Here, in no particular order, is a list of some cool websites I have bookmarked:
Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/
Democracy Now! is a great news show presented by award winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. You get experts in the relevant areas interviewed on every show, rather than partisan political or corporate commentators and they are allowed to talk at length rather than being restricted to soundbite analysis of the day’s events. The journalists are great, they get out onto the streets and talk to the real people involved. You always get a very different side of the story to what the corporate media channels put across. Check it out and consider making a donation to keep it running 🙂
James Robertson: http://www.jamesrobertson.com/
James Robertson‘s home website is a fantastic hub for a bunch of articles on progressive and/or “green movement” politics. You can find stuff on sustainability, monetary reform and the money system, citizen’s incomes, work-life balance and much more.
John Pilger: http://johnpilger.com/
John Pilger is a world-renowned Australian journalist and documentary film-maker. His films are all available to watch free on the above website. My personal favourites “War by other means” and “The New Rulers of the World” give an uncompromising exposure to the real meaning of globalization and the complicity of the developed world in much of the suffering and misery ongoing today in the developing world.
His films are well calculated to fire one’s anger! See for example his shocking introduction to “War by Other Means” comparing Live Aid’s impact to that of interest payments on 3rd world debt in the same year, or his interview with callous IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer at around 40 mins into “The New Rulers of the World” – he doesn’t handle Pilger’s questions at all comfortably.
The IMF are not supposed to be held accountable for their actions – these people are today’s “You that hide behind walls. You that hide behind desks.” of Dylan’s 1963 song Masters of War. Indeed, you will discover from watching “War by other means” (skip to 35:00) that the IMF did in fact build an actual wall to hide from the poor during a conference in Bangkok!
Positive Money: http://www.positivemoney.org.uk/
Positive Money is a UK-based monetary reform group campaigning to have a banking system that works the way most people think it does already; banks lending the deposits of savers to borrowers. If you visit their website, you will quickly discover from their articles and videos (some of mine appear there too!) that the the current banking system does not work this way at all! Instead of lending depositor’s money, banks simply create new money as interest bearing debt. As Prof. Richard Werner put it in a talk I went to:
“It is basically an accounting trick … Banks create money. They don’t lend it … When a bank gives out what is called a loan, it basically pretends that you have deposited the money… it has to invent the liability … This is how the money supply is created.”
Contrary to what is still taught today to many economics undergraduates, they do not even need a certain level of deposits backing these “loans” and haven’t for decades. Deposits do not cause new loans; rather loans cause new deposits! There is essentially no restriction on how much money the banks may create for private profit other than how much debt the public as a whole can be persuaded (coerced? forced?) to take on. This monetary system is one of the key things behind an awful lot of social problems, but because it is so obscure and abstract, many good people committed to social change never realise this. Visit Positive Money’s website and you won’t be one of them!
Noam Chomsky: http://www.chomsky.info/
Noam Chomsky is Professor of Linguistics at MIT and one of my favourite social commentators and human beings alive today. Watching a ton of his interviews (search for him on youtube!) was what first stopped me in my tracks with an alternative viewpoint, one that cut through the Gordian knot of lies and distortions peddled by every politician and newscaster I’d spend my life thus far being stupefied and alienated by.
I assumed from its current incarnation that all political ideology was shallow and pathetic, a silly game small-minded men should be left to play, but through him discovered a political lineage (classical liberalism and its subsequent evolution into anarchism) that gave such a profound assessment of human nature and inspiring vision for our potential future that it simply couldn’t be wrong or unworthy of actively pursuing.
Znet is a sprawling repository for a bunch of articles and blogs by social activists, including the aforementioned Prof. Chomsky. Zmedia (Znet’s umbrella organisation) was Co-founded by Michael Albert, who has also developed an interesting proposal for what is essentially an “Anarchist Economics” – known as par-econ (short for “participatory economics”). Par-econ features extensively on Znet and I’ve also blogged about it. There is also a magazine you can subscribe to, ZMag. And keep an eye out for Zsocial, a planned new site aiming to entice those convinced of the activist organsising power of social networking away from corporate sites like facebook.
PPS is the Project For a Participatory Society, a UK group dedicated to realising the par-econ vision mentioned above and broadening this vision beyond economics to extend participatory democracy to all aspects of society. The movement is in its early stages and hasn’t really taken off yet – if you like the sound of Par-econ introduce yourselves on their forum like I did recently and consider helping to change that!
IPOS is the International Organisation for a Participatory Society (the global version of UKPPS linked above) which has launched recently. Join! 😉
CASSE is the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. Steady State economics is the project of former World Bank economist Herman Daly, who has been bold enough to champion the notion that perhaps the perpetual exponential growth of resource consumption on a finite planet is not a very sensible idea. This is contrast to almost the entire economics profession, who seem to consider the idea of GPD growth forever as the economy’s raison d’etre. I’ve recently started blogging for them too, and have a recent article on that topic.
BIEN is the Basic Income Earth Network. The site serves as a brief introduction to (and big collection of links to information about) Basic Income. Basic Income (a.k.a. Citizen’s Income, Guaranteed Income) is “an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. “ This would be the abolition of poverty by the most simple and direct method possible: the cause of poverty is a lack of money! Some cool people have supported it e.g. Bertrand Russell and Martin Luther King Jr.
One argument for Basic Income is that productive economic increases have rendered traditional work patterns obsolete, so new methods of distributing income should be found such that people can personally afford to work the reduced hours that technology has made possible. Another argument is that it needs to be possible for human beings to refuse demeaning work, otherwise employers exploit our need to work to survive to achieve disproportionate bargaining power over us. Yet another argument is that 7 billion people cannot live sustainably at UK levels of consumption – Basic Incomes may be very important in allowing the citizen’s of developed countries to tread more lightly upon the Earth.