Special Report: Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party's Radical Rise

What difference does a Party make? This week on the Laura Flanders Show, we talk about what's happening in the UK where one of the two main parties is picking up many of the radical demands coming out of movement groups seeking to transform the economy and society.

In 2017, mainstream media predicted that the Labour Party would be crushed in the general election. Instead, it won its best result in 20 years, getting more than 40% of the vote under the leadership of lifelong socialist and anti-war campaigner Jeremy Corbyn. Although he didn't become prime minister, Corbyn did come close to unseating Theresa May, which one reporter described as a "nice vindication for Jeremy Corbyn."

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Viewer's Guide: Building the Democratic Economy


 

Our story and the Preston Model was inspired, in part, by the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio (also known as the Cleveland Model). It was kickstarted in Cleveland, with the help of The Democracy Collaborative, the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, and the City of Cleveland. For more on the Cleveland Model, watch the Democracy Collaborative explainer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_kLye_6VBc.

The Preston Model is one of “community wealth building.” As we detail in our report, worker co-ops are an integral element of this model. What is a worker co-op? According to the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, they are “values-driven businesses that put worker and community benefit at the core of their purpose.” Or as ToolBoxEd.org puts it, worker co-ops are democratically owned, controlled, and benefitted. The Atlantic described the ins and outs of co-ops in a piece from a few years back: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/07/no-bosses-worker-owned-cooperatives/397007/

For more on the history of The Preston Model, including some of the critiques that have arise, check out OpenDemocracy’s piece The ‘Preston Model’ and the Modern Politics of Municipal Socialism.

Our special report, “Building the Democratic Economy, from Preston to Cleveland ,” was co-produced with The Democracy Collaborative. The Democracy Collaborative began in 2000 at the University of Maryland “as a research center dedicated to the pursuit of democratic renewal, increased civic participation, and community revitalization,” under the helm of Ted Howard and Gar Alperovitz.

To hear more from Matthew Brown, the Preston City Council leader, check out his interview on The Guardian with Aditya Chakrabortty: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/commentisfree/audio/2018/jan/31/the-alternatives-how-preston-took-back-control-podcast

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Bodies, Borders, Resistance, Rebirth: Arundhati Roy

 

India in the throes of a fascism that echoes what we have in America. The country is undergoing a political upheaval with PM Modi at its front, and fueled by increased violence towards Muslims, queers, Dalits, women, and more. Our guest, Arundhati Roy, covers this vast breadth of ground in her second novel in 20 years, ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,’ now out in paperback.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Building the Democratic Economy, from Preston to Cleveland​

Two forms of government have dominated in the west over the last hundred years. In one big power is vested in the state, the government, in the other policy is dominated by the influence of big industry, big corporations, or big money. Well a hundred years after the Russian revolution, and ten years after the financial crash, a whole lot of people all around the world are saying “are there any alternatives?” especially as neither of those models has delivered on a promise of shared prosperity.

In Preston, Lancashire, England, a formerly industrial city, the birthplace of the industrial revolution in many ways, they’ve seen ten years of austerity, and partly out of need, and partly out of aspiration they’re practicing, experimenting, with a new model. They’re calling it the Preston model of community wealth building, and it’s inspired by a model in another formerly industrialized city: Cleveland, Ohio, the Evergreen Cooperative model. On today’s program a transatlantic experiment in cooperative community wealth building. This episode is co-produced with the Democracy Collaborative and the Laura Flanders Show.

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F-Word: National Suicide Point?

After a few weeks overseas, away from the daily drip of US news, I’m home and horrified and thinking about Karl Polanyi.

One of the 20th century’s great economic historians, Polanyi wrote about economics, but he started with humanity. What does it take to create a willing worker, a follower, a servant?  What makes a person pliant?

To explain it, Polanyi looked at colonizers who cut down fruit trees and olive groves and uprooted relationships to break apart autonomous social networks. Smash society and you create craven people. Craven, from the early English word meaning crushed, defeated, overwhelmed.

You can probably see where I’m going.

What does it take to break apart social beings and turn them into fearful atomized ones — the ones I feel us becoming as we scurry about in our endless days, trying to make ends meet and digesting the news while the news we get becomes ever more shocking and more dire?

Award-winning cartoonist Jen Sorenson put her finger on it in an insightful strip about what’s been happening at the border. Families aren’t the only things being separated, she shows us. Americans, too, are being divided from their consciences.

 

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EXCERPT - Maurice 'Moe' Mitchell on the Culture Shifts Taking Place in the American Electorate

 

Maurice 'Mo' Mitchell, National Strategist for the Working Families Party discusses the culture shifts taking place in the American electorates and how the WFP will put forward candidates voters can feel proud to support.
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F-Word: After Brexit, Blexit - Putting Your Money Where Your Life Is

You’ve heard of Brexit, but how about Blexit?    

Brexit’s what the British public voted to do when they felt the European Union wasn’t serving their best interests.   

Blexit’s what some Black residents of the Twin Cities have decided to do to free themselves from the city’s white-dominated financial institutions.

A week after Philando Castile was murdered by a police officer, residents formed the Association for Black Economic Power. At the time, Minneapolis had no black-led banks or financial institutions, even though it had plenty of black residents. Instead, the banks they had took money out of the black community in charges and fees but put little back even after a criminal history of redlining, foreclosure, and predatory lending. 

Now the Village Trust Financial Cooperative, a Black-led credit union, is due to open its doors next year to do things differently. 

Meanwhile, a coalition of grassroots and advocacy groups in New York is campaigning for their own sort of exit: from Wall St. 

In the heart of the world’s financial capital, The Public Bank NYC coalition is pushing for a municipal public city bank – one owned and operated in the public interest.

 

They figured out that the pensions of teachers, firefighters, and other government workers amount to a hefty sum – $194 billion – yet only two percent of all that is invested in the economically strapped places where many of those workers live, and only one percent is invested in the public infrastructure on which they depend. The rest goes to private funds, managed by private money managers, who, over a decade, pocketed more than $2 billion in fees.  

This June 5, 2018 – the day the city council is scheduled to adopt its $85 billion budget – the Public Bank NYC coalition will be on Wall Street asking the question: what if those billions were deposited in a public bank that served the public interest instead of the private ones like Chase, Citibank, and Bank of America, which serve their far-flung shareholders?  

It’s an idea whose time seems to have come: #BankBlack #BankPublic. After years of being told how poor they are, all sorts of people are wising up to the fact that they might be richer than they think, especially if they put their money where their lives are. 

You can read more about Blexit at NextCity.org, and learn about Banking For Justice at neweconomynyc.org; or you can listen to or watch an upcoming discussion on the Laura Flanders Show.

  

 

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EXCERPT: Community Wealth in Freddie Gray's Neighborhood of Sandtown

Community organizer Dominique Stevenson takes the LF Show on a tour through Tubman House, a community farming project in Sandtown, Baltimore. From a vacant, rundown lot to a thriving urban farm, Tubman House is addressing the issue of food apartheid in Baltimore and revigorating community wealth building in that neighborhood.

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Making Data Shift Power: Bex Hong Hurwitz and Rashida Richardson

Self-driving cars, biased algorithms, and a social media quiz that scrapes your data -- it seems like the only tech headlines we have are about disasters. But what about the original promise of tech -- to innovate and empower? This week, Bex Hong Hurwitz, a Data & Society fellow and Rashida Richardson of the AI Now Institute, join me to discuss the subversive and democratic potential of technology, and how we harness it. Then, we talk to Kayleigh Walsh from the UK-based tech cooperative Outlandish - a model that centers on empowerment and sustainability. All that, plus a primer on how to secure your digital networks.

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EXCERPT: Spatial Justice and Socially Conscious Architecture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5VTx8f6mi8&t=341s

Liz Ogbu: I think now we're seeing in a lot of cities the process of gentrification, which has sort of been synonymous with the displacement of poor residence by wealthier new comers as the city which was abandoned as people moved out to the suburbs is now being seen as sexy again and people are moving back in and we're once again seeing a pattern where the poor end of people of color are being displaced. It's not that these areas don't need new services, new resources, new housing, but we should figure out a way to allow people to have the capacity to stay in their homes and in those communities rather than saying we're going to repeat the cycle of displacing people again.

Deanna Van B.: Gentrification and incarceration. You can't get section 8 housing if you've been formally incarcerated. And then in Oakland, there is no section 8 housing so people end up homeless. If you're incarcerated, you come back, people are already being displaced, you can't get section 8 housing so you just end up in the streets. In Oakland, our tent cities are blooming. This specific project is less restorative justice and more restorative economics.

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