November 07 - 13 on openDemocracy

As Europe grinds to a halt, the openDemocracy team is on various continents, attending conferences. Two of these, one looking forwards, one backwards, have made their home with us this week.  As the Club de Madrid debates ‘Digital Technologies for 21st Century Democracy’ in New York, Beth Novak reminds us that while direct or ‘crowdsourced’ democracy may be too simplistic for the complexities of modern life, digital technology is bringing people into governance processes and governments have to listen. Later inthe week, Lisa Veneklasen points out that they may be listening to very conflicting messages.
18 November 2011

In London, we are the proud media partner for Shock and Awe: A Hundred Years of Bombing from Above, a series of lectures and debates designed to explore what the organisers argue was more than a military revolution – “a way of understanding differently the history of empire, nationalism and the racial ordering of humanity”. From Kobe in Japan, from the bombing of cities, forests and target boxes to putting 'warheads on foreheads' in Pakistan and Afghanistan, we trace the lines of descent, asking if this is the American way of bombing? and what it means to us today.

In the tense present, Arash Falasiri calls on the Iranian opposition, Tony Klug revisits the two-state solution, while two veteran political commentators,Susan George, and D.Mario Nuti, explain why the European Union should not be starting from here.

Meanwhile, we welcome many writers for the first time: Parval Wargan asking why Georgia’s young leaders are choosing imposing neo-classical buildings, the dying legacy of an occupier whom the Georgian people have come to reject; Andrew Mambondiyani on illegal diamond mining in Zimbabwe; Nigel Carter on the return of the underclass in Britain; and Sara ElGaddari on the tasks facing Libya’s National Transitional Council, and how these are not helped by a determined Western focus on the threat of Sha’ria law in North Africa.

Tony Curzon Price, prompted by Ivan Briscoe’s “powerful essay” and its take on Stephen Pinker’s “impressive new book”, meditates on violence and Rawls. He says, “I am appalled at the violence, vengefulness and blood-lust that was reported from the victorious forces in Tripoli”, and is taken up by the last new writer of the week, Samson A. Bezabeh, who selects as his philosophers, Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben, to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the French.


Three links not to miss:

Alan Wolf interview in The European

Ulrike Guérot on the alarming politics of European disintegration

The launch of a Centre for Secular Space

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.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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