This week's editors

Darian Meacham, Europe the Very Idea team Francesco Tava, Europe the Very Idea team Darian Meacham and Francesco Tava introduce this week's theme: Old ideas for a new Europe.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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.

Japanese Woodcuts and Drag Queen Bingo

Jim Gabour sees the graphic of living through nineteenth-century Japanese woodcuts to Drag Bingo, via West Coast illustrators and his own country and western posters

Banning books in Britain, fifty years after Lady Chatterley

The main charges against Faraz were brought under the Terrorism Act 2006, and included the dissemination of terrorism publications, and also section 58, which makes possession of material related to terrorism an offence.

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"

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.

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?

Rallying to save the UK's Human Rights Act

On International Human Rights Day, 10 December, dozens of British human rights organisations issued an open letter defending the country's human rights legislation - under attack from those who brand it a European imposition.

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.

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

What’s good for the goose and gander is at some point for the Occupiers

When legitimate protesters are showered with contempt by those whose job it is to serve the community, humanity is insulted, but democracy especially. This is an important tipping point.

The Occupy movement and the women of Greenham Common

Feminist experience and input into the theory and practice of nonviolence has much to offer a new generation of grassroots Occupy activists. Rebecca Johnson reflects on the lessons of the successful Greenham Common protest

Four anecdotes and some news: or, The paths of resistance

On the fiftieth anniversary of the American intervention in Vietnam, one lesson might be that knowledge is never passed on, only acquired, that history is not a reality which must be discovered but must be thought about and then reconstructed.

The Singing Detective, losing one’s skin with irony, clues and no solutions, a perfect symbol of the British disease

Ahead of a one day conference in London, Anthony Barnett recalls how he felt about Dennis Potter's 'The Singing Detective' when he wrote about it back in 1987.

How can we create change in the UK? An 'impossible' idea and three reactions

Could a group of like-minded citizens running for election as independents, change the UK? Andreas Whittam Smith posits an idea and three OurKingdom co-editors, Guy Aitchison, Niki Seth Smith and Anthony Barnett, respond.

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.

Little Black Hen

The author recently lost a good friend. He hands over a memory with love in hand.

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.

The one about the squirrels, the avocadoes and the crocodile

In his first of the Sunday Comics, the author muses on symbiosis with the animal kingdom and truth-telling habits via the youthful uses of Russian comic strips

The justice of eating: food, fairness and the Fife diet

What can a small coastal town in Scotland teach us about equality and social justice? Douglas Strang on a project that aims to tackle the big economic questions by rethinking how and what we eat

Reform, rupture or re-imagination: understanding the purpose of an occupation

In 2011 occupations have become the tactic of choice for popular movements worldwide. But how exactly does the physical holding of space contribute to a movement's aims?

Hope from below: composing the commons in Iceland

Never again can the world be told by the custodians of the old that the people cannot be relied upon to write the contract between citizens and government, and write it well.

Occupy London and the unions: brothers in arms or a marriage made in hell?

Occupy London came out in support of the N30 public sector strike over pension reform - but there was disagreement among the ranks. Can Occupy support Britain's unions, and what can the unions learn from the movement?

Why can’t we have that? ‘Global civil disobedience’ and the European living laboratory

In a response to Daniele Archibugi and Patti Tamara Lenard, the author argues that unauthorized immigrants should be seen as offering a powerful normative challenge to the vast disparities in life chances that are the norm in the current global system. Rather than advocating the open borders approach rejected by both Archibugi and Lenard, however, he argues for more gradual transformations involving deeper, democratically accountable integration between states.

Fred Halliday was right: The LSE, Gaddafi money and what is missing from the Woolf Report

Fred Halliday has been vindicated in his long battle with the LSE over taking Gaddafi money. But the underlying reason - corporate and government pressure on the university is not addressed by the Woolf Report into the scandal.

The Museum of Neoliberalism: full or empty?

A new occupation has sprung up in a disused museum in London. The occupiers have turned one floor into a museum of neoliberalism. But will it be a space for transportation to a future better world, or an embodiment of the end of history?

Democracy put to the test

Just as the mechanisms that made democracy function in city states were not adequate for governing nation states, representative democracies today are showing themselves incapable of managing, effectively and democratically, the system that is emerging in Europe. Updated.

Will neuroscientific understanding undermine our sense of self?

Reporting on more and more experiments that predict action before conscious intention, Nature, the leading science journal, ran the sensationalist headline: "Neuroscience vs philosophy: Taking aim at free will". But is there really such a stark distinction? What applies to an a quasi-automated actions in the laboratory may have nothing to do with complex, socially mediated choices

In search of brains

What links Los Angeles and New Orleans? Zombies, of course, with tongues protruding through their cheeks. Enjoy your foretaste of Jim Gabour's Sunday Blog series ...

Where the devil can't go, an extract

Londoners have mostly welcomed the recent Polish immigrant community in their midst, although most do not know them as a community. A new micro-published thriller, extracted here, brings that community to life and tells of its own relationship to pre-1989 life and power
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