This week's editor

Mary Fitzgerald

Mary Fitzgerald is Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

EU and US both threatened by secret trade talks

This week’s talks, like the previous rounds, will happen behind closed doors. The negotiating texts will be kept secret from the public but not from the ca. 600 corporate representatives who have been named ‘cleared advisors’ for the United States.

Is the WTO deal good news for multilateralism?

Resolving gridlock involves the search for a new kind of politics that builds on the many and various partial solutions to global challenges that can be found today. The only alternative is collective drift.

"There is Marikana everyday in South Africa" - an interview with Abahlali baseMjondolo

Film: Struggling for the right to decent housing and against the criminalisation of poverty, South African shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo face severe police repression. Here S'bu Zikode outlines the lethal consequences of police militarisation and the ANC's political capture of the police.

‘Global woman’: abject poverty or domestic servitude

The widespread abuse suffered by domestic workers calls for the urgent enforcement of proper labour laws, the ratification of ILO convention 189 and fundamental changes in attitudes towards women and children workers, including racism, class/caste and gender prejudice.

Piracy: navigating the dark side of globalisation

There is a dark side to globalisation, yet the losers rarely get their moment in the spotlight. Recently however, attention has become fixed on a particularly disenfranchised group: Somali pirates. Their story is a good illustration of some of the worst relations forged by globalisation.

For my Dad: on what’s wrong with, ‘Being liberal’

The historical misdirection involved in 'being liberal' persists today and affects those vulnerable to ideological revisionism. We must protect them.

The myth of American recovery

By conceding that growing inequality is the main challenge facing the US, President Barack Obama finally admitted last week that the much lauded “recovery” is a myth.

Reds, yellows and the fruits of neglect

The key cleavage opens up between those who have benefited under this ‘almost’ democracy and those who have been failed by it. But, the dynamics of political conflict in Thailand do not fall within the same framework as other global protest mobilisations.

Is slavery invincible?

The right not to be enslaved is one of the two absolute human rights that cannot be violated on any ground whatsoever. However, 65 years after its denunciation, slavery continues to resist the corpus of human rights. Why the asymmetry ?

Alternative horizons - understanding Occupy's politics

Occupy is to be assessed, firstly, in terms of the alternative public space that it creates and the mutual recognition between individuals that (in however fragile a fashion) it brings into existence. 

Bring it on! Russell Brand and revolution

The revolutionary left denounces Russell Brand, but the poor know he is right. His lack of a proper alternative doesn't hurt his analysis of what is wrong. People must realise how many skills are available on the street that should be used to replace the old, corrupt system.

Who is the biggest supporter of Ukraine?

Oleh Kotsyuba (Krytyka, Ukraine) speaks with Sławomir Sierakowski (Krytyka Polityczna, Poland) about the events in the aftermath of Ukrainian President’s decision not to sign the Association and Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

A flashpoint action reading list

Today Transformation published the first article in our debate on flashpoint action. Yalla Matame argued that flashpoints are a way of creating and radicalizing larger social movements. On 6th December we will publish Bellamy's response. Here is a reading list for the interested reader to find out more.

Walmart's Black Friday strikes: a new dawn for organised labour?

Walmart has been extremely hostile to the concept of worker collective voice, and this hostility, in time, led to it becoming a major innovator in anti-union tactics. But labour is organising differently and fighting back.

Grand colonic tour: Theroux does Angola

Unimpressed by the savvy interviews with new oligarchs advertising their art and charity credentials, and nervous expats’ claims that the country is improving by leaps and bounds, Theroux doesn’t pull any punches.  (Book review)

Modi as future Indian PM? Development, camps, the ‘Muslim Vote’

Is it not contradictory that Modi stands exonerated of any role in the pogrom of over 3,000 Muslims in Gujarat whose Chief Minister he was, whereas even the construction of a toilet or fixing of a lamppost is squarely attributed to Modi’s personal achievement in the area of development?

We could learn from the blues/of Langston Hughes

The poet Langston Hughes was both of and ahead of his time. In Twitter-friendly, succinct verses, he exposed injustice and the plight of the downtrodden. His work connects us to other times and ways of thinking.

Towards a twenty-first century society of control?

These highly complex systems literally disintegrate the spatial and geographical unity of political subjects, that is citizens, into streams of rights-less digital bits of data flow. No democratic system can survive and thrive in this context. But there is no going back.

The Tar Sands and the World Tree – can Ragnarok be avoided?

Norse mythology tells of Ragnarok, a cataclysmic disaster akin to ecocide. In order to avoid this fate we need new stories that reunite human experience with nature.

Exiting the Vampire Castle

We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we must always agree – on the contrary, we must create conditions where disagreement can take place without fear of exclusion and excommunication.

Progress with roots

In the last thirty years, the Basque Country has transformed itself from an economic backwater under Spanish dictatorship to a pioneer in sustainable human development. How did they do it?

From 'Silence Would Be Treason' - the last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa

No, Shell are merely hoping that the government will succeed in “pacifying” the Ogoni and then they will move in proudly and calmly to continue to steal. They are in for a fight they will never forget.

The road from web 1.984

We are realising that the 'free' services we use online carry huge hidden costs. A totally administered society is being built from billions of moments of self-disclosure. Here Jonny LeRoy, the Head of Technology at ThoughtWorks North America, describes what's at stake, and how we can put an end to the harvesting of what it means to be human.

Researching austerity: participatory engagement

Any research that seeks to make positive interventions as well as produce ‘objective’ data, must foster new kinds of dialogue that support and engage those directly involved.

Project COBRA: community-owned solutions for the marginalised indigenous communities of the Guiana Shield, South America

Project COBRA is an EU project which advocates the position that local communities have the capacity to identify their own "best practices" and share them with others.

Where the buffalo shouldn't roam

In Romania traditional livelihoods and rare animal species are about to give way to a bizarre, private project to introduce American buffalo. It's part of a rural exodus, and EU law will make future land grabs even easier.

Beware, secret trade deals can seriously damage your health

Freedom of Information requests to disclose TPP texts have failed on the grounds that they are a matter of “national security”.

Ailing from distorted development: healthcare in India

So where has the growth gone; who is it for? Who has benefited from the ‘economic miracle’? The middle class have become rich; the rich have become super rich: the super rich stellar rich.

“Stay creative, stay vigilant, stay positive:” fighting for a living wage in California

WATCH: hotel maids are among the least protected workers in America, yet a coalition of groups in Los Angeles has organized successfully to raise their wages. Two community organizers reflect on the struggle and how it has transformed them (Video, 6 minutes).

Out of the press box and onto the field

I am a player in NewCo. I have to publicly abandon any position as an observer or independent analyst of Pierre Omidyar’s new venture in news. Out of the press box and onto the field.

Bankrupting democracy

Michigan’s political elite is pushing the city of Detroit—wellspring of industrial unionism, home of soul music—into bankruptcy.  In the words of Marvin Gaye, “What’s going on?”

This Finnish architect says more sharing will create sustainable cities

WATCH: Who thinks about whether cities are socially sustainable or not? Architects like Inari Virkkala do. This is the fifth instalment in “Everyday stories of transformation,” a series about ordinary people who are finding ways to lead more sustainable and meaningful lives in European cities.

Climate leadership in the developing world

There is a level of political dynamism at the national level that seems all but absent from global negotiations. But what is particularly interesting about this growing trend is that it appears to be strongest in the developing world.

Greece is not Weimar

The insistence by the British commentariat on seeing Greece through the eyes of their own need for Eurozone breakdown is part of British pathology about Europe.

Meet the Somalis: choose a story

These are little stories, vignettes that offer unique insights into the every day struggles of Somali migrants living in the cities of Europe.

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