Jonathan Benthall at the Times Literary Supplement:
In Pauperland: Poverty and the poor in Britain, Jeremy Seabrook makes an eloquent case that wealth, which now commands “many of the rites and observances formerly associated with religion”, is founded on an ideology of limitless desires fuelling limitless economic growth. These desires spur the poor as well as the rich. In earlier times, attempts were made by the comfortably off to curb the desires of poor people, and their profligacy was frowned on. But high consumption by the poor is now encouraged as a source of commercial profit. Bombarded with incitements to spend, the poor no longer aim at securing a modest sufficiency, but tend to become caricatures of the rich. Poor people in Britain are attracted by the occult, reincarnation, astrology, ghosts, vampires and monsters, and by “haunted skinny models and images of brooding machismo, who live in ostentatious kitsch and bling, a degraded version of aristocratic grandeur”.
Driving home the argument that all wealth, not merely that displayed conspicuously, has been accumulated on the backs of poor people, Seabrook extends his purview from Britain to the whole world: “there is scarcely anything in daily consumption, a child’s toy, a garment, a tropical fruit, a piece of jewellery, uncontaminated by the suffering of people whose existence is unknown to us”.