only search openDemocracy.net

Urgent: expose the Brexit dark money

openDemocracy has worked for two years exposing the dark money driving Brexit. We have many more leads to chase down. Please give what you can today – it makes a difference.

Urgent: expose the Brexit dark money

openDemocracy has worked for two years exposing the dark money driving Brexit. We have many more leads to chase down. Please give what you can today – it makes a difference.

This week’s front page editor

Thomas Rowley

Thomas Rowley is editor of oDR.

The 1953 revolt in East Germany: violence and betrayal

The uprising of June 1953 in East Germany revealed the true face of a state dependent for its survival on the control and surveillance of its own citizens. The tragedy is that it took three more decades for the west to understand the nature of its communist adversary and begin the process of liberating the people whose lives it had crushed.

Visions of the exceptional

This week, the People Flow argument gives way to the intense controversy over British and Danish government proposal for Regional and Transit Processing Centres to hold asylum-seekers. The proposal, presented as humane and practical, carries echoes of earlier, failed ‘refugee camp’ policies. If implemented, it would signify a costly and dangerous return to a dark period of European history.

Infectious: Sars in the world media

The rapid spread and social impact of the Sars virus make it a global political story as well as a medical one. But it is mediated differently across the world. openDemocracy’s world media monitor maps the coverage – from startling openness in the Vietnamese press, to the independence factor in Taiwan – amid worldwide uncertainties about security, business and travel.

Governance as learning: the challenge of democracy

While Geoff Mulgan makes a strong case that learning has become central to effective governance, Tom Bentley registers a missing dimension in his argument: democracy itself. Learning is not just openness to international experience among policy-makers, or a better chain of command. It is a process that entails deep accountability, transparency, network-based cultures of information at every level – one that recasts relationships between governments and people.

Incontinent Europa

Europe against America. A war of cliché, myth, stereotype, and illusion. Suicide vs militarism, windmills vs theme parks, marmalade vs napalm. Dominic Hilton saddles up and rides into battle - as ever, a danger to his own side.

A Message from European Citizens to European Leaders

A gathering of “Citizens’ Europe” alongside the European Union summit of June 2003 in Thessaloniki articulated the concerns of many Europeans about the continent’s new constitution, its responsibilities over the Iraq war and security issues, and its policies towards migrants and asylum-seekers. The meeting participants, the Thessaloniki Social Forum and the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly, sent this powerful message to the summiteers.

The failures of success

In the aftermath of the cold war, the world’s sole superpower prepared for a new world order to ensure its continued hegemony. The ensuing decade’s instability, culminating in 9/11, propelled US neo-conservatives into a more coherent, focused statement of American ambitions than ever before. But as the strategy is applied, from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, its dangers and problems become increasingly apparent. Have the US hawks lost the plot?

The new information ecosystem: Part 1: cultures of anarchy and closure

Part 1 of The new information ecosystem: cultures of anarchy and closure

An Asian Century?

India goes east, Pakistan goes west, Russia goes backwards, Bush goes fundraising

An alarm-call for Europe

Europe needs movement not respite. Before the European Union summit in Thessaloniki, a magnificent seven of intellectuals – including Jürgen Habermas, Umberto Eco, and Jacques Derrida – affirmed the need for a distinct, compelling vision of the continent’s future. In its wake, an influential German voice challenges European civil society to live up to the political responsibilities of a moment that offers many dangers and little time.

Wanted in Iraq: a programme of weapons cleansing

After decades of dictatorship and war, and amidst continuing social suspicion and insecurity, Iraq has an overriding need: disarmament.

Caught in the crossfire: broadcasting in wartime

The Iraq war focused attention on how national broadcasters report armed conflicts. In Britain, the BBC could use Iraq to cultivate its dominant self-image of impartial professionalism – especially in light of the performance of companies like Fox News and al-Jazeera. But a deeper source of concern arises, suggests David Elstein: did the BBC’s very professionalism and investment of resources make it an inadvertent combatant in the government’s battle for public opinion?

Israel and Palestine: the challenge of freedom

The failure of successive Israel-Palestine peace initiatives has a deeper root than nationalism or political violence; it derives from the lack of responsibility of the contending parties. In this respect, the current roadmap shares the defect of its predecessors. The challenge of the region is to end dependence both on outside forces and the illusion of a ‘solution’, and to understand that the way ahead lies within and between the combatants themselves.

India: facts, lies and GM potatoes

The GM potato, far from being the answer to India’s food security as has recently been argued, would displace the richest source of traditional protein in the sub-continent’s diet. Rather, it would intensify the problems already being suffered by the country’s small producers as a result of trade liberalisation policies.

Africa's arsenal: the sustainable village

Africa needs a radically different vision of its future from that on offer from the developed world. It should look to the Songhai Centre, where Godfrey Nzamujo has built that most realisable utopia, a sustainable African village.

NGOs and governments in a new humanitarian landscape

Are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at risk of becoming a tool of governments’ foreign policies? The US’s increasing engagement in ‘small wars’ and nation-building is challenging NGOs’ sense of their core mission and degree of independence. A decisive period is opening where the very meaning of humanitarian action is being explored and redefined.

Paul Hirst: legacies and futures

The influence of Paul Hirst is felt across a rich variety of disciplines and organisations. Here some of those whose lives he touched reflect on what he meant to them; politically, professionally, personally.

Afghanistan: land of widows

The gravest long-term casualties of war in Afghanistan are not the refugees, but the many thousands who were too poor to flee. Among these internally-displaced people, women and children are hardest hit.

The perils of expertise: Kenneth Pollack and the Iraq war

The debate over the Iraq war’s legitimacy focused crucially on Saddam’s weapons programmes. One of the war’s most influential advocates has retracted his view of their threat. Does this make his original work an example of propaganda masquerading as scholarship?

The problems of occupation

The extensive US military campaigns in the Sunni heartlands north of Baghdad indicate that the war is far from over. The current difficulties of military security and civic administration are severe enough, but a deeper source of trouble for the occupying forces may lie in agreements made to secure the regime’s fall.

Voyage of 'The Noorderlicht' in pictures

For two weeks, openDemocracy’s Globalisation editor, Caspar Henderson, was on board the 93-year old ship “The Noorderlicht” – sailing to the Arctic in an innovative expedition that fused art, film and science to monitor and communicate the impact of global warming. Here we present some of the pictures he took, as well as some by fellow voyager Dan Harvey.

The Death and Life of Paul Hirst


This article was written immediately after Paul's death. It is followed by the eulogy Anthony gave at Paul’s funeral on 30 June 2003.


In Bed 3 of the intensive care unit of London’s Middlesex Hospital, Paul Hirst lies unconscious, after a massive brain haemorrhage had struck him down. On Monday afternoon, 16 June, less than two days after the attack, doctors confirm that his brain stem has ceased to function.

Paul Hirst: remembering for the future

Paul Hirst, a good friend of many of us at openDemocracy, as well as a valued contributor and adviser, died on Monday 16 June 2003 as the result of a sudden brain haemorrhage. He was 57 years old.

Poetry of memory and exile: Choman Hardi

Choman Hardi is a young Kurdish poet in London who writes in English as well as her native Kurdish. Here are six of her poems

Giscard puts the EU on track

As the Convention on the Future of Europe concludes with confusion among analysts and a fever of disinterest from the peoples of the continent, this Brussels-watcher insists that its president, Giscard d’Estaing, steered a well-judged if tightly-controlled course to a balanced outcome.

Being a migrant the Polish way

Migration is process not event. For many Polish people in London, the decision to stay or return is not fixed but part of a collision of influences: work, love, chance, family, money. Bureaucracy may regulate their lives, and Poland’s entry to the European Union will simplify them, but the river of dreams between Suwalki and Streatham, Katowice to Kilburn finds its own course.

Woody's French Connection

French love-affair, God Bless Europa!, Hiroshima reminder.

Home from home? The journey to a better refugee policy

Some governments and analysts of migration propose ‘international transit centres’ and ‘protected zones’ close to refugees’ countries of origin, as a way to control and limit their movement as well as guaranteeing their basic rights. But research into the human rights environment in the regions immediately affected by refugees and asylum-seekers indicates that a consistent, holistic policy to protect people in movement would be a far more effective and humane solution to current problems.

Migration: the emergency exit

Migration is an issue not just of management but of politics. A migration approach based on humane values and leading to just outcomes requires sensitive political judgment as well as accurate information. The logic of the People Flow proposal is deficient in both respects – by eliding the crucial distinction between refugees and economic migrants, and by viewing migration as normal rather than as an ‘emergency exit’.

World Social Forum: the secret of fire

The World Social Forum in January 2003 represented a new stage in the unfolding project of the global justice and solidarity movement. An experienced observer of the WSF asks whether it can combine its multiple energies with the clarity needed to transcend old politics – while establishing its own forms of legitimate, transparent representation? Who governs the WSF and where is it going?