This week's editors

Darian Meacham, Europe the Very Idea team Francesco Tava, Europe the Very Idea team Darian Meacham and Francesco Tava introduce this week's theme: Old ideas for a new Europe.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

A French style “Tea Party”?

Every conceivable attempt to mobilise all the extremes has been used to beef up recent French demos. With some success.

A rising authoritarian wave

The de-regulation of financial capital threatens to bring us back to capitalist authoritarianism that flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. But this time it gathers strength with no strong popular movement in the United States or any European country to challenge it.

Dealing with corporate political power

The political deployment of corporate wealth has escaped not only the constraints of constitutional rules but even the debates over those rules. Doesn’t the removal of corporate decisions into the hands of judges and corporate lawyers challenge individual freedom as much as a ‘nanny state’?

#Iceland3: people who take food from bins should be applauded, not arrested

The British court case against three men who "skipped" food from Iceland supermarket has been dropped. But food waste, food banks, and corporate capitalism are the real political scandal.

South African youth complex: locating youth in a complicated youth-state relationship

Faced with high unemployment and widespread social ills, South Africa’s youth are ambivalent towards the state, and emerging as increasingly independent of it. What does this tell us about the present climate and possible outcomes of South Africa’s fast approaching elections?

Silence = death: Sarah Schulman on ACT UP, the forgotten resistance to the AIDS crisis

When the AIDS activist movement ACT UP was formed in New York in 1987, 50 per cent of Americans wanted people with AIDS quarantined, while 15 per cent favoured tattoos. An interview with Sarah Schulman on her film United In Anger: A History of ACT UP. 

Does Jordan need nuclear energy?

Nikita Malik

Jordan hopes to become self-reliant with the creation of two nuclear power plants. However, in the future, there are dual challenges in the form of cost and safety.

Welfare benefits are calculated by political objectives not empirical calculations

"Humans as persons of necessity exist in social relationships." Adequacy of Minimum Income Schemes is a debate that is gaining traction across the EU.

Regional integration in the Global South: triumph or grandstanding?

The fact that the benefits of global free trade are not particularly equitably shared across geographies is one of the reasons why regional integration has caught the fancy of leaders in the global South. 

Worldwide inequality

The advocates of market fundamentalism have sought to close down totally the intellectual space for enquiry and discourse. But a more just and humane model of development, based on equitable distribution of the world’s resources, is a viable alternative whose time has come.

A Cuban diary

Which way should Cuba look for its futurenorth or south? Or might it, through trial and error, find a different path that could have lessons for all of us?

East end boys and west end boys: does gentrification lead to homophobia?

Three men recently attacked my date and I in London's gay village Soho. They threw coins and shouted "faggot". I think gentrification partly prompted their resentment. 

Lebanon's shot at utopia

Understanding the shortcomings of Lebanon in the race for Mediterranean oil wealth. Just like Brazil, bad timing might cut the country’s dreams short.

Bahrain’s attempts at subsidy reform

The burden of debt is being pushed onto the shoulders of citizens, and so subsidy reform may tip the delicate balance of the political and economic impasse.

Is banking liberal?

The inability to distinguish between state currency and ‘bank money’ we have today is unjust and profoundly illiberal.

Changes in democratic Argentina: 1983 to the present

The ability of Argentine democracy to tackle reforms when they appear both overdue and feasible, instead of attempting them all at once, might yet come to be regarded as constituting one of its hidden strengths. 

Contemporary challenges in medicines access

One of the most recent advances has been to successfully advocate for the adoption of a Socially-Responsible Licensing policy on intellectual property (including therapeutic agents) developed by University College London, the latest in a series of public research institutions to do so.

The politics of numbers in the age of austerity

The inherent power of numbers explains why all sorts of data, good or bad, can become a potent weapon to shape complacency and subservience in society.

France and the European balance of power

Hollande holds historic responsibility as the French president who, for lack of political courage, marked the end of the balance that has governed Europe for sixty years. And maybe even for being the gravedigger of the Parti Socialiste and French social democracy.

Not everybody’s business: corporate crowding into the tents of global governance

As invitation-only Davos gets under way, our public space and politics shrink that little bit more across the globe. Rolling back state authority will turn today’s accountability gap into a yawning abyss.

The golden age of journalism? 


It took the arrival of the twenty-first century to turn the journalistic world of the 1950s upside down and point it toward the trash heap of history. So when was the golden age?

Between exit and voice: refugees' stories from Lampedusa to Hamburg

European politics currently serves to reinforce the ‘Fortress’, leaving refugees vulnerable and futureless, battling a system which is waging war against them. But 'Lampedusa in Hamburg' demonstrates that civil society can work effectively with migrants for their rights to a safe existence.

Egypt: return of the deep state

With the referendum the military secures its privileges, but its main challenge is the economic crisis.

Violence visited on Cambodian garment workers

Cambodian garment workers make around $80 a month, taking on long hours of overtime in harsh conditions. Now workers across the country are standing up for themselves to demand more—but the fight for a better wage in Cambodia is a dangerous one. At least four garment workers were killed this month during a crackdown on protesters demanding a decent wage from the government and international clothing companies. This video shows the workers who are standing up—and the violence consistently employed to keep them quiet.

Giant banks play Russian roulette with our future

Governments – particularly in the United States and the European Union – must start showing the intestinal fortitude to stand up against the banks. 

European austerity seeds governance alternatives

‘If representative democracy is only to choose every four, or five, or six years the person who’s going to do everything they want without taking popular will into account... we are in a sort of trap and I think that’s certainly the case today for Europe and elsewhere.’

What's a woman worth?: wages and democracy in Cambodia

In demanding higher wages, Cambodian women are refusing the status of the proverbial “second-class (global) citizen,” undervalued and over-determined by gender discrimination. If men take over the frontline of the movement, they will de facto doom its greatest potential in raising wages, along with women’s status and worth. Read in French, Spanish.

Trouble in Austeria

Can the EU still be rescued following its disastrous failure to tackle the economic crisis? 

South Korea: rail workers, repression and resistance

An almost unreported strike in South Korea, which has just come to an end, epitomises how a ‘free’ market can be incompatible with the liberty of workers to defend their own security.

Iran deal: the view from Saudi Arabia

Iran’s adoption of an actively conciliatory foreign policy has set the stage for Iranian-Saudi cooperation and for further developments to take place.

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.

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