This week's editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Ignoring Britain's poor is not only morally bad, it's economically unsound

If Britain wants her economy to recover, she needs to tackle poverty first, ensuring more people can realise their potential.

Islamism and secularism in Tunisia

In Tunisia at least, radical Salafism is not just a challenge to secularists: it’s also a challenge to moderate Islamists like Ennahda.

Why are Egyptians and the west surprised by the Islamists' victory in post-revolutionary Egypt?

What should liberals do to play any effective role in Egypt's post-revolutionary parliament? It is time to stop moaning and start acting

Goodbye, year of new movements: bring on 2012 and Occupy Everything

The editor of our Networked Society debate concludes the project by sharing his reflections on the last tumultuous year of global networked protest, making way for a new debate on the escalating Occupy Movement.

What would Scottish independence mean for the North?

Scotland will have its referendum before the end of 2014. Will independence, or further devolution, be good, bad or indifferent for the North of England?

Act now to defend Occupy London and the right to protest

The authorities are acting swiftly to outlaw protests of the kind seen outside St Paul's. Speak out now against this - because every piece of legislation that inhibits the right to peaceful protest is a blow to our democracy.

Budapest: thoughts on December 24

Government campaigns against the poor are nothing new in Hungary. But 2011 saw some unusual developments.

Part One: the alter-globalisation movement goes North

Part One of our conclusion to the Networked Society debate: Goodbye, year of new movements: bring on 2012 and Occupy Everything.

Dear Mr. Monti

You have a huge opportunity on your hands: responsibility and social justice can be brought back into the Italian system with sacrifice and good governance. Tackling political salaries and the duopoly of the television networks would be a good start

The beginning of the break-up of Britain?

Scotland's independence referendum will be held in Autumn 2014. Whatever the people decide, Scotland and the UK will never be the same again.

Part Three: reality management #fail

Part Three of our conclusion to the Networked Society debate: Goodbye, year of new movements: bring on 2012 and Occupy Everything.

And so?: Occupy Everything

The final part of our conclusion to the Networked Society debate: Goodbye, year of new movements: bring on 2012 and Occupy Everything.

Occupy: rediscovering the general will in hard times

Times of economic crisis call into question our systems of democracy. Today's global occupy movement is a call to reclaim the economy as a site of decision. To do so, we will need to rethink ourselves as political subjects.

High pay: what Machiavelli would have recommended a politician do

It's true that high pay for bosses serves no purpose except keeping them (and their headquarters) in the country. The only real solution is economic policy coordination. In its absence, Machiavelli would have been proud of the proposals and statements on display this new year in the UK

Where were you when Europe fell apart?

Too many Europeans have too long avoided the question of Europe. To prevent the EU from turning into a "post-democratic regime of bureaucrats", intellectuals need to stop mumbling and take their and our fear of Europe seriously

Structural funds and crocodile tears

Misdirected EU aid has strengthened rent-seeking elements in the Greek economy and fostered political clientelism, writes Iannis Carras. Instead of learning from mistakes, current EU/IMF policy favours construction and privatization of state land, enabled through a legal sleight of hand. Quite apart from the environmental risks, this is counterproductive in economic terms

From eastern Europe, lessons for Egypt’s newborn democracy

Ukraine and Georgia - two countries in a region undergoing dramatic change in the past two decades - can help Egypt examine the circumstances in which high aspirations do or do not lead to a successful transformation.

Is political Islam on the losing side of the Arab Spring ?

Islamic political narratives flourish in opposition but will suffer in the long term

In Place of Austerity: Reconstructing the economy, state and public services

When even ex-Blairites are turning their back on the doctrine of New Public Management, why do such policies still guide reform? Dexter Whitfield's new book asks how we got here, and what practical alternatives there are for the future.

Capital E Nationalism versus little e (and €) capitalism

To be a big player in Europe, England needs to be a big nation. Britain cannot fulfill that role because it is not a nation, but an empty shell.

The great Ethiopian land-grab: feudalism, leninism, neo-liberalism ... plus ça change

Land in Ethiopia is being leased to agro-industry investors on very long terms and below market rates. The beneficiaries have good political connections. But land has been the play-thing of centralising authoritarians throughout Ethiopia's recent history

Is inflation a good tax? Can we have an honest political discussion about it?

UK inflation at 5% is considered almost a victory by the economic managers of the nation. Yet it is a blunt instrument with strong redistributive effects. So what is a well-managed currency, and can we have an honest political discussion about it?

Risk: tricky stuff

If you are a banker what you want is risky, high interest rate loans without the risk... Sooner or later it follows that what the bankers need to do above all else is to elevate financial contracts above democracy.

Chronicle of a non-violent protest: Jobat, Madhya Pradesh (India)

For more than three weeks over 130 people have carried out the longest occupation of government-owned land ever registered in Madhya Pradesh (a state in central India).

In the shadows of globalisation: drug violence in Mexico and Central America

The wave of violence afflicting Mexico and the northern triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) is caused by three developments: changes in the global drug market, the effect of the war against organised crime and the international financial crisis, making the problem not just a criminal one.

Fumbling for change

If politics is “the art of the possible” then 2011 has left us, as artists, with suddenly a much larger canvas and a new palate of colours to choose from. This broadened scope requires of us a new capacity for imagination.

Time for Tax Transparency in the UK

In the wake of the PAC report on HMRC's failure to tax corporations fairly, what other solutions might there be to bridge Britain's £25bn "tax gap"?

Water in the Arab Spring

Water scarcity in the Middle East & North Africa is at the root of the region’s uprisings. In the coming years, it will also be the source of further social unrest across the region.

The UK and Europe: how much damage did Cameron's veto do?

Reactions are still rolling in, just over a week after Cameron's veto. Was it the tantrum of an 'obstinate kid'? Whatever reasons he had, he has relegated the UK to the sidelines of Europe.

How do we reform Britain's media? Proposals and your responses

A new committee has drawn up media reform proposals in the light of the Leveson Inquiry. We publish the CCMR's proposals, alongside responses from media experts and practitioners, and invite our readers to join in the debate.

How the crisis may puncture the GDP cult

Short-term economic growth has been Europe's guiding star since World War Two. It's time for a new horizon, before our lack of imagination leads us into ever deeper crisis.

‘Mr former Havel': the kind of politician we need

Warm memories pay tribute to Vaclav Havel who died today

Another road for Europe: a draft appeal

This draft appeal is launched by Rete@sinistra, Sbilanciamoci, il Manifesto and Lavoro e Libertà, who organised and spoke at the Florence Forum, ‘The way out. Europe and Italy, economic crisis and democracy’, bringing eight hundred people together to discuss 'our European alternatives' on December 9, 2011. The appeal, accompanied by its initial signatories, is undergoing discussion between several European civil society networks and groups, aiming at joint actions at the European level.

Is Ukraine heading East?

On the eve of an EU-Ukraine summit on December 19, Ukraine’s relations with Brussels are deteriorating. EU officials have warned that the detention of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is damaging Kiev’s hopes of signing an Association Agreement by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Ukraine is considering relinquishing a 50%-share of its pipelines to Russia for cheaper gas. David Marples looks at the possible political direction Ukraine is headed for in 2012.

The Long and the Quick of Revolution

This is the Raymond Williams Annual Lecture for 2011, coinciding with the publication of a new 50th anniversary edition of Raymond Williams’ The Long Revolution by Parthian Books, for which Anthony Barnett has written the foreword, also published here this week. In the lecture, he considers the potentially revolutionary events of the past year, starting with a double-democratic crisis in the ruling order, asking why now? and what kind of revolution is under way?

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