The contests shaping our post-crash world: March 5 - 11 on openDemocracy

It was a week that clarified the contests that will shape our post-crash world. Democratic change may be coming, fanned by the warmth of social media, but resistance is strengthening too, in Syria, Russia, Iran, the EU and Britain. openDemocracy highlights the sober side.

19 March 2012


In Syria, international outcry has not come close to averting humanitarian disaster. Paul Rogers fears Assad’s regime is as strong as ever, fortified by a resilient military, class loyalties, a divided opposition and regional rivalries. 

 In Iran, loyalist forces won a predictable victory in the country's parliamentary election, despite the best efforts of a resurgent dissident class, as Nasrin Alavi reports.

 In EuropeMarkha Valenta is scathing: the EU regards democratic accountability as no longer desirable for Greece today, the continent should watch out for tomorrow.

 In Russia, a prominent member of the protest organising committee, Yuri Saprykin, says we must recognise the conclusiveness of Putin’s victory, though not the means: “Children are sometimes born as a result of rape, but that doesn't justify sexual violence”; Julia Chegodaikina, one of a new generation of independent election monitors, provides an impassioned witness account of the experience and has many readers. Also in oDRussia Dmitri Travin says the Putin regime will look increasingly like Lukashenka’s in Belorussia, Tikhon Dzyadko described the war-like footing of election night Moscow, while director Andrei Konchalovsky calls on his compatriots to be horrified.

Britain’s Coalition state seems dedicated to handing over power to corporations. Melanie Newman of the Bureau of Investigative Reporting reveals how the most profitable companies such as Vodafone and Boots avoid tax with the apparent blessing of authorities; asylum services, prison security and now the police are being outsourced to conglomerates like G4S, as Richard Branson’s ‘Virgin’ operations move in on the Health Service.

 But the digital bell tolls for this kind of capitalism. Michel Bauwens shows how peer-to-peer, open-source innovation and crowd-sourced manufacturing now undermines its all important capacity to accumulate. Aaron Peters agrees, predicting there can be no return to capital’s golden days and good riddance. James Curran cautions against any techno-determinism, however, as he says the Internet allows old power to renew itself in new forms while Pawel Wargan denounces the sloppy indulgence of social media making things worse – unbelievably in Syria itself.

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Celebrated International Women’s Day as Ruth Rosen mocked the right-wing hype over contraception and Rahila Gupta defended secularism. 

The Irish Times on the European fiscal treaty
Huxley's letter to Orwell
Adam Curtis on Iran/USA religious turn of politics in 1970s






Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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