New Internationalist

Connections

Issue 430

Books, websites, contacts on Democracy.

Also worth reading

A mass of mainstream literature about the meltdown aspires to be wise after the event and so is scarcely the most reliable guide to the future. Even the Economist magazine, traditionally at the forefront of reasoned neoliberal debate, has been forced to adopt contorted poses. Few indeed are those who understood what was happening at the time and so are well placed to suggest what now needs to be done. By far the most consistently perceptive is, to my mind, Walden Bello, whose Deglobalization: ideas for a new world economy (Zed Books, updated edition 2004) first appeared in 2002. No doubt his engagement in radical democratic politics in the Philippines, and his viewpoint from the Global South, has helped him to get it more right than most. An improbable source of foresight is Graham Turner, whose day job is forecasting for the City of London. The Credit Crunch (Pluto Press, 2008) was the first to recommend ‘quantitative easing’; No Way to Run an Economy: why the system failed and how to put it right (Pluto Press, 2009) contains a devastating if sideways assault on corporate globalization. Hard going and technical, but authoritative and worth it. Peter Stalker’s No-Nonsense Guide to Global Finance (New Internationalist, 2009) surely cannot be bettered as a tour round the simple truths behind this unduly convoluted topic. Finally, People First Economics (New Internationalist, 2009 – an anthology edited by Vanessa Baird and myself) explores the lush pastures beyond the dim orthodoxy that has failed us all so badly.

Also worth browsing

The magnificent madness of the web has yet to settle – so far as I can discover – on sites where you can count on being kept abreast of all the relevant events. The once-useable sites of the ‘Unholy Trinity’ (IMF, World Bank and WTO) are increasingly defensive and useless. If you want the unredacted facts and analysis you’re more likely to find them at two UN-related sites: UNCTAD (www.unctad.org) and the International Labour Organization (www.ilo.org). Check out the Bretton Woods Project (www.brettonwoodsproject.org) which does an invaluable job sifting the best stuff. The Trade Justice Movement (www.tjm.org.uk) is good on trade and the WTO; Public Citizen (www.citizen.org) is informative about what is – or more often is not – going on in the US. To get an indispensable Southern perspective, Focus on the Global South (http://focusweb.org) and Jubilee South (www.jubileesouth.org) are good starting points. Though the main site is Brazilian and in Portuguese, it’s worth browsing in English what the World Social Forum is up to at http://tiny.cc/R9D7a

David Ransom

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