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

‘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?

We live in revolutionary times ... but what does this mean?

Encouraged by the Spanish movement for ‘Real Democracy Now!’, the Occupy network and above all the Arab Awakening, Anthony Barnett asks what revolution might actually mean in the developed democracies of the West. This is his foreword to the new edition of Raymond Williams' "The Long Revolution"

Science and the corporate university in Britain

The instrumentalisation of research and successive governments' preoccupation with 'impact' have gradually eroded the independence of British academia. Business and politics alike are narrowing funding and skewing outcomes.

The search for an alternative to trad Labour: the cul-de-sacs of Marxism Today and Tommy Sheridan

Two apparently very different books, The Tommy Sheridan Story and Pearmain's The Politics of New Labour, both recount the search for left alternatives in Britain.

This sorry display of self-interest brings shame on the UK parliament

Even after the expenses scandal shook parliament to its core, many British MPs are still putting greed before duty.

Chinese companies under scrutiny in Zimbabwe

Ten years into the Look East policy, Zimbabwe is showing itself to be a not-so-satisfied customer of Chinese investment.

Threat to opportunity: the new logic of climate policy

In the clutches of recession, the Ryanair chief executive may now breathe a sigh of relief as binding emission reductions seem further off than ever before. Now, the only thinkable solutions to climate change are those which also provide an immediate, tangible boost to economic growth. But can market logic provide the solution to this ever-escalating crisis?

The courage of Cheran: organizing against violence

Mistrust in government systems of rule has led the town of Cherán in Mexico to create its own institutions. The community faces many challenges, not the least of which is the non-violent defence of their people in an area where armed gangs are a constant threat.

The new director of the London School of Economics must put students first

Following the resignation of financial man Howard Davies, the appointment of radical academic Craig Calhoun as director could signal a sea change for the London School of Economics, hopes a Student Union sabbatical officer.

Should the head of a top UK university be overseeing NHS privatisation on the side?

The track record and ideology which won Malcolm Grant the chair of the Health Minster's NHS Commissioning Board are the very same reasons students have rejected his leadership of University College London.

Rape and the Occupy movement

Failure to take collective responsibility for rapes at camp sites springs from the ideological tension at the heart of the Occupy movement's twin emphases on autonomy and group action as 'the 99%'. An injection of feminist politics is sorely needed.

Flee the state, don't seize it! A response to the idea of 'citizen politicians' in UK government

A response to the idea of transforming British politics through citizens entering parliament for one-term only.

Nationalism casts a shadow over European democracy

It is nation states that have emasculated European institutions. What is often branded as the ‘national interest’ is nothing but a justification for the pursuit of internal politics.

Time is up for awkward customer, Greece

Such complex situations cannot be resolved satisfactorily by only addressing numerical data or even the historic socio-economic and geopolitical factors that underpin them, without some understanding of the mindsets of the people involved. A reply to Vassilis Fouskas.

Worlds apart: Fight Back! and The Purple Book compared

Two anthologies emanating from the broadly defined British left have wildly different conceptions of progress and democracy. One celebrates protest while the other refuses to stray from the narrow confines of existing political debate.

A scorecard from Busan: did the High Level Forum contribute to aid effectiveness in conflict-affected countries?

The high ambition of getting global agreement tends to lead to an unambitious convergence on the least demanding positions and commitments. How did Busan fare?

Scrooge employers are Britain's real welfare cheats

A new report reveals pockets of extreme poverty among young working-age adults, including those who have jobs. Barbara Gunnell on how a low-wage economy punishes us all.

A hardening of hearts: British social attitudes in the recession

The latest British Social Attitudes survey makes depressing reading for those who believe in social justice - and New Labour's clandestine approach to pursuing it must take the blame. Ed Miliband will struggle to convince the sceptical public.

Scotland and the crisis of the British and European Unions: How do we democratise?

How does the debate on Scottish independence fit into the wider economic crisis and the conflation of 'economics' with 'business'? Gerry Hassan considers what an independent Scotland might look like and how its democracy could function.

The five follies of David Cameron

Perhaps now, as the eurozone and the entire EU struggles to survive, there will have to be a serious debate in the UK about the EU.

Occupy: you can’t evict an idea

The Occupy movement has changed the national conversation in America, and challenged the rightward tilt of the political landscape with its clear message that wealth inequality is incompatible with democracy, says Ruth Rosen

Wars of Decline: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya

This article assesses the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya in terms of their legality, their consequences - local, regional and global - and their impact. It describes the growing impotence of western powers in reshaping global politics by force. Rather, it argues, the flawed application of organised violence as a tool in the defence and projection of western power has dissolved the grandiose project of the ‘American century.’

Mexico's parallel worlds

It is strange how you have to go abroad to see the ability of wildly divergent realities to persist, side-by-side, as if nothing were more natural.

India’s proliferating relations with Africa

India’s demand for resource security, potential trade and investment opportunities and a strategic partnership with the African Union is similar to that of China; but the approach that each nation has taken is rather different.

How far have Human Rights advanced when poverty is so widespread?

If the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, then societies everywhere have cause to be ashamed. In a changing and dramatically unequal world, the global human rights system must prove its worth, says Vijay Nagaraj

Merkel and Sarkozy are proposing a catastrophe that will destroy the left across Europe

The entire continent is being steered towards disaster - for the sake of economically nonsensical policies that benefit only the banks while decimating societies.

Audio: Anthony Barnett discusses the rise of social movements in 2011

Audio: Founder of openDemocracy, Anthony Barnett, discusses the Occupy movement and its antecedents on Resonance FM show Novara hosted by Aaron Peters.

England, Scotland and the North: a view from 'flyover country'

With Scotland on the road to further devolution if not independence, and the cuts set to deepen, its time to talk about the oft-forgotten North of England.

Why the ‘Arab Spring’ hasn’t reached Sudan

What is it about the nation in Libya and Egypt’s own backyards, which in the face of poorer and worsening conditions, continues to be characterised by a culture of complacency?

UK arms sales to Libya - stop, start, stop and start again

The UK's Campaign Against Arms Trade wants to see an immediate stop on arms sales to repressive regimes, the closure of UKTI DSO and an end to all taxpayer support for the arms industry.

The Bahrain ‘Spring’: the revolution that wasn’t televised

Bahrain needs to set about the hard work of healing societal cleavages, to build the truly sovereign and democratic country which the majority of its citizens appear so determined to achieve. If their much-touted ‘democracy promotion’ rhetoric is to have any real significance, western governments must help rather than hinder this process.

Towards a Red-Green People’s Europe

The president of PASOK and of the Socialist International addressed the German Green party in an audience including Dany le Vert and Cem Özdemir, the first son of Turkish guest workers to enter mainstream German politics, in Kiel on November 25. This is the text of his speech – a tour de horizon of the key elements of an alternative, democratic People’s Europe which he says just needs some time to re-occupy.
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