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About Paul Hirst

Paul Hirst was a prolific democratic intellectual and teacher. He served as professor of social relations at Birkbeck College, University of London and academic director of the London Consortium.

Articles by Paul Hirst

This week’s front page editor


Adam Bychawski is an editorial assistant at openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Renewing democracy through associations

Participants in the Revisiting Associative Democracy seminar organized last October by Andrea Westall and Stuart White in London’s Coin Street Community Centre were invited to read this usefully condensed account of Paul Hirst's normative political theory, published in 2002.

Not (yet) an Arabian Tet

The shadow of Vietnam hangs over every later US war. There, the communists’ Tet offensive of January 1968 broke America’s belief in ultimate victory. In Iraq, the military challenge is limited by comparison, but a lengthy post-war occupation will face the US with comparable political problems. After the victory of force, will America have the intelligence to know how to win the peace?

Asymmetrical strategies

What are the military options for Iraq? How will the US deploy their firepower? What is the likelihood of street battles in Baghdad? The author of “War in the Twenty-First Century” assesses the options.

What would Jed Bartlet do?

With brains, principles and guts the fictional US President Jed Bartlet from the TV series “The West Wing” has all the qualities to deal with a major international crisis. While in the real world the UN is split, Nato falters and worldwide peace marches put political pressure on Bush and Blair (whose staff, apparently, are “West Wing” addicts) how would Bartlett deal with Saddam? Paul Hirst speculates.

America first: the case to answer

Opposition to the Bush administration’s strategy on Iraq is growing both inside America and around the world. Criticism of its pre-emptive approach tends to be scornful of its intellectual framework and strategic thinking. But a serious case has been made for the exercise of American power - notably by Philip Bobbitt, author of “The Shield of Achilles”, who was Senior Director for Strategic Planning at the National Security Council in Clinton’s White House.

Hirst on Bobbitt

Paul Hirst reviews Philip Bobbitt’s book “The Shield of Achilles”.

The Shield of Achilles is the most thought provoking book on the future of war and the international system to have appeared for some considerable time.

No elixirs to hand

The West does share a common enemy with the US. But Al-Qaida is only the first of the terrorist threats we will have to tackle. Attacking Iraq is no way. We must deal with the failure of modernisation in the developing world.

Globalisation: the argument of our time

Everyone is now arguing about globalisation. But who really understands its landscape, from protest to the WTO? David Held and Paul Hirst, authorities on the subject, engage in a lively and informed argument.

Future war

With growing global inequality, competition over resources, and deepening militarisation, the world will face intensified crisis later this century. (Warning: parental guidance recommended in reading this article).

The Real Third Way: Britain's lesson

One aftershock of the attacks on America was the postponement of ‘normal’ politics. As they cautiously return in Britain with the party conference season, a reflection on the British experience since 1997 reveals the contrast between New Labour’s large ambitions and its want of the democratic radicalism needed to realise them.
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