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This week's editor

Tom Rowley is editor of oDR.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Revolutionary France and the social republic that never was

After the 1830 revolution, French workers waited for the introduction of the republic into the heart of production. It never came. The struggle that ensued was to shape French politics during the Second Republic and after as republicans sought to reconcile work with the principle of non-domination.

2013 Italy elections: no winner, only losers

The run-up to the next national elections in Italy (to be held on 24/25 February) is marked by two trends that have already troubled the country's political life in the past years: fragmentation and political instability.

Ah la Françafrique!

The present crisis raises a number of crucial questions, for France, Mali, the EU and our globalised world.

Norman Tebbit exchange with John Mills - how to fix Britain's industry

John Mills and Norman Tebbit discuss Britain's approach to manufacturing, home-grown industry, foreign ownership of assets, the exchange rate, and re-examine the choices of former governments and how they have affected Britain's economy today.

Beyond carnival capitalism: London 2012 and its legacy of hope

London 2012 provided a key insight into the shifting relationships between global, national and local as residents with no material stake in the Games came together to participate in their success. How might the power of this already-existing ‘commons’ pave the way for an alternative legacy? 

The widow fears a coup

Did Kirchnerismo and the Argentinian opposition both betray their social ideals? An analysis of Latin American left populism (as well as the opposition movements) from a left wing perspective.

The real cost of benefit fraud in Britain

Honest mistakes, personal fraud, organised crime. Where does one end and the next begin?

Two cheers for the petite bourgeoisie

It's a class with few friends in Britain: dismissed by the left, and sidelined by liberals and conservatives chasing big business. But with the surge in self-employment, the state needs to recognise that the needs and demands of the petite bourgeoisie may be growing.

Time horizons of transformation: lessons from the German unification for the eurozone

The harmonisation of national economies inside the eurozone is essentially a clash of time horizons – the future might be bright, but the transformation process in hard-hit countries is painful, and unfair. What lessons should we draw from the historical example of German reunification?

A 'Fresh Start' for Britain in Europe?

A new manifesto, 'Fresh Start', has been published by a group of Conservative MPs proposing a new relationship between the UK and EU. The (not so hidden) agenda: sweeping away many of the rights that protect British workers from exploitation.

The power to 'create money out of thin air'

Understanding capitalism's elastic production of money and moving on beyond Adam Smith and 'fractional reserve banking' - Ann Pettifor reviews Geoffrey Ingham's Capitalism

Changes to the 'fitness to work' test sneaking under the radar

Changes to the contentious test designed to judge whether seriously sick or disabled people in Britain are fit for employment are being proposed without debate, despite evidence to show they will have a "huge and damaging impact".

Xi Jinping: a new kind of politician?

Just months into Xi Jinping’s tenure as Chinese Communist Party leader, one thing has become eminently clear – in both style and substance, Xi Jinping is no Hu Jintao. 

The welfare state is dead – what is rising from the grave?

The old welfare state cannot survive the global financial crisis. Beneath the Punch and Judy debate, what is the Coalition  putting in its place? And what is the alternative?

Falling through the cracks in Britain 2013

Strivers vs skivers. Last week saw a game show-like battle between our politicians over the proposed benefit cap. What do they know? Here, a Citizen's Advice Bureau adviser maps the predicament of Britain's dying welfare state through the lives of those living in the system.

Welfare debate marks opportunity to renew Beveridge’s legacy

Why has Britain's welfare state lost the popularity it once enjoyed? How can it regain this role and where does Labour fit in?

A warning and an invitation, to Europeans

On December 6, 2012, the Leader of France’s Left Front addressed a packed audience in the European Institute of University College, London on a progressive alternative to the human crises caused by today’s social relations, banking chicanery, political power and, against the background of another failed Kyoto, the far greater challenge of an adequate response to climate change.

The rise of Catalonia: unravelling the debate on Catalan independence

The Catalan separatists' greatest achievement was perhaps to change the terms of the debate on independence, from an essentially legal question to a myriad of political, economic and social interrogations. Is 'independence' really the answer to all of these questions?

The Near East: reflections on possible geopolitical futures

On December 30, 2012 the Iraqi Prime Minister openly accused Turkey of plotting to divide Iraq into three states. But what might be the unintended consequences of any such division?

Why the future of Greece lies in the rise of a new civil society and education

One of the biggest challenges for post-austerity Greece will be the rebuilding of a strong civil society. Future foundations are already being laid out through new and exciting citizen initiatives, but much is yet to be done.

This week's window on the Middle East - January 14, 2013

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Jordan’s economist king

An investment wonderland? Reality checks

Since the collapse of the USSR investors have flocked to Russia, tempted by the high rates of return and the Alice in Wonderland atmosphere in Moscow, where everything seems possible. But the Russian business community has rather less faith in the future promised them by their government, says Pavel Usanov

Resources: the coming crunch and some things that could be done about it

In the twentieth century the west’s boundless determination to extract ripped apart the social, political and cultural fabric of whole countries. Today, a century’s worth of price decline has been wiped out in a single decade, without reducing unprecedented levels of demand. 

The licence fee is a fetter on the BBC

The creative and journalistic ambitions of the BBC are held back by its dogmatic commitment to an ineffective and unethical funding mechanism. A subscription service would release creative energy and allow the BBC to fulfil its commitment to public service broadcasting all the better.

Beyond ambivalence: a vision of Europe

The British Prime Minister has vowed to negotiate a ‘new settlement’ on Britain and the EU.  In a debate on Europe with Sir Menzies Campbell, Nigel Farage and Peter Oborne, organised by the Cantor Index in the City of London on January 9, David Blunkett, Labour MP and former British Home Secretary (2001 – 2004) outlined his vision.

Russia’s pension impasse – is there a way out?

One way Vladimir Putin has retained his popularity among Russians has been by increasing retirement pensions and other social benefits, and as a result the state pension fund is deep in the red. But as Andrey Zaostrovtsev finds, Putin is more interested in keeping voters sweet than balancing the books (photo: RIA Novosti Agency).

Cycling through Reading or Kazakhstan: otherness is not what it seems

Rape in India, protest in China, manufacturing conferences in Manchester - we find it hard not to think in the categories of "first" and "third" worlds. But look elsewhere for the important differences

Russian consumerism: market boom chaos

The collapse of the USSR replaced the perennial shortages of goods and services with the problem of low incomes and rising prices. Today management is grossly inefficient, but rampant corruption blocks any moves to improve the situation. People complain, but they still vote as they’re told at elections, says Vladimir Gryaznyevich

Moving the MDG debate on

A failure to reconcile a concern for human development with genuine economic development will make the High Level Panel’s already difficult task much harder.

Czech nuclear power in the shadow of geopolitics

The upgrade of Temelin, a nuclear power station, has become the backdrop of a power struggle between the Unites States and Russia. Worryingly, a discussion on Czech energy policy is being silenced by the competition of foreign strategic interests.

Russia: an Oprichnik economy

Owning a business in Russia today is a hazardous affair: each year thousands of companies close after their owners are accused of ‘economic crimes’ and face either prison or protection payments to government officials. Andrey Zaostrovtsev describes a system reminiscent of an equally lawless period in Russia’s past (photo: RIA Novosti Agency).

If the god Janus were an economist, he would work for the IMF

The IMF may be quietly ackowledging the failures of stringent fiscal consolidation but much damage has already been done. With over a thousand economists and a wealth of evidence at their disposal a mea culpa is long overdue.

A countervailing power: an interview with Jan Pronk

We have to establish a world public power representative of all countries and all people within all countries. One cannot ‘think away’ individual countries as powers, or international companies and banks. But we need a countervailing power in the system. 

Whatever happened to Russia’s economic miracle?

The first eight years of the last decade were incredibly successful for Russia’s economy, but the crisis of 2008 hit hard and growth remains decidedly sluggish. Dmitry Travin wonders whether the country’s economy will ever be able to regain the Midas touch.

'Brexit': the Swiss model as a blueprint ?

With British Eurosceptics such as Boris Johnson openly calling for UK withdrawal from the EU, Switzerland has often been mentioned as the model to follow, for having gained access to the Market while retaining its national sovereignty and democratic rights. Yet, the Swiss-EU relationship is not without problems.

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