyapologies to Señor de Sototo start issuing ipos
or selling chewing-gum futures.  Nor will most of Chinas 70 million
floating workers, living furtively on the urban periphery, eventually
capitalize themselves as small subcontractors or integrate into the formal
urban working class. And the informal working classeverywhere subject to
micro- and macro-exploitationis almost universally deprived of protection
by labour laws and standards.
Moreover, as Alain Dubresson argues in the case of Abidjan, the dynamism
of crafts and small-scale trade depends largely on demand from the wage
sector. He warns against the illusion cultivated by the ilo and World
Bank that the informal sector can efficiently replace the formal sector
and promote an accumulation process sufficient for a city with more than
2.5 million inhabitants.  His warning is echoed by Christian Rogerson
who, distinguishing (à la Portes and Hoffman) survivalist from growth
micro-enterprises, writes of the former: generally speaking, the incomes
generated from these enterprises, the majority of which tend to be run by
women, usually fall short of even a minimum living standard and involve
little capital investment, virtually no skills training, and only
constrained opportunities for expansion into a viable business. With even
formal-sector urban wages in Africa so low that economists cant figure out
how workers survive (the so-called wage puzzle), the informal tertiary
sector has become an arena of extreme Darwinian competition amongst the
poor. Rogerson cites the examples of Zimbabwe and South Africa where
female-controlled informal niches like shebeens and spazas are now
drastically overcrowded and plagued by collapsing profitability. 
The real macroeconomic trend of informal labour, in other words, is the
reproduction of absolute poverty. But if the informal proletariat is not
the pettiest of petty bourgeoisies, neither is it a labour reserve army
or a lumpen proletariat in any obsolete nineteenth-century sense. Part of
it, to be sure, is a stealth workforce for the formal economy and numerous
studies have exposed how the subcontracting networks of WalMart and other
mega-companies extend deep into the misery of the colonias and chawls. But
at the end of the day, a majority of urban slum-dwellers are truly and
radically homeless in the contemporary international economy.
Slums, of course, originate in the global countryside where, as Deborah
Bryceson reminds us, unequal competition with large-scale agro-industry is
tearing traditional rural society apart at the seams.  As rural areas
lose their storage capacity, slums take their place, and urban
involution replaces rural involution as a sink for surplus labour which
can only keep pace with subsistence by ever more heroic feats of
self-exploitation and the further competitive subdivision of already
densely filled survival niches.  Modernization, Development and,
now, the unfettered Market have had their day. The labour-power of a
billion people has been expelled from the world system, and who can imagine
any plausible scenario, under neoliberal auspices, that would reintegrate
them as productive workers or mass consumers?
6. MARX AND THE HOLY GHOST
[The Lord says:] The time will come when the poor man will say that he has
nothing to eat and work will be shut down . . . That is going to cause the
poor man to go to these places and break in to get food. This will cause
the rich man to come out with his gun to make war with the labouring man. .
. . blood will be in the streets like an outpouring rain from heaven.
A prophecy from the 1906 Azusa Street Awakening
The late capitalist triage of humanity, then, has already taken place. The
global growth of a vast informal proletariat, moreover, is a wholly
original structural development unforeseen by either classical Marxism or
modernization pundits. Slums indeed challenges social theory to grasp the
novelty of a true global residuum lacking the strategic economic power of
socialized labor, but massively concentrated in a shanty-town world
encircling the fortified enclaves of the urban rich.
Tendencies toward urban involution, of course, existed during the
nineteenth century. The European industrial revolutions were incapable of
absorbing the entire supply of displaced rural labour, especially after
continental agriculture was exposed to the devastating competition of the
North American prairies from the 1870s. But mass immigration to the settler
societies of the Americas and Oceania, as well as Siberia, provided a
dynamic safety-valve that prevented the rise of mega-Dublins as well as the
spread of the kind of underclass anarchism that had taken root in the most
immiserated parts of Southern Europe. Today surplus labour, by contrast,
faces unprecedented barriersa literal great wall of high-tech border
enforcementblocking large-scale migration to the rich countries. Likewise,
controversial population resettlement programmes in frontier regions like
Amazonia, Tibet, Kalimantan and Irian Jaya produce environmental
devastation and ethnic conflict without substantially reducing urban
poverty in Brazil, China and Indonesia.
Thus only the slum remains as a fully franchised solution to the problem of
warehousing the twenty-first centurys surplus humanity. But arent the
great slums, as a terrified Victorian bourgeoisie once imagined, volcanoes
waiting to erupt? Or does ruthless Darwinian competition, as increasing
numbers of poor people compete for the same informal scraps, ensure
self-consuming communal violence as yet the highest form of urban
involution? To what extent does an informal proletariat possess that most
potent of Marxist talismans: historical agency? Can disincorporated
labour be reincorporated in a global emancipatory project? Or is the
sociology of protest in the immiserated megacity a regression to the
pre-industrial urban mob, episodically explosive during consumption crises,
but otherwise easily managed by clientelism, populist spectacle and appeals
to ethnic unity? Or is some new, unexpected historical subject, à la Hardt
and Negri, slouching toward the supercity?
In truth, the current literature on poverty and urban protest offers few
answers to such large-scale questions. Some researchers, for example, would
question whether the ethnically diverse slum poor or economically
heterogeneous informal workers even constitute a meaningful class in
itself, much less a potentially activist class for itself. Surely, the
informal proletariat bears radical chains in the Marxist sense of having
little or no vested interest in the preservation of the existing mode of
production. But because uprooted rural migrants and informal workers have
been largely dispossessed of fungible labour-power, or reduced to domestic
service in the houses of the rich, they have little access to the culture
of collective labour or large-scale class struggle. Their social stage,
necessarily, must be the slum street or marketplace, not the factory or
international assembly line.
Struggles of informal workers, as John Walton emphasizes in a recent review
of research on social movements in poor cities, have tended, above all, to
be episodic and discontinuous. They are also usually focused on immediate
consumption issues: land invasions in search of affordable housing and
riots against rising food or utility prices. In the past, at least, urban
problems in developing societies have been more typically mediated by
patronclient relations than by popular activism.  Since the debt
crisis of the 1980s, neopopulist leaders in Latin America have had dramatic
success in exploiting the desperate desire of the urban poor for more
stable, predictable structures of daily life. Although Walton doesnt make
the point explicitly, the urban informal sector has been ideologically
promiscuous in its endorsement of populist saviours: in Peru rallying to
Fujimori, but in Venezuela embracing Chávez.  In Africa and South Asia,
on the other hand, urban clientelism too often equates with the dominance
of ethno-religious bigots and their nightmare ambitions of ethnic
cleansing. Notorious examples include the anti-Muslim militias of the Oodua
Peoples Congress in Lagos and the semi-fascist Shiv Sena movement in
Will such eighteenth-century sociologies of protest persist into the
middle twenty-first century? The past is probably a poor guide to the
future. History is not uniformitarian. The new urban world is evolving with
extraordinary speed and often in unpredictable directions. Everywhere the
continuous accumulation of poverty undermines existential security and
poses even more extraordinary challenges to the economic ingenuity of the
poor. Perhaps there is a tipping point at which the pollution, congestion,
greed and violence of everyday urban life finally overwhelm the ad hoc
civilities and survival networks of the slum. Certainly in the old rural
world there were thresholds, often calibrated by famine, that passed
directly to social eruption. But no one yet knows the social temperature at
which the new cities of poverty spontaneously combust.
Indeed, for the moment at least, Marx has yielded the historical stage to
Mohammed and the Holy Ghost. If God died in the cities of the industrial
revolution, he has risen again in the postindustrial cities of the
developing world. The contrast between the cultures of urban poverty in the
two eras is extraordinary. As Hugh McLeod has shown in his magisterial
study of Victorian working-class religion, Marx and Engels were largely
accurate in their belief that urbanization was secularizing the working
class. Although Glasgow and New York were partial exceptions, the line of
interpretation that associates working-class detachment from the church
with growing class consciousness is in a sense incontestable. If small
churches and dissenting sects thrived in the slums, the great current was
active or passive disbelief. Already by the 1880s, Berlin was scandalizing
foreigners as the most irreligious city in the world and in London,
median adult church attendance in the proletarian East End and Docklands by
1902 was barely 12 per cent (and that mostly Catholic).  In Barcelona,
of course, an anarchist working class sacked the churches during the Semana
Trágica, while in the slums of St. Petersburg, Buenos Aires and even Tokyo,
militant workers avidly embraced the new faiths of Darwin, Kropotkin and Marx.
Today, on the other hand, populist Islam and Pentecostal Christianity (and
in Bombay, the cult of Shivaji) occupy a social space analogous to that of
early twentieth-century socialism and anarchism. In Morocco, for instance,
where half a million rural emigrants are absorbed into the teeming cities
every year, and where half the population is under 25, Islamicist movements
like Justice and Welfare, founded by Sheik Abdessalam Yassin, have become
the real governments of the slums: organizing night schools, providing
legal aid to victims of state abuse, buying medicine for the sick,
subsidizing pilgrimages and paying for funerals. As Prime Minister
Abderrahmane Youssoufi, the Socialist leader who was once exiled by the
monarchy, recently admitted to Ignacio Ramonet, We [the Left] have become
embourgeoisified. We have cut ourselves off from the people. We need to
reconquer the popular quarters. The Islamicists have seduced our natural
electorate. They promise them heaven on earth. An Islamicist leader, on
the other hand, told Ramonet: confronted with the neglect of the state,
and faced with the brutality of daily life, people discover, thanks to us,
solidarity, self-help, fraternity. They understand that Islam is humanism.
The counterpart of populist Islam in the slums of Latin America and much of
sub-Saharan Africa is Pentecostalism. Christianity, of course, is now, in
its majority, a non-Western religion (two-thirds of its adherents live
outside Europe and North America), and Pentecostalism is its most dynamic
missionary in cities of poverty. Indeed the historical specificity of
Pentecostalism is that it is the first major world religion to have grown
up almost entirely in the soil of the modern urban slum. With roots in
early ecstatic Methodism and African-American spirituality, Pentecostalism
awoke when the Holy Ghost gave the gift of tongues to participants in an
interracial prayer marathon in a poor neighbourhood of Los Angeles (Azusa
Street) in 1906. Unified around spirit baptism, miracle healing, charismata
and a premillennial belief in a coming world war of capital and labour,
early American Pentecostalismas religious historians have repeatedly
notedoriginated as a prophetic democracy whose rural and urban
constituencies overlapped, respectively, with those of Populism and the
iww.  Indeed, like Wobbly organizers, its early missionaries to Latin
America and Africa lived often in extreme poverty, going out with little
or no money, seldom knowing where they would spend the night, or how they
would get their next meal.  They also yielded nothing to the iww in
their vehement denunciations of the injustices of industrial capitalism and
its inevitable destruction.
Symptomatically, the first Brazilian congregation, in an anarchist
working-class district of São Paulo, was founded by an Italian artisan
immigrant who had exchanged Malatesta for the Spirit in Chicago.  In
South Africa and Rhodesia, Pentecostalism established its early footholds
in the mining compounds and shanty towns; where, according to Jean
Comaroff, it seemed to accord with indigenous notions of pragmatic spirit
forces and to redress the depersonalization and powerlessness of the urban
labour experience.  Conceding a larger role to women than other
Christian churches and immensely supportive of abstinence and frugality,
Pentecostalismas R. Andrew Chesnut discovered in the baixadas of Belémhas
always had a particular attraction to the most immiserated stratum of the
impoverished classes: abandoned wives, widows and single mothers. 
Since 1970, and largely because of its appeal to slum women and its
reputation for being colour-blind, it has been growing into what is
arguably the largest self-organized movement of urban poor people on the
Although recent claims of over 533 million Pentecostal/charismatics in the
world in 2002 are probably hyperbole, there may well be half that number.
It is generally agreed that 10 per cent of Latin America is Pentecostal
(about 40 million people) and that the movement has been the single most
important cultural response to explosive and traumatic urbanization. 
As Pentecostalism has globalized, of course, it has differentiated into
distinct currents and sociologies. But if in Liberia, Mozambique and
Guatemala, American-sponsored churches have been vectors of dictatorship
and repression, and if some us congregations are now gentrified into the
suburban mainstream of fundamentalism, the missionary tide of
Pentecostalism in the Third World remains closer to the original
millenarian spirit of Azusa Street.  Above all, as Chesnut found in
Brazil, Pentecostalism . . . remains a religion of the informal periphery
(and in Belém, in particular, the poorest of the poor). In Peru, where
Pentecostalism is growing almost exponentially in the vast barriadas of
Lima, Jefrey Gamarra contends that the growth of the sects and of the
informal economy are a consequence of and a response to each other. 
Paul Freston adds that it is the first autonomous mass religion in Latin
America . . . Leaders may not be democratic, but they come from the same
social class. 
In contrast to populist Islam, which emphasizes civilizational continuity
and the trans-class solidarity of faith, Pentecostalism, in the tradition
of its African-American origins, retains a fundamentally exilic identity.
Although, like Islam in the slums, it efficiently correlates itself to the
survival needs of the informal working class (organizing self-help networks
for poor women; offering faith healing as para-medicine; providing recovery
from alcoholism and addiction; insulating children from the temptations of
the street; and so on), its ultimate premise is that the urban world is
corrupt, injust and unreformable. Whether, as Jean Comaroff has argued in
her book on African Zionist churches (many of which are now Pentecostal),
this religion of the marginalized in the shantytowns of neocolonial
modernity is actually a more radical resistance than participation in
formal politics or labour unions, remains to be seen.  But, with the
Left still largely missing from the slum, the eschatology of Pentecostalism
admirably refuses the inhuman destiny of the Third World city that Slums
warns about. It also sanctifies those who, in every structural and
existential sense, truly live in exile.
 un Population Division, World Urbanization Prospects, the 2001
Revision, New York 2002.
 Population Information Program, Population Reports: Meeting the Urban
Challenge, vol. xxx, no. 4, Fall 2002, p. 1.
 Wolfgang Lutz, Warren Sandeson and Sergei Scherbov, Doubling of world
population unlikely, Nature 387, 19 June 1997, pp. 8034. However the
populations of sub-Saharan Africa will triple and India, double.
 Global Urban Observatory, Slums of the World: The face of urban poverty
in the new millennium?, New York 2003, p. 10.
 Although the velocity of global urbanization is not in doubt, the
growth rates of specific cities may brake abruptly as they encounter the
frictions of size and congestion. A famous instance of such a polarization
reversal is Mexico City: widely predicted to achieve a population of 25
million during the 1990s (the current population is probably about 18 or 19
million). See Yue-man Yeung, Geography in an age of mega-cities,
International Social Sciences Journal 151, 1997, p. 93.
 For a perspective, see Yue-Man Yeung, Viewpoint: Integration of the
Pearl River Delta, International Development Planning Review, vol. 25, no.
 Far Eastern Economic Review, Asia 1998 Yearbook, p. 63.
 un-Habitat, The Challenge of the Slums: Global Report on Human
Settlements 2003, London 2003, p. 3.
 Gregory Guldin, Whats a Peasant to Do? Village Becoming Town in
Southern China, Boulder, co 2001, p. 13.
 Miguel Villa and Jorge Rodriguez, Demographic trends in Latin
Americas metropolises, 19501990, in Alan Gilbert, ed., The Mega-City in
Latin America, Tokyo 1996, pp. 334.
 Guldin, Peasant, pp. 14, 17. See also Jing Neng Li, Structural and
Spatial Economic changes and their Effects on Recent Urbanization in
China, in Gavin Jones and Pravin Visaria, eds, Urbanization in Large
Developing Countries, Oxford 1997, p. 44.
 See T. McGee, The Emergence of Desakota Regions in Asia: Expanding a
Hypothesis, in Northon Ginsburg, Bruce Koppell and T. McGee, eds, The
Extended Metropolis: Settlement Transition in Asia, Honolulu 1991.
 Yue-man Yeung and Fu-chen Lo, Global restructuring and emerging urban
corridors in Pacific Asia, in Lo and Yeung, eds, Emerging World Cities in
Pacific Asia, Tokyo 1996, p. 41.
 Guldin, Peasant, p. 13.
 Wang Mengkui, advisor to the State Council, quoted in the Financial
Times, 26 November 2003. Since the market reforms of the late 1970s it is
estimated that almost 300 million Chinese have moved from rural areas to
cities. Another 250 or 300 million are expected to follow in coming
decades. (Financial Times, 16 December 2003.)
 Josef Gugler, IntroductionII. RuralUrban Migration, in Gugler,
ed., Cities in the Developing World: Issues, Theory and Policy, Oxford
1997, p. 43. For a contrarian view that disputes generally accepted World
Bank and un data on continuing high rates of urbanization during the 1980s,
see Deborah Potts, Urban lives: Adopting new strategies and adapting rural
links, in Carole Rakodi, ed., TheUrban Challenge in Africa: Growth and
Management of Its Large Cities, Tokyo 1997, pp. 46373.
 David Simon, Urbanization, globalization and economic crisis in
Africa, in Rakodi, Urban Challenge, p. 95.
 See Josef Gugler, Overurbanization Reconsidered, in Gugler, Cities
in the Developing World, pp. 11423. By contrast, the former command
economies of the Soviet Union and Maoist China restricted in-migration to
cities and thus tended toward under-urbanization.
 Foreword to Jacinta Prunty, Dublin Slums 18001925: A Study in Urban
Geography, Dublin 1998, p. ix.
 Thus, it appears that for low income countries, a significant fall in
urban incomes may not necessarily produce in the short term a decline in
ruralurban migration. Nigel Harris, Urbanization, Economic Development
and Policy in Developing Countries, Habitat International, vol. 14, no. 4,
1990, p. 212.
 On Third World urbanization and the global debt crisis, see York
Bradshaw and Rita Noonan, Urbanization, Economic Growth, and Womens
Labour-Force Participation, in Gugler, Cities in the DevelopingWorld, pp.
 Slums: for publication details, see footnote 8.
 Branko Milanovic, True world income distribution 1988 and 1993, World
Bank, New York 1999. Milanovic and his colleague Schlomo Yitzhaki are the
first to calculate world income distribution based on the household survey
data from individual countries.
 unicef, to be fair, has criticized the imf for years, pointing out
that hundreds of thousands of the developing worlds children have given
their lives to pay their countries debts. See The State of theWorlds
Children, Oxford 1989, p. 30.
 Slums, p. 6.
 Such a study, one supposes, would survey, at one end, urban hazards
and infrastructural breakdown and, at the other, the impact of climate
change on agriculture and migration.
 Prunty, Dublin Slums, p. 2.
 Slums, p. 12.
 Slums, pp. 23.
 See A. Oberai, Population Growth, Employment and Poverty in Third
World Mega-Cities, New York 1993, p. 28. In 1980 the 019 cohort of big
oecd cities was from 19 to 28 per cent of the population; of Third World
mega-cities, 40 to 53 per cent.
 Slums of the World, pp. 334.
 Simon, Urbanization in Africa, p. 103; and Jean-Luc Piermay,
Kinshasa: A reprieved mega-city?, in Rakodi, Urban Challenge, p. 236.
 Sabir Ali, Squatters: Slums within Slums, in Prodipto Roy and
Shangon Das Gupta, eds, Urbanization and Slums, Delhi 1995, pp. 559.
 Jonathan Rigg, Southeast Asia: A Region in Transition, London 1991, p.
 Slums of the World, p. 34
 Salah El-Shakhs, Toward appropriate urban development policy in
emerging mega-cities in Africa, in Rakodi, Urban Challenge, p. 516.
 Daily Times of Nigeria, 20 October 2003. Lagos has grown more
explosively than any large Third World city except for Dhaka. In 1950 it
had only 300,000 inhabitants but then grew almost 10 per cent per annum
until 1980, when it slowed to about 6%still a very rapid rateduring the
years of structural readjustment.
 Amy Otchet, Lagos: the survival of the determined, unesco Courier,
 Slums, p. 50.
 Winter King, Illegal Settlements and the Impact of Titling
Programmes, Harvard Law Review, vol. 44, no. 2, September 2003, p. 471.
 United Nations, Karachi, Population Growth and Policies in Megacities
series, New York 1988, p. 19.
 The absence of infrastructure, however, does create innumerable niches
for informal workers: selling water, carting nightsoil, recycling trash,
delivering propane and so on.
 World Resources Institute, World Resources: 199697, Oxford 1996, p. 21.
 Slums of the World, p. 25.
 Slums, p. 99.
 Slums of the World, p. 12.
 For an exemplary case-study, see Greg Bankoff, Constructing
Vulnerability: The Historical, Natural and Social Generation of Flooding in
Metropolitan Manila, Disasters, vol. 27, no. 3, 2003, pp. 22438.
 Otchet, Lagos; and Li Zhang, Strangers in the City: Reconfigurations
of Space, Power and Social Networks within Chinas Floating Population,
Stanford 2001; Alan Gilbert, The Latin American City, New York 1998, p. 16.
 Martin Ravallion, On the urbanization of poverty, World Bank paper, 2001.
 Slums, p. 28.
 Slums of the World, p. 12.
 Fidelis Odun Balogun, Adjusted Lives: stories of structural
adjustment, Trenton, nj 1995, p. 80.
 The Challenge of Slums, p. 30. Urban bias theorists, like Michael
Lipton who invented the term in 1977, argue that agriculture tends to be
undercapitalized in developing countries, and cities relatively
overurbanized, because fiscal and financial policies favour urban elites
and distort investment flows. At the limit, cities are vampires of the
countryside. See Lipton, Why Poor People StayPoor: A Study of Urban Bias in
World Development, Cambridge 1977.
 Quoted in Tony Killick, Twenty-five Years in Development: the Rise
and Impending Decline of Market Solutions, Development Policy Review, vol.
4, 1986, p. 101.
 Deborah Bryceson, Disappearing Peasantries? Rural Labour Redundancy
in the Neoliberal Era and Beyond, in Bryceson, Cristóbal Kay and Jos
Mooij, eds, Disappearing Peasantries? Rural Labour in Africa, Asia and
Latin America, London 2000, p. 3045.
 Ha-Joon Chang, Kicking Away the Ladder: Infant Industry Promotion in
Historical Perspective, OxfordDevelopment Studies, vol. 31, no. 1, 2003,
p. 21. Per capita income in developing countries grew at 3 per cent per
annum between 1960 and 1980, but at only about 1.5 per cent between 1980
and 2000 . . . Neoliberal economists are therefore faced with a paradox
here. The developing countries grew much faster when they used bad
policies during 196080 than when they used good (or least better)
policies during the following two decades. (p. 28).
 Slums, p. 48.
 Carole Rakodi, Global Forces, Urban Change, and Urban Management in
Africa, in Rakodi, Urban Challenge, pp. 50, 601.
 Piermay, Kinshasa, p. 2356; Megacities, Time, 11 January 1993, p.
 Michael Mattingly, The Role of the Government of Urban Areas in the
Creation of Urban Poverty, in Sue Jones and Nici Nelson, eds, Urban
Poverty in Africa, London 1999, p. 21.
 Adil Ahmad and Ata El-Batthani, Poverty in Khartoum, Environment and
Urbanization, vol. 7, no. 2, October 1995, p. 205.
 Alain Dubresson, Abidjan, in Rakodi, Urban Challenge, pp. 2613.
 World Bank, Nigeria: Country Brief, September 2003.
 un, World Urbanization Prospects, p. 12.
 Luis Ainstein, Buenos Aires: a case of deepening social
polarization, in Gilbert, Mega-City in LatinAmerica, p. 139.
 Gustavo Riofrio, Lima: Mega-city and mega-problem, in Gilbert,
Mega-City in LatinAmerica, p. 159; and Gilbert, Latin American City, p. 73.
 Hamilton Tolosa, Rio de Janeiro: Urban expansion and structural
change, in Gilbert, Mega-City in LatinAmerica, p. 211.
 World Bank, Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean, New York 2003.
 Orlandina de Oliveira and Bryan Roberts, The Many Roles of the
Informal Sector in Development, in Cathy Rakowski, ed., Contrapunto: the
Informal Sector Debate in Latin America, Albany 1994, pp. 648.
 Christian Rogerson, Globalization or informalization? African urban
economies in the 1990s, in Rakodi, Urban Challenge, p. 348.
 Slums, p. 2.
 Albert Park et al., The Growth of Wage Inequality in Urban China,
1988 to 1999, World Bank working paper, February 2003, p. 27 (quote); and
John Knight and Linda Song, Increasing urban wage inequality in China,
Economics of Transition, vol. 11, no. 4, 2003, p. 616 (discrimination).
 Slums, p. 34.
 Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion, How Did the Worlds Poorest Fare in
the 1990s?, World Bank paper, 2000.
 See my Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of
the Third World, London 2001, especially pp. 2069.
 Slums, pp. 40, 46.
 Keith Hart, Informal income opportunities and urban employment in
Ghana, Journal of ModernAfrican Studies, 11, 1973, pp. 6189.
 Alejandro Portes and Kelly Hoffman, Latin American Class Structures:
Their Composition and Change during the Neoliberal Era, Latin American
Research Review, vol. 38, no. 1, 2003, p. 55.
 Slums, p. 60.
 Cited in the Economist, 21 March 1998, p. 37.
 Dennis Rondinelli and John Kasarda, Job Creation Needs in Third World
Cities, in Kasarda and Allan Parnell, eds, Third World Cities: Problems,
policies and prospects, Newbury Park, ca 1993, pp. 1067.
 Slums, p. 103.
 Guy Mhone, The impact of structural adjustment on the urban informal
sector in Zimbabwe, Issues inDevelopment discussion paper no. 2,
International Labour Office, Geneva n.d., p. 19.
 Slums, p. 104.
 Orlandina de Oliveira and Bryan Roberts rightly emphasize that the
bottom strata of the urban labour-force should be identified not simply by
occupational titles or whether the job was formal or informal, but by the
household strategy for obtaining an income. The mass of the urban poor can
only exist by income pooling, sharing housing, food and other resources
either with kin or landsmen. (Urban Development and Social Inequality in
Latin America, in Gugler, Cities in the Developing World, p. 290.)
 Statistic on street kids: Natural History, July 1997, p. 4.
 Dubresson, Abidjan, p. 263.
 Rogerson, Globalization or informalization?, p. 34751.
 Bryceson, Disappearing Peasantries, pp. 3078.
 In Clifford Geertzs original, inimitable definition, involution is
an overdriving of an established form in such a way that it becomes rigid
through an inward over-elaboration of detail. (Agricultural involution:
Social development and economic change in twoIndonesian towns, Chicago
1963, p. 82.) More prosaically, involution, agricultural or urban, can be
described as spiralling labour self-exploitation (other factors fixed)
which continues, despite rapidly diminishing returns, as long as any return
or increment is produced.
 John Walton, Urban Conflict and Social Movements in Poor Countries:
Theory and Evidence of Collective Action, paper to Cities in Transition
Conference, Humboldt University, Berlin, July 1987.
 Kurt Weyland, Neopopulism and Neoliberalism in Latin America: how
much affinity?, Third World Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 6, 2003, pp. 1095115.
 For a fascinating if frightening account of Shiv Senas ascendancy in
Bombay at the expense of older Communist and trade-union politics, see
Thomas Hansen, Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial
Bombay, Princeton 2001. See also Veena Das, ed., Mirrors of Violence:
Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia, New York 1990.
 Hugh McLeod, Piety and Poverty: Working-Class Religion in Berlin,
London and New York, 18701914, New York 1996, pp. xxv, 6, 32.
 Ignacio Ramonet, Le Maroc indécis, Le Monde diplomatique, July 2000,
pp. 1213. Another former leftist told Ramonet: Nearly 65 per cent of the
population lives under the poverty line. The people of the bidonvilles are
entirely cut off from the elites. They see the elites the way they used to
see the French.
 In his controversial sociological interpretation of Pentecostalism,
Robert Mapes Anderson claimed that its unconscious intent, like other
millenarian movements, was actually revolutionary. (Vision of
theDisinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism, Oxford 1979, p. 222.)
 Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, p. 77.
 R. Andrew Chesnut, Born Again in Brazil: The Pentecostal Boom and the
Pathogens of Poverty, New Brunswick 1997, p. 29. On the historical
associations of Pentecostalism with anarchism in Brazil, see Paul Freston,
Pentecostalism in Latin America: Characteristics and Controversies,
Social Compass, vol. 45, no. 3, 1998, p. 342.
 David Maxwell, Historicizing Christian Independency: The Southern
Africa Pentecostal Movement, c. 190860, Journal of African History 40,
1990, p. 249; and Jean Comaroff, Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance,
Chicago 1985, p. 186.
 Chesnut, Born Again, p. 61. Indeed, Chesnut found that the Holy Ghost
not only moved tongues but improved family budgets. By eliminating
expenditures associated with the male prestige complex, Assembelianos were
able to climb from the lower and middle ranks of poverty to the upper
echelons, and some Quandrangulares migrated from poverty . . . to the lower
rungs of the middle class: p. 18.
 In all of human history, no other non-political, non-militaristic,
voluntary human movement has grown as rapidly as the
Pentecostal-Charismatic movement in the last twenty years: Peter Wagner,
foreward to Vinson Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, Grand Rapids
1997, p. xi.
 The high estimate is from David Barret and Todd Johnson, Annual
Statistical Table on Global Mission: 2001, International Bulletin of
Missionary Research, vol. 25, no. 1, January 2001, p. 25. Synan says there
were 217 million denominated Pentecostals in 1997 (Holiness, p. ix). On
Latin America, compare Freston, Pentecostalism, p. 337; Anderson, Vision
of the Disinherited; and David Martin, Evangelical and Charismatic
Christianity in Latin America, in Karla Poewe, ed., Charismatic
Christianity as a Global Culture, Columbia 1994, pp. 745.
 See Paul Giffords brilliant Christianity and Politics in Does
Liberia, Cambridge 1993. Also Peter Walshe, Prophetic Christianity and the
Liberation Movement in South Africa, Pietermaritzburg 1995, especially pp.
 Jefrey Gamarra, Conflict, Post-Conflict and Religion: Andean
Responses to New Religious Movements, Journal of Southern African Studies,
vol. 26, no. 2, June 2000, p. 272. Andres Tapia quotes the Peruvian
theologian Samuel Escobar who sees Sendero Luminoso and the Pentecostals as
flip sides of the same coinboth were seeking a powerful break with
injustices, only the means were different. With Shining Paths decline,
Pentecostalism has emerged as the winner for the souls of poor Peruvians.
(In the Ashes of the Shining Path, Pacific News Service, 14 Feburary 1996).
 Freston, Pentecostalism, p. 352.
 Comaroff, Body of Power, pp. 25963.
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