03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

ReThink Interview: Philippe Diaz (part 1) -- The End of Poverty? and How It Started

What causes global poverty? Why do the countries of the northern hemisphere enjoy so much wealth while over a billion people in the southern hemisphere live in slums where one person (usually a child under 5) dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds? Many politicians and pundits would say that these are questions too vast to be answered, like trying to figure out why bad things happen in the world. It could be lack of education, corruption, lack of infrastructure, disease, bad luck, war, or any number of possible factors in any number of combinations.

But if you watch the new documentary The End of Poverty?, the answer to what causes global poverty is pretty clear -- us. Not you or I specifically, but those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, which has greatly benefited from and now relies upon the exploitation of the southern hemisphere's land, labor and natural resources to fuel our economic growth and our unsustainable consumer lifestyles. Or, as one of the experts interviewed in the film bluntly states, "We are rich because they are poor," and it's been that way since Europe began its brutal global expansion in 1492. Like the film's tagline says: Poverty is Not an Accident.

The End of Poverty? has been invited to over two dozen film festivals (including Cannes) and is making its way across the country after a successful premiere in New York (click here to find when/where it's playing). Watch the trailer for The End of Poverty? below:

I had the opportunity to talk to Philippe Diaz, the writer/director/cinematographer of The End of Poverty?, at Cinema Libre Studio in Canoga Park, CA. Diaz founded Cinema Libre in 2003 to help develop, produce and distribute independent films. Below are excerpts from the interview.

Diaz gives a brief history of global poverty from 1492 through today and why our current economic system can only (briefly) be sustained by plunging even more people into poverty.

Why Diaz believes that poverty and the concept of "growth for the sake of growth" are a greater threat than climate change.

Why perhaps the most damaging legacy of colonialism was not slavery, but the introduction of the concept of private property.

Why the extreme wage slavery being faced by hundreds of millions of people today is as bad, or in some cases worse, than the slavery of the past.

Stay tuned for part two of my interview with Philippe Diaz.

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