This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The UK's vanishing European influence

The UK has a choice over whether to be a small player on the margins of Europe. But to become so without any serious national debate is surely a major error.

The abolition of the NHS. That’s what is happening.

In unscripted remarks, the UK Prime Minister revealed his true agenda: he wants to turn our universal health care system into “a fantastic business”. Not patient choice but choice of patient will be the order of the day.

Britain's unacknowledged rulers (Oligarchy Watch Part 1)

Last summer, Democratic Audit published an explosive paper on the growing influence of the corporate and financial sectors on British democracy. OurKingdom is publishing a series of updates on the paper, of which this is the first.

Economic and social good sense requires the UK to target a lower exchange rate

The exchange rate is the most important single price in the economy: it determines the price of goods for export and the real value of foreign-owned debt. The UK needs a more competitive external sector and can achieve it by much greater quantitative easing

Not so super: six of one and half a dozen of the other

The US Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has replaced leadership with heightened partisanship

"Free" and membership

Time to pay up for the wonders of the economy of "free". Become an openDemocracy Friend or Member

UK Uncut pay a visit to the head of HMRC

Dave Hartnett has struck deals with multinational corporations that have cost Britain billions in lost tax. In this video, direct action group UK Uncut pay him a surprise visit.

Giant strides or fairy footsteps

How much progress can be made in tackling climate change without a global deal?

Russian economy: trying to please people doesn’t help

20 years ago there was all to play for: the USSR was defunct and Russia was embarking on a bright future. But the much-needed economic reforms have had patchy success. Every time they took a step forward, the government lost both popularity and its nerve. Now the Kremlin no longer has the funds to keep people sweet and another financial crisis must be a real possibility, says Dmitri Travin

Privatisation, but no private property

Privatisation was one of the beacon words of Yeltsin’s presidency, but, with the possible exception of housing, there has been no development of private property or attendant protected rights. Property in Russia still belongs to a small clique of top dogs and woe betide anyone who gets across them. How can Russia ever become prosperous or civilised? Andrei Zaostrovtsev despairs.

Multiculturalism and its critics

Multiculturalism is an inclusive philosophy. Its potential for integrating newcomers and minorities into society is undermined by false notions of its tendency to produce separatism and poverty.

Armed conflict, land grabs and big business: Colombia’s deadly pact

The recent assassination of Colombian marxist insurgent group leader Alfonso Cano has been hailed internationally as an advance towards peace, giving Colombia a boost down the path to becoming the latest emerging market of Latin America. A closer look at the history and nature of Colombia's nearly 50 year-long armed struggle, however, tells us otherwise.

The Assault on Universities: essays from the frontline of England's higher education sector

The privatisation of English higher education is bitingly analysed in this essential collection of essays. Does the book mark a new wave of opposition to corporate ideology from within England's universities?

The Russian banking system: between the market and the state

For the last 20 years Russian attitudes to banks have been ambivalent. From no trust at all to feverish delight at the interest rates delivered by the oil boom and back to severe doubts during the recent crisis period. Competition needs to develop and the banks need to come out of the hands of the state, says Pavel Usanov

Travels amongst the financial ruins

A review of the financial disaster-tourism from the master chronicler of the foibles of finance (Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Michael Lewis). Think of banks as belonging to the public sector, argues Lewis, and don't think that the US is immune from great reckoning ahead

Russian reforms, twenty years on

Dmitry Travin presents a new week-long series on openDemocracy Russia

Occupy London: keep your nerve, your unity and your integrity

The London occupation is nearing its one month anniversary, and the cracks are beginning to show.

Happy now? As Britain prepares to measure 'wellbeing', we conclude our happiness debate

As Britain publishes its first 'national wellbeing indicators', OurKingdom wraps up our debate on happiness. Here, the editor of the debate looks back on the series of articles inspired by the growing interest in happiness shown by politicians, economists, statisticians and psychologists.

How the Tories fake co-op friends are biting a chunk out of the NHS

The coalition's misrepresentation of the mutual model is mere spin in aid of ‘Trojan horse privatisation’. It not only enables private sector entry into healthcare via the back door but also endangers real co-operatives and mutuals.

Welcome to ‘Bitter Britain’: repression of student demo is a sign of the times

The London student demonstration on 9 Nov showed how the movement has transformed since the tuition fees protests last winter, and how the British state is hardening in its efforts to maintain control.

A fair COP

The author prepares to attend the UN Climate Change Summit, COP17, in Durban, and wonders if there is any solution to this particular version of the Prisoner's Dilemma

After the global crisis

Currently, by and large, the economic system emerging from the crisis is bound to be substantially very similar to the pre-crisis one, improved in some respects, but worsened by large scale cuts in welfare expenditure made necessary by the (debatable) purpose of achieving fiscal balance. The post-crisis system will be more conflictual and insecure, less rather than more ‘green’ - basically a more unpleasant world in which to live.

Steps to a democratic Libya

This misguided but determined focus on the ‘continuing’ threat of Sha’ria law in Libya and other North African counterparts is obscuring the real twin issues of freedom of expression and equal rights for all.

The road to Europe: defend the biosphere and stop punishing the innocent

Imagine that the world is governed by concentric circles or spheres of power, with the most powerful one on the outside. Today the innermost circle is a neglected biosphere. We have to turn the paradigm inside out. The biosphere must come first.

A Greek referendum was, in fact, a bad idea

A Greek referendum was not an excellent idea, whose implementation was prevented by its alleged opponents, as Anthony Barnett says; it was a bad idea and, moreover, very incompetently implemented.

No deadlines: Occupy London activists won't be co-opted

The City of London Corporation has dropped its threat to evict 'tent city' at St Paul's Cathedral. Negotiations are on, but occupiers are wary of being transformed into a mute tourist attraction.

Black British realities and the return of the ‘underclass’

The re-emergence of a certain vocabulary that stigmatizes the working class, benefit seekers, and the black community, is becoming increasingly mainstream in Britain. So why now, and who stands to benefit?

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party: bedfellows?

The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are expressions of pain from differing points of view of the same social process, says Lawrence Rosenthal

A Greek referendum WAS an excellent idea

There was for a moment a breath of democracy in the crisis of the European currency and an attempt at honesty. But the Greek referendum was not to be. This was heavy duty blackmail says openDemocracy founding editor. Takis Pappas could not disagree more.

Illegal diamond mining in Zimbabwe

Despite spirited efforts by the government to convince the international community that illegal mining and diamond underhand dealings in Marange (Chiadzwa) were under control, events on the ground suggest otherwise.

The road to Europe: can wage-setting save the monetary union?

The periphery and core countries of the EU have been locked for many years prior to the crisis into opposing ‘virtuous’ and ‘vicious’ circles. How do we buck the trend?

Church, city, media: how the message of #OccupyLondon is being disrupted

OccupyLondon's encampment is facing eviction from outside St Paul's cathedral. The Church of England and City of London Corporation are in turmoil. Meanwhile, the media frenzy is in danger of drowning out the message of the occupation.

Into Europe

Each EU country has a relationship to Europe which tells you about its own makeup, character and inclinations. Ireland, which entered the European Economic Community in 1973, is no exception.

The new approach to the Responsibility to Protect

Nature, and human safety and dignity are now almost officially in need of financial advocates to convince countries to act in their favour.

Think of Me as Evil?: advertisers, ethics, and social engineering

Advertising doesn't just change our buying habits; it transforms our value systems. The British advertising industry has a duty to engage with ethics: an argument that surely applies elsewhere.
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