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This week’s front page editor

Rosemary Bechler

Rosemary Bechler is the mainsite editor of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

From individual experience to emergent identities, we measure the pulse of life and change, from the ground up. This theme is a place for memorable, exemplary, innovative and intriguing individuals.

Milton Wolff, salud!

A militant of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who fought against fascism in Spain's civil war is remembered by Pere Vilanova.

Refugees: the missing Iraq benchmark

United States policymakers must address the humanitarian tragedy of millions of Iraqis displaced in and from their country, say Anita Sharma & Brian Katulis.

Sudanese adrift in Israel

A stream of asylum-seekers fleeing conflict in Sudan presents Israel with a dilemma that Europe has failed to solve, says Caroline Moorehead.


A grizzly Vietnam vet, motorcycle hound and great survivor sends an electric miracle to Jim Gabour's door.

Richard Rorty: living in dialogue

The late American philosopher made a matchless contribution to democratic dialogue across cultures in an era of global diversity, says his colleague Ramin Jahanbegloo.

Richard Rorty’s legacy

The American philosopher typified and even perfected a form of exclusionary postmodern argument that depended on burying truth, says Roger Scruton.

Kurt Vonnegut : a voice for life

Kurt Vonnegut worked through despair to infect a generation of Americans with humanity, says Christopher Bigsby.

The democratic intellectual: George Elder Davie

The distinctive quality of Scotland's educational philosophy was defined by George Davie (1912-2007) as the "democratic intellect". The idea has helped form the country's search for autonomy, says his former student Christopher Harvie.

China's top fifty: the China power list

Who are the most important figures in today’s China? Which names should you know? Kerry Brown introduces the first Chatham House / openDemocracy China power list, and ranks the leading fifty names.

While Susan Sontag lay dying

As a writer Susan Sontag located herself behind her subject. After her death it is her personality that is memorialised. Angela McRobbie deciphers this use of a great intellectual's legacy.

The Euro-African migration conference: Africa sells out to Europe

The Rabat gathering’s "plan of action" to control migration flows from south to north is based on a faulty diagnosis and will not succeed even in its own terms, says Gregor Noll.

Migration policy: from control to governance

In the United States and Europe alike, immigration policy isn't working – and the failure is most evident at the crossing-points of the rich and poor worlds, from the Mexican border to the Canary Islands, says Saskia Sassen.

It may look like one step forward and two back, but the European Union has actually accumulated a series of innovations that move it towards governing, rather than controlling, immigration inside the EU. This move towards governing is gaining strength even as national governments in the EU continue to speak the language of control.

Jean-François Revel: liberty's champion

France's foremost political thinker was also her most misunderstood, says Henri Astier.

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities for life

Jane Jacobs's book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" changed the way people thought about urban planning, the street and the character of cities. Roger Scruton reflects on the relevance of its message today.

Looking north: Mexicans in migration

Whatever methods the United States uses to control or manage the flow of people from Mexico, immigrants will find a way to enter and make their lives anew, says Hank Heifetz.

Britain through Indian eyes

Kirsty Hughes returns to her homeland after almost a year in south Asia and sees a different country.

Harriet's story: Ugandan survivor, British prisoner

Asylum-seekers from Uganda, after horrific experiences in their own country, endure detention, ill-treatment and deportation once they reach Britain, reports Jason Parkinson. He tells the story of Harriet, a Ugandan woman incarcerated at Yarl’s Wood detention centre north of London.

The road to riches

Occasionally, one encounters real-life Alice in Wonderland stories, where the narrator describes a well-known situation with such crazy inversions of commonsense and reality that incredulity sets in for the knowledgeable reader. One such situation occurred for me whilst reading Gregory Maniatis’s openDemocracy article, “The road to nowhere”. Was he describing the same report that I had read a day earlier?

Thomas Schelling: games of enlightenment

From nuclear weapons to climate change, the Vietnam war to urban segregation, the prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling’s leaps of lateral thinking are weapons of enlightenment, says Tim Harford.

Harold Pinter and Margaret Thatcher

The coincident celebrations of two major public figures in Britain offer a political lesson, says David Hayes.

Melilla: bloodbath on the Africa-Europe frontier

The death of African immigrants near Spain’s Moroccan enclaves is a humanitarian crisis with deep political implications, writes Nicholas Mead.

The road to nowhere

The Global Commission on International Migration set out to change minds about managing the movement of people in the 21st century. Gregory A Maniatis of the Migration Policy Institute reflects on what it got right – and wrong

Joseph Rotblat's humanity

Joseph Rotblat - nuclear physicist, Pugwash organiser, disarmament campaigner, Nobel peace laureate, eternal Pole, world citizen – has died at the age of 96. Brian Cathcart remembers him.

Maurice Cowling's achievement

The ideas of English conservative thinker Maurice Cowling had a profound influence on the country’s intellectual life. Roger Scruton assesses his legacy.

William Wallace and reinventing Scotland

Modern Scots are today honouring an unbending fighter for his country's sovereignty who was executed in London on this day in 1305. William Wallace's place in the national pantheon over the centuries is secure, says David Hayes; but his life and struggle are offering fresh meanings in an age of globalisation.

Remembering Robin Cook

Robin Cook, leading Scottish and British politician, died suddenly on 6 August 2005. The historian Christopher Harvie recalls a school friend, student debater, political comrade and intellectual opponent across forty-five years, and provides a warm, witty, unillusioned assessment of his career.

The many cities of Buenos Aires

Mariano Aguirre, revisiting his native Argentina after thirty years' absence, discovers a capital city trapped in the contradictions of globalisation.  

Anthony Sampson remembered

The British journalist Anthony Sampson was a rare voice – valiant and uncompromising but balanced and subtle. His death in December 2004 at the age of 78 is a great loss to journalism in the English language. Godfrey Hodgson celebrates a friend and model.


Susan Sontag, born in 1933, died in New York on 28 December 2004.

Top ten in 2004

openDemocracy readers voted with their mouse clicks for their top ten articles in 2004. They showed themselves to be concerned above all about Iraq, terrorism and US power, reports Caspar Henderson. Many readers did pause, however, to consider how bridges may be built between cultures.

After tolerance

The murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh has left the Netherlands in turmoil and its reputation for tolerance in tatters. What does the second political murder in thirty months mean for the Dutch multiculturalist model? The strategist and author Theo Veenkamp looks back and thinks forward.

Hong Kong's democratic road: an interview with Christine Loh

Hong Kong people elected a series of surprising candidates – fiscal conservatives and a Trotskyist as well as democracy campaigners and pro–Beijing parties – in the largest–ever election to their Legislative Council. In the aftermath, a non–profit think–tank analyst talks to Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy about the future China’s “special administrative region”.

A life-loving socialist: remembering Paul Foot

Paul Foot’s investigative, campaigning journalism and political activism fought injustice and sought redress for over forty years. Christopher Hird remembers a close friend.

The gap that divides us

A privileged youth in white-ruled African country taught Emily Barosso about injustice. But it was in her encounter with repression in Burma that she found her life’s purpose.

China's days of protest

Beneath China’s booming economy lies immense social inequality and seething worker discontent. A western observer witnesses a minor but now unexceptional popular convulsion.
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