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This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is openDemocracy’s assistant editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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.

Can disruptive power create new social movements?

Explosive short-term mobilization and long-term organizing are both important to social transformation. When, where and how will new social movements emerge in the future?

Humor but not humiliation: finding the sweet spot in nonviolent conflict resolution

Humor is a time-honored strategy in the repertoire of nonviolence, but we must learn to use it properly. Poke fun at the problem not the person.

Reflections of a revolutionary moment

What is the legacy and future of women’s liberation today? Kathleen B Jones reports from a conference in Boston where scholars, activists and artists met to re-examine the revolutionary years of the 1960s and early 1970s.

How to stop Christopher Columbus turning in his grave

The time is right for the EU to lead. No other agent in the multilateral sphere has the range of resources - financial resources, voice on trade, authority on human rights, role in foreign and security policy - available to the EU.

New media and the changing narrative on Palestine

The new activism of a young generation in the US has largely come out of the multiplicity and consistency of a new media narrative confidently mushrooming from a new generation of educated Palestinians. 

Those who vote ‘euro-sceptic’ and the citizens of the Europe to come

The abolition of freedom of movement within the EU, widely regarded as one of the central achievements of the European project, is not only a real possibility, but already an emerging reality. But so is the fightback. A contribution to the discussion between Etienne Balibar, Bo Stråth and Sandro Mezzadra.

Corporate hegemony and the Keystone Pipeline

Environmental management consistently projects an image that the risks of climate change can be managed and the extraction of dirty energy resources should continue. 

The struggle to defend La Famantina is forever: how social movements in Argentina are close to changing history

In La Rioja, Cordoba, Corrientes and elsewhere, activists are defending what they hold in common. In the process, they are also transforming their relationships with one another.

The high price of materialism

The good life is not the same as a life filled with goods. Wellbeing and materialism don’t fit together. (Animation, 5 minutes).

Mythic origins or original sin? Euroscepticism and an ever closer reality

Euroscepticism is a strategically invented social construct – much like the myth of “ever closer union” itself – to capture and channel growing popular discontent with the aftermath of the European integration process. 

Have they healed yet? Western dreams about Rwanda

Shattered societies cannot be mended with pills or analysis or technology or foreign aid. Our need to hear that Rwanda is ‘healing’ tells us more about ourselves than it does about Rwanda.

Understanding European democracy

Minstrels must demonstrate musical nerve, whether in Brussels or in their national headquarters. If not, they are just sycophant turncoats! 

You can’t bounce off the walls if there are no walls: outdoor schools make children happier and smarter

New approaches to kindergarten offer children a potentially transformative experience of education in nature - an antidote to rote-learning and a much better preparation for an integrated life. 

The selective awareness of Wisdom 2.0

Take an ancient practice, remove it from its context, strip away its ethical imperatives and sell it for a profit. Is the goal of the corporate mindfulness movement to comfort the already comfortable? 

Can philanthropic oligarchy nurture economic justice?

Will NGOs and foundations ever be able to look at their moneyed benefactors and challenge how they generated their wealth? The national correspondent of NonProfit Quarterly takes on our series on the role of money in the transformation of society. 

Democracy blooming at the margins: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Taiwan

The terrifying spectre in these countries is not of ravenous foreign capital, though there is plenty of experience with this too, but of the persistent suffering of being an oft bloodied geopolitical borderland.

A startup fever with a Middle Eastern twist

Young Arab entrepreneurs throughout the Middle Eastern region (the "youth bulge") are collaborating to revitalize their local economies and attracting international investment. 

Did Socrates die in vain? Rescuing education from school

Are school children educated, socialized, or indoctrinated?  If there’s any wonder remaining in a student after being swamped with established knowledge throughout the day, she or he would have to pursue critical thinking in the evenings.

How human rights went global

Attempts to assuage conflicts around the world using the language of human rights are sometimes met with rebuttals of their “Western” provenance. In fact the foundational Universal Declaration of Human Rights emerged from the wisdom of the post-war international crowd.

Why green growth won’t transform the economy

Green growth is a myth. Because it ignores the social, political and personal dimensions of sustainability, it can never cut deep enough into the structures of self and society to secure solutions to the crises that we face.

Turkish elections: money and the media

Measures aimed at limiting reporting by major independent news resources allowed Erdogan’s media to create an unquestioned atmosphere of electoral victory.

Reclaiming feminist visions of empowerment

Glib and glossy visions of women’s empowerment, designed to avoid actual power structures, are being avidly promoted by corporations and the development industry alike. A new book by Srilatha Batliwala reminds us of what lies at the heart of feminist empowerment work.

Creating a culture of participation

As part of our series of interviews with practitioners and activists, Participation Now researcher Hilde C. Stephansen spoke to Mikey Weinkove of The People Speak, an artists’ collective that creates ‘tools for the world to take over itself’. Their many projects include Talkaoke, a mobile talk show, and Who Wants To Be?, an ask-the-audience game show.

The unspoken atrocity of standardized education

As the corporate takeover of public education proceeds in the US and other countries, schools cease to be training grounds for social transformation. We are not just fighting for our children, but for the liberation of our country. 

From Facebook movements to city square movements

Use of the internet has not led to a predominance of virtual actions and movements over mobilizations in ‘physical space’. On the contrary, since 2011 the occupation of urban public spaces - and more particularly symbolic spaces - has been a major feature of these movements.

From Occupy to online democracy: the Loomio story

Flexibility was important, with people being able to change their position if their mind was changed by a persuasive argument or new information. Democracy is a skill we can practice with people wherever we are. 

Engaging EU citizens in policy making

As part of our series of interviews with practitioners involved in public participation initiatives, Participation Now researcher Hilde C. Stephansen spoke to Deirdre Lee at Insight-NUI Galway, about Puzzled by Policy, a European Commission funded project that aimed to engage citizens in the policy making process.

French local elections on suburban housing estates

It is, in a sense, a good sign for racial integration to see that the “new French” are voting just like the old ones.

Taking responsibility for Friern Barnet Community Library

“Barnet claims to know what people want.  But if you go into some of the libraries in Barnet, I would have to say that they probably don’t know what people want.” Nick Mahony talks to the Chair of Trustees of a library saved by occupation for the community in north London.

Complaints Choir: what is it?

"This project stays dynamic when people take the Complaints Choir as a tool and make use of it in their own context and modify it. That’s the spirit of open source." Hilde C. Stephansen interviews the founders of the choir for Participation Now.

Changing public opinion through direct action

“Starbucks felt so pressured by the public that they felt obliged to pay £20,000,000 to the HMRC.” Our series of interviews with activists and practitioners who organise public participation initiatives speaks next to Sarah Kwei from UK Uncut, the direct action group that works to raise awareness of tax avoidance and austerity cuts through creative forms of protest.

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