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This week's editor


Guest editor Ronan Harrington introduces this week's theme: Spirituality and Visionary Politics.

Ronan is a freelance political strategist and co-creator of Alter Ego, a gathering exploring the future of progressive politics.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The politics behind the bazaar demonstration in Iran

 If there is one thing that can save the present Islamist regime and bring together all the Principlists, fundamentalists, and Islamic guards, it is another disastrous war in the Middle East, the attack on Iran threatened by Israel and the US.

CLEAN IT: the secret EU surveillance plan that wasn’t

There are elements in Europe who would dearly like to see the CLEAN IT wish list put into practice (including from the law enforcement community, the industries that serve it, and the European Commission), but we must distinguish between transnational talking shops, EU working groups and draft EU policy.

Calling for democracy from behind closed doors

Of course, bringing all of the passengers onto the Captain's bridge wouldn't have saved the Titanic. But the current situation in Europe is closer to having all the first class passengers fighting over how to steer the wheel, while those in second and third class jump off the ship in disgust.

Icelandic constitution on the way

After Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008, Icelandic citizens wanted a plan to clean up the island’s political system. A new draft constitution, written by a council of ordinary people, was handed over to the parliament. And on 20 October, all Icelanders will be asked for their opinion in a consultative referendum.

A ‘Coalition of the Rational’ on immigration? What would we do to make that happen?

At a fringe meeting of Labour’s Party Conference last week, the shadow minister for immigration Chris Bryant MP said a “coalition of the rational” was a prerequisite of serious and rational debate about migration. Was that just an adlibbed comment at an obscure gathering? Or something more promising? Don Flynn, director of Migrants’ Rights Network, explores the notion.

This week's window on the Middle East - October 8, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Helping the domestic helper

Whither Turkish democracy?

Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian civil war is not desired by Turkish civil society, but this it seems is the price you have to pay if you wish to be an economically and politically stable regional power.

Re-imagining Europe: re-imagining democracy

People across Europe are critiquing the morality of the political and economic system. Globalisation has helped to engineer an empty democracy, with political-economic processes depoliticised and decisions made by experts. And what of the European dream? “Whoever can understand it, that is ‘the movement’." A Subterranean Politics roundtable discussion.

Rearticulating the movement post-15M in Spain

On September 15 in Madrid, over one hundred thousand people answered the unions’ call to demand a referendum on austerity. In both its aims and its format, this action confirmed that the trade unions have been influenced by the 15M movement.

Deadlock for Catalonia and Spain

Fortuna, the crisis, gave Artur Mas, Catalonia’s Premier, the Machiavellian occasione for a jump forward towards full (?) national sovereignty. This is not the message that we need to hear in these turbulent times.

Palestinians escaping Syria find little relief in Lebanon

People whose lives have been decimated by conflict should receive as much assistance as we can give them. Yet Palestinian refugees from Syria, escaping the same violence, destruction and dangers and seeking the same protection, relief and refuge as their Syrian counterparts, are being excluded on grounds of nationality.

Experiments in democracy and diversity within the Occupy Movement(s)

Horizontal democracy attempts to ensure equality by embracing diversity and conflict. Within these political structures, diversity is not a problem that needs to be resolved: there is no narrative of uniformity, no shared identity (national or otherwise) and no predetermined ideology.

They all want Monti longer... because they all fear Beppe Grillo's revolution!

In Italy, a consensus is slowly building around a second term for Mario Monti's technocratic government – but could this have less to do with national unity in economically difficult times than with political elites in a last-ditch defence against the threat of Beppe Grillo's populism?

Let's welcome the enmity of bankers

What caused Britain's and the USA's financial crash? What is its legacy? How to deal with the consequences? David Potter, who built the global, hi-tech company Psion, and then served on the Bank of England when the crash began, addresses these questions with the exceptional authority of a businessman amongst economists. 

Yale, Singapore and the power of a university

The recent announcement of the president of Yale University to the effect that he will step down from his office next June, allegedly because of tension about the new Yale-branded college in Singapore, was a small tsunami in the world of academia – and raised a broader question: what role do universities have in today's society?

Privatising the common fisheries policy

This vital matter of public concern, with far-reaching ramifications for our relationship to nature should be subject to greater democratic debate.

The most powerful Labour politician in Britain? Carwyn Jones in the spotlight

While the Labour party goes mad for Miliband’s speech, the First Minister of Wales is leading a nation. Time for those outside of Wales to pay close attention to the most senior elected Labour politician in the UK.

Aggrey Tisa Sabuni on austerity, corruption and the G7+

In this short film openSecurity talks to the Economics Advisor to the President of South Sudan. The agreement signed in Addis Ababa on the 27th of September means the oil will start flowing again, but what does this mean for South Sudan's future economy, and stability?

Scarcity, shame and flapping arms in Athens

Since February 2010, the crisis in Greece is being addressed with austerity measures as prescribed by the troika of EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. At present, the government is negotiating yet more austerity, even if past measures failed to produce the desired results. On the contrary: their consequences are already devastating.

Balls' speech to conference: little new, nothing bold

You might say the Shadow Chancellor had an easy job yesterday, persuading the Labour conference and the world outside that he is a better man than Osborne to hold the wheel of the sinking British economy. But while Balls may have succeeded in sounding credible, there was no big Labour vision for the future, and more than a flavour of Brown.

Friction zones and emergent publics in Stockholm parklife

Finding ways to deal with friction zones in public spaces such as parks is highly pertinent for both urban democracy and urban sustainability. Some friction is central to genuine democracy, whereas too little or too much is not.

Where have all the jobs gone?

Jobs are disappearing in the UK, wages are dropping, and there is a shocking absence of political debate about the changing nature of work and the disappearance of full-time secure employment.

All aboard the Monti bandwagon!

The Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti, has recently hinted that he might stay for a second term at the head of his mostly technocratic and nonpartisan government, on the condition of not having to face the voters in the upcoming election. But for how long will the consensus behind Monti hold?

Global trade politics and the spectre of the public

This opening paper of the workshop, Creating publics, Creating democracies (see this week's theme) explores the elusive nature of ‘the public’ in relation to global governance and global civil society; how it is being appropriated, invoked, silenced, and excluded in contemporary politics as well as invested with the alternative imaginaries of a more democratic future  

This week's window on the Middle East - October 1, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Qatar’s Plan B for Syria: a wise choice? Also, the tables are turning against Libya's 'thuwar' as revolution fades.

Great policy challenge facing Australia: a land of plenty and not a leader in sight

In Australia, both at the Commonwealth and state levels economic policies do not address the problems the country faces. However, Australia isn't in a bad economic situation at all. Political leadership is what's lacking in a much more serious way.

Portugal and the eurozone crisis: the well-behaved pupil plays truant

The people have finally realised that the troika-imposed austerity is not working in Portugal. In fact, the austerity packages are not working in Ireland (another good pupil of the troika), or in Greece, or Spain, or Italy.

Danish clients dump G4S because of security company’s ties to Israeli occupation

After pressure from Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) activists, several Danish clients have terminated contracts with British-Danish security company G4S for the company’s role in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Does the Eurozone need its own parliament?

Since the sovereignty debt crisis ‘Europe’ more often means the Eurozone of 17 nations rather than the European Union of 27 states. Now, this new ‘Europe’ is to receive political representation.

Russia, EU and ECU: co-existence or rivalry?

The creation of the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) could well enhance Russia’s position in the post-Soviet space at the expense of the EU. However, as the most important battleground,Ukraine would have to be persuaded to abandon its EU Association Agreement to join the ECU instead, say Rilka Dragneva and Kataryna Wolczuk.

Mid-term blues in Brighton: a double report from the Lib Dem conference

If the bell is tolling for the Liberal Democrats, they built sound-proof walls for this year's party conference. Two reports from inside tell of the marked absence of a debate on leadership, despite Clegg's appalling unpopularity, and a religious cleaving to the creed of coalition.

Detention is the essence of immigration control

At any one time more than 2000 people are deprived of their liberty because a UK immigration official considers they have breached a control regulation. In a new book, Alexandra Hall argues that what goes on at the gloomy fringes of the immigration system emerges from principles that define the whole of our society.

Europe: are there Nazis living on the moon?

Costa Concordia, the famous cruise ship that hit a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea in January 2012 might furnish another aptly-named example for symbolizing the harmony and unity between European nations. 

This week's window on the Middle East - September 24, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Being all things to all men

Catalonia and Spain

If the answer is independence, what was the question? Does is really make sense to demand sovereignty at a time when no-one knows where to find it? A new political phase has commenced in Spain.

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