what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!
The Bucegi mountains - the range I see from the front balcony of my mountain house - are almost 120 kms from Bucharest and cannot normally be seen from the capital but some extraordinary weather conditions allowed this pic to be taken from the top of the Intercontinental Hotel in late Feb 2020

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Just Words

A bit of light relief this morning….when no fewer than 2 stories about language and punctuation caught my eye at first light and reminded me of another a few weeks back and my own little “sceptic’s glossary” of business and political words which are used to keep us “in our place” ie down
First, the Pope appears not to like adjectives – at least not “authentic” which I confess I quite like. He certainly doesn’t like the qualifying “authentic Christian”

“We have fallen into the culture of adjectives and adverbs, and we have forgotten the strength of nouns … Why say authentically Christian? It is Christian! The mere fact of the noun ‘Christian’, ‘I am Christ’ is strong: it is an adjective noun, yes, but it is a noun.
“The communicator must make people understand the weight of the reality of nouns that reflect the reality of people. And this is a mission of communication: to communicate with reality, without sweetening with adjectives or adverbs.”

So far, so Orwellian…in the best sense of George Orwell’s classic guide to clear expression and thinking - “Politics and the English Language” – written in 1946.
But I was bit taken aback by another statement which runs as follows -
 “But what should communication be like?” he said. “One of the things you must not do is advertising, mere advertising. You must not behave like human businesses that try to attract more people … To use a technical word: you must not proselytise. It is not Christian to proselytise.”

I’m sure a lot of missionaries will have something to say about that!
It was in fact only a couple of months ago that the newly-appointed Leader of the House of Commons, one Jacob Rees-Mogg set out to his staff come basic rules of language. He doesn’t want to see the following words or phrases – “hopefully”, “due to”, “meet with”, “got”, “equal”,
I actually have a lot of sympathy with people who get upset by some words which have crept into our language in the last few decades - although Moggs' selection is just a little bit....eccentric,,,There are lots of others I would rather have in my sights 

Thirty Six years before Orwell, Ambrose Bierce was another (American) journalist whose pithy and tough definitions of everyday words, in his newspaper column, attracted sufficient attention to justify a book “The Devil’s Dictionary” whose fame continues unto this day.
A dentist, for example, he defined as “a magician who puts metal into your mouth and pulls coins out of your pocket”. A robust scepticism about both business and politics infused his work

And at the millennium, I started to include in my project documents a little glossary questioning the jargon being used by consultants in the “institution-building” business which has become “Just Words - a sceptic’s glossary and bibliography for the fight against the pretensions and perversities of power”. That contains a lot of references to other gems such as The Devil’s Financial Dictionary by Jason Zweig (2015)

In 2007, the Local Government Association felt it necessary to recommend that 100 words be banned (not the same thing as book burning!!), And two years later it had expanded the list to 200 words -. Some of the words have me baffled (I have not lived in the UK for 30 years!) but I find this is a quite excellent initiative. The offensive words included -
Advocate, Agencies, Ambassador, Area based, Area focused, Autonomous, Baseline, Beacon, Benchmarking, Best Practice, Blue sky thinking, Bottom-Up, Can do culture, Capabilities, Capacity, Capacity building, Cascading, Cautiously welcome, Challenge, Champion, Citizen empowerment, Client, Cohesive communities, Cohesiveness, Collaboration, Commissioning, Community engagement, Compact, Conditionality, Consensual, Contestability, Contextual, Core developments, Core Message, Core principles, Core Value, Coterminosity, Coterminous, Cross-cutting, Cross-fertilisation, Customer, Democratic legitimacy, Democratic mandate, Dialogue, Double devolution, Downstream, Early Win, Embedded, Empowerment, Enabler, Engagement, Engaging users, Enhance, Evidence Base, Exemplar, External challenge, Facilitate, Fast-Track, Flex, Flexibilities and Freedoms, Framework, Fulcrum, Functionality, Funding streams, Gateway review, Going forward, Good practice, Governance, Guidelines, Holistic, Holistic governance, Horizon scanning, Improvement levers, Incentivising, Income streams, Indicators, Initiative, Innovative capacity, Inspectorates (a bit unfair!), Interdepartmental surely not?), Interface, Iteration, Joined up, Joint working, level playing field, Lever (unfair on Kurt Lewin!), Leverage, Localities, Lowlights (??), Mainstreaming, Management capacity, Meaningful consultation (as distinct from meaningless?), Meaningful dialogue (ditto?), Mechanisms, menu of Options, Multi-agency, Multidisciplinary, Municipalities (why?), Network model, Normalising, Outcomes, Output, Outsourced, Overarching, Paradigm, Parameter, Participatory, Partnership working, Partnerships, Pathfinder, Peer challenge, Performance Network, Place shaping, Pooled budgets, Pooled resources, Pooled risk, Populace, Potentialities, Practitioners (what’s wrong with that?), Preventative services, Prioritization, Priority, Proactive (damn!), Process driven, Procure, Procurement, Promulgate, Proportionality, Protocol,
Quick win (damn again), Rationalisation, Revenue Streams, Risk based, Robust, Scaled-back, Scoping, Sector wise, Seedbed, Self-aggrandizement (why not?), service users, Shared priority, Signpost, Social contracts ,Social exclusion, spatial, Stakeholder, Step change, Strategic (come off it!), Strategic priorities, Streamlined, Sub-regional, Subsidiarity (hallelujah); Sustainable (right on!), sustainable communities, Symposium, Synergies, Systematics, Taxonomy, Tested for Soundness, Thematic, Thinking outside of the box, Third sector, Toolkit, Top-down (?), Trajectory, Tranche, Transactional, Transformational, Transparency, Upstream, Upward trend, Utilise, Value-added, Vision, Visionary,

And what about coach, mentor, drivers, human resource management, social capital, tsar ???? Anyway – a brilliant initiative (if you will forgive the term)
And in 2009 a UK Parliamentary Committee actually invited people to submit examples of confusing language which they then reported about in a report entitled Bad Language! 

The final gem which hit me this morning was this great piece on the semi-colon and the art of punctuation

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Uncharted Waters

Last month's "prorogation" may not have been, in strict parlance, a “coup” – but the UK Supreme Court judgement today on Johnson’s suspension of parliament was historic, unanimous and damning. The suspension was unlawful – and the Houses of Parliament should and will resume their operations – from tomorrow.

For the umpteenth time (what a strange phrase!), we are all left pondering the question – “What Next?” At this stage, I am surprised that none of my foreign readers (namely 95% of my readership) have posed the obvious question for the situation in which a Parliament has consistently rejected the Government’s flagship Brexit Deal (and also No Deal) – for nigh on a year……As well as a proposal for a General Election.
Namely what is wrong with the idea of a Coalition or Government of National Unity?

There are two levels of answer. The first – rather fatuous one - is that it’s just not English!! Unlike the Europeans, they don’t do consensus. It’s part of the imperial tradition…It’s all or nothing…..none of these pansy compromises,,,,

The second more serious answer has me grasping for the path-dependency model which is used to explain why countries as diverse as Italy, Poland, Romania and Russia have had difficulty adjusting to the requirements of political modernity.

88 years ago (in 1931) a National Government took office in the middle of the Depression, headed by a Labour Prime Minister (Ramsay MacDonald) who had presided for 2 years over a minority Labour government supported by the Liberals - but his 1931 Cabinet consisted of Ministers drawn from the 3 main parties. MacDonald was branded a traitor by the Labour Party and subsequently expelled.
The experience has scarred the Labour party ever since – and made it very difficult to consider coalitions – let alone a National Government…..

But it's still amazing that you hear so few voices making such a call...in other countries it would by now have been deafening and irresistible....
But, then, the UK is not normal - and the victorious plaintiff correctly emphasised that the issue had once again demonstrated the need for a written constitution. But we all know that will never happen...And who said the Brits were pragmatists????

Update; I loved the reaction to the brooch worn by the woman who presided over the Supreme Court judgement – particularly the potential Shakespearian reference

Sunday, September 22, 2019

New Economic Thinking - part V of this series

Let me return to the list of books I suggested last week were key reading for anyone wanting ideas with which the socio-economic systems which rule us might be more effectively challenged and changed.   
I realise that it will strike many as an odd collection – some are descriptive; others prescriptive. Some (Bregman, Collier, Mander) are easy to read; others (Arrighi, Gibson-Graham) much more demanding. Some go into great depths on the source of powerful economic ideas (Blyth, Davey, Mason) whereas others explore the practicality of economic alternatives (Cumbers, Labour party, Laloux, Mazucatto, Restakis, Tirole). Some focus on political institutions (Dorling, Wainwright); others (Kennedy, Srnkek, Streeck) take a much wider sociological perspective. And I don’t necessarily agree with them all – eg Mulgan

So why are they on the list? Simply that they illustrate the variety of ways in which the search for a better way can be approached and of which we need to be aware. The diagram in this post makes the point, as always, much better graphically. It is the same one which heads this post - but much easier to read

I was heartened by this article in June about the support developing in Britain amongst younger leftist thinkers for a new economic model… It starts with a bold assertion -

For almost half a century, something vital has been missing from leftwing politics in western countries. Since the 70s, the left has changed how many people think about prejudice, personal identity and freedom. It has exposed capitalism’s cruelties. It has sometimes won elections, and sometimes governed effectively afterwards. But it has not been able to change fundamentally how wealth and work function in society – or even provide a compelling vision of how that might be done.

The left, in short, has not had an economic policy. Instead, the right has had one. Privatisation, deregulation, lower taxes for business and the rich, more power for employers and shareholders, less power for workers – these interlocking policies have intensified capitalism, and made it ever more ubiquitous. There have been immense efforts to make capitalism appear inevitable; to depict any alternative as impossible.

In this increasingly hostile environment, the left’s economic approach has been reactive – resisting these huge changes, often in vain – and often backward-looking, even nostalgic. For many decades, the same two critical analysts of capitalism, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, have continued to dominate the left’s economic imagination. Marx died in 1883, Keynes in 1946. The last time their ideas had a significant influence on western governments or voters was 40 years ago, during the turbulent final days of postwar social democracy.
Ever since, rightwingers and centrists have caricatured anyone arguing that capitalism should be reined in – let alone reshaped or replaced – as wanting to take the world “back to the 70s”. Altering our economic system has been presented as a fantasy – no more practical than time travel.

And yet, in recent years, that system has started to fail. Rather than sustainable and widely shared prosperity, it has produced wage stagnation, ever more workers in poverty, ever more inequality, banking crises, the convulsions of populism and the impending climate catastrophe. Even senior rightwing politicians sometimes concede the seriousness of the crisis. There is a dawning recognition that a new kind of economy is needed: fairer, more inclusive, less exploitative, less destructive of society and the planet.

“New Thinking” about the economy has been going on since at least the new millennium see, for example the New Economics Foundation which some, however, have seen as a bit too close to corporate power. But, from my position outside the UK, it was the Labour Party manifesto of 2017 that gave the first real sense that things were definitely changing. And last year's Open Democracy’s 190 page New Thinking for the British economy was clear confirmation.

Explaining the genesis of the new collection an excerpt from which was published on CommonSpace yesterday), Macfarlane says: “What we were trying to do with this book is synthesise some of the best thinking out there, across a host of important policy areas. Crucially, we weren’t just looking at the traditional levers of economic policy – trade, finance, industrial policy, although we do look at all those as well. We [also] took a broader approach and asked what are the forces that shape the power dynamics and political economy of the UK today. So, we looked at things like racial inequality, media reform, constitutional issues, our care systems… A broader look than what you might typically get.
“We were asking what is the emerging consensus on what a post-neoliberal economy looks like – a diagnosis of what the problems are today, what the vision for change is, what policies we need to get there, and crucially, some strategic thinking about how we get from here to there. What are the critical paths for the first 100 days of an incoming government? We all know neoliberalism is bust, but then how do we move the conversation forward?”

To the staid Brits, many of the ideas in these texts will be almost revolutionary but are in fact commonplace in France and Germany.
Michael Albert is a name I came across in the 1990s as a celebrant of a “Rhenish capitalism” and reflects in this 2009 piece on post-capitalist alternativesI’ve just noticed his latest book Practical Utopias – strategies for creating a desirable society; M Albert (2017) which looks to be an update of 3 volumes he wrote a few years back of which this is the first Fanfare for the Future vol 1 (2012)
And this was a useful German briefing from 2010 discussing the “solidarity economy” in Europe as a whole with a rather softer left update more recently

And the Americans are also leaving the Brits behind…The Brookings Institute is a very staid American Foundation but has just produced a fascinating analysis (of 23 pages) challenging the "market paradigm" and suggesting that the country has a choice between 3 models “all of which reject the primacy of the markets” – what the author calls first “Social democracy (or democratic socialism)”; then “democratic liberalism” (a curious term for a slightly more relaxed version of the mixed economy than social democracy; and, finally, “social capitalism”. You can read “Capitalism and the future of democracy” here.
And a few years earlier, The Next System project ran A New Cooperative Economy written by someone I remember from the UK Guy Dauncey

Looking again at the 20 odd titles in last week's table, I notice that the most insightful and best written are those outside what we've learned to call "bubbles" - whether those are academic, political, media or whatever.
Quite frequently in the blog I have emphasised how much I’ve learned from the painful process of straddling boundaries

The lesson seems to be that those who "trespass" (like AO Hirschman) over several borders can definitely see further!


Further reading
https://www.academia.edu/38315422/Joe_Guinan_and_Martin_ONeill_2019_-_From_Community_Wealth_Building_to_System_Change_Local_Roots_for_Economic_Transformation_--_forthcoming_in_IPPR_Progressive_Review_Spring_2019_pre-publication_version_

Saturday, September 21, 2019

What's in a Name??

 “Capitalism”…I started, but the barman hopped out of a pipkin
“Capitalism”, he countered…”That’s a flat and frothless word
I’m a good Labour man, but if I mentioned capitalism
My clientele would chew off their own ears
And spit them down the barmaid’s publicised cleavage”
“All right” I obliged “Don’t call it capitalism
Let’s call it Mattiboko the Mighty
……..
The poem finishes
This was my fearless statement
“The Horror World can only be changed by the destruction of
Mattiboko the Mighty,
The Massimataxis Incoporated Supplement
And Gumbo Jumbo the Homely Obblestrog Spectacular”

Audience Reaction was quite encouraging


Some time ago I suggested that all references to words ending in “ism” or “ist” should be banned in discussions – on the basis that they had, these days, become mere insults and likely, as a result, to polarise rather than assist conversation.
It was a serious point I was making – brought home in the current American Democratic party debates for the Presidential nomination. One article suggests that Saunders, to distinguish himself from Warren, needs to clearly name his enemy….capitalism – although it’s not so long ago that Republicans were advised to stop using that particular term.
The Financial Crash of 2008 is still with us and has certainly made it easier to use the word (capitalism) which had been very much celebrated until the new millennium when it started to acquire its current negative connotation

In my youth, I was a Young Socialist ( a member of the Labour party’s youth wing) – but it was not a term I used of myself. I was a “social democrat”…a “Labourite” and very much opposed to the “Hard Left” on the fringes of the party who were always proud to label themselves “socialist”. Of course, if forced to choose between the two extremes, I would have to plump for “socialist” but was happy to occupy the middle ground – even if it meant accusations of being a “mugwump”

I’m currently trying to find a decent readable book to recommend to my readers about the shape of the “better system” we need to replace the offensive thing which currently rules our lives…..and realise how difficult it is to find a term for that “thing”. Paul Collier’s “Future of Capitalism” is one of the contenders – to which I devoted a series of posts last month. He’s very much a pragmatist; is happy to use the “C” word in his title but rarely (if at all) uses the “S” word.
Another contender is Jerry Mander’s The Capitalism Papers – Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System (2012) which I am now rereading for purposes of comparison (As you can also since the book can be read in full by tapping the title).
His opening chapter (pp8/9) tells the story of a friend who said to him “I hope you’re not going to use the “C” word!” which inspired me to this post a few years ago.
Mander goes on to make the important distinction between “Big Capitalism” (the multinationals) and small and medium-sized business – what others (like Geoff Mulgan) call “bad” and Good” Capitalism

I suddenly remembered that the famous playwright GB Shaw had written a book called The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism almost a hundred years ago – and wondered if it might tell me something.
I should warn you that, far from being a short, punchy pamphlet, it runs to more than 500 pages and that its contents sheet alone - normally 2 pages at most – runs to 33 pages. This because of the charming habit of giving the reader a synopsis of each chapter – and there are no fewer than 84 of them!
A modern journalist, in a mercifully short article, suggests some parallels with the post-crash world

But I want to persevere with my question – why do we have so much difficulty finding a word to describe a more sensible and acceptable system than the one which has had us by the throat for so long????
It’s a silly question I know – since the obvious term (“socialism”) has been maligned by the cleverest marketing of the corporate elites..…and that those who continue to use the term do so almost as a virility symbol….

The key question, therefore, is what term should be used to attract the support not only of the activists but of the huge numbers of others who are, very reluctantly, supporting the populist parties???  
Well certainly not “The Third Way” – nor “Diem25”!!
It’s interesting that one of the American websites trying to develop an alternative is called The Next System……..

Paul Mason is by no means the only person who has taken to using the phrase “post-capitalism” but the phrase is no more than a gentle indication we are in a transition phase – it says nothing about where we SHOULD be going….
And few people realise that it was the father of management Peter Drucker who first wrote (in 1993) about The Post-Capitalist Society. I’ve just discovered the full book on the internet – so will have to refresh my memory on its contents but it certainly isn’t about socialism!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Another World is Possible

I increasingly marvel at the miracle of my laptop – an instrument that allows me to access the work of the world’s best brains even when their bodies are dead.
The last two posts reflect what has been a frenetic process of interrogating some hundred or so writers about what they think of the prospects for “a better world”….

It all started with my alighting on a piece entitled “How to be an anti-capitalist today” - written by Erik Olin-Wright in the radical American journal Jacobin which you will be able to read only by entering the “Jacobin” site and inserting Olin-Wright’s name in their search engine. It’s a cunning obstacle they’ve created to prevent people like me sharing the article widely….
I was impressed with the clear typology he laid out in the article which he expanded into a later paper on the “strategic logics of anti-capitalism” – namely “smashing capitalism, dismantling capitalism, taming capitalism, resisting capitalism, and escaping capitalism”. Some of this language may offend my readers’ tender ears but, whether they like it or not, each represents a distinctive option in the wider portfolio of choices of dealing with a nasty system…

I realised I had perhaps been too dismissive in my reaction to his Envisioning Real Utopias (2009) when I had come across it on the internet a few years ago – and had written it off largely on the basis of it devoting only a few pages to the amazing phenomenon of the Mondragon cooperatives. But there were also some aspects of the sociological lingo (referred to in a withering review at the timewhich I found off-putting He does, however, admit in the Preface (the entire book is available just by clicking on the title) that it is almost impossible to satisfy both the general and the academic reader. Here he is on the structure of the book -

This framework is built around three tasks: diagnosis and critique; formulating alternatives; and elaborating strategies of transformation. These three tasks define the agendas of the three main parts of the book.
Part I of the book (Chapter 3) presents the basic diagnosis and critique of capitalism that animates the search for real utopian alternatives.

Part II then discusses the problem of alternatives. Chapter 4 reviews the traditional Marxist approach to thinking about alternatives and shows why this approach is unsatisfactory.
Chapter 5 elaborates an alternative strategy of analysis, anchored in the idea that socialism, as an alternative to capitalism, should be understood as a process of increasing social empowerment over state and economy.
Chapters 6 and 7 explore a range of concrete proposals for institutional design in terms of this concept of social empowerment, the first of these chapters focusing on the problem of social empowerment and the state, and the second on the problem of social empowerment and the economy.

Part III of the book turns to the problem of transformation – how to understand the process by which these real utopian alternatives could be brought about.
Chapter 8 lays out the central elements of a theory of social transformation.
Chapters 9 through 11 then examine three different broad strategies of emancipatory transformation – rupture transformation (chapter 9), interstitial transformation (chapter 10), and symbiotic transformation (chapter 11). The book concludes in Chapter 12 which distills the core arguments of the book into seven key lessons.

Olin-Wright devoted his life to trying to understand the capitalist system and how it might be tamed. His university keeps a full range of his papers accessible here – and they are a real treasure trove for the serious researcher – and activist.
Associations and Democracy; J Cohen and J Rogers (1995), for example, was the first of a series of books he helped develop under the “Real Utopias Project” banner (the others can be accessed on his site). And Taking the social in socialism seriously (2004) is a superb exposition which shows him testing out the ideas which went into “Envisioning Real Utopias” a few years later….

Sadly, he died in January of this year – with very touching tributes to his work as an inspiring teacher (see resource at end). But, before his untimely recent death, Wright went on to write a booklet (of 70 pages) with the rather curious title “How to be an anti-capitalist for the 21st Century” (2018) which you can read in its entirety by clicking the title. An expanded version is now available as a book and was nicely reviewed in The Guardian only last month.
He took copious notes at his presentations and discussion – and gave a lot of thought to the process of change as is evident in Pathways to a cooperative market economy (2015). Curiously, however, for a self-avowed Marxist, he did not venture into the field of economics or other disciplines....

Update
Inevitably I no sooner post a table than I realise I have missed an important title. The Capitalism Papers – Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System (2012) is a very readable but oddly neglected book by a great American journalist (and ecologist) who goes under the amazing name of Jerry Mander. Typically, however, he fails to mention Olin Wright – who I rather belatedly now realise was the foremost thinker of this genre…

Tributes

Thursday, September 19, 2019

For serious activists only

We are swamped these days with brave new radical writing which – given the populist mood in so much of the world – seems to have an element of whistling in the wind about it.
My purpose in both the last post and this one is to take a step back and to try to identify what I might call the “perennial progressive” books – whose analysis remains fresh over time and whose programmes for where we should place our energies are credible.
Too many books are strong on the dismantling of the present and weak on the description of what should come next.
Restakis and Wainwright (in the table below) are good examples of a focus on a positive vision….as are Bregman, Cumbers, Dorling, Gibson-Graham, Olin Wright and even the Labour Party…

I have a little book on my shelves Utopia or Bust – a guide to the present crisis by Benjamin Kunkel (2014) which you can also flick by clicking the title…At one level it is superb – a nice 20 page introduction to profiles of 6 leftist writers and a 7 page Guide to Further Reading.
For me an ideal structure….we need more of this. But I’m let down by his choice of the individuals for profiling – three of them are fine (David Harvey who was one of the first to diagnose Neoliberalism; Robert Brenner and David Graeber) but the other half are cultural theorists (Jameson, Zizek and someone called Boris Groys). OK the book's author is actually a novelist and is turned on by that sort of stuff - but I have to say I was tricked by his sub-title  

Today I am looking at books written after the crash. A couple of years ago I did an annotated list of the key  titles of the past decade - there were 50 of them - trying to make sense of the new economic world in which we find ourselves. 
But this is not an updating – although several new titles are in the table….this is a prioritising – in other words a short-listing of the essential books anyone seriously interested in making sense of our contemporary world needs, in my opinion, to dip into 

I have selected 20 individuals for very short profiling – although clicking the title will often give you the entire book.
There are far fewer Americans in this list and more Europeans….I’m not sure what that says….

AFTER THE CRASH (names are in alphabetical order)


Name

Title of relevant book


What they bring to the table
Arrighi, Giovanni
All activists need to take the trouble to read at least one serious overview of the global political economy. Gilpin’s “Global Political Economy” is clear but a bit outdated; and Panich and Gindin’s “The Making of Global Capitalism” also very clear but too oriented to the American Empire
Blyth, Mark

Blyth is a political economist who trained as a political scientist and uses his understanding of early political scientists to blow the case for austerity apart.
Bregman, Rutger
Journalist whose little book has got a high profile. It certainly is written very well but is very light and focuses mainly on universal income and the short working week. Example of great marketing
Collier, Paul

Development economist whose book I found so interesting I devoted 5 posts to it
Cumbers, Andrew
Renewing Public Ownership – making space for a democratic economy (2014)
Political economist makes the case – rarely heard in 2014 – for “the people” owning natural monopolies and other assets
Davey, Brian

Davey trained as an economist but has moved on to community work and here treats the economic discipline as a set of religious beliefs which need to be demystified and questioned.
Dorling, Danny
A geographer who can both use statistics and write very well tells some home truths. His Injustice – why social inequality persists (2010) was the best treatment I had read since Tawney
Gibson-Graham
Economist and feminist. In some ways, an update of Douthwaite (1996) - although not quite so well written
Kennedy, Paul
A sociologist’s treatment which earns high points by stating in the very first sentence that it has “stood on the shoulders of so many giants that he is dizzy” and then proves the point by having an extensive bibliography with lots of hyperlinks…It can be read in full here
Korten, David
The latest in the grand old man of activism’s series of books not only critiquing our economic system but setting out a more sensible path
Labour Party (UK)
A discussion document from the Shadow Cabinet during the 2017 election campaign
Laloux, Frederic
A rare book by an organisational consultant which places the cooperative company (in its various guises) in the wider context of organ types. A must for the activist - can be downloaded in full from the link
Mander, Jerry
Highly readable but strangely neglected analysis from the great American journalist and ecologist – who also wrote “Four Arguments for getting rid of Television”!
Mason, Paul
Mason is a high-profile journalist bursting with ideas and this is a well-written which does justice to both history and the implications of the new high-tech world
Mazucatto, Mariana
The Entrepreneurial State – debunking private v public sector myths” (2013)
 A long-overdue reminder of the key role played by state investment
Mintzberg, Henry

The Canadian management guru who was warning in 2000 of capitalist excess and then had the courage to produce this pamphlet.
Mulgan, Geoff
This should be an important book but is written at too high a level of generality … no entries in the index for “cooperatives” or “ownership” and no mention of Jeff Gates’ “The Ownership Solution” of 1998 despite a credit Gates gave Mulgan in his “The Ownership Solution”
Olin-Wright, Erik
One leftist made some withering suggestions that Wright operated too long in an academic sociological bubble and should have mixed more with other disciplines and perspectives…
His university keeps a full range of his papers accessible here – and they are a treasure trove for the researcher.
Parker, Martin, Fournier V P Reedy
A fascinating collection of entries illustrating the richness of thinking about alternative futures – past and present
Restakis, John
Written by an activist with a degree in religion! This is one of the most persuasive books about the essential contribution the cooperative spirit can make not only to our economic life but its quality. Useful summary here    
Srnicek and Williams
Sociologists who favour the “accelerationist” strategy
Streeck Wolfgang
a collection of this German sociologist’s key articles, many from New Left Review. Superbly written but weak on future of work and environment
Tirole, Jean

Nobel prize winner 2014..French Economist. This is political economy as it should be practised – taking the themes of interest to us all and reasoning seriously with us about them.
Varoufakis, Yanis
A brilliant and highly readable account of how the financial crash came. For a summary see

I will try in future posts to draw all of this together and perhaps even make some suggestions....