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This week's editor


Mairi Mackay is openDemocracy’s senior editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Real democracy in Iceland?

After the crash that destroyed Iceland's economy, Icelanders started to take an interest in new forms of political and economic governance. So - what can we learn from the country's experiments?

Iceland: direct democracy in action

The Icelandic experiment raises many intriguing questions: how do citizens of a country get called to this office? How do they draft a new constitution? What sort of political forces do they have to balance? An insider view from a former member of the Constitutional Council.

This week's window on the Middle East - November 12, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: The Revolution will not be eroticised

A response to my critics on child benefit

A piece on the proposed limits to child benefit prompted a vigorous comment thread. Its author responds. 

Art and Property Now: Room 5, Redrawing the Maps

Art and Property Now is an exhibition exploring John Berger’s life as storyteller, artist and critic. Visit the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House, London, until November 10, 2012. We have celebrated Berger’s 86th birthday with a guided tour of some of the exhibition’s contents and themes. Today, Room 5 and several invitations.


Burning cars in the banlieues as acts of citizenship

The worlds of concrete, the car and masculinity are ways to delve into acts which have only so far attracted attention for their violence and destructive capability. 

Kanak Attak: discursive acts of citizenship in Germany

Kanak Attak in Germany is an anti-racist collective of people with mixed ethnic backgrounds who aim to turn the dominant discourse on migration upside down. They invite us to consider the role of intellectuals in migration regimes.

G4S loses contract. Handing prisons to any commercial contractor is a grave mistake

The big news story is that G4S, the shambolic security company that botched the London Olympics, has today lost a major prison contract (HMP Wolds, in Lincolnshire), and failed to win any new ones. A hard blow for G4S and its shareholders. The bigger issue is that the UK government continues to privatise prisons, and commercial confidentiality shields the process from public view and democratic accountability.

Four more years - but what will Obama do with them in the Middle East?

Will Barack Obama finally deliver on his promises of peace and better relations with the Middle East? His re-election certainly offers him a second chance - don't waste it this time Mr President!

Forced evictions, racist attacks. Meet the new landlord, security company G4S

The UK government has created a new profit source for security giant G4S and its partners: managing housing for asylum seekers. John Grayson reports on a reckless experiment whose result is human misery.

Writing as resistance in postcolonial India

The Indian government has justified the construction of the Sardar Sarovar megadam as a national instrument of democratization, potentially supplying drinking water to millions of people. Activists claim that dams form part of a biopolitical apparatus, causing displacement and relocation for indigenous people. Their fightback questions ‘modernity’, ‘development’ and ‘justice’.

Global agreements must be built on the real participation of the poor

If the post-2015 process to agree a future framework for development does not get right the participation of those most affected, it will fail. 

A call for an end to 'progress'

We're all 'progressives' these days. But what does it mean? It's time to ditch this warped and empty notion, and re-invigorate a movement for the common good in Britain and the world.

Once more, without passion?

In a few hours, the world will finally know if Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States. Our 'How it looks from here' series concludes with a tour d'horizon around the globe - what are people thinking as they await the outcome?

Shaking the 'foreign hand': a view from India

India has had a complicated relationship with the United States for most of its independent history. Things are better now - but Indians still do watch the election closely, fearing a return to old tensions.

Mills replies to Skidelski: without more devaluation nothing will turn round the UK economy

In this thoughtful reply to Robert Skideslky, John Mills examines the UK's trade performance post-crash and argues that, though requiring a more rounded industrial policy as a whole, any measures taken without further devaluation will fail to turn the economy around. 

The US 2012 Election and China: why a real dialogue about human rights will never happen

Despite a prominent presence in the campaign, US policy towards China is very unlikely to change - especially on the hyper-sensitive topic of human rights.

The American election: a view from Down Under

As a somewhat reluctant member of the American orbit in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia carefully watches the election – amused but slightly worried by its "cranks and crazies" (as the Australian treasurer recently called the Tea Party).

Will Catalonia secede?

The independentist inclinations of Catalonia, Scotland or Flanders define a dominant political zeitgeist in Europe – the dismantling of large territorial units. And this is why they will ultimately succeed.

How small countries can save the European project: the rise of the habitat-nation

The European project is failing. It is time to consider a new theoretical model beyond the nation-state: smaller, localized communities, "habitat-nations", are the building blocks for a revitalized and democractic pan-European project.

Latin America in a post-development era: an interview with Arturo Escobar

Colombian-American anthropologist Arturo Escobar is one of Latin America's leading voices on post-development theory and political ecology. In this interview, he outlines development paths for the continent to follow, somewhere between modernisation, decolonisation and economic growth.

Taking up the gauntlet in the UK: the only real Big Society is the associative society

The uncritical understanding of what constitutes a ‘community’ and the failure to grasp what forms of citizen self-government are possible in current conditions is what betrays the intellectual laziness of the Big Society’s key thinkers.

The power of Merkiavelli: Angela Merkel’s hesitation in the Euro-crisis

Hesitation as a means of coercion – that is Merkiavelli’s method. Only one fate is worse than being overwhelmed by German money and that is not being overwhelmed by German money. Power grounded in the economy has no need to invade and yet is ubiquitous.

The US elections: a view from Latin America

It has been this year's most notable absentee: whatever happened to Latin America as a theme in the presidential campaign?

Germany, Europe and the presidential election

The majority of Germans view the United States, the “land of unlimited opportunities”, with a lot of sympathy. But their perception of American politics is more problematic.

This week's window on the Middle East - November 5, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Putting humpty together again: can the FSA ever be unified?

Military, Militants and Mandarins: prospects for trade and peace between two nuclear powers

%22Bordering"Small but promising steps towards normalisation between India and Pakistan have implications beyond their bilateral relations, given the challenging neighbourhood the two states inhabit.

The presidential election and the future of US-Tunisian relations

The oppressed people of Tunisia have long envied western democracy. Now that they've regained their freedom and had their own democratic elections, do Tunisians cast a more critical look on the American vote?

Education for sale: Sussex should learn from London Met

After the recent success of the union member-led campaign at London Metropolitan University against the outsourcing of its services, students and staff at Sussex need to lead a similar battle.

The US elections - as seen from India

In India, people are amused and puzzled, depressed and disinterested and occasionally inspired by the long and loud, colorful and typical American show that goes by the name of the presidential election. 

A view from Spain: why Obama deserves a second chance

In Spain, any piece of news that distracts the attention from the economic, social and political crisis is welcome these days. For a country that has never shown too much interest in international affairs, the US presidential campain represents a traditional exception.

Occupy and its ally in the Bank of England

Last night, as part of the New Putney Debates, senior Bank official Andy Haldane said Occupy is "right" about the economic crisis. What kind of friend is he?

US election: what can Latin America expect?

Relations between the US and Latin American countries have always been tense, from economic rivalry to political assassinations. During his first term, Barack Obama has failed to build bridges between the Americas - what can peoples from Latin America and the Caribbean expect from the next president?

This week's window on the Middle East - October 29, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Shuttle diplomacy: Qatar playing politics in Palestine

Devaluation is no panacea

The opening response of our Devalue or Else! debate, Robert Skidelsky addresses the arguments of John Mills and suggests devaluation has many potential problems as a means of restoring Britain's economic fortunes. 

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