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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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.

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.

Los Indignados: a movement that is here to stay

The retreat of national politics in the face of the imperatives of the global financial markets is returning politics to the streets. 

Remember us with forbearance: the unrepentant Eric Hobsbawm, an obituary

A fellow historian celebrates the life of one of the greatest British exponents of one strand of the tradition of European Marxism: a pessimism of the intelligence barely tempered by an optimism of the will.

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?

Predicting criminality: youth justice and early intervention

Youth justice policy in England is focused on risk, leading young people to be labelled as 'pre-criminals' and intervention undertaken before they have broken the law. Is this a kafkaesque nightmare, or a common sense approach to stopping crime before it occurs?

Media activism in the World Social Forum

'Communicate to mobilise to communicate'. The WSF has been referred to as an emergent global public sphere; however, little systematic attention has been paid to how media and communication are implicated in making it ‘global’ and ‘public’.

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.

Modesty against the cuts: museums + public + democracy + personal

How people sharing personal experiences through a museum digital storytelling project use ideas of courtesy instead of rights to revise institutional legitimacy; a hopeful kind of modesty which might come in handy in reimagining a public service ethos in the face of the UK’s public sector cuts. 

Innocence of America: orientalism, hooligans and radicals

This is not a debate about “blasphemy”, about freedom of expression; this is a debate about a carefully orchestrated provocation, hate crimes and murder. Is it too much to ask that Americans be a little less “innocent” and that all the players who provoked these violent and surreal events be held accountable?

Assembly publics and the problem of hegemony in consensus decision-making

The point of looking at how consensus is actually established in practice is to see that despite the fundamental difference in logic, consensus and voting share a problem that may be more evident in voting but which - it seems - is also unavoidable in consensus: there is always an element of coercion.

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.

On bullshit and truthiness: Harry Frankfurt, Stephen Colbert, and Paul Ryan's Convention speech

How do we know when someone is speaking bullshit or talking with 'thruthiness'? In the latter case this is particularly important when it comes to politicians speaking in public, because we are all involved in the resulting compact.  Could this be what radical democracy looks like? 

Threatened in the bud: the fragile existence of policy research and advocacy in Pakistan

%22Bordering"The international focus on Pakistan has affected how knowledge is produced within Pakistan, and who for. Looking ahead, Pakistani research faces a multiplicity of threats, even as non-governmental voices proliferate.

نبينا غير المعصوم عن الخطأ

لقد ادت اعتداءات على عدة سفارات اجنبية و عمليات انتحارية مؤخرا لوقوع العديد من الضحايا. تنعقد مظاهرات كبيرة يوميا و تتبعها سلسلة من المقالات الإخبارية و التحليلية. إننا نرى و نسمع و نقرأ و نضيق بتساؤلات حول ما الذي جعل فيلما رخيص الإنتاج من هذه النوعية السيئة يولد ازمة دولية.

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

Being all things to all men

Naturally, people demonstrate to demand better living conditions, yet the Muslim Brotherhood has acquired the habit of showing their presence in the public space, even when they are the ruling party. And they don’t seem to want to quit.

Surf safely!

With such tech savvy, demographically very young populations, policing the internet will always be a losing battle. Instead, we should be encouraging online engagement as a source of diverse opinion.

Freedom to preach

To all non-Muslims, please take it easy on Islam and if you want to know about it so much - please read the Quran.

“Idiots trying to trap other idiots”

The choice is difficult: none of the alternatives easy to accept. But is it not the case that those who riot in the Arab world or in our own capitals represent only a minute fraction of the billion plus Muslims in the world? Even if many were indeed shocked by this mockery.

Pandering to the bigots? An exchange on Ed Miliband, immigration and the nation-state

Is Labour justified in speaking to the British people's fears on immigration, or are they legitimising the far right? How far do the English retain their racist attitudes, or is England at ease with its modern multiculturalism? And what is the case for secure borders in a world where the role of the nation-state is under question? In the following exchange, Anthony Barnett of OurKingdom and Simon Parker of Refugee Action York cut to the heart of the immigration question. 

You want federal Europe? why not start with a European social stability mechanism?

European federalism is back, says European Commission president Barroso. His call for a "federation of nation states" shows how the tables have turned in the debate about the Union – with former anti-federalists now praising integration and vice versa. But buyer beware - creating an EU federation now could result in a potentially disastrous "coup d'économie".

Can men be feminists?

With men leading on women’s issues, even when we win, we lose. Men shouldn’t be the voices of feminism, but we can build and support the platforms from which women's voices call out, says Gavin Thomson. 

Everyday feminism vs everyday sexism

A debate about the feminist economy cannot be brought to the school gates, but a discussion on sexting, advertising and tuition fees can. That's what everyday feminism is and why it must be truly diverse and accessible, says Aisha Mirza.

Anti-Islam film protests: a reification of public debate?

Beyond their regrettable cost in terms of human lives, "Innocence of Muslims" and the subsequent protests that spread across the Arab world ultimately entrap the world in a binary entrenchment reminiscent of the civilizational justifications for the War on Terror.

Uh-Oh Levels: England's teachers are right to fear the impact of the EBacc

Michael Gove's critics have been accused of blindly slating anything he proposes without fully listening. Yet this latest policy, grounded in a blind obsession with a return to the 'good old days' of education, could trap the next generation of teenagers within discriminatory structures that have long been opposed.  

Kate, hate, and “brutal display”

The idea that any public interest is served by these choices is absurd, no matter which side of the Mediterranean one is perched.

Uniting States of Americans: Are we the 99%?

Internationally, we should all be concerned by how the unifying discourse of the 99% occludes important differences amongst political, economic, and socially disaffected peoples that the OWS brand can never fully capture.

Views from Italy of another Europe

From the conference, “Out of the crisis with another Europe”, held on July 9,  2012 by the Green European Federation with the support of Sbilanciamoci! , a summary of Italian perspectives on the EU debt crisis and proposals suggested by sections of Italian civil society to overcome the crisis.

Uniting States of Americans: We are the 99%!

A year ago this month, 'the 99%' changed the discourse of US politics. But did this call to action for 'American Revolution’ issued by the Occupy Wall Street movement change politics itself? In this first of two multimedia articles, filmmaker and academic Cynthia Weber, introduces us to a range of impressions and reflections in the field.

Empty chairs and hope

Clint Eastwood's bizarre empty chair performance at the RNC in Tampa resonates with a couple's struggle for parenthood - and the very notion of hope that still echoes from the 2008 election.

‘What was the true Legacy of the Olympics?’: join in the debate online

From its immediate impact on the host-city to the global reverberations, listen to the full audio recording of openDemocracy’s debate ‘Culture, Liberty and London after the Olympics’. Join the debate and help shape the Legacy of the 2012 Games. 

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