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About Guy Aitchison

Guy Aitchison is a political theorist and Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at University College Dublin. He specialises in human rights, democratic theory and political resistance and is currently conducting a research project on migrant political activism. You can follow him @GuyAitchison and read more about his research here.

Articles by Guy Aitchison

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Borders, open borders, or no borders?

If freedom of movement is a human right, is Brexit good or bad? A Q&A.

Homelessness, freedom and why we should resist the social cleansing of Hackney

Hackney council is using new laws to try and cleanse homeless people from its more fashionable corners. Under the rubric of public “safety”, the lived reality of London, with its poverty and inequality, is being swept under the carpet.

In new gods do we trust?

Do you expect the machine to solve the problems? In this wide-ranging interview with the Director of the Open Rights Group we discuss bulk collection, state bureaucracies, the pre-crime era and trust.

Digital rights and freedoms: Part 2

More than rights, a set of guiding principles is needed to counterpose to the reigning ideals of ‘security’, ‘growth’ and ‘innovation’. Alternative ideals, perhaps, such as democracy, health and environmental sustainability?  See Part 1.

Digital rights and freedoms: Part 1

Under the rubric of state security on the one hand and commercial openness on the other, we are being lulled into an online world of fear and control where our every move is monitored in order to more efficiently manage us. See Part 2.

How capitalism is turning the internet against democracy, and how to turn it back

As capitalist corporations have come to dominate the internet, is it possible to fulfil the genuine democratic potential of this technology within the context of the current economic crisis? A review of Robert McChesney’s new book Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, beyond the stale debate between 'celebrants' and 'sceptics'.

Video, Up The Anti : Reclaiming the future - lessons of protest

A collection of speakers from an Up the anti conference discuss lessons to be learnt from the return of mass protest, and look at the challenges ahead in securing claims on the future.

Reclaiming 'common sense': new pamphlet is a rallying cry to the 99%

"This year will either see us create a new, more plausible, basis for our shared life, or settle back into the old, dispiriting fictions." So says Dan Hind in a new e-pamphlet published by OurKingdom, invoking the spirit of Thom Paine and urging the 99% to reclaim the public realm. We interview the author.

Reflections on Britain's student movement

This exchange revisits the student movement that erupted in Britain over the winter of 2010-2011. It produced a new cohort of young activists, fueling the anti-cuts movements and Occupy. But to what extent was the movement middle-class, a-historical, and shaped by neoliberalism?

My Top Ten Political Books of 2011

It's been an extraordinary year in politics. In no particular order, here are ten books I enjoyed that can help make sense of what the hell is happening and what can be done.

Reform, rupture or re-imagination: understanding the purpose of an occupation

In 2011 occupations have become the tactic of choice for popular movements worldwide. But how exactly does the physical holding of space contribute to a movement's aims?

If things are so bad in Britain, where's the uprising?

Given the obvious harms being inflicted on the population of the UK, in the name of austerity, why did the resistance not start sooner? And now that is has began, why are more people not getting involved?

Hackgate, power elites and the limits of the “corruption” critique

The real significance of the "hackgate" scandal in the UK is in revealing an underlying truth about the governing classes and their mode of rule which anyone who’d been paying attention has known all along.

Met can neither "confirm nor deny" censoring Facebook profiles of "extremist groups"

One might consider it "extreme" to force some of the poorest, most desperate people in our society to pay for an economic crisis provoked by the greed of the ultra-rich, but apparently that term is reserved for those who oppose such policies.

The Spanish protests and the need for politics and conflict

The popular uprising of Spanish youth has been inspiring to observe, but its call for radical democracy should not be confused with a "post-political" approach to social change

"Conspiracy to commit a public nuisance", the pre-crime of choice for today's police

More disturbing videos have emerged showing pre-crime arrests ahead of the royal wedding.

Undercover police arrest man for singing "We all live in a fascist regime"

In an oddly self-fulfilling action, undercover police swoop to snatch a man singing "We all live in a fascist regime" in Soho Square on the day of the Royal Wedding. This is Britain in 2011.

Political purge of UK Facebook underway

There appears to be a purge of political Facebook taking place

Political policing in Britain ahead of the Big Day

If anyone was in any doubt that we have a highly politicized, out-of-control police force in the UK with scant regard for basic rights, the build up to the royal wedding provided a much-needed corrective.

Refuse the Met's demand for footage - An open letter to the BBC

An open letter to the BBC calling on them to mount a strong defence of the confidentiality of its journalists’ material and sources in response to the Met's demand for footage.

The Open-Sourcing of Political Activism: How the internet and networks help build resistance

The fallout from the TUC demonstration on March 26th, which saw the mass arrest of peaceful UK Uncut activists following the police’s failure to deal with the controversial black bloc earlier in the day, has lent added urgency to debates about the nature of networked activism, its limits and potential in a shrill and reductive political environment. Here, we are re-publishing an article by Guy Aitchison and Aaron Peters which deals with some of these issues in the context of the emergent anti-cuts movement. Written at the end of 2010 as a contribution to Fight back!, it forms part of OK’s debate on the “networked society”.

Angry demo at Camden Town Hall as Labour council votes through cuts

There was a lively demo at Camden Council Town Hall last night to protest swingeing cuts to local jobs and services.

Labour and the anti-cuts movement

I had the interesting experience of being treated like a well-meaning but fuzzy-headed utopian on Monday night when I spoke at Cambridge Labour party’s AGM about fighting the cuts.

The dangers of an "alternative" NUS or national leadership for the student movement

The danger the student movement in the UK faces is of creating a new tier of leaders who, however well-intentioned, seek to manage the movement and end up sapping it of its power, radicalism and creativity.

What next for the UK's student movement?

The volcanic eruption of student anger and militancy in Britain over the last few months has blown the political space wide open, making a broad-based movement against austerity thinkable. Whether or not it can grow and ultimately succeed will depend on the next steps the movement takes.

New peerages announced

I've said it before, but it really is more than a touch unpleasant having this institutionalised corruption at the centre of our public life.

The significance of Millbank: British protest begins

Two days on from Wednesday’s student demo and debate over the storming of Millbank, the police’s response, the legitimacy of confrontational forms of direct action and protest, and what this means for the Coalition’s programme of cuts, is still raging.

Student protests and the storming of Tory HQ - a story in social media

A storyboard collection of pics, video and social media showing the November 10th protest against tuition fees and its aftermath.

openDemocracy author Clare Sambrook wins the Paul Foot Award 2010

Congratulations to openDemocracy author Clare Sambrook who has been named winner of the Paul Foot Award 2010 for her reports on the UK's shameful detention of asylum seekers' children.

Nation-wide Vodafone block-outs show the potential of anti-cuts protests

I don't generally do patriotism and that sort of thing, but watching Vodafone stores being spontaneously shut down across the country on Saturday, in protest at the mobile phone giant dodging billions in tax, with the co-operation of HMRC, gave me more than a little frisson of pride.

Vodafone shut-down and the growing anti-cuts movement

Vodafone's "flagship" store in Oxford Street was shut down on Wednesday by a group of activists protesting the £6 billion in taxes the company has dodged with the approval of HM Treasury.

Orwell Court

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