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Had enough of ‘alternative facts’ and immigrant-bashing? openDemocracy is different - join us and hear from Elif Shafak, Brian Eno, Peter Oborne, Sultan al-Qassemi, Birgitta Jonsdottir & many more on what we can do together in 2017.

This week's editor

Manuel Serrano

Manuel Serrano is junior editor at DemocraciaAbierta.

Why can't we be confused?

You’ve decoded Derrida, mangled De Man, slurped Sollers, and cursed Kristeva. But what do you make of the new darling of French philosophy, Francois Deluges? After you, dear reader...

In the global economy, even body parts are for sale

The sale of body parts is illegal in every country in the world except China and Iran. But an intrepid television reporter tracks down a production line that stretches from the villages of Moldova (now officially the poorest country in Europe) via Istanbul to Israel. She discovers that the organ business is thriving and even government funded.

Business is part of the solution

There is more to Bonn, the WTO and the G8 than tear gas and cigar smoke. Their lesson, says the head of the International Chamber of Commerce, is that effective policy outcomes require the involvement of governments, business and NGOs alike.

Days of hope, rage and tragedy: from the summit foothills

An involved observer moves between the white overalls, the black block, and straw-hatted England in search of the truth behind the headlines. A vivid diary of the historic Genoa summit.

America, Europe, Iran: a view from Tehran

The trend of United States security policy reinforces the need for a fresh approach to international relations, argues an Iranian scholar of international affairs.

Planning for humanity

Land scarcity in Britain is a myth spun into fact by planning controls. To this extent Jules Lubbock is right. But the way towards individual freedom and community rebirth, says Prince Charles’s favourite architect, is not to collapse the controls, but through the careful release of millions of plots of land in variegated new settlements.

Brass monkeys

By the logic of New Labour “Absolutely Fabulous” promotes drunkenness and child abuse, and “Fawlty Towers” is offensive to Britain’s hoteliers.

Widening Atlantic?

Security policy differences between Europe and the US are real and growing. A researcher of international security and conflict mediation sketches those differences – from missile defence and weaponisation of space to nuclear policy and arms control. Is US “unilateralism” a danger, and how should its allies respond?

The night I became European

The EU has enlarged, not diminished, freedom for Portugal: the liberating end to a purely national destiny, even with jaqizimhos no longer on the menu. A Portuguese writer describes how a disco night and a visit to Morocco helped reinforce a borderless confidence.

Italy's television, Italy's democracy

Silvio Berlusconi’s victory in the Italian general election returned the TV mogul to political power. But the Italian people were not brainwashed by his television stations. Rather, the skills and resources of his corporate machine allowed him to construct the right wing alliance which now dominates Italian politics.

British democracy? No thanks!

The British general election is viewed from classical Athens... and found wanting.

Smarter planning, better living

Jules Lubbock is wrong: dismantle the planning system, and people will want three cars and an acre, as in the US. The result? An urban disaster.

Testing the argument for social living

Passion spills over the fields of green and brown where a calm assessment of real alternatives is needed. Progress towards sustainability is possible, but requires a portfolio approach that addresses the needs of different environments and geographical regions.

The world turned upside down

What if the roles were reversed? Would corporate chiefs throw chairs?

New Zealand television picks up the pieces

After the single-channel conformism of the 1970s and the free market typhoon of the 1980s, New Zealand is trying to establish a public service culture in a commercial broadcasting environment. The head of news at Channel 4 went there to learn, advise – and report.

Europe must face globalisation

Democracy is spreading across the world, but so is disillusion about its workings. The key to the paradox is globalisation, says the Finnish foreign minister. Globalisation is potentially positive, but to make the best of it a common approach is needed, rather than ‘them and us’ politics. The EU in particular must face this challenge, if it is to deserve the loyalty of its people.

A respectable radical

Behind the conventional facade of the latest Worcester Woman in our series of interviews is a rich inner world, reflecting twentieth century pain and twenty-first century hopes.

The centre at the edge

Telling the stories and advancing the rights of indigenous peoples – from the high Arctic to the World Bank – has been Hugh Brody’s life-work. Mapping the imaginative territory of hunter-gatherer lives, languages and perceptions, he draws fundamental conclusions about human nature. If the essence of our civilisation is revealed in its relationship with those beyond its frontier, what does that say about us? Anthony Barnett, Todd Gitlin, David Hayes and Tom Nairn ask the questions.

The gulf between us

Two recent European films of human migration and disconnection, Paul Pawlikowski’s Last Resort and Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown, offer contrasting narratives of the immigrant-as-hero. But do they both give equal space to their characters and open up a true dialogue with their audiences?It is nearly half a century since, in his classic film essay The Gangster as Tragic Hero, Robert Warshow first drew the attention of cinema-goers to our perennial fascination with the hero-as-outsider.

Having a word

If you think you’ve got a grip on language, this poet would like a word with you.

Governing freedom

The net is rule-governed space as well as dynamic technology and business medium. But who wrote the rules? An ICANN pioneer tells openDemocracy the story of how the net community harnessed political imagination to create its own forms of governance, and asks: can a global civil society now emerge, with political parties to help make that governance accountable?

Public service television: Bohemian decline and fall

The inner politics of Czech television itself became the news last December, as staff protested another managerial change in the public broadcasting system. But was this a principled challenge to political interference, or a case of programme-makers run wild?

A speech: America's vision for Europe

The US president’s transatlantic visit was marked by a major speech in Warsaw about Europe’s identity and expansion. In these extracts, George Bush challenges the “false lines” that still divide the continent, and articulates his vision of Nato enlargement to the borders of Russia.

How did Europe begin?

In the perspective of history, George W Bush’s programme for Europe is flawed, Judith Herrin argues. Byzantine reality, not classical rhetoric, is the indispensable resource for modern understanding of the European Union’s responsibilities to its citizens and neighbours.

Towards Ennistone - a swimmer's journey

On the far side of sewage there is water. York overflows, Highgate invigorates, the River Itchen enchants. The author of Waterlog excavates the watery subconscious of the English landscape and sees reflected in it our need for intimacy and playfulness with nature.

Planning is the problem

The new urbanism represented by Richard Rogers is shallow and authoritarian. Its impulse to confine people in high-density settlements has disastrous social and economic effects. The truly radical answer is to dismantle the planning system, allow people to live where they wish, and nurture a creative mix between town and country. Let Swindon breathe, the Yorkshire Dales thrive, and Glasgow flourish!

Disinterring the past

The artist Arshile Gorky was a complex figure in denial of his past, haunted by a tragic history yet creating images of vigour and freshness that still astonish. Fifty years on, a fellow Armenian explores his mystery - and infuses her own ancestors with new life.

Where's the passion, where's the fairness in our politics?

Politicians? Vicky would stop them running things at all. Labour looked promising once. But to a single mother, battling racism and postcode health, they’ve failed to deliver fairness. She gives us her perspective in the following interview.

The real world of public service

While it is attractive to toy with the idea of broadcasting left to a free market it is clear that this cannot maintain diversity of output.

Inside the palace of glass

The international conferences of the new world order are regularly seen through the eyes of media, protestors, and spin-doctors. But what is it like to be a participant? The director of the Overseas Development Institute was in Amsterdam to discuss poverty with the World Bank. This is his witty, compelling account.