Book Event: John Hilary and David Cronin in Waterstones, Brussels

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Pluto authors David Cronin and John Hilary took part in a double book presentation last month, in Waterstones in Brussels. The discussion revolved around the themes of their recent books (Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and Warand The Poverty of Capitalism: Economic Meltdown and the Struggle for What Comes Next, both Pluto, 2013).

Pluto is very grateful to Jemma Crew, who has kindly shared her review of the event, along with full audio (see below). We’ve reproduced it all here with her permission.

Jemma Crew

Last month in Brussels John Hilary and David Cronin joined together for a double presentation of their books Corporate Europe (Pluto, 2012) and The Poverty of Capitalism (Pluto, 2013). Both authors discussed their books for about 15 minutes, before the floor of Waterstones was opened up for a lively Q&A session.

David was recovering from a sick bug but delivered an excellent start to the discussion.

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Just minutes from the EU institutions, he gave an interesting analysis of the pervading influence of corporate values, provoking a discussion on the “impenetrability” of the EU later on in the evening.

Peter Mandelson, in his previous role as European Commissioner for Trade, was used by David to illustrate the growing influence of big business on Europe’s democratic process:

“He has worked tirelessly to allow Europe to be captured by his friends in major corporations. Fortunately however, there are many people fighting for alternatives…Ordinary people in Greece, Spain and elsewhere have taken to the streets to show that there is massive unease with the increasingly brutal direction in which Europe’s economic policies are heading”.

David finished by calling for solidarity in response to the proposed transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP):

“Popular resistance has defeated similar trade accords in the not so distant past. If all of us were together, my friends, extremists like Peter Mandelson would not get their way”.

John Hilary began by praising Corporate Europe – “A wonderful expose of all of the corporate lobbyists swarming around Brussels – one for every member of the European Commission – and the extraordinary way in which they impose their will.”

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Another name for The Poverty of Capitalism, John said, could have been “Corporate World”.

He argued that capital has acquired too much power, giving examples of corporations that have been elevated to the status of sovereign nations and are challenging them in terms of public policy.

Europe’s future was a question on everybody’s mind, with John describing it as a continent facing the prospect of its own long-term decline.
But the discussion ended on an optimistic note, mentioning the various alternatives open to us if we want to claw back some of the space capital has taken. The growth of the cooperative movement since the crash was cited as an example.

“The power structures that capitalism has put in place are being challenged in many different ways and many different contexts around the world,” said John. “There is an enormous amount of hope when you start bringing these alternatives to public knowledge”.

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