The Panama Papers highlight our need to unite globally

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On BBC Radio 4’s main call-in political show Any Answers last Saturday, I listened to a most eloquent and worldly wise attack against leading Tory MP, Michael Fallon who the day before on Any Questions, expressed his support for Panama’s, and all nations’ tax “competitiveness”. Caller Dan (from Woking) suggested instead that we should have international tax cooperation. In this blog I delve deeper into the profound global implications behind both their comments.

Tax competition. Really?      
Defending the UK Prime Minister’s delayed admission to benefiting from his father’s shares in the exposed Panamanian company, Mossack Fonseca, Michael Fallon MP (Secretary of State for Defence) went on to reveal his deeply held values that “There is tax competition!” (Between the lines… “Deal with it!”) “We like to, in this country, keep our tax low enough to attract inward investment from elsewhere and I am not against the principle of tax competition.”

Dan’s repost was devastating. “I was dismayed when Fallon expressed his support for tax competition. In order for there to be competition, there needs to be choice. The vast majority of British workers don’t have any choice about how much tax to pay or through which particular tax regime in the world they are going to channel their income. So it’s a complete double standard then which reinforces this very strong perception that people have, and quite rightly, that there is one set of tax rules for the very rich, the very powerful and another for the rest of us.”

Dan added that “This whole scandal shows that we should not have tax competition but tax cooperation and that’s why I’m dismayed that a representative of the UK government is basically endorsing all of this jiggery-pokery which is completely inaccessible to the vast majority of us and can only, in the end, result in a race to the bottom.”
In my opinion, Dan fully understands that this race-to-the-bottom concerns humanity as a whole and the planet and also how full-spectrum global cooperation concerning a range of issues can reverse this downward spiral.

8553902_origGlobal Machiavellianism 
What Fallon, and his leader are ultimately condoning is international divide and rule, “global Machiavellianism” where all nations are pitted against each other to be the most business “friendly”, the most tax “attractive.” This is where globally mobile elites can go “nation shopping.” They can take their finance and their corporations and relocate to nations boasting the least corporation tax, where big employers can pay the lowest wages, be bound by the least protective labour laws and where large polluters face the least stringent environmental laws.

The need to maintain “International economic competitiveness” in a globalised world is reiterated as political realism by those who benefit most from it. It is used to evoke fear of change, fear of breaking away from a right-of-center economic orthodoxy. It is used by so-called realists as a challenge to would-be supporters of political parties suggesting progressive policies. The argument goes that if a nation’s democratic will shifts to the left then they should fear to suffer a “first mover economic competitive disadvantage.” This would be, so the looped narrative goes because multinational corporations fearing greater regulation and costs would take their investment, factories and their jobs to other more competitive nations.

The same threats are wheeled out by the same branch of neo-liberals, and by multi-national corporations in each nation around the world each time they are faced with progressive regulation. Neo-conservative ownership or trusteeship of the main media channels gives this argument traction. But more than an argument, it is a direct threat to each and every nation’s democratic sovereignty and economic security. It is the same argument used by those who benefit most from global laws set behind closed doors, laws such as TTIP, TPP, TISA and CETA. The same argument made by those who are content to live in a world where the majority suffer capitalism and austerity in the form of privatization and social spending cuts and where the minority enjoy tax breaks, tax avoidance, corporate subsidies and bailouts i.e. socialism. The same people who believe that those who don’t value extreme wealth, privilege and influence are feckless and without aspiration.

Dan calls for global cooperation
To me, Dan’s outlook is steeped in hope, optimism yet also realism. He understands that the next phase of human history compels us to find a way to agree on a raft of global laws which will benefit us as a whole and the planet. Global laws which could be implemented by nations in a cooperative way thus creating a level playing field so that no nation would lose out by enacting them. Laws which govern tax, climate change, money creation, war, gender equity, poverty, human rights and mass extinction, e.g. issues which are globally systemic and completely interconnected.

We need to stop being timid with our global governance. We require legally binding laws, not the loose goals or targets such as the U.N. Millennium Goals or Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. This is what Fallon would be championing if he were a real internationalist.

How do we get the world to agree on global regulation?
We should unite followers of the emerging progressive political movements around the world, Podemos, Syriza, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders etc by encouraging them to co-create, to crowd-source internationally binding laws and regulations which benefit humanity and the planet. Utilising social media and e-democracy platforms we could suggest, debate and vote on globally cooperative policies to tackle global problems. If progressive movements everywhere developed greater policy unity, then strategically they would form a more coherent, powerful political front and in doing so appeal to more cautious mainstream voters. Also, for good measure, we should take to the streets to demand the right kind of global cooperation.

Who is promoting this initiative?
I invite you check out Global People Power who are bringing people together to tackle global problems, problems which are bigger than any nation can tackle alone. Extreme wealth is no longer a prerequisite of being globally powerful!

How did the Real Global Democracy Demonstration go?

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Kick-starting the first stage of our plan for devolved #GlobalUnity,” we recently held the first ever Real Global Democracy Demonstration in Parliament Sq. London. Although the event was small in number, it felt extremely potent. We modelled how local groups the world over can connect and have their say on matters affecting the whole of humanity; or to put it another way, how we can create legally binding global rules without global rulers.

This is in contrast to:

  • International goals, aims and voluntary targets which build our hopes up but are usually missed.
  • Weak, flouted, unratified and often hypocritical international laws regarding conflict and weaponry.
  • Legally binding international laws being created in secret (TTIP, TPP, TISA ) which override national democratic sovereignty and which prioritise the protection of corporate profits over the protection of society and environment.

We announced our intention to unite and empower progressive anti-austerity, anti-war, pro-democracy, environmental movements and political parties around the world by inviting them to co-create and harmonise a range of policies; policies that can be implemented by nations in a cooperative and synchronised way. In doing so we hope the movement forms a more coherent global front for justice, peace, prosperity and sustainability. The desired outcome being that progressive politicians and parties will seem far safer and more electable to more mainstream voters.

The event was promoted by Global People Power and held in sync with twenty five events taking place in six continents as part of the Global Week of Action for a World Parliament. (Global People Power are not in favour of the creation of a global parliamentary building which houses representatives. We are instead creating direct/liquid, global democracy online and face-to-face via connected local People’s Assemblies.)

On the day, demonstrators, led by policy experts suggested, debated and voted on international policies that would benefit humanity and the planet, not just a wealthy minority.  We also discussed the emerging movement of people rebuilding democracy via local and national People’s AssembliesAssemblies for Democracy and e-democracy platforms such as LoomioVocalEyes and Represent. (We have just begun using Represent as our Global People Power e-democracy platform). We discussed how we could encourage all of them to include a globally systemic element within their processes.

Global Democracy vote
On the day we voted in favour of three policies which nations could implement alongside one another– a Law to End EcocideInternational Monetary Reform and a 50-50 Global Democracy Declaration.  These were proposed by representatives from End Ecocide, Positive Money and 50-50 Parliament. Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader) also discussed TPP, TTIP and why global governance should be democratised. Dr Marina Prentoulis (Syriza London, University UEA) gave a talk on “Global unity for systemic solutions to systemic problems” and Luke Flegg (ChangeTheFuture) enlightened us with regard to the new “E-Democracy Revolution.”

What can YOU do to take global action for peace, sustainability, justice and real prosperity?

  • Which well-known progressive politician or campaigner would you like to invite to propose a global policy on our new Represent e-democracy group? Policy examples: A World Without War, A Global Renewable Energy Grid (GREG), Ban all Tax Havens?  
  • If you contact them, please also ask them to encourage their supporters and the wider public to debate and vote on those policies? 
  • Perhaps there are people from opposing sides in a conflict you could invite to debate a global peace agreement?

From our humble beginnings we hope the process of forming a powerful and strategic global force for good will take root – just as strategic and powerful as the few who benefit most from the present system of undemocratic, unregulated globalisation, fossil fuel extraction, debt based economics, austerity and international conflict.
Finally, I’d like to add that the demonstration was part of an extremely positive growing trend in campaigning and protesting in that we primarily demonstrated what we are for, and how we are going to get there, and just as much if not more than we demonstrated what we are against (and the global forces behind it).

My first GPP street stall – What people told me about their world views

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3916314_origYesterday I went out to recruit new Global People Power “Pioneers” by holding the campaign’s first ever street stall. I was pretty nervous setting it up feeling all eyes on me from stopping buses. I held it on a busy Brighton High Street as people made their way home from work or from picking the kids up from school.

In an hour and a half I had several wonderful, moving, enlightening conversations with people, all of whom gave me their contact details. They included two people from North Africa, a family from Chile, an NHS psychologist, an anti-GM crop activist and other passers-by. What hit me was that no one challenged my global prognosis and remedy. No one came from an established neo-liberal standpoint. But then I suppose there aren’t typically that many neo-liberal street stalls espousing the wonders of the present economic orthodoxy. Why would they need to? They think history is over and their cause justly won. Imagine someone shouting “This is the best of all possible worlds! David Cameron is great!” I was of course attracting people looking for something new!

To get people to stop and talk to me I nonchalantly read my newspaper and looked up to see who was peaking over. I offered the curious peaky ones a flyer stating that “it’s a political thing” so they didn’t think I was fundraising for a charity, which is what I do for the RSPB.

Alongside informing people what I was up to, I asked them ‘what was important to them, what are their needs, what drives them?’  I was going to ask people to film me and to post it on facebook but the traffic there was a bit noisy and I also thought that perhaps I should hone my message first.

The father of the family from Chile (who took this photo of me and their lovely talkative, colour coded, son) told me about how in the 1970’s, the CIA backed the military dictator Pinochet who ousted the democratically elected socialist leader Allende. Pinoche went on to murder thousands of his own people. The father of the family told me how Allende wasn’t communist but was a socialist and a constitutionalist. He said that his country needs to change again due to huge and growing inequality there.

I met a young woman with a North African accent who surprised me by saying that “the system is fucked up and needs to change.” I said that that is what we are doing, “systems change, and systemically!”

The NHS Cognitive Behavioural Therapist told me how private finance initiatives (PFI’s) were bankrupting the NHS and how underfunding was driving it into the hands of private investors targeting the most profitable NHS departments. We discussed how TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would mean that nations could not legally protect their health service from being bought up by multinational corporations.

The anti-GM man asked if I was in favour of GM. I said that if the science was in favour then I would be but I would certainly follow the “precautionary principle” to be absolutely certain. He told me how scientist were hired by multi-national agro-business corporations to prove that GM was a good thing. This was so companies such as Monsanto which he called “despicable” could own and control all food production sources and “patents to life.”

The man from Algeria said that since being liberated from France fifty years ago the same power structures are still in place there. He said that the Arab Spring was initially a good thing but that western armed militias such as Isis, funded by selling oil, have destabilised the whole region opening it up to more western intervention and probable invasion.
My honed message was to tell people how they can take part to create global policies to tackle global problems, policies which benefit humanity and the planet, not just the profits of multi-national corporations. I told people how we want to unite progressive movements around the world to form a coherent global front for justice, just as coherent as the neo-liberal “global establishment.”

All in all it was a hugely positive experience. There was evidence of incredible unsolicited agreement as to the cause of world problems and to sensible systemic solutions. I am off to do it again on one of my days off next week.

Owen Jones’ Global Democratic Revolution

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This week I finally finished Owen Jones’ book The Establishment. It’s not exactly bedtime reading. I don’t find notions of indignation and insurrection very soporific so I had the last few chapters read to me on Amazon Audible (Oh the ethical tax-avoiding paradox Owen) whilst doing mundane chores. Here is an extract from the final chapter titled “Democratic Revolution.”

3959063_orig“Those wanting an alternative to Britain’s current establishment must have an equally internationalist perspective. There is a common cause to be made. Social media provides fresh opportunities for new movements to link together. So far they have failed to do so in a coherent way. They have to do so, and to start organising around similar demands, because like Britain they will find it impossible to change their country alone.”

So the Real Global Democracy Demonstration is nearly upon us. (See you on the grass). Every day it seems more screamingly obvious that demonstrators will be totally on-point by kick-starting action to unite and to empower progressive movements around the world to tackle global threats and the power that multi-national corporations hold over national governments. Facebook event link.

Saturday. Parliament Sq. 1-6pm


  • 13.00 – Barnaby Flynn.  (Global People Power). Introductions. Safety. Process. Thinking tools. “Real Global Democracy. What? How? Why?”
  • 13.30 – Dr Marina Prentoulis. (Syriza London, University UEA) “Global unity for systemic solutions to systemic problems.”
  • 14.10 – Stan Jourdan (Positive Money) Proposal: International Monetary Reform.
  • 14.50 – Aisha Hannibal – 50-50 Parliament. Proposal: 50-50 Gender Equity Global Declaration
  • 15.30 – Break
  • 15.50 – Luke Flegg (Change the Future) “The e-Democracy Revolution.”
  • 16.30 – Prisca Merz (End Ecocide) Proposal: End Ecocide.
  • 17.10 – Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader) “TPP, TTIP and why global governance should be democratised.”
  • 17.50 – General discussion. Next global steps?
  • 18.00 – Close.

Real Global Democracy Demonstration – Uniting and empowering anti-austerity, pro-democracy movements through co-creating global policy.

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Please join us:  Parliament Square (grass), London, Saturday 24th October. 1-6pm.

Promoted by the new Global People Power campaign, the demonstration is being held in solidarity with twenty five events taking place across six continents as part of the Global Week of Action for a World Parliament. The London demo has evolved to become a call for global unity among progressive anti-austerity, pro-democracy, environmental movements around the world by encouraging its’ supporters to co-create global policy. Demonstrators also will be invited to recognise and celebrate their common humanity in the face of a perfect storm of global problems.

3270756The purpose of the day is highly ambitious; to debate, vote and find consensus on five provisional global policies to tackle global problems – problems such as climate change, mass extinction, war, gender inequity, debt-based economics and the divisive power that multi-national corporations hold over national governments.
Decisions will be shared among the twenty five other actions through social media. The process is beginning now on Global People Power’s e-democracy platform on Loomio (link below).

2981955Barnaby Flynn (Global People Power). “Global unity and international cooperation is needed to tackle global issues and to regulate multinational corporations. By acting together we dismantle threats to each nations’ economic security made by multi-national corporations faced with regulation – thus making anti-austerity political parties more electable among mainstream voters.”

Laura Baker (Global People Power). “Let’s connect and empower progressive anti-austerity, pro-democracy movements around the world such as Podemos, Syriza, and supporters of Corbyn and Sanders through creating global policytogether to solve war, poverty and environmental destruction.”
Speakers so far:

  • Barnaby Flynn (Global People Power). “How multinational corporations hold nations to ransom.”
  • Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader). “TPP, TTIP and why global governance should be democratised.”
  • Marina Prentoulis (Syriza London). “Global unity for systemic solutions to systemic problems.”
  • Luke Flegg (Change the Future). “The e-Democracy Revolution.”
  • Prisca Merz (End Ecocide). Proposal: End Ecocide.
  • Stan Jourdan (Positive Money) Proposal: International Monetary Reform.
  • 50-50 Parliament. Proposal: 50-50 Gender Equity Global Declaration
  • Global People Power: Proposal: A World Without War
  • Global People Power: Proposal: Climate Fair Shares

Why we need global cooperation and how multinational corporations hold nations to ransom:
Global People Power:
Global Week of Action for a World Parliament:
Global People Power’s Loomio group:

From Magna Carta to Real Global Democracy

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Last month, a small but significant move towards participatory global democracy took place. Next to the site of the weekend long Runnymede Festival of Democracy held in Surrey England, underneath the 2400 year old Ankerwycke yew tree, where eight hundred years ago the Magna Carta was signed by King John and the Barons of England, enthusiastic support was given to hold a day of action for “Real Global Democracy.” This will be part of the Global Week of Action for a World Parliament

  • 5718527On Saturday the 24th of October, in sync with 20 actions around the world, an Occupation of Parliament Square and a demonstration of direct global democracy will take place.
    Demonstrators will suggest, debate and vote on 5 global policies to tackle global problems; problems such as war, mass extinction, climate change, debt, poverty and the power multi-national corporations hold over national governments.
  • Support will be given by influential global justice experts and thinking tools will be used to find the wider, systemic root-causes of problems affecting us at home.
  • Organisers hope to trigger synchronised 1st Saturday of the month global demonstrations involving Occupy, People’s Assemblies, pro-democracy and anti-austerity movements.
    It will be a celebration of our common humanity in the face of global problems. Together, we can crowd-source global solutions to global problems.
6766706_origYew trees, which are on the endangered list, are slow growing, twisted, gnarled and squat. They send up new “phoenix” trees from their roots and groups of yew trees are interconnected beneath the soil. They have been held in auspicious regard since ancient times and are often found in church cemeteries. At Ankerwycke, festival goers drew up and attached their own Magna Cartas (Great Charter) scrolls. Two of these included a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and a Charter for Freedom from Global Debt Slavery


The Ankerwycke yew tree is situated on a site that was once an island in the river Thames. River islands were often used to make peace agreements. In a field below our festival and next to the river was the so called official Magna Carta celebrations attended by Queen Elizabeth II, UK Prime Minister and US Vice President. The stark irony of a fly-over by war planes was not lost on festival goers. Nor was the Prime Minister’s use of the celebrations to push his scrapping of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Runnymede Festival of Democracy itself could have been a much larger event had the police not barred entrance to the festival calling it an “illegal rave.”

At the festival I made two banners to see which one would gain most support for the global action. One read “Action for World Parliament October 24th”, the other “Real Global Democracy Now! Action 24thOctober.” I created the second placard because I had a hunch that the people present might worry what a “World Parliament” might look like; potentially a monolithic building, a centre of power holding representatives.

My inspiration for the second slogan was taken from an October 2011 image of a cardboard placard draped over a tent at Occupy London Stock Exchange calling for “Real Global Democracy Now!” This image has gone viral and is frequently used by the Occupy Movement.

Festival goers caught a canal barge across the river to the Ankerwycke yew.  Under the tree I explained to those gathered that among the main organisers of the Global Week of Action for a World Parliament there is strong support for using revolutionary new online democratic platforms such as those utilised by anti-austerity, pro-democracy movements around the world. These include Liquid DemocracyLoomioand DemocracyOS.

The emergence of these platforms means that a world parliament could exist in communities, in the homes, computer screens and literally within every person taking part. A global federal parliamentary building would not be required.

I then asked people if they would be willing to show support to the other actions taking place by choosing a placard and getting in a photo behind it in front of the Ankerwyke yew. Despite my explanation, there was resounding support for Real Global Democracy Now! In spite of the minor issue of slogan solidarity, for me this is still a historic step towards tackling cataclysmic global threats in a globally unified way.

Imagine what rallying cries in the future might sound like – “Humans! Humans! Humans!”

(Most of the festival was held at the beautiful Runnymede Eco Village where about 40 people live in a number of homes made from recycled materials in an area of woodland. Read here about the thwarted attempt to evict the villages due to their assertions in court of rights under the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest.)