This week's editor

James Ron

James Ron hosts this week's openGlobalRights theme: public opinion and human rights.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Benefit cap: a divide-and-rule tactic

26K per family in hand-outs is the limit. Reasonable, isn't it? How else do we get Britain off benefits? A Citizens Advice Bureau adviser gives her views from the ground.

Still fatally flawed – the proposed NHS for England

David Cameron should respect the evidence and stop the unamendable Health and Social Care Bill, says former health minister Lord David Owen

Liberty is at stake: Commons, Lords and the Welfare Reform Bill

If the claim to financial privilege over the Welfare Reform Bill stands, little stops the Coalition from forcing through a broad range of laws. Say goodbye to checks and balances! Scrutiny, farewell!

Exceptionalism as an excuse in Europe’s crisis

This crisis is being used by the national leaders to push the EU down the wrong institutional path, namely intergovernmentalism. The British Tory-led government veto played a role in this, pushing the other member states down the only road that remained available to them, an intergovernmental treaty, but it did so on already ‘fertile ground’.

So who will speak for a better Scotland?

The debate over the Scottish independence referendum plays into the old labels: unionism versus nationalism. Scotland needs to reach beyond these and ask difficult questions if there is to be real change.

China’s big bet on green industry – and how it might green the world

After the failure of Durban, a promising plan B to reducing carbon emissions rests upon green development industrial strategies being pursued by individual countries. And here China is in the vanguard.

Britain won’t have a good society until we revive the ‘public interest’

The pressure group Compass is taking action to place the public interest back at the heart of Britain. Joe Cox of the group's campaigns team reports on their latest event, a citizen's assembly.

Is there such a thing as ethical capitalism?

In response to a growing realisation that neo-liberal capitalism is morally and literally bankrupt, Britain’s political leadership have provided three visions of ethical capitalism for us to aspire to. So, is there such a thing as ethical capitalism? And why is this question being asked now?

Less bank-bashing, more action: time to Move Your Money!

A call is going out to every British citizen who wants the financial sector to clean up their act. Move your money from the big banks to local, ethical or mutual alternatives and send them a message in a language they'll understand.

‘Epic Win’ for Anonymous? Hacktivism and the 99%

The Anonymous 'V for Vendetta' mask is an icon of the Occupy movement. But how does this band of deviant web pirates fit with the Occupiers ethics of responsibility, transparency and democracy? Cole Stryker's new book goes some way to deconstruct the generalisations.

The hole at the heart of the Labour Party

Ed Miliband’s sortie against Stephen Hester and City bonuses is a sign of life in Labour. But Labour’s position on the benefit cap reveals a deep-seated weakness.

The English conversation has finally begun. What took so long?

Englishness is finally finding a voice, after more than a century. Why has it been muted this long, and is it time now for a strong civic nation, or will an England of blood and soil emerge?

Another summit, another bleak day for European democracy

The new 'fiscal compact' treaty agreed at Monday's summit aims to take vital economic policy choices out of the reach of democratic decision-making. Beyond that, there is no new thinking, nothing to stimulate growth, nothing to give some hope to the 23 million unemployed – and those who will join them as the recession deepens.

How to create political space for climate action?

Greener politics should fit with more social politics. But as environmental policies have emerged in the neoliberal era, they have been shaped by it. Those fighting for a greener world must look beyond these narrow policies, to help create the pre-conditions necessary for radical change.

The long haul of solitary death: Michel Houellebecq and the decline of western sexuality

A prophet-provacateur faithful to French traditions of lucidity, sensuality, and alienation, Houellebecq believes we are all doomed. The Map and the Territory continues his great project of exposing the limits of individualism.

Scotland needs a One Question Referendum. It is that simple!

The Scottish independence referendum may be more than a question of 'in' or 'out'. Would a third option - devo max - empower the people through more choice, or muddy the waters?

The flaws of Capitalism - and how to fix them

In the run-up to Davos 2012, Martin Wolf has outlined some essential aspects of an overhaul of Capitalism. But does he go far enough, or do we need a more holistic approach? Which points is he missing? openDemocracy writers reflect on the flaws of Capitalism.

What “Great Transformation”?

Martin Wolf’s suggestions for an overhaul of our economic system are sensible, but fundamentally insufficient for the Great Transformation we need.

The social union between Scotland and the UK: how would it fare with independence?

Crucial to the argument for Scottish independence is the idea that leaving the political union of the United Kingdom will not mean leaving the social union. But what is this 'social union'?

The shock-and-awe of mega sports events

How mega sporting events bring the logic of war to host-city governance. The example of the football World Cup in South Africa highlights how security for mega-events has become a self-reinforcing feedback loop between state and corporate sector, taking the analogy between Sport and War another step closer

Jimmy Wales or Kim Dotcom - is anti-SOPA about fundamental principles or competing commercial interests?

In this podcast, Tony Curzon Price talks to Albert Wenger, partner at Union Square Ventures, the venture capital fund behind a lot of the most innovative and visible web companies of today, to try to understand: is anti-SOPA activism more about principle or about the competing interests of big Tech vs. big Entertainment

A little rebellion, now and then...

Martin Wolf recognizes many of the ills of our existing economic arrangements, but his solutions involve little more than tinkering.

How should 'political England' be recognised?

England has a political identity, but how can this be given an expression? English votes for English laws? An English Parliament? Let the discussion of practical solutions begin.

Britain needs a transformative budget

Britain is on the brink of a double-dip recession. She needs to begin the fundamental reshaping of her political economy... and this is where I'd start.

New faces of nationalism

Around the globe, new forms of governance are being sought to counter-balance the hyper-empire of global capitalism. Scotland is developing its own resistance, could England follow suit?

Hidden from view, debarred from debate - EU report on arms exports

The report attempts to collate data on 2010 weapons sales by EU member countries. Western Europeans were the biggest arms exporters. The biggest customers were the repressive regimes of the Middle East and North Africa who collectively bought 8.3 billion Euros worth of arms.

Travelling on duty

If Martin Wolf remained true to his analysis, he would endeavour to explain the win-win-situation of an internationalisation of some taxation in order to regain national tax sovereignty and provide for the appropriate means to generate more equality effectively.

What happened to the greening of capitalism?

Martin Wolf has presented a provocative diagnosis of the current flaws found in capitalism. Unfortunately, he has nothing to say about the biggest issue of all – how to transform capitalism so that it does not continue to destroy the planet.

Dear Mr Wolf… Reflections for the Magic Mountain

Can Davos 2012 offer real alternatives or will it serve up a smiling, gritted-teeth espousal that ‘business as usual’ can and should be sustained?

Who got left behind? How rising inequality is affecting countries across the G20

The correlation between economic growth and inequality is not as strong as many would like to believe. Combating inequality can, in fact, lift the poor out of extreme poverty, but this can happen in countries with only modest growth.

Mega dams: campaigning against the plans of the Indian government

In demonstrations barely reported in the media, peasants and students in the Northeastern Indian state of Assam are fighting together against a proposed gargantuan network of dams across the upper reaches of its rivers in Arunachal Pradesh, one of the world’s six most seismically active regions. The movement has gathered impressive momentum against a project that threatens devastating environmental, demographic and socio-economic impact.

A political economy fit for purpose: what the UK could learn from Germany

Is the UK wants to diversify its economy and stem rising inequalities it could learn a few tricks from the German model: do away with narrow-minded anti-union attitudes and restore the link between finance and industry

OccupyLSX, unruly politics and subversive ruliness

Any social movement that challenges the state but leaves streets unsafe and refuse uncollected will rapidly lose legitimacy. The trick is to undermine power by exposing its hypocrisy and to make new rules in the process of unruly contestation.

Is Britishness a generous thing, or has it damaged England?

The Daily Telegraph's Peter Oborne and Scottish writer Neal Ascherson discuss national identity in light of the approaching referendum on Scottish independence.

EU democracy in crisis: mired in a perfect storm or rebounding?

If the heart of the crisis lies in the politics – including in the politics of the economic policy choices being made – then solutions may lie, not in yet more EU institutional changes and the creation of an austerity union, but in the practice and the dynamism of democratic European politics. But a certain tradition of creating a theoretically more democratic Europe for the people even if they do not seem to want it has deep roots in the EU elites. So far, this hasn't worked.
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