What’s normal? For thirty years the politics of ‘globalisation’ has tried to persuade us that regulation is inhuman while avarice and the market are natural. Now, in the wake of the crash, a struggle over what is ‘normal’ has begun. In a brilliantly suggestive reflection on France after the elections, the leading feminist scholar Nilifur Gole contrasts the conservative ‘normal’ of socialist President-elect Hollande and the anti-immigrant claim on the ‘normal’ by Le Pen. For sure, across Europe, argues Andrea Teti, ruling politicians, their methods and policies are being repudiated, not least the Greek party dinosaurs of PASOK and New Democracy as economic pressure and anti-Roma nationalist feelings reshape the public sphere, while 50:50’s Lea Sitkin observes that border control now resembles crime control. And a Muslim Norwegian calmly refuses all such politics.
Syria is moving towards a sectarian civil war, warns Yakin Ertürk. In a critique of Mariano Aguirre, Steven Heydemann and Reinoud Leenders emphasize the need for a credible threat to the regime and Mariano issues a strong reply: militarization means costly foreign intervention, destroying many lives without bring down Assad. Perhaps Mali shows the consequences of foreign military solutions says Stephen Zunes.
Can Islamist parties lead the Arab countries to swift economic improvement? It is critical that they do says Fawaz Gerges. Genevieve Theodorakis agrees and NATO also has to learn from the past in its relations with the Middle East, argues Andrea Teti in his second contribution of the week, as Rebecca Johnson laments the UN’s failure to remove nuclear weapons from the region.
Responding to Anthony Barnett’s indictment of the British prime minister as party to a criminal understanding with Rupert and James Murdoch, oD’s Chairman David Elstein says intimacy is not so simple and Anthony replies - as Brian Cathcart points out - that there is an even greater press scandal which, astonishingly, the press does not cover! The magic and manipulation of the Olympics draws Phil Cohen into its culture as the country’s largest warship is ordered up the Thames as a protective measure and Paul Rogers quietly mocks a Naval obsession with watery greatness.
To Europe’s east, Moscow feels occupied, Armenia and Azerbaijan head back to war, and something very odd is going on in Lithuania while Turkey’s political direction is challenged by the Gülen movement.
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oD author Todd Gitlin asks: Is freedom of speech a dead letter?