Governments today in both Europe & the United States have succeeded in casting government spending as reckless wastefulness that has made the economy worse. In contrast, they have advanced a policy of draconian budget cuts―austerity―to solve the financial crisis. We are told that we have all lived beyond our means & now need to tighten our belts. This view conveniently forgets where all that debt came from. Not from an orgy of government spending, but as the direct result of bailing out, recapitalizing, & adding liquidity to the broken banking system. Through these actions private debt was rechristened as government debt while those responsible for generating it walked away scot free, placing the blame on the state, and the burden on the taxpayer.

That burden now takes the form of a global turn to austerity, the policy of reducing domestic wages and prices … More

Born OTD in 1876, John Griffith London, AKA Jack London. The People of the Abyss is a book by Jack London about life in the East End of London in 1902. He wrote this first-hand account after living in the East End for several weeks, sometimes staying in workhouses or sleeping on the streets. In his attempt to understand the working-class of this deprived area of London the author stayed as a lodger with a poor family. The conditions he experienced and wrote about were the same as those endured by an estimated 500,000 of the contemporary London poor.

As well as being a literary masterpiece, The People of the Abyss stands as a major sociological study. While other … More

Born OTD in 1883, English soldier, lawyer & politician, Clement Attlee. The government he led built the post-war consensus, based upon the assumption that full employment would be maintained by Keynesian policies and that a greatly enlarged system of social services would be created – aspirations that had been outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. Within this context, his government undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, as well as the creation of the National Health Service.

Clement Attlee was the Labour prime minister who presided over Britain’s radical postwar government, delivering the end of the Empire … More

Noam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, & perhaps the most avidly read political theorist & commentator of our time. In these lectures, he presents a lifetime of philosophical reflection on all three of these areas of research, to which he has contributed for over half a century. In clear, precise, & nontechnical language, Chomsky elaborates on 50 years of scientific development in the study of language, sketching how his own work has implications for the origins of language, the close relations that language bears to thought, and its eventual biological basis.

He expounds and criticizes many alternative theories, such as those that emphasize the social, the communicative, and the referential aspects … More

Christ stopped at Eboli, down on the coast, up the in the hills the world remains pre-Christian. This is the author’s account of life in one of those hill villages while in internal exile under the fascists. Levi presents most of the villagers as being so isolated from the mainstream of Italian culture that they have a pre-christian or pagan mentality or weltanschauung. For example at Christmas the poor people give presents to the rich – unlike in the Bible story were the Kings give presents to the carpenter’s son – hence the title of the book

He comes to see these people as the aboriginal inhabitants of Italy crushed down by the weight by a series … More

A leading new exploration of the Windrush generation featuring David Lammy, Lenny Henry, Corinne Bailey Rae, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Hannah Lowe, Jamz Supernova, Natasha Gordon and Rikki Beadle-Blair. For the pioneers of the Windrush generation, Britain was ‘the Mother Country’. They made the long journey across the sea, expecting to find a place where they would be be welcomed with open arms; a land in which you were free to build a new life, eight thousand miles away from home.

This remarkable book explores the reality of their experiences, and those of their children and grandchildren, through 22 unique real-life … More

Born OTD in 1859, American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform, John Dewey. More than six decades after John Dewey’s death, his political philosophy is undergoing a revival. With renewed interest in pragmatism and its implications for democracy in an age of mass communication, bureaucracy, and ever-increasing social complexities.

Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems, first published in 1927, remains vital to any discussion of today’s political issues. This … More

Crick’s George Orwell is important because this English political scientist is the first writer to have been given unrestricted access to Orwell’s papers as well as unlimited rights of quotation. The result is the best-written and most comprehensive Orwell biography to date — which means it suffers only by comparison with Orwell’s own work.

Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four were the first books to capture the mass audience he coveted, but it was the … More