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This week's editor

Adam Ramsay, Editor

Adam Ramsay is editor of oD-UK.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Iranian love of cinema

Film can illuminate what it is to be a misfit in society, with all the anxieties that this position entails. Is it a perspective or a reality? Iranian film answers that it must be both. Film essay.

Whither Europe? The Modest Camp vs the Federalist Austerians

Proposals are multiplying – especially as evidence mounts that the crisis is continuing, despite all the official announcements of its end. Why not save Europe today, so that we can consider, in due course, how best to proceed with deeper, more difficult measures later on? 

Moroccan political cinema and the Arab Spring: an interview with Hicham Lasri

I was interested by the electricity in the air, the aggression and the disarray of those in power.

Not the end of the "Arab Spring", is it?

Much has happened in the Middle East in the last four years, but in Europe, the development of the state and of democracy took four centuries and many wars.

Singing for sex, and other political anomalies

Our Sunday Comics columnist learns some human and political lessons from the frogfish and toadfish of Florida

The contentious politics of China’s New Citizens Movement

Despite their many efforts to stave off greater mobilization inspired by the ideals of the New Citizens Movement, the Party must know that eventually the force of popular mobilization will be too great to disregard by mere omission.

The economics of anxiety: neoliberalism as obsessional neurosis

Neoliberalism is not a monolithic shock doctrine. It is an anxious form of crisis management, which evolves through its failed attempts to conceal a repressed truth.

Bloody mess: why sovereigns fail, and how they get away with it

When confronted with the question of how much killing is enough the answer is always more (c.f. Blair’s calls for the west to enter the Syrian civil war). If a strategic sufficiency of death were realisable, killing would not stop. It would not even stop if one side exterminated the other.

“We had to wait for Snowden for proof”, an exchange with NSA whistleblower William Binney

The NSA preferred a much more expensive system of bulk collection of foreign data. That was a fatal choice as it deprived the NSA of understanding what it was monitoring and this permitted the planning of 9/11 to escape them, not to mention the surveilling of American citizens, which is unconstitutional.

Spectre: I see a red door and I want it painted black

The attempts to escape the nightmare of Stalinism provoke false fantasy alternatives, of vacuous democratic participation or individual freedom. NSK works through elements of the revolution betrayed, and in the process, instills anxiety about what is real, and about what must be given up.

Anxious subjects, political fears

If it did not sound too eccentric or polemical, then, I would go as far as singing the praises of a politics of anxiety, i.e. a politics preserving the limits and enigmatic essence of social life.

Why the Open City Docs Fest is so important

I am still filled with wonder and admiration by how many good documentary films are being made around the world today, often very hard to find. 

The rebel

Maged Mandour

What makes a person a rebel? What drove millions in the Arab World to defy their oppressive states and face death, time and time again? And can this sense of rebellion ever be replaced by a sense of normality, in which one accepts the new status quo?

All I can say is that you are uninteresting! An exchange with General Michael Hayden, Director of the NSA from 1999-2005

On the first anniversary of Ed Snowden’s revelations, this interview contributes to what we intend will become a growing, in depth exploration of the significance of surveillance for the future of humanity across the globe.

Brazil’s economy of violence: the 50-year noose

Brazil is indeed stuck in the past. However, this temporal disjunction is less the outcome of being economically or institutionally backward, but more of an insistence on resorting to violence as a mean of managing political anxiety. 

Global Preventive Security and its unbearable lightness

One now plays a part in one’s own protection. The institutions can help one to strengthen one’s preparedness. One must not blame them if they fail despite the promise of a maximum-security programme. 

Quo vadis, Europe?

Europeans, like most other inhabitants of the planet, are currently facing the crisis of ’politics as we know it’ - a state of “interregnum” – as the great Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci described a time in which the old is already dead or dying, but the new has not yet been born.

The Cloud rains on all parades

A parking ticket leads our Sunday Comics author to wonder how much of our lives have migrated Up There

Modi's extraordinary use of mobile technology

Narendra Modi with his Bharatiya Janata Party has used technology in an Indian election campaign at an unprecedented level, campaigning digitally in nine languages and changing the election process forever.

When is civil society a force for social transformation?

There are more civil society organizations in the world today than at any other time in history, so why isn't their impact growing? 

“Spain is Different”: Podemos and 15-M

Podemos has presented itself as a party of "decent ordinary people”, who understand the needs of ordinary citizens and are open to taking their lead from them through the participatory process (as opposed to positioning themselves as the intellectual vanguard). 

Eurosceptic parties will save Europe’s soul, despite themselves

We must take seriously all the new parties in the European Parliament, not least because they might well be doing us a favour.

William Penn, the Englishman who invented the European Parliament

Cedant arma togae (Let arms yield to the toga!) is written in the epigraph to the Project. It took nearly three centuries to materialize, and in June 1979, the first European Parliament elected directly by the citizens was implemented.

The habits of the heart: substantive democracy after the European elections

Despite the dramatic spread of democratic procedures in recent decades, there is a profound and growing deficit in substantive democracy everywhere. ‘They call it democracy but it isn’t’ was one of the slogans of the Spanish indignados.

Combatting youth unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina's youth unemployment crisis threatens to undermine national educational reforms, opportunities for innovation, and economic prosperity by creating a significant 'brain drain' of Generation Y workers. 

Rashid Rehman: chronicle of a death foretold

Defenders of Pakistan's blasphemy laws say the rule of law prevents rule by mob.  The May 7 murder of human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman - to prevent him from defending a young professor accused of blasphemy - shows the hypocrisy of such a defence, says Meredith Tax. 

From the idea of Europe to a Europe of ideas

Contrary to the maxim popularised by political scientists that there is no political community without a political identity, what Europe most needs is a political community without identity. A reply to Etienne Balibar.

Can the birthplace of democracy provide the seeds of its renewal?

When popular opposition was stirred up to the building of Athens' first mosque in the neighbourhood of Votanikos, Syriza defended the rights of Muslims to a public place of worship. A distinct politics then: power to the people, but on the basis of explicit principles publicly explained and argued for.

Europe: a concrete idea

The rise of the far-right parties and more generally of the anti-European or euro-sceptic ones, such as the British UKIP, is a clear sign that moderate solutions to the current crisis are not enough any more. A reply to Etienne Balibar.

Why don’t men care?

Caregiving is neither a male nor female responsibility - it’s what helps to make us all human. It’s time we reshaped society and social norms to make equality possible. 

The limits of radical publishing

Publishing house Lawrence & Wishart’s demand that the Marxists Internet Archive remove its digitised copy of the Marx-Engels Collected Works exposes all the contradictions of ‘radical publishing’ in the internet era

Useless European elections?

A vicious circle must be broken, but this can arise only from inside the European perspective, through a mounting pressure of the Union’s citizens, who must at the same time avoid “sovereign” fallacies and "cosmopolitan" illusions.

Planning a commons-based, peer production future for Ecuador

FLOK stands for “Free, Libre, Open Knowledge,” and the FLOK Society is a government-sponsored project to imagine how Ecuador might make a strategic transition to a workable post-capitalist knowledge economy.

Journey into participation: a viewpoint from the Science Museum, London

Many institutions, including London's Science Museum, are now looking to invite their audiences to take a more active role in engaging with their sites and collections, rather than being the traditional passive consumers of culture.

Allah, the state, or Mom?

Three characteristics are often viewed as important in Arab societies: concern over politics, the place of religion, and the importance of family. Investigation of these 'Arabness' features in Morocco produces some intriguing results.

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