TNI’s State of Power podcast

Challenging the powerful

Let us introduce you to some of the fascinating people we work with to help you make sense of the world’s most complex challenges. In this podcast we share our research, explore alternatives to the status quo and give a platform to scholars and activists who are at the forefront of the fight against the current neoliberal order. We believe there are alternatives to this world and hope you do too.

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Episode 26 - The problem with COVAX: In conversation with Harris Gleckman

From a human rights perspective, the global vaccine distribution problem would for example aim to get the COVID vaccine to communities and peoples in the Global South quickly, safely, at low or no cost without political-, class- or gender-discrimination. It would lead toward a solution that combines a WTO waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-related products and processes, maybe a General Assembly declaration that health is a global public good, a multilateral global humanitarian relief fund underwritten by rich country governments, and an international distribution system directed by the World Health Assembly.

But that is not the vision that has prevailed.

Instead, what we have is COVAX, a multistakeholder group that represents the vision and goals of a World Economic Forum (WEF) or a Gates Foundation perspective. Their aim is to get the COVID vaccine to communities and peoples in the Global South without disrupting the global pharmaceutical market, with a mechanism that circumvents long standing multilateral humanitarian relief systems while steering the vaccines to preferred allies in the Global South.

Today on the podcast, we’re taking a closer look at COVAX, the program touted as the solution to the global vaccine distribution problem. Our guest on the podcast argues that COVAX is actually a mechanism through which corporate interests have hijacked UN processes and used them to safeguard their profits, with little regard to the attendant social costs.

Harris Gleckman is a sociologist who has spent much of his career at the United Nations and has a detailed understanding of corporate global governance across multiple issues. His work at the UN and his ongoing research at the university of Boston in Massachusetts and also with the Brussels based Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability gives him deep insight into how the UN might be restructured to better handle bigger crises in the health, environment and social areas.

 Episode 25 - Becoming Black: Coercive power, the state and racism in a time of crisis (In conversation with Olúfémi Táíwò and Achille Mbembe)

Host Shaun Matsheza and guest host Nick Buxton, in Conversation with Olufemi Taiwo and Achille Mbembe discuss the history, trajectory, current state and likely future of coercive state power.  In this wide ranging conversation, these leading pan-African scholars help us to understand the rise of state violence, the ways security narratives are becoming ever more hegemonic, the roots of coercion in colonialism, the likely impacts of the climate crisis and digitalisation, and the ways social movements can best resist and advance alternative visions of emancipation and justice.


Episode 24 - Africa's Last Colonial Currency: In conversation with Ndongo Samba Sylla

Despite the political and institutional changes that occurred with Africa's decolonisation process in the second half of the 20th century, many colonial constructs remain to this very day. One of the most obvious and egregious symbols of these continuities is no doubt the CFA franc. The acronym of this currency created in 1945 by the French provisional government originally stood for franc of the French colonies in Africa. It still circulates in eight countries in West Africa and six countries in Central Africa, and its imperial founding principles haven’t really changed.

For a deeper understanding of the CFA Franc, we spoke to Dr. Ndongo Samba Sylla, a Senegalese development economist who lives in Dakar, and works with the Rosa Luxembourg foundation. Ndongo recently published a book, written together with Fanny Pigeaud, titled: Africa's Last Colonial Currency: The CFA Franc Story. Through an exploration of the genesis of the currency and an examination of how the economic system works, the book outlines how colonialism persists in many African countries.



Episode 23 - Wealth and Power 3. The New Connected World (with Roger Van Zwanenberg)

This is the third and final episode of our three part series, in which we look at how Europe and its offshoots came to be dominant globally. In the first episode we looked at Racism and how it was used to justify European imperialism. In the second, we took a closer look at how colonialism unfolded. In this final episode, Shaun Matsheza continues his conversation with Roger van Zwanenberg, the founder of pluto books, an independent publisher of radical, left‐wing non­‐fiction books. Roger has written a new global history, called Wealth and Power, which he is sharing in a series of blogs. Roger’s work traces the roller coaster story of the past 500 years or so of human history, focusing on how Europe and its offshoots amassed great wealth and power at the expense of the rest of the world.

In this episode, we explore how wealth and power manifest in the contemporary world. How does power play out today?


Episode 22 - Forward to the land: A conversation with European Peasant Farmers

17 April is the “International Day of Peasant Struggles”. One may be inclined to think that such a day has very little significance for places like Europe and other parts of the developed world, but one would be mistaken. Struggles over farmland are a very real reality in Europe, although the nature of these struggles differ across the continent, with main differences being between Eastern and Western Europe.

There are threats of land grabbing by large transnational companies and investors. Farmland is converted to other uses (infrastructure, energy projects, urban sprawl for example.). More generally, market forces make it very difficult to make a living as a small, independent operator who wants to produce food locally rather than for the world market in an ecological way.

In this episode, we get to hear inspiring stories from those who are farming in order to support life sustaining economies in line with principles of agroecology, food sovereignty, and community supported agriculture. Our host for this episode, Sylvia Kay, speaks to our guests, Attila Szocs, Jolke de Moel and Samson Hart.


Episode 21 - Algeria's popular movement - the Hirak: A Conversation with Brahim Rouabah

Host Hamza Hamouchene discusses the uprising in Algeria with Brahim Rouabah, an Algerian activist, co-founder and former head of UK Algerian Solidarity Campaign, PhD candidate in Political Science at CUNY and a graduate teaching fellow at Brooklyn College.

Since February 2019 (2 years ago), the people of Algeria have waged an inspiring and historic revolt. Millions took to the streets united in their rejection of the ruling system, demanding radical democratic change. They chanted ‘They must all go!’ and ‘The country is ours and we’ll do what we wish’ – two slogans that have become emblematic of this new Algerian revolution. The popular movement or Hirak (movement in Arabic) succeeded in overthrowing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in early April 2019 after six weeks of protests. The weekly protests continued every Friday since and only in March 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing a lockdown, did this mass movement see a temporary halt of around 10 months. But the Hirak has come back and it resumed its weekly protests against the military dictatorship.


Episode 20 - Wealth and Power 2. Colonialism (with Roger van Zwanenberg)

This is the second episode of our three part series in which we look at how Europe came to be the dominant global power. In the first episode we looked at Racism and how it was used to justify European imperialism. As the world seeks a decolonial future, it is good to remind ourselves of what colonialism really was, and in this episode we take a closer look at how colonialism actually unfolded.

Shaun Matsheza continues his conversation with Roger van Zwanenberg, who is the founder of Pluto books, an independent publisher of radical, left‐wing non­‐fiction books. He’s written a new global history, called Wealth and Power, which he is sharing in a series of blogs. Roger’s work traces the roller coaster story of the past 500 years or so of human history, focusing on how Europe and its offshoots amassed great wealth and power at the expense of the rest of the world.


Episode 19 - Choosing to Challenge the Patriarchy in Indonesia: In conversation with Arieska Kurniawaty

In this special episode in celebration of International Women's Day, we look at feminist interventions in Indonesia.

Societies the world over are under extreme stress and we are only beginning to guess the long term social and economic effects of the Covid19 pandemic. However, it is already clear that there is a gendered dimension to Covid’s direct and indirect socioeconomic impacts.

Here at the State of power Podcast, we’re interested in how patriarchal power operates, how it mutates, and how it shapes the world around us. The theme for International women’s day on March 8 2021 is “Choose to challenge”, and our guest on the podcast today works with an organization that has chosen to stand up in support of women’s rights in Indonesia, and to challenge the oppression of women’s voices.

Arie Kurniawaty works with the feminist organization Solidaritas Perempuan, in Indonesia. Solidaritas Perempuan works with peasant women, fisherwomen, women migrant workers, and any other marginalized groups of women in Indonesia. Arie tells of some of the ways women in Indonesia's fisher communities have been adapting to a world that is far from the norm they were used to.


Episode 18 - Wealth and Power:  1. Racism (with Roger Van Zwanenberg)

Our guest on the podcast, Roger van Zwanenberg is the founder of Pluto Press, an independent publisher of radical, left‐wing non­‐fiction books. He’s written a new global history, called Wealth and Power, which he is also sharing in a series of blogs. Roger’s book traces the roller coaster story of the past 500 years or so of human history, focusing on how Europe and its offshoots amassed great wealth and power at the expense of the rest of the world.

Meant for popular reading, the book focuses on how we have created today’s world, which we all take for granted. Roger insists that the world we live in is unique in world history. He ponders the question of How Europe, a small and rather insignificant part of the world in 1500, became so powerful and dominant across the globe by 1900, and he brings out the mechanisms that were used to establish European dominance.

In this episode, the first of three, we discuss the beginnings of racism, and how it has shaped the world today.


Episode 17 - The Case for Apartheid Studies: In Conversation with Nyasha Mboti

Here at the State of Power Podcast we are concerned with how power functions, how it mutates, and how it reproduces itself, and our guest on this episode deals explicitly with this. Nyasha Mboti is an Associate Professor at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein South Africa, and is the founder of a new field of study that he terms ‘Apartheid Studies’. He is soon to publish the first of four volumes outlining the scope of the new field. He graciously agreed when we asked him to sit with us and to explain what exactly Apartheid Studies is.

Nyasha's Book will be available on major online book stores at the end of February. To get in contact with him, you can subscribe to the Apartheid Studies YouTube channel, and visit the website You can also follow the Instagram account "Apartheid Studies" and the ApartheidStudi1 account on Twitter.


Episode 16 - People-Powered Movements versus Shell: In conversation with Chihiro Geuzenbroek and Anna Bissila

In this conversation, Chihiro and Anna give some background to their expo, and in the process provide a cross-section of BP Shell's widespread transgressions, and a glimpse into the different forms of resistance that could lead us to a future beyond Shell.

Chihiro Geuzenbroek and Anna Bissila are both climate activists, and the co-organizers for the expo: People-Powered Movements versus Shell. An exhibition that explores the fight for justice that has been fought from Indonesia to Nigeria, from Curaçao to South Africa, and from Alaska to Groningen. Through installations, audio-stories, photography and relics of activisms, the exhibition invites the public to learn from the people who have shown resistance and made calls for decolonial climate justice.

Find the exhibition here.


Episode 15 - Extractivism and Resistance in North Africa: In Conversation with Hamza Hamouchene

In this episode, Hamza Hamouchene discusses his report titled: Extractivism and Resistance in North Africa, which documents several cases of natural resource extraction which take the form of brutal "accumulation by dispossession," degrading environments and ecosystems through the privatisation and commodification of land and water. The report shows that these extractive activities have also been met with new waves of resistance and the entrance of new social actors onto the scene, demanding that wealth generated in resource projects be shared equitably in society.

Are these new actors mainly motivated by environmental concerns, or are they fundamentally anti-systemic, seeking to undermine the basis of the capitalist extractive economy? Are these passing episodes of resistance, or do they represent a new development in the historical trajectory of class struggle in North Africa?


Episode 14 - Change Finance, Not the Climate: In conversation with Oscar Reyes

In this episode of the State of Power podcast, we speak to Oscar Reyes, who is an associate fellow on the Climate policy program of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. He’s written a book called “Change Finance, Not the Climate”, which looks at how we can change the financial system to address the climate emergency.


Episode 13 - The Global Rise of the Far Right: In Conversation with Walden Bello

In this wide ranging interview, Walden Bello outlines the key ideas behind his book, Counterrevolution: The Global Rise of the Far Right

The far right is on the rise. The rhetoric of anger and resentment is emanating from personalities like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Rodrigo Duterte and Viktor Orban and is captivating and mobilizing large numbers of people. In an increasing number of countries, the extreme right has already captured the government or is on the threshold of power.

While this swift turn of events has shocked or surprised many in the North, the extreme right’s seizure of power is not an uncommon event in the South. In Counterrevolution, Walden Bello deconstructs the challenge from the far right by deploying what he calls the dialectic of revolution and counterrevolution and harnesses the methods of comparative history and comparative sociology.


Episode 12 - Cashing in on the Pandemic: How lawyers are preparing to sue states over COVID-19 response measures

As governments take action to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent economic collapse, big law firms are watching the virus too. Yet, their concern is not to save lives or the economy. Instead, the lawyers are urging big business to challenge the social and economic emergency measures that governments around the world have taken to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. 2600 investment protection agreements worldwide have opened the door for transnational companies to sue States for billions of dollars In a parallel corporate justice system called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

A new report, Cashing in on the Pandemic, takes a close look at how lawyers are preparing to sue states over COVID-19 measures.


  • Pia Eberhadt (researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory)
  • Cecilia Olivet (researcher with TNI)


Episode 11 - Silent Expansion: The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT)

This episode of State of Power, co-produced by CEO, SEATINI and TNI, is based on their latest briefing, Silent Expansion, which follows an in-depth report on the Energy Charter treaty published in 2018. The work on the ECT is part of the broader research and advocacy work that CEO, SEATINI and TNI have been carrying out during the last decade exposing the dangers of the international investment regime.


  • Faith Lumonya, Programme Officer, Trade and Investment Programme, SEATINI Uganda
  • Pia Eberhardt, researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory
  • Cecilia Olivet, Coordinator, Trade and Investment programme, TNI.


Episode 10 - Border Wars: Corporations

This episode (part 2/3 of the Border Wars series) takes a closer look at the military and security companies that have benefited from the refugee crisis. These companies provide, among other things, the equipment for border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements. We will also look at how these companies grow their influence, and how they are implicated in a global restructuring of labour that has led to injustice, suffering, and death.


  • Nick Buxton, TNI
  • Brid Brennan, TNI
  • Harsha Walia, Author: Undoing Border Imperialism
  • Todd Miller, Journalist, Author: More than a Wall
  • Maren Mantovani, StopTheWall, Palestinian Land Defence Coalition


Episode 9 - Border Wars: Placing the ‘migration crisis” in perspective

This is episode one of a series on Border Wars: Placing the ‘migration crisis” in perspective.

It explores the rise of border walls particularly in the last three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and analyses some of the systemic reasons behind what has been termed the “migrant crisis”. Follow-up episodes will focus on the corporate interests that stand to gain the most from existing migration policies, and explore ways in which communities are reaching out and building bridges instead of walls.


  • Harsha Walia: Canada Antiracist activist, author Undoing Border Imperialism
  • Nick Buxton , TNI
  • Todd Miller, Journalist Tucson Arizona: More than a wall.
  • Brid Brennan, TNI, Transmigrant Platform
  • Mara


Episode 8 - Paper Dragons: China and the next financial crisis. (In conversation with Walden Bello)

Walden Bello is a TNI associate, a human rights and peace campaigner, academic, environmentalist and journalist who has made a major contribution to the international case against corporate-driven globalization. He is currently a senior analyst at Focus on the Global South, as well as an adjunct professor of sociology at the State University of New York, Binghamton. In our latest podcast he shares his thoughts about China and its role in the global financial system.

The discussion is guided by Walden’s latest book: Paper Dragons, China and the Next Financial crisis. Have a listen to this wide ranging discussion about the contradictions in China’s financial system, the ongoing trade war with the United States of America, and China’s impact on the global economy.


Episode 7 - Alternative approaches to drug policy

Instead of stemming the flow of narcotics, the global “war on drugs” has only managed to cause untold suffering to millions of people across the world. The voice of communities involved in illicit cultivation have long been excluded from national and international policymaking platforms.

What alternative approaches are there to current regime? Is it possible to put human rights first?


  • Martin Jelsma: Director Drugs & Democracy programme, TNI.
  • Nang Yon: Myanmar Opium Farmers Forum.


Episode 6 - The crisis in Venezuela, lessons for the left

There is a crisis in Venezuela. The country teeters on the brink of total economic and social collapse. There is civil unrest, hospitals and supermarkets are empty, and there is a very real possibility of an invasion led by the United States of America. The Bolivarian revolution, which is the political process initiated by the late president Hugo Chavez, has not borne its promised fruits.

What happened in Venezuela, and what is in store for the country and its people? What lessons are there for the left?


  • Professor Edgardo Lander, TNI Fellow
  • Daniel Chavez, TNI Fellow
  • Rachel Rumai Diaz, Venezuelan poet


Episode 5 - Extractivism and Pacification: The TAP pipeline in Salento, Italy

This episode of the State of Power podcast examines the case of the resistance against the TAP pipeline in Salento, Italy. Expected to bring 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from Azerbaijan, the pipeline has been hailed as an impressive feat of engineering that will help solve Europe’s energy needs. However, there is no overstating how much the local populations along the pipeline detest this development.


  • Mark Neocleous: Professor of the Critique of Political Economy, Brunel University, UK.
  • Dr. María del Carmen Verdú: Lawyer, campaigner with Correpi: Coordinator Against Police and Institutional Repression), Argentina
  • No TAP activists, Salento, Italy.


Episode 4 - Fighting Corporate Impunity in South(ern) Africa

This episode of the State of Power podcast outlines some of the violations against people and the environment, perpetrated by Transnational Corporations in South Africa: Cases such as the massacre of protesting miners at the Marikana mine in August 2012, and ongoing attempts to evict rural communities in Pondoland from their land to facilitate titanium mining serve to underline the need for a binding international legal mechanism.

The episode shows some of the efforts by local activists to hold perpetrators accountable, and briefly outlines the history of The Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity.


  • Joseph Mathunjwa (President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU))
  • Siyabonga Ndovela (Amadiba Crisis Committee)
  • Brid Brennan (Transnational Institute, Global Campaign)


“Public finance for the future we want”

These podcasts are a series of three, drawn from discussions around an upcoming TNI publication, on how we can build “Public finance for the future we want” curated and edited by Satoko Kishimoto and Lavinia Steinfort.

Episode 3 - On Public Banks

In this episode we explore what role public banks can play in building alternative finance and how they can be democratised; we hear about the case of Belfius bank in Belgium which is facing re-privatization pressures; and we explore the role that art and culture can play in helping people to understand finance.


  • Professor Thomas Marois (SOAS)
  • Frank Vanaerschot (FairFin)
  • Aline Fares ("Belfius is Ours" platform, Chroniques d'une ex-banquière)


Episode 2 - Wealth From the Ground Up: Cooperative Finance

In this episode we explore three examples of cooperative finance: how a Cooperative Bank in the Basque region of Spain fueled the local economy; how local employee-owned businesses in the United States are experimenting with democratic ownership, and leveraging existing “anchor institutions”; and how a state government program in Kerala, India, has enhanced economic prospects for more than four million women through support for cooperatives.


  • Professor Milford Bateman (Juraj Dobrila University at Pula, Croatia)
  • Thomas Hannah (Democracy Collaborative, Washington DC)
  • Benny Kuruvilla (Transnational Institute, India)


Episode 1 - Money for People and Planet: State Spending as a Source of Public Finance

As banks and other financial institutions lost their grip on financial markets across the world in 2008, governments stepped in and saved the system on the backs of their taxpayers. If they have the capacity to create public money to save the banks, why don’t governments use that same power to help solve problems like debt, poverty and the climate crisis? In this episode Professor Mary Mellor makes the case for governments to pay for public projects through their budgeting process.


Emeritus professor Mary Mellor (Northumbria University, UK)