Introducing Towards democracy

Welcome to Towards democracy, my new newsletter exploring progressive ideas, thinkers and community initiatives promoting grassroots democracy. 

Over coming months I will publish stories about a social media platform based on the commons; a media organisation where both the readers and journalists are represented on the boards; a Uyghur’s nightmarish story and his tireless campaign to try and get anyone to listen, and much more besides. 

First, a bit about me. I spent a little over a decade working on Radio New Zealand’s MediawatchIdeas and Sunday Morning programmes before quitting at the end of last year. Before that I’d co-founded the worker-owned Wellington weekly City Voice, worked for the membership-owned Consumer Magazine, was head tutor on the publicly-owned Whitireia journalism programme, and for most of that time I lived in my own home. Yeah, I think ownership matters. I’m all for a mixed economy: one where worker-owned businesses compete with consumer-owned ones; where the pros and cons of municipal versus state ownership are hotly debated; where papakainga and co-housing developments provide warm, secure alternatives to an obscenely inflated private housing market; and, where the idea of one shareholder one vote is no more radical than one person one vote is now. 

Poverty and unemployment are the antithesis of democracy. It’s all but impossible to have a meaningful say in how your world is organised if you’re living on the bones of your arse, struggling to put food on the table.

And that’s why the first instalment of Towards democracy is an interview with Australian economist Bill Mitchell on Modern Monetary Theory and his job guarantee proposal. Bill coined the term MMT, an economic idea that’s been getting some traction lately - but the job guarantee part of his proposal hasn’t received the attention it deserves. 

I’ve written up my interview with Bill for the Spinoff but when you try and condense a 6000 plus word interview on something as complicated as MMT down to 2000 words you inevitably lose quite a bit. So I’m publishing the full interview in my next post.

If you’re wondering why someone who claims to be a passionate believer in the power of community and democratic control is launching a one-man newsletter you’re not alone: I’ve had the same thought. So if you’re a writer with similar interests and you’re keen to contribute, drop me a line:

And the name - Towards democracy - I’m not that keen on it but can’t think of anything better. Any comments or suggestions welcome. 

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There’s no charge for subscribing to Towards democracy and I’m committed to keeping it that way. If in a few months time I’m publishing good, original work on a regular basis, I’ll open up the paid subscription option for small donations. 

If this sounds like your sort of thing please subscribe and share it with any friends or family you think might be interested.

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