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December 12 - 18 2011 on openDemocracy

Russia’s unscheduled civil re-awakening dominated openDemocracy front pages this week. Speaking at oDRussia’s timely roundtable (video), prominent journalist Mikhail Fishman declared that Moscow has turned resolutely against the regime.

3 January 2012
Leading the change is the Russian internet: no longer simply entertainment or a largely passive parallel space, the RuNet is now a fully networked tool capable of mobilising the middle class. The glue and nails of the soft authoritarian state - fear and lack of self-respect - have both been seriously undermined by recent events. How will Putin’s regime react? So far the evidence is contradictory: the protest in Moscow was policed meticulously, while in Kazan it was business as usual. State news networks took a temporary break from the usual Putin propaganda, but Putin soon recaptured the airwaves with an eerie charm offensive oscillating between the aggressive and conciliatory.

Elsewhere, as the Middle East struggles with the consequences of its own unfinished revolutions, Paul Ingram urges hope. Anthony Barnett, in an extended revisiting of Raymond Williams' The Long Revolution, asks what political transformation might actually mean in the developed democracies of the west. Leaderless, horizontal government is the perfect revenge to the pure ungoverned market, but how might it work?  Are there any clues to be found in the hip-hop that has come out of the Arab Spring?

Anthony points to ‘the definitive military/political defeat of both Bushism and bin Ladenism’ as one reason for the mobilization of the ‘99%’ in 2011. As Obama’s America leaves Iraq, David Held and Kristian Coates Ulrichsen argue that the wars of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are the west’s wars of decline, while Paul Rogers anatomises American arguments for war in Iran, and David Mepham urges alternative forms of pressure on Syria.

In Great Britain, the debate about Cameron’s European veto continued, with Kirsty Hughes urging the Prime Minister to move on from the playground. Barbara Gunnell took aim at the scrooge employers relying on the state to top-up low wages, and the London Olympics Committee comes under fire for their decision to award a building contract to a company in dispute with victims of the Union Carbide disaster.

Today, Monday, is the anniversary of the 2010 Belarusian elections that degenerated into a brutal campaign of repression against opponents of the regime. Spare a few moments for the brave men and women who continue to devote themselves to the fight for freedom.

Four links not to miss:

"Good" financial results of hedge funds entirely due to reporting bias

Paul Krugman on what’s happening in Europe

Mary Kaldor pays tribute to 'Mr Former Havel'

Tony Curzon Price on Hitch22 in memoriam

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Peter Geoghegan: dark money and dirty politics

Democracy is in crisis and unaccountable flows of money are helping to destroy it. Peter Geoghegan’s new book, ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’, charts how secretive money, lobbying and data has warped our democracy.

How has dark money bought our politics? What can be done to change the system?

Join us for a journey through a shadowy world of dark money and disinformation stretching from Westminster to Washington, and far beyond.

Sign up to take part in a free live discussion on Thursday 13 August at 5pm UK time/6pm CET

In conversation:

Peter Geoghegan Dark Money Investigations editor at openDemocracy and the author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’.

Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.

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