Category Archives: Capitalism

and why I am against it – although I appreciate the irony of the buy me a gift link below

Call centres – The New Dark Satanic Mills?

Check out this job posting from Reed Employment Services

‘Spanish plus another language Customer Service Executive- Edinburgh £14,000 – Working 40 hours per week based in Sighthill, Edinburgh Our client is a market leading outsource contact centre who provides an array of sophisticated customer management solutions to major international companies around the world, primarily in the communications, financial services, healthcare, technology’

It may sound pretty swish – but this is basically an advert for a job in a call centre – and you only earn £14, 400 – which puts you below the government’s poverty line (not to mention the fact that you have to be bilingual!)  
If you believe Mark Serwotka of the Public Services Union- Call Centres are among the worst employment sectors in the UK – he in fact phrased the title of this post. The extract below, based on interviews with call centre workers, and taken from Owen Jone’s Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class illustrates some of the miseries of working in a call centre –


By the look on his face, he's run out of 'toilet time'

There are nearly a million people working in call centres, and the number is going up every year.

‘Call centres are a very regimented environment,’ says John McInally, a trade unionist leading efforts to unionize call centre workers. ‘Its rows of desks with people sitting with headphones. There’s loads of people in the room, but they’re seperate units. They’re encouraged not to talk, share experiences, and so on…. The minute you get in the door, your moveemnts are regulated by the computer…. We’ve likened the conditions to those you’d have seen in mills or factories at the end of nineteenth century.’ Think that’s an exaggeration? Then consider the fact that, in some call centres, workers have to put their hands up to go to the toilet and computers dictate the time and duration of breaks, with no flexibility whatosever. Employees are under constant monitoring and surveillance, driving up stress levels.

Many call centre workers have told McInally that the whole experience is ‘very dehumanising’. People talk about being treated like robots. Everything is regulated by machines.’ The working lives of many operators consist of reading through the same script over and over again. According to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, increasing numbers of call centre workers are being referred to speech therapists because they are losing their voices. The cause? Working long hours with little opportunity to even have a drink of water.
It's actually almost impossible to find 'real' pictures of call centres

That’s one reason why the sickness rate in class centres is nearly twice the national average, The other is deep alienation from the work….. annual staff turnover is around a quarter of the workforce. And, like so much of the new working class, the salaries of call centre workers are poor. A trainee can expect £12 500, while the higher-grade operates are on an average of just £16 000.

Twenty-eight year olf Carl Leishman has been a call centre worker in Durham for eight year. He works bruising twelve-hour shits, three days on a three days off. At his pervious job, stiff targets had to be met. Four per cent of his working hours were set aside for needs like going to the toilet or getting a drink. ‘You’d get ratings at the end of each month, and if you’d gone above those percentages then your rating would drop, affecting what bonuses and pay rises you were getting.’ Carl didn’t need to go the to toilet too often – ‘whereas some other people, like pregnant women, could really struggle to stick to that.’

His employers have a no-hang-up policy, even if the customer is swearing or being aggressive. ‘You’ll see quite often on the floor people in tears at the way people have spoken to them,’ he says. It is a job that can have consequences for your health, too. ‘Your throat gets incredibly dry. There are people I’ve known for years whose throats have gone from doing it. A lady I used to work with had to actually leave because her voice was just completely shot.’

At the core of his experience at work is the lack of control over what he does.  ‘We’re set in rows, which I hate, to be honest. It can sometimes feel very much like a chicken factory as though you don’t have too much control over what you’re doing: ‘This is the way your doing things, and that’s it, deal with it, because that’s the way it is, don’t think too much outside the box… you don’t need to think much for yourself.

Carl’s salary is just £14 400 a year.


Related Posts and Issues

The rise of the call centre worker is indicative of the rise of the ‘New Working Class’ – people employed in the service sector, often on low pay, and increasingly in temporary and part-time conditions (often suffering underemployment) –

The PCS campaigns for better conditions for Call Centre Workers and has put together this Call Centre’s Charter


The (wealthy) Chinese are coming

You probably noticed that the Chinese have been in town for the Christmas sales  – indicative of the fact that Chinese ‘retail tourism’ to the UK – has increased massively in the last half a decade. Further evidence of this is found in the following stats (mainly taken from this article)  –

  • Both UK visitor numbers and spend are up 50 per cent in the past three years
  • China accounted for a 109 000 visits to the UK in 2010 – and Visit Britain, a firm dealing with Chinese tourism to the UK is targetting 300 000 Chinese visit by 2020.
  • Chinese holiday shopping now accounts for 15% of all foreign uk sales
  • Retail spending by the Chinese has risen from £30m in 2007 to over £300m just three years later, according to Nigel Dasler at Global Blue, a financial services firm.

Behind these figures lies China’s phenomenal economic growth – which slowed to 9.1% in 2011 and is predicted to overtake the U.S as the world’s largest economy by 2027

However, when you look @ China’s GDP per capita figures – things get grimmer – the average is currently $2500 per capita compared to $36 100 for the UK (NON PPP stats!) – So it’s not as if the majority of the Chinese population are enjoying the increase in China’s wealth.

The increase in Chinese Tourism is coming from the growth of the middle classes in China, but more importantly where headline grabbing expenditures of ‘£1000 a head per visit in Harrods’ are concerend is the increase in number of dollar millionaires in mainland China – which is nearly 10 per cent higher in a year, to 960,000 (a small overall percentage in a population of 1.3 billion)

The headlines about Chinese shoppers saving the day for Western retailers don’t remind you of the increasing inequality in China – the income of the top 10 percent of the richest Chinese was 23 times that of the bottom 10 percent in the country in 2007, as compared with 1998, when the gap was only 7.3 times. China has a gini coefficient of 4.7.

It’s also interesting to note how this compares with increasing inequality in the UK – we now have a gini coefficient of 4.0 – greater than at any point in the last 30 years.

So if you look behind these headline stats, you get a much fuller picture of the nature of globalisation – yes China is growing, yes Britain is stagnating – but it’s only some Chinese that are getting rich enough to take part in globalised consumption – while their peers get relatively poorer – and the same is true of Britain – the rich are doing very nicely for themselves – while most of the rest of us –  get relatively poorer – increasingly lacking the capacity to take part in truley globalised consumption.

JRF’s Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion – shows a growing crisis of underemployment in the UK

Always worthe keeping an eye on – and publicising – the latest report on poverty and social exlusion just recently published by the Jospeph Rowntree Foundation  

There’s a year’s lag in the data of course – so this report examines the situation left to the current government by the last Labour government, and includes the initial effects of the recession following the 2008 financial collapse caused by the feckless irresponsibility of the Transnational Capitalist Class and the weak (some would say bought) democratic institutions that failed to regulate them.

You can read the full summary and report for free at the above link, but one thing I took from the study is the huge number of people who are ‘in work’ and suffering from relative poverty – As noted in the summary

‘By mid-2011, six million people were unemployed, lacking but wanting work or working part-time because no full time job was available. This was 2 million higher than in 2004.’

The end result of this is that 57% of children in poverty live in working households – so under late Capitalism even working is not enough to ensure a decent standard of living….

I see this as a hugely important hidden dimension of the ‘legitimation crisis’ of late Capitalism – the system is systematically failing to sufficient work for people – which results in the gradually increasing immiseration of ordinaray working people.

Yet another indicator of how Capitalism simply isn’t working for millions of people in the UK…


Occupy LSX – can it really go from lifeworld to system?

Wandered up to LSX yesterday – I was mostly encouraged by what I saw to be honest – although the camp looked pretty dishevelled in the rain.

The Occupy movement is about drawing attention to the injustices in the economic and political system and sends out a message that we should seek to reform it so that the 1% cannot profit from the poverty of the 99%.

<:header>The full initial statement of the movement is here – which is a very accessible list of demands given that it was agreed through consensus – The immediate essence of the movement seems to be that we will not pay for the bankers’ crisis through cuts to public services….

At the moment, however, despite the obvious intention being systemic reform at the moment this remains an alternative ‘lifeworld movement’ in that it displays the following typical left-green-anarchist forms of organisation –

    • Participatory decision making (and a lot of moaning about there being too much discussion about operational issues, now handily on live stream for all to witness)
    • Voluntary Poverty – although I’m sure if you dug down you’d find plenty of middle class students hanging out on daddy’s credit card.
    • A commitment to avoiding dealing with large corporations – effort is made to source things second hand, and the issue of whether to set up a bank account for funding had the agenda of ‘do we need one or credit union or co-op?)
    • Vegetarianism – it clearly states ‘no meat’ on the food wish list in the kitchen
    • Lots of creativity – valuing art, music, colour…
    • Acceptance of lots of diversity and creativity – I think this will move more to ‘tolerance’ as things evolve.

    Maintaining an alternative life-world is relatively straightforward – especially when the general public are on side and stocking your free kitchen with a range of nibbles and dips and large tubs full of fruit.

the problem the movement now faces is how, exactly, is it going to challenge the system it opposes – what exactly is systemic reform going to look like in pratice – and how far do they compromise with the mainstream left?Capitalism can easily survive – even if tens of thousands camp out on London’s streets chomping on charity munchies, playing Djembe Drums and discussing radical politics…

A few views on occupy wall street etc.

So its day 39 of occupy wall street and day something or other of occupy LSX – these are definitely the the most significant movements to have emerged since the anti-globalisation movement of the late 90s/ early 2000s, and possibly the most important movements for change ever – they have a global reach, unlike the anti-globalisation movement, they are now rooted, rather than transitory, and in the wake of the extreme nature of the legitimation crisis facing the (I won’t say ‘our’) corporate-states these movements have popular and growing support, even in spite of the best efforts of the mainstream press. The links above will take you to the livestreams of the Wall Street and St Pauls sites (although the later is not working as of 11.00 a.m. Tue 25th Oct) and the later to the global stream hub… they all seem to have chat rooms where you can engage in conversation with whoever else is online.

So what’s the movement about?

Well of course it’s going to be difficult to give an easy answer to this because the occupy movement is a grass roots movement, based in several hundred cities around the world. This is also a movement that’s evolving all the time – due to its radically democratic in nature, this means that it is subject to the ‘will of the assembly’ – all of which means that it’s hard to ascertain exactly where this is going!

So I’m going to give you my interpretation of what I understand the movement to be about – people will of course disagree with this – some present at LSX no doubt think, for example, that poetry, face painting and drum circles have a much more significant role to play in ‘realising utopia’ than I do. (For the record I quite like resistance poetry, I can tolerate face painting, but I think all Djembe drums should drums on site should be rounded up and used as cooking fuel.)

It’s also clear from looking at recent events that there are some differences between movements in different countries – most notably for me (because this is what I’m interested in) the passion, turnout, and organisation of the #occupywallstreet movement appears to be much greater than the LSX movement – this is probably due to the fact that the American government really has been bought out by the Corporate sector, while in Britain, all we really have to complain about is the trillion dollar bail out of the city and the ensuing cuts to public services, rather than the wholesale Corporate takeover of our system – there are some politicians remain relatively untainted.

I’m going to treat occupy Wall Street and occupy LSX separately – and look at grievances and proposals/ demands separately – there will be overlap so I’m not gonna repeat myself.


Occupy Wall Street…

As I said above, different people have different reasons for being at either event, but a sensible starting point for anyone wishing to understand more would be to check out the adbusters site – this is where I first saw the original Occupy idea being promoted back in July. I’d also recommend going here and looking at Naomi Klein’s take on the movement – which she roots back to the anti-globalisation movements of a decade ago – the one line that stands outThe point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy.

I’d also recommend watching some of these videos –

Video 1 – A stupid person’s guide to Occupy Wall Street – A young woman, clearly affecting a ‘ditsy persona’ does a nice job of giving an introductory summary of the movement


My summary – Occupy Wall Street – It’s basically about the 99% – which is ordinary American citizens – using their democratic right to assemble in order to raise awareness of economic injustice – particularly the fact that the 1% – or Corporate America is profiting off of the misery of the 99% – and a bit more too!

Charts like this also do quite a lot to explain one of the basic gripes of the movement – increasing inequality



Video 2  – A Business Man occupies wall street – this is more a conservative take on why even conservatives should support the 99%


My Summary – In this video – ‘David Instrator points out that Transnational Corporations are by definition un-American – they do not owe their allegiance to any one country. The wall street protest is by ordinary American people against Corporatism – in other words it is against the takeover of the American government by Transnational Corporate interests .

He also argues that occupy Wall Street is a conservative movement – it is about the interests of the country over the interests of the market, and it is about us acting as citizens rather than as consumers. He also argues that this movement might actually be pro-Capitalism – in that capitalism would not have allowed the bailing out of the banks (insert too big to fail) and the socialising of losses while gains are privatised (insert income chart or wealth charts).

He finishes by imploring people – if you are a conservative, come join us, this is your movement.  


Video 3 – A very impassioned account of why politics as usual is not working! As #anonymous tweeted – this is a core value of the movement – money in politics is the root cause of all political evil


My Summary – Transnational Corporations have been extracting wealth from the US for 20 years, the political system has facilitated this and is incapable of stopping it – the speaker calls on Obama to stand up to congress and enact economic policy for the people rather than for the Corporations – but given that he’s not doing it – I see this speech as justification for why a movement such as the occupy movement outside of mainstream American Politics is necessary


Video 4 – Why Noam Chomsky supports Occupy Wall Street



Wall Street is just short hand for the financial institutions – the banks are richer and bigger than ever before, and corporate profits are soaring while real unemployment is similar to that of the great depression. At the same time as enormous wealth being generated, fiscal policies (tax cuts and spending reductions) have lead to massive poverty and the collapse of social infrastructure. Cycle

In the next election year, Campaign spending will exceed one billion dollars – where does it come from? – if we look at 2008, Obama mainly got his money from financial intuitions. Also in terms of the day to day running of the parliament – committees are bought – increasing the influence of concentrated capital. 2/3rds of the public think most of congress should be thrown out.

All of these things are signs that the system is not working – the system is not functioning. NB – this isn’t new – but there are degrees and this is now extreme, it’s time for protest….


Video 5 – Wall streeters mocking protestors

My summary – The claims that the #occupywallstreet movement have no clear message is totally blow away by this video – As protestors march past a load of wealthy individuals quaffing Champaign on a balcony chanting ‘we are the 99% – at about 33 seconds in someone walks past the camera sporting a ‘commodity inflation causes starvation’ placard. I think the message here is at its most obvious – The money that bought you that Champaign – it comes at the expense of the many.

Personally, I want to see the people on the balcony getting even closer to the produces their immorality has bought them – maybe by shoving those Champaign glasses in their faces?  But that’s just me, as I understand it the movement is peaceful – it’s the system that’s violent.


So there are some of the key ideas of occupy wall street – in a future post, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll look at Occupy LSX and some of the proposals that are being put forwards to make our world a more just place in which to live…

23 things they don’t tell you about Capitalism

A brief summary of some of the key themes in a talk by Ha-Joon Chang based on his book ’23 things they don’t tell you about Capitalism’ – relevant to the A2 Module on Global Development – He is basically critiquing neo-liberalism.

He claims that 95% of economics is common sense deliberately made complicated and that ordinary people can understand most of economics fairly easily. He wants to help ordinary people engage in ‘active economic citizenship’ and demand the right decisions from their leaders…. I imagine he would say a big fat ‘NO’ to the Tory cuts!

This is very much along the same lines as Joseph Stiglitz and David Harvey btw…!

His basic point seams to be that Capitalism is the best economic system in world history, yet our present form of Western Capitalism (there are many types) – ie neo-liberalism – has served us very badly. We have been told that things have been going very well – what with post-industrialism and the new knowledge economy – but things have not been going well since the 1970s. Neo-Liberal policies have been very bad at generating economic growth – the world economy has slowed down massively over the last three decades. What has also happened is that the rich have got richer and many economies have become less stable.

He also points out that in those countries where neo-liberal policies have been applied the most rigourously have often seen the lowest levels of growth – such as in much of sub-sharahan Africa. Those countries that have grown the quickest – China and India did not apply neo-liberal policies to the extent that countries in Africa did.  

Anyway – just some of the points he makes – some of the things neo-liberal idealogues do not tell us about Capitalism are as follows (he is destroying the myths of free market, neo-liberal ideology)….

1. There is no such thing as a ‘free market’ – ‘freedom of the market is in the eyes of the beholder. The very definition of the ‘free market’ – who can participate, what can be bought and sold for example – is political.

2. Under neo-liberalism… Companies are not run in the interests of the owners – these days companies are owned by free floating shareholders who are primarily interested in short term profit (high dividends) which can harm the long term interests of the company – which requires investment in infrastructure and training of the workers. The shareholders can always move onto another company.

3. The market is not just – he gives two examples of two bus drivers – one in India who gets paid less than one in Germany – the chances are that the driver in India is more skilled as he drives on more dangerous roads….

4. We are still living in planned economies, despite the collapse of communism

5. Making rich people richer does not make the rest of us rich

7. People in poor countries are more entrepeneurial than people in wealthier companies…


NB – DEFINITION – Neo- liberalism is an economic and political ideology that believes state control over the economy is undesirable and seeks to transfer control of the economy from the state to the private sector. It gained popularity amongst politicians and influential economists following the economic crisis of the late 1970s. It involves three main policies –


  • Deregulation – Nation States placing less restraint on private industry. In practise this means fewer laws that restrict companies making a profit – making it easier for companies to fire workers, pay them less, and allowing them to pollute.
  • Privatisation – where possible public services such as transport and education should be handed over to private interests for them to run for a profit.
  • Cut backs in public spending – taxes should be low and so investment in public services would be cut back.

The Institutions of Economic Globalisation

The institutions of Economic Globalisation

Economic globalization refers to increasing economic interdependence of national economies across the world through a rapid increase in cross-border movement of goods, services, technology and capital

Most social scientists would point to four ‘institutions’ that oversee international trade and investment, and that attempt to steer the global economy on a path of continued economic growth. It is important for students to understand something about these institutions because all supporters and critics of economic globalisation refer to these institutions (Hyper globalists are the supporters, Marxists and the broader anti-capitalist movement the critics).

You should read this through once when directed and refer back to it when we look at material that either supports or criticises the spread of global capitalism

The four institutions that make up economic globalisation are The World Trade Organisation, The International Monetary Fund and World Bank, The G8 and Transnational Corporations.

1. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) – was founded in 1949, has 149 member states and 149 states are WTO members, constituting over 90% of all world trade with a further 31 in the process of joining.

 The WTO is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.” [1]

The WTO functions through a number of meetings involving high- up officials from Nation States often referred to as a trade ‘round’ where they agree on the future terms of trade (for example how much to tax import and exports of goods and services)

2. The International Monetary Fund and The World Bank

 The IMF has 187 members. It monitors the world’s economies, lends to members in economic difficulty, and provides technical assistance ([2]). The IMFs mission is to facilitate international trade, promote high employment, achieve sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. If a country gets into too much debt and can’t pay it off, it is the IMF that lends the country, setting conditions the country must abide by in order to receive that loan.

The World Bank was established in 1944, is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has more than 10,000 employees in more than 100 offices worldwide. Like the IMF it has 187 member states  

The World Bank works closely with IMF. It provides low-interest loans to developing countries for a wide array of purposes that include investments in education, health, infrastructure, and natural resource management. ’It says that is mission is to ‘fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors.’ The World Bank is thus the largest single organisation responsible for bringing undeveloped countries whose populations make up at least 2/3rds of the world’s population into the global economy.

The World Bank believes that economic growth through industrialization and free trade are essential for countries to develop. They argue that there are sees the five key factors necessary for economic growth: 

3. The Group of Eight (G-8) is a forum for the leaders of eight of the world’s most industrialized nations, aimed at finding common ground on key topics and solutions to global issues. The G-8 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. While the leaders of these countries are in regular contact, they meet in summit format as the G-8 once a year.[3] ALSO [4]

4.    Transnational Corporations

 Transnational Corporations are some of the largest include Shell, ICI and Microsoft. Since world war two these have expanded massively.

 Held and Mcgrew point out that Transnational Corporations account for more than 25 percent of world production, 80% of world industrial output, approximately 40% of world merchandise trade and 10 percent of world GDP. They also suggest that they have become powerful in determining where in the world production takes place and have played a major role in reordering the productive relationships between nation states[5]

Transnational Corporations have benefited hugely from the trade rules established by the WTO. Ellwood (2000) argues that these are now the driving force behind economic globalisation, wielding more power than many nation states. Today, 51 of the 100 largest economies in the world are run by TNCs rather than Nation States.







[5] Held D and Mcgew, A (2007) – Globalisation/ Anti Globalisation: beyond the great divide – Polity.

Vulture funds bill blocked by Christopher Chope, MP

OK this is old news – from March, but I’ve been meaning to write on this for ages… only just got round to it!

This item shows you the following

  • For A2 Global Development – this demonstrates the role of the Capitalist class in keeping developing countries poor – this is due to to the inability of the government to regulate a few unscrupulous hedge fund managers.
  • For A2 Crime and Deviance – The power of the elite minority to prevent just laws that the majority believe in coming into force

I first came across Vulture Funds thanks to this article – which is quoted at some length below…

39779“Would you ever march up to a destitute African who is shivering with Aids and demand he “pay back” tens of thousands of pounds he didn’t borrow – with interest? I only ask because this is in effect happening, here, in British and American courts, time after time. Some of the richest people in the world are making profit margins of 500 per cent by shaking money out of the poorest people in the world – for debt they did not incur.

Here’s how it works. In the mid-1990s, a Republican businessman called Paul Singer invented a new type of hedge fund, quickly dubbed a “vulture fund.” They buy debts racked up years ago by the poorest countries on earth, almost always when they were run by kleptocratic dictators, before most of the current population was born. They buy it for small sums – as little as 10 per cent of its paper value – from the original holder and then take the poor country to court in Britain or the US to demand 100 per cent of the debt is repaid immediately, plus interest built up over years, and court costs.

Let’s look at two examples in two of the countries most aggressively targeted by the vulture funds – Peru, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I spent a week in a gargantuan rubbish dump in Peru 35 miles north of Lima. It is home to more than 5,000 children. Among them I found Adelina, a little eight-year old smudge, living there in a nest she had built from trash. She spends all day searching for something – anything – she can sell. The vulture funds managed to get $58m out of Peru, on a debt they paid $11m for.

Action Aid launched a campaign to prevent vulture funds from suing indepbted developing countries for their money in British Courts – part of whch involved raising public awareness as most people simply don’t know about them! – see here for more details –

In March 2010, Labour MP Sally Keeble actually tabled a private members bill to prevent vulture funds from operating in Britain. Having just reviewed some old WDM and Action Aid magazines from that month, they had news reports that assumed these vulture funds would be bloked.

25799_jpgHowever, because this bill was brought before the commons just before the general election, if one member objected, it would not get passed – This member was a Torie MP Christopher Chope – It is rare that you find a living example of scum – but here is one – Christopher Chope MP – Doing the dirty work of hedge fund managers in the house of commons while the poorest people suffer.

What is really aweful about this affair is that at the time of the vote on the bill, three MPs actually covered their mouths when the question ‘are there any objections’ to this bill was raised, so other people in the house could not be sure who actually objected, it was only afterwards that Chope came out as being scum.

Chope’s contact details, should you wish to send him a message…


House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 5808
Fax: 020 7219 6938


18a Bargates, Christchurch, BH23 1QL
Tel: 01202 474949
Fax: 01202 475548

Had this bill gone through it would have been a good example of the state regulating the finance sector – but once again here it fails to do so – and this example shows you the appalling lack of morality amongst some conservative MPs.

Recommended documentaries – mainly anti-corporate

This is a list of good documentaries – mostly relevant to the module on Global Development and most of them with a broadly anti-capitalist slant. 

Most summaries are taken from the Internet Movie Database

Sweet Crude (2010) Sandi Cioffi – In a small corner of the most populous country in Africa, billions of dollars of crude oil flow under the feet of a desperate people. Immense wealth and abject poverty stand in stark contrast. The environment is decimated. The issues are complex, the answers elusive. The documentary film Sweet Crude tells the story of Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The region is seething and the global stakes are high.

Capitalism: A Love Story (2010) Michael Moore – examines the impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans

The Age of Stupid (2009) Fanny Armstrong – A future archivist looks at old footage from the year 2008 to understand why humankind failed to address climate change.

The Shock Doctrine (2009) Mat Whitecross and Michael Winterbottom Investigations of “disaster capitalism”, based on Naomi Klein’s proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance. It is worth nothing that Klein removed her name from the film, but due to stylistic differences.

Black Gold (2007) Mark and Nick Francis – Explores the global coffee trade and looks at how unfair trade rules laid down by the WTO hurt farmers in Ethiopia while Corporations such as Starbucks make a fortune.

The Trap: Whatever happened to our dreams of Freedom? (2007) Adam CurtisThe Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam Curtis that explains the origins of our contemporary, narrow idea of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom. All three films are available at

The War on Democracy (2007) Christopher Martin and John Pilger –  Award winning journalist John Pilger examines the role of Washington in America’s manipulation of Latin American politics during the last 50 years leading up to the struggle by ordinary people to free themselves from poverty and racism. Since the mid 19th Century Latin America has been the ‘backyard’ of the US, a collection of mostly vassal states whose compliant and often brutal regimes have reinforced the ‘invisibility’ of their majority peoples. The film reveals similar CIA policies to be continuing in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. It also looks at the rise of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez despite ongoing Washington backed efforts to unseat him.

Darwin’s Nightmare (2004) Hubert Sauper – A documentary on the effect of fishing the Nile perch in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. The predatory fish, which has wiped out the native species, is sold in European supermarkets, while starving Tanzanian families have to make do with the leftovers.

 Farenheit 911 (2004) Michael Moore  – Michael Moore’s view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Corporation (2004) Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

The New Rulers of the World (2001) John Pilger – Explores globalisation, looking at the role of the World Bank, The World Trade Organisation and Neo-Liberalism.