Author Archives: Adam Parsons

It’s time to reawaken the spirit of Occupy for the starving millions

The world is now facing an unprecedented emergency of hunger and famine, with a record number of people requiring life-saving food and medical assistance in 2017. Since the start of this year, the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the second world war has continued to unfold, while the international community has failed to take urgent commensurate action. The extent of human suffering is overwhelming: more than 20 million people are on the brink of starvation, including 1.4 million children—a conservative estimate that is rising by the day. Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, and could soon follow in Somalia, north-east Nigeria and Yemen. Continue reading

Home truths about the climate emergency

As 2016 draws to a close, we appear to be living in a world that is increasingly defined by its illusions, where the truth is a matter of subjective interpretation or argumentative debate. Indeed, following the United States election and Brexit referendum there is much talk of a new era of post-truth politics, in which appeals to emotion count more than verifiable facts. But there are some facts that cannot be ignored for much longer, however hard we may try. And the greatest of all these facts is the escalating climate emergency that neither mainstream politicians, nor the public at large, are anywhere near to confronting on the urgent scale needed. Continue reading

The struggle continues for a binding treaty to #StopCorporateAbuse

In the last week of October, civil society came another step closer to achieving a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. Delegates from many large social movements and networks met alongside state representatives at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, to further proceedings for an open-ended intergovernmental working group set up two years ago. Despite considerable opposition from Western powers to a binding treaty in any form (particularly the United States, United Kingdom and other countries of the European Union), activist groups are now ramping up the struggle as part of a Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples’ Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity. Continue reading

Standing in solidarity for a humanity without borders

Following the first ever United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants last week, many civil society organisations and concerned citizens are taking stock of our government’s collective response to this unprecedented global crisis. The UN Summit was two years in the making, and gave a rare opportunity for world leaders to step up their commitments to help refugees, as well as draw up a blueprint for a more effective international plan of action. Central to these negotiations was the need to share responsibility for dealing with the crisis more equitably among member states, which was one of the key principles reaffirmed in the outcome document. Yet there is little promise for the world’s 21 million refugees that wealthy nations will be genuinely sharing—and not further shirking—their responsibilities to fulfill these vulnerable people’s basic rights. Continue reading

Where’s the missing part, Naomi Klein? Ask Pope Francis and Mohammed Mesbahi

The latest book by Naomi Klein is essentially a call to share the world’s resources, but its thesis on social transformation is missing a crucial factor: a profound awareness of the reality of hunger and life-threatening deprivation. While Pope Francis’ recent encyclical calls on us to prioritise this global emergency in our efforts to combat global warming, Mohammed Mesbahi proposes a people’s strategy for how we can finally end the moral outrage of extreme poverty amidst plenty. Continue reading

In praise of Russell Brand’s sharing revolution

The political conversation on sharing is growing by the day, sometimes from the unlikeliest of quarters. And at the present time, there is perhaps no-one calling louder for a new society to be based on sharing than Russell Brand, the comedian-cum-activist and revolutionary. It is easy to dismiss much of Brand’s polysyllabic and self-referential meanderings, as do most of the establishment media in the USA and Britain, but this only serves to disregard his flashes of wisdom and the justified reasons for his popularity. Continue reading

It’s time for a post-Piketty vision of shared wealth

There is no doubt that Thomas Piketty’s best-seller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has done a great deal of good in highlighting the urgency of tackling spiralling levels of global inequality. But could his main policy prescription—an annual global tax on capital—lead to a genuine sharing of wealth within and across societies? Continue reading

The rising global movement that calls for #noTTIP

As the next round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) took place in Brussels last week, civil society groups were continuing to mobilise against this ongoing free trade agreement between the U.S. and EU that poses a threat to our public services, environment, food, privacy and democracy. On Saturday, around a thousand people occupied the square in front of the European Union’s base in London, UK, and demanded an end to the trade deal that is being described by the #noTTIP coalition of activists and organisations as an unprecedented corporate power-grab. Continue reading

Putting the ‘sharing’ back into the sharing economy

In recent years, a new kind of economy based on the age-old practice of sharing is flourishing across North America and Europe, and is now rapidly spreading in popularity throughout the Middle East and other world regions. Continue reading

The sharing economy: a short introduction to its political evolution

In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The Internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing. Continue reading

Talkin’ ‘bout a global revolution

At the onset of 2014, many people are now anticipating the prospect of a ‘global revolution.’ The intense revolutionary fervour of 2011 may have dissipated in North America and much of Western Europe in the past couple of years, but a new geography of protest continues to shift and transmute in different countries and world regions—the million people on the streets of Brazil in June last year; the earlier defence of the commons in Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park; the indigenous uprising and student protests across Canada; the Ukraine demonstrations that are still under way. Continue reading

Global Sharing Day 2013: Let’s talk about food

Sunday was Global Sharing Day 2013, the second annual event that is dedicated to sharing more of everything in our lives as part of a solution to our most complex global problems. As pioneered by The People Who Share, this is notably the first worldwide event to hail the importance of sharing in relation to food, which to some people might seem a curious thing to highlight. Why talk about sharing food, when the activity of food sharing is such a fundamental aspect of our daily lives—so much so that we may rarely question the need to share food at all. Continue reading

The international responsibility for justice in occupied Palestine

There can be no talk of peace in the Middle East so long as Israel is given political immunity, financial assistance and diplomatic support by other Western states. It is high time that the international community assumed responsibility for securing justice for the Palestinian people. Continue reading

The failure of Rio+20 is a wake-up call for people power

Almost a week since the Rio+20 Earth Summit ended, civil society is coming to terms with the ‘epic failure’ of global leaders to agree meaningful action for addressing the worsening planetary and social crises. Campaigners were near unanimous in decrying the inertia and lack of urgency shown by governments for tackling issues related to sustainable development, with national self-interest overriding any possibility of dealing with global problems in a genuinely cooperative and global manner. Continue reading

Should we celebrate a decline in global poverty?

You may be forgiven for missing the good news recently reported by the World Bank: that the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined in almost every region of the developing world. According to the latest global poverty estimates, both the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day and the number of poor declined between 2005 and 2008, the first time that an across-the-board reduction has been reported since the World Bank began monitoring poverty. Not only that, but preliminary estimates indicate that the share of people living in extreme poverty declined between 2008 and 2010, even despite the global financial crises and surging food prices. By 2010, it appears that the $1.25 a day poverty rate fell to less than half the 1990 rate, which means that the United Nation’s first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for cutting extreme poverty in half has already been achieved, five years ahead of schedule. This is surely a cause for celebration—or is it? Continue reading

No tax, no justice

The issue of tax has never held such widespread public attention. Following the global financial crisis in 2008, tax issues that had been campaigned on at the margins for decades suddenly became the subject of high-level intergovernmental deliberations. Global tax regulation has turned into a priority in the G20 agenda, while global forms of tax are today the subject of major civil society campaigns. At the same time, direct action groups such as UK and US-Uncut are taking the call for tax justice onto the high street. And now the billionaire investor Warren Buffett has forced the issue of tax code loopholes into the political mainstream. But there is another side to the not-so-gritty subject of taxation that lends itself less readily to the popular imagination, even though it remains critical to poverty eradication in developing countries – the issue of domestic tax collection. Continue reading