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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The right to many tongues and multilingual cities

This is multilingualism, not in the sense of everyone speaking the same multiple languages, but the multilingualism of accepting difference and a willingness to listen to many tongues even if we do not fully understand them. 

Education: moving from indoctrination to liberation

Reforming educational curricula, especially where it pertains to values, is by necessity a matter of process and form as well as content.

Democratic dreams and political reality in Europe

A report on European attitudes to democracy, backed up by data from the European Social Survey, is launched today to mark the UN day for democracy. The main message for the political class is that an increasingly qualified and demanding public opinion does not deserve to be administered from above.

Duplicate families and alternative families: taking care of youth

Some past models of good practice, especially those which were associated with feminist youth work projects from the mid 1970s, are in fact well worth remembering and even reviving in the Rotherham case in the UK.

Why we can’t trust current analysis of the Islamic State

The rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has taken everyone in the west by surprise, resulting in a frenzy of speculation as we try to piece together a number of complicated factors and events. We first have to recognise how our understanding is shaped by a sensationalist, alarmist and sound-bite obsessed media.

Nomads and migrants: Deleuze, Braidotti and the European Union in 2014

If European society at large is applying an exclusionary logic to certain groups, it is only encouraging the retention and expansion of a sedentary identity formation in these groups. A rise in reactionary politics should come as no surprise.

Civil resistance in North America: themes from the James Lawson Institute

Martin Luther King once said, “sometimes it’s necessary to dramatize an issue”. Struggles within democracies may actually be harder to organize than struggles against highly unpopular and corrupt authoritarian regimes. It helps to get together.

Letter to a Zionist friend

Jewish people have been legitimately concerned with their own suffering; perhaps it is time to consider what suffering their governments may have imposed on others. 

News credibility in an age of stakeholder media

Are reporters mere adjuncts of power and spies? That is how ISIS treated the martyred journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. To this day, the failure of the American news industry to expose the Bush administration’s WMD myths before the invasion of Iraq is thrown in our faces.

How polar extremisms fuel and support each other

Groups hold similar roots of discontent, such as poverty, discrimination and the sense of values under threat, but manifest these sentiments in an array of diverse extremist ideologies with highly varied targeted ‘Others’.

The challenge of conspiracy theories – how to enhance critical thinking against the critical thinkers?

Conspiracy theories are extremely helpful for leaders provoking violent conflicts. They simplify the world, victimise the ingroup, diabolise the enemy, and give justification for violence.

To fight extremism we need more Islamisms, not less

As with most other societies that have forced Islamism underground, today’s British fighters in Iraq and Syria were in all likelihood unconvinced by the quietism of Britain’s religious scholars.

Beyond hate: a call to explore the emotions of anti-minority protest

Activists’ initial involvement with the EDL was often associated with feelings of anger and outrage, but also with feelings of excitement and with feelings of possibility. 

Our duty to the stranger: Remembering Helen Bamber

Although Helen Bamber has been celebrated as an ‘iconic’ human rights defender, the most fitting way to honour her is to redirect our attention to the marginalised and silenced people to whom she devoted her life. We don’t have to look hard to find them.

In defence of liberalism 1: on historical critiques

Were more on the Left capable of reading liberal philosophy without foaming at the mouth, they’d realise that – actually – it’s perfectly possible to argue their case within the fundamentals of liberalism.

Overlooked and underrated: women in right-wing extremist groups in Germany

Right-wing extremism continues to be perceived by mainstream media and statutory organizations as a predominantly “male problem” since the stereotypical view regards white women as non-violent, peaceful, loving and caring individuals. This is highly misleading. 

Far-right violence in Greece: an effective response

More democracy and power to the people is a good starting point. Democracy is not weak or defenseless in Greece and freedom of thought and ideology are the essence of democracy.

Rehabilitating perpetrators of violent extremism and hate crime: the importance of gender-based approaches and the limits of online interventions

Counter-messaging and counter-arguing is invaluable for the resilience of our societies, but often does not have the intended impact on the target group, since arguing only strengthens their radicalisation. So what should we do?

The new wave of counter-terrorism

The FREE Initiative aims to prevent and counter far-right extremism across Europe by creating a platform for individual activists, organisations, government officials and others to learn from one another.

The twilight of neoliberalism: can popular struggles create new worlds from below?

If the ideologists of neoliberalism want to present it as the natural order of humanity, a more sober historical assessment points out that it has lasted about as long as Keynesianism did before it – a few decades.

Introducing this week’s theme: Confronting Europe’s problem with far-right violence


This week's guest theme addresses a violent issue which has often been overlooked in Europe. Far-right extremism is often relegated to a second tier security threat due to the tendency to see these groups as irrelevant to inquiries into national security and terrorism. But we should be wary of this.

Will Turkey’s centre-left dare to reform itself?

The problem is that the Republican People's Party (Turkey's centre-left main political party) remains torn between the supporters of a European-style social democracy and those of a die-hard Kemalism. 

The contradictions of the Indian intelligentsia

The knee jerk reaction from India’s intellectuals to the advent of a new government has been to profess a concern for ‘liberal order’. But we need to think about the space for dissent and divergent opinion in more nuanced ways.

Quakers urge recognition of Palestine

A statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict made by Quakers in Britain at their Yearly Meeting in Bath, 8 August 2014.

In praise of family existentialism

Two enraged, thrilling epics of the everyday make the reader the equivalent of the algorithm, seeking patterns amidst the mess, but accepting that there's no causal grand theory. A review.

A new kind of freedom born in terror

The revolution which has been taking place across Rojava (literally, ‘Western Kurdistan’), where three cantons were set up in January this year, has a grassroots democratic model.

The Governorate of Homs: the Islamic State’s new fiefdom?

The Islamic State (IS), has been able to assert its dominance over wide areas of Iraq and Syria. The Province of Homs is particularly interesting, because the IS is expanding there, but has been unable to establish its authority over all rebel forces. 

Crafting “smart cities”: India’s new urban vision

With a new government in Delhi, India’s urban agenda is now focused on the creation of “Smart Cities” in industrial corridors.  Such an initiative is driven by the demand of foreign investors to find sanitized spaces in developing countries in which they can operate easily – unhampered by politics. 

Can an insurgency be stamped out solely by military means?

The vast majority of ‘success stories’ in counterinsurgency operations have relied not only on military means but on political and economic reforms to accommodate the grievances that caused the insurgency in the first place.

No more enclosures: knowledge democracy and social transformation

Just as we recognize the importance of biodiversity for the survival of the planet, so we must preserve the diverse ways of knowing that exist among humanity.

The time is now: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central

“Can you not hear that clock ticking? Or is that just the beating of our hearts pounding ever harder? Time is not on our side; it is on the side of the adversary.”

Naming the political game in Turkey: populism

Turkey elected its first president through direct suffrage; so what can we expect now? It is populism that is increasingly in charge of Turkey's politics -  not any one person.

Why the UK has no foreign policy

In the absence of any political lead either from their UK masters or their indirect US ones, the UK's foreign office diplomats are left with little direction to exercise real clout, and no role, even on a realpolitik basis, to play in a changing and challenging world.

Anti-representative democracy and oligarchic capture

The super-rich have captured the electoral-representative institutions of contemporary democratic regimes. The ideal of anti-representative democracy can help us understand and counter this phenomenon.

Attacks on Jews and the authoritarian tide in Europe

As the war on Gaza continues, we should analyze the attacks on Jews and their property in Europe differently from how we view the masses of people taking to the streets in protest against that war.

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