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Constitutional conventions: best practice

Be it ever so humble!

Forget “Home, Sweet Home”. The British government’s bedroom tax humbles families in social housing, depriving them of the dignity to call their home their own, forcing many of them to move and driving some into homelessness.

Bonjour Tristesse

French parliamentarians – left or right, including the Socialist Speaker of the House – stick tooth and nail to their perks. The opposition is crying out against what they call being taken back to the times of Robespierre's “Terror” under the French Revolution.

Why Greece failed

How different is Greece? The beginning of wisdom about the current Greek crisis is to recognize that it is fundamentally political, and that it has been long in the making. Greece’s failure is the outcome of a long process during which populism prevailed over liberalism and became hegemonic in society.

The Front National’s new clothes

Last year, Marine Le Pen came third in the French presidential elections, following a campaign seeking to de-demonise the party and make it more attractive to a broader electorate. While it is arguable whether her strategy was entirely successful, the changes made may well have long-term consequences.

The 'Patriot' Prime Minister

It is time to disassociate Thatcher from liberty. Look at her era of repressing dissent, protest and freedom of expression. She must not go down in history as a 'champion of freedom and democracy'. 

The Eurozone crisis: what way forward?

The simple truth unpalatable to Eurozone authorities is that small peripheral EU economies and even big economies like Spain and Italy, are victims, not designers of the liberalised financial architecture that was built way back in 1992, repeating earlier twentieth century failed experiments that led to financial crisis, immiseration and war.

The Cyprus 'bail-in' blunder: a template for Europe?

The justification for the ‘rescue’ plan for Cyprus appears reasonable: taxpayers should not have to pay for the costly mistakes of bankers and ‘tax havens’ should be eliminated. But the ‘bail-in’ plan does not achieve these objectives.

From heart attacks to maternal care: the human cost of austerity in Greece

In Greece, austerity has caused more than just tear gas usage to rise. Heart attacks have spiked in the republic, in line with the economic crisis in the Eurozone.

No country for wise men

From PM Monti's technocracy to President Napolitano's ten 'wise men', Italy is turning to technical expertise to rescue it from political lethargy. But the rise (and fall) of Italy's technocrats only hides the chronic frictions between the country's political class and its educated – and forgotten – youth. 

Women, Scotland and the crisis in economics

Economics, still a male-dominated discipline, excludes many issues of relevance to women in Scotland. No wonder they are being hit disproportionately by austerity measures.

This week's window on the Middle East - April 8, 2013

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, Algerian activism: a new generation draws the line

Italy, where nothing is where it should be

Without a government at Palazzo Chigi, Italy’s politics has been displaced. And as the “Offshore Leaks” scandal has revealed, the country’s economy has meanwhile moved to tax havens.

Fall of Baghdad – 10 Years On

On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, former organiser in the Stop the War movement and Iraq hostage negotiator, Anas Altikriti, says Iraq has never been closer to a civil war.

Bank-money and the betrayal of democracy

In this speech given at the PSA conference in Cardiff, the author examines the history and theory of bank money - credit - from a democratic perspective. How did this strange fraud come to be established under law?

The debate over Scotland’s future: do women care?

What does the gender gap in attitudes towards independence tell us about Scottish women, their political attitudes and changing roles in society? This piece looks back to Gerry Hassan's article 'Mind the Gap' and gives a very different verdict.

Scotland, citizenship and choice: the deep constitution

How would a Yes or No vote in the referendum affect the everyday lives of Scots? The question of the Scottish constitution goes far beyond the domain of institutional relations. Crucial to this is the shape and nature of the welfare state envisioned. This is the second piece in the debate series 'Restating Scotland'. 

Anarchists and republicans: bedfellows?

Are republicans simply underdeveloped anarchists? An exploration of the relationship between two political theories and their conceptions of freedom and domination.

A dramatic intervention

Of course, American support for costly drama is welcome, and helps keep the UK in the game, but the fact is that US-commissioned drama is simply in a different league.

Alexis Tsipras - between radicalism and realism

According to Tsipras, one choice is available to Europe today: either persist in the neoliberal impasse, or choose democracy.

Restating Scotland: beyond the containment of austerity

Scotland is resisting the attack on British welfare, but blocking policy can only do so much. Scotland needs an examination and restatement of its distinct civil society and institutions. This is the first piece in the ‘Restating Scotland’ debate series.

This week's window on the Middle East - April 1, 2013

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, Understanding Somalia

What if they held a constitutional convention and everybody came?

Across Britain a variety of people and alliances are seeking to respond to Westminster's strategy of economic austerity and political stasis, and calls are made for both a constitutional convention and a People's Assembly. Can they unite economic protest with change to the political system itself?

Cyprus crisis: swan-song of the Eurozone

Harsh measures imposed on Cypriot political and financial authorities to address bank failures reveal, once again, that the entire architecture of the EU is in tatters. The geopolitics surrounding the Greek Cypriot crisis is pulling the EU further apart and into the unknown.

Freedom and meaningful work: an exploration

Many of us have resigned ourselves to domination in the workplace. This is an outrage. 'Meaningful work' is not only an achievable goal for all, a socialised mutual economy is beginning to emerge that may be one step towards this ideal.

UK becomes world's second largest outsourcing market

Stuart Weir responds to news that the UK is now second only to America as an outsourcing market. The UK's "new enclosure movement" is fast transforming the British state into one marked by foodbanks and 'toll booths'.

Syria: freedom is economics too

Before any elections, the first stone will have already been laid - with reconstruction. On which policies will Syria be rebuilt? Which checks and balances will be organized around an international aid campaign driven by vested interests? Who will plan it? What can work, and what doesn't, in Syria?

Workfare and the state of exception

The retrospective legalisation of workfare has deprived rightful claimants of £130 million. Alongside the lives wrecked in its wake, the ‘emergency’ legislation has exposed a chasm at the heart of Britain's parliamentary democracy.

Reaction: change this change

Will the new Syria be any better than what the new Palestine proved to be? Annalena di Giovanni responds to the conversation between Fawaz Gerges, Rosemary Hollis and Robin Yassin-Kassab.

The Syrian irony for Turkey

Before the uprising, Erdoğan and Davutoğlu tried to turn Damascus and Aleppo into safe market havens. Perhaps Turkey still expects eventually to have the lion's share in a future reconstructed Syria, but the ruling AKP party may pay a high price for its regional policies.

Share the pie

A new social contract is needed in Syria. The Syrian people need to be treated like adults, individuals who are empowered to partake in the social, political and economic future of their country.

Solving the Syrian riddle

The only Arab country where protests started from rural areas might find itself facing an internationally funded reconstruction which will award money to urban centres, thus abandoning the very roots of the current crisis. The only solution is to build economic awareness. Starting from now.

This week's window on the Middle East - March 25, 2013

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week, Israel and the vertical politics of interruptions

The second destruction: Syria and the upcoming reconstruction

The Syrian social movement has to be conscious of the necessity of establishing a just economy. Strong checks need to be built against the post-war government so that all Syrians understand the conditions of aid and consequences of reconstruction plans on their lives and the lives of their children.

The Cyprus Eurocrisis: the beginning of the end of the Eurozone?

EU accession in 2004 did little if anything to make runaway bankers accountable; on the contrary, the so-called institutional ‘independence’ of the Central Bank making the Governor accountable to the ECB rather than having any democratic accountability to the people who would be immediately affected, made the bankers more unaccountable.

The future of Europe: or how to burst the bubbles around our heads?

Choosing a new path for development based upon self-reflection only happens rarely in history. This would be impossible without a fundamental shift in the self-perception of the vast majority of Europeans, including the political and business elite, national political classes, intellectuals and academics, churches and religious communities.

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