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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Why the UK has no foreign policy

In the absence of any political lead either from their UK masters or their indirect US ones, the UK's foreign office diplomats are left with little direction to exercise real clout, and no role, even on a realpolitik basis, to play in a changing and challenging world.

Anti-representative democracy and oligarchic capture

The super-rich have captured the electoral-representative institutions of contemporary democratic regimes. The ideal of anti-representative democracy can help us understand and counter this phenomenon.

Forget about taming or disarming Hamas: cut it a deal it can’t refuse

Reactions to the 2014 Gaza war in Europe and the US are more polarised than hitherto. A radical solution that places Hamas at the centre of negotiations is worth consideration, if only to escape further time wasting on already defunct or moribund formulations. 

Revise Iraq to save it

The new PM, known hardliner against Sunnis and Kurds, has been a staunch supporter of Maliki policies. Iraq’s jigsaw puzzle, forced together by the power of empires and ruthless dictators, cannot be governed from a central location without widening its rifts irreversibly.

Attacks on Jews and the authoritarian tide in Europe

As the war on Gaza continues, we should analyze the attacks on Jews and their property in Europe differently from how we view the masses of people taking to the streets in protest against that war.

Turkey's new Caliph: understanding Erdoğan's hegemony

Erdoğan’s authoritarian and arrogant response to protests confirms his opponents’ fears that he is seeking to make himself a strongman ruler in the mould of Vladimir Putin, who also swapped being Prime Minister for President.

Under pressure: convergence against Agenda 21 in the Tea Party and Occupy movements

Uninformed public and low community participation have been the result of unsuccessful top down institutional approaches to implementing sustainable development plans, without incorporating local networks for cooperation mechanisms.

Modi's energy revolution

India's economy and business climates continue to be hindered by the inability to provide sustainable and reliable electricy. But Modi has the opportunity to finally power India.

Power to the people: an open letter to Arvind Kejriwal

In 2013, openDemocracy published Pradeep Baisakh’s interview with Arvind Kejriwal, charting his transition from Gandhian social activist to politician. One year on, Baisakh writes an open letter to the leader of the Aam Admi party, urging him to once again take up Gandhian principles.

A select #IndyRef glossary (for voters, bloggers, writers and tweeters)

"When it comes to 18 September we need to know whereof we speak. It helps us to see through the hyperbole and obfuscation that abounds in the debate."

International legal obligation to end trade with settlements

If the political will to bring about justice and peace is lacking, the answer lies in international law. Ending state trade with Israeli settlements is not an economic sanction, but a legal obligation.

Default or not default? That is the (Argentine) question...

Argentina's president, Cristina Kirchner, refuses to accept that the country has defaulted on its debts. But her denial can only make things worse.

A Trojan horse?: China in Latin America

The Chinese presence in Latin America has blossomed since the 1990s, from iron mining in Peru to multi-million dollar oil deals with Argentina. The long-term considerations of the region’s best interests, as China acquires ever more of its natural wealth, is an urgent question.

You can add us to equations but they never make us equal: participatory budgeting in Boston

How would you spend one million dollars of public money? From a house made of bacon to public WiFi booths, deliberating over budgets can be a transformative experience. 

What do we talk about when we talk about creativity?

Neoliberal logics are increasingly being applied to the ways in which we talk about ‘creativity’. The new dogma of ‘creativity’, far from ushering in an age of horizontalised power structures, masks powerful processes of elite capture and capitalist development.

A new, Eurasian, world order

China and Russia are at the heart of the world's shifting power-balance. But current cooperation between them is likely to give way to tension.

If politics abandons human rights

In 1999, the EU embarked on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, not recognising that, left to their own devices, the judges would ultimately be overcome by the material forces and zeitgeist that put the interests of the markets before the rights of individuals.

Cutting the Gordian knot: the corporate-government nexus

If the brave students of the Otpor movement can take on a totalitarian regime, then we can take a couple of hours out of our week.

The fog of war: it is hard to think about peace

A number of parties seem to have been complicit in the failure of the politics to prevent this latest round of deadly fighting in Gaza. In such a climate, one can be motivated to damage one’s enemy rather than to protect one’s own best interest.

Remembering a younger Paul Hirst, and beyond

A tribute to an intellectual mentor and great friend to openDemocracy.

The Zapatista Women’s Revolutionary Law as it is lived today

This essay on the Zapatistas’ Women’s Revolutionary Law twenty years on, draws on Zapatista women’s reflections, together with a decades-long engagement with indigenous feminism and Zapatismo. Engaging difference through respect rather than negation can also move us beyond impasses within contemporary feminism, political theory, and rights-based activism. 

Defending political autonomy – or: Habermas on Europe

Habermas likes to regard 'national solidarity' based on 'national identity' as a stage in the development of solidarity. It is just a step towards the mutual beneficence and trust that is based, not on imagined histories, but on actual mutual participation in political deliberation and decision-making.

Can the bottom-up actions of citizens regenerate democracy in Europe?

The digital revolution has strengthened the ability of large organisations to arrange production in ways that weaken collective resistance, and to control and keep watch on our societies. But those who understand the dual role of this revolution also see possibilities for the regeneration of democracy, while acknowledging the great challenges.

The stadium of struggle: when capital masquerades as football

International football has been drastically reworked by global capital over the last three decades into a site of immense inequity. The hypocrisies of the recent World Cup urge us to see how the space of football, led by the forces of capital, is now ripe for insurrection.

Beyond vulture economics

The current situation is not based on bad faith or capriciousness. The reality is simply that an economically shaky country does not have the money in its coffers to pay off the scores of private investors who took advantage of the country in a weak moment.

Gender and poverty in the UK: Inside the household and across the life course

Unravelling the components of couples’ incomes and investigating individual trajectories over the life course are essential to produce a more rounded and complete picture of the links between gender and poverty, says Fran Bennett. 

Egypt's government by bullying

The farcical convictions of three Al-Jazeera journalists are mafia-style warnings that there is no safety in the law, western governments, or in the international media. Egypt’s new army regime is attempting to intimidate domestic opposition and cow its western backers.

Ethiopia : a leadership in disarray

It may be that, in Ethiopia, history is so powerful that the past permeates the present, and it repeats itself. In this case, what we see today is simply another interregnum between two powerful men.

New shots heard 'round the world

A somewhat bleak survey of American democratic prospects for this American Independence Day begins by reminding us what America was meant to be all about. 

Socratic citizenship in twenty-first century Europe

Here we have the formulation of the political aspect of ‘care for the soul’, the extension of this striving for truth into the realm of politics. This, according to Patočka, is the Greek heritage of Europe.

Brazil’s divided society: a legend of good and bad gangsters

A few weeks before the World Cup kicked off, reports began to appear in the international press about violent riots in the cities of Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro - events at one and the same time bizarrely normal and something new. 

The illusion of opportunity: the "global city" revisited

Theorising the "global city" must now account for the increasing scale of income inequality, socio-economic segregation and sharply disjunctive living conditions which characterize those global urban spaces created by wealth, industry and innovation.

The Arab millennials will be back

Like much of the rest of the Arab Spring, the urge of the millennial generation across North Africa and the Middle East for a more multicultural world seems far from realization, but they have put it on a future Arab agenda. Its moment will return.

Argentina vs the international financial system

The extended legal fallout of Argentina's default in 2001 is reaching a crucial stage, with realism now at a premium.

Forecasting India-Japan ties under Modi and Abe

India's newly elected prime minister Narendra Modi and Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe enjoy a friendship which signals increasing co-operation and integration of both nations' economic and defense plans in a new regional strategic partnership. 

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