This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is a submissions editor at openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

This week's window on the Middle East - June 11, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Will Islamic fundamentalism be a threat to democracy?

Trust, universalism and funding the BBC: video highlights of a debate with Greg Dyke

Video highlights of a debate over the future of the BBC with Greg Dyke, Lis Howell, Liz Forgan, Helena Kennnedy, David Elstein and Anthony Barnett, on trust, legitimacy, universalism and how to pay for them regarding Britain's public service broadcaster. 

Labour should talk about England (but no action, please): Ed Miliband on the Union

The Labour leader has set out his defence of the Union in a speech that appealed to his party to recognise England and show pride in the English. But is this enough, with Scotland considering independence and the English question waiting to explode?

Noah's stories in shaky archipelagos: Martinique, Haiti, Fukushima

In the third piece of our series on Fukushima (see Fabian Schäfer and Andy Chih-ming Wang) the Japanese anthropologist and cultural critic begins by thinking that he will have to go very far indeed to find words and memories strong enough to rival the actual phenomenon of this disaster. But as he mourns the passing of the Martinican philosopher, Édouard Glissant, the island of bliss gradually returns to him.

The BBC must join the fight for internet freedom: an open letter to the new DG

In an open letter to the BBC's future Director General, Nick Fraser, editor of the internationally renowned documentary series Storyville, calls for an embrace of online resources as the focus for a renewed strategy to defend liberty and assert long term vision. 

Tahrir is playing into the hands of the regime

The regime’s strategy is clear: gain the support of the silent majority and you don’t have to care about revolutionaries or their foreign contacts. The regime’s tactics are also clear: create chaos, blame it on the revolutionaries and claim that support of the regime is the only way back to stability.

What lost, what gained for Scotland in the last 60 years?

As Britain remembers Queen Elizabeth's ascension, how has Scotland changed since 1952? A glance back in time to the archives of The Scotsman newspaper reveals a past with much to say about the nation's present and future.

The taste of home: Blighty's eels and haggis pakora

The festivities of the ‘Great British Summer’ are steeped in ideas of monarchism, timeless heritage and monoculturalism. What is forgotten are the continually striking encounters of peoples and histories which have made and continue to make the country today.  

The age of impatience: towards a democracy of instant gratification?

By definition democracy is a permanent deception, as imminent problems are made manifest and no immediate response is offered to them. Moreover, pressure of this sort can only become stronger as the grass always looks greener on the other side of the web.

The Jubilee, the Olympics, and the Commons

As the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee, the vast discrepency between its 'community focus' and the unshamed corporatism of London 2012 is glaring. The Olympic Organising Commitee should learn a thing or two from this weekend's celebrations and hand over the Games to the commons. 

British identity doesn’t need monarchy

As the UK celebrates the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the 'national' rhetoric is that of a royal Britishness. Peter Tatchell examines the moral and social arguments against this conflation, suggesting the space for a new civic identity via republicanism.  

Manal Al Sharif: a lesson in moral courage

Few individuals are willing to brave the disapproval of their countrymen and the wrath of their society. But Manal Al Sharif, a Saudi woman, has been courageous enough to stand up strongly for women's rights in the face of overwhelming hostility.

Bias, balance and public interest: is the BBC suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect?

The BBC has been criticised by several groups for its pro-Government stance during coverage of the run up and implementation of the NHS reforms. Alongside previous accusations of its left wing bias, this debate raises important questions about the institution’s capacity to fulfil its mandate of impartiality. 

The mean Lord Salisbury, heads the pageant and executes Gaby's

How the titular head of the Royal Pageant turns out to be a cold, mean landlord who trades on good will towards the Queen but closes the best Deli in London for a few more shillings

It’s the Taking Part...

Participation is one of the main legacy claims of the London 2012 Games. Mark Perryman, author of a forthcoming book on the Olympics, examines the evidence.

Deals with the devil

Talk of a pact with criminals is beyond the pale in Mexico’s presidential election campaign. But the tentative success of a deal with gang leaders in one of Central America’s most violent countries suggests the time may have come to explore a new style of negotiations aimed at reducing appalling levels of violence.

The Great British Summer?

As the UK gears up to the Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games, the 'Great British Summer' is beginning. But behind the pomp and dazzle, big questions loom. What is 'great' and 'British' about these celebrations? Do they belong to the British people? OurKingdom invites you to investigate.

Coming face to face for justice

Bringing together the  victims of crime and those who have harmed them has been shown to reduce re-offending and bring relief to the sufferers, but Lizzie Nelson says the the UK still lags behind best international practice

As the Yes to Independence campaign begins, Scotland needs a vision for self-determination

The campaign is launched today for a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum. Here are seven suggestions for an independence agenda that looks beyond the constitutional to embrace the economic, cultural, democratic and international.

"Written on the Heart" - the difficulties of navigating loyalties by the light of love and mercy

David Edgar's play about the writing of English Bibles in religiously turbulent Tudor and Jacobean England reverberates with echoes of our time

Green growth or steady state? Rival visions of a green economy

For the UK and beyond, the tensions between ‘green growth’ and the ‘steady state’ continue to battle it out as the main models of an environmentally responsible economy. As the UN's Rio summit approaches, the question of whether economic growth can be reconciled with environmental constraints remains an open one. 

Sorting out sortition

The predictably low turnout of the UK’s recent local elections highlights the extent of Britain’s ongoing democratic deficit. Solving this by sortition - in which the populace are called upon to govern via a lottery - has been disregarded as a naive and idealistic fantasy. But Matt Hall argues this solution is more valuable and viable than its critics have suggested. 

Why the upcoming presidential election is one of the most important in US history: an interview with Theda Skocpol

This interview conducted at the Kennedy School in Boston was first published in Juncture, the new international journal of the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Fukushima: rumours, emotions and Rousseau’s general will in the digital age

In the digital age, how does government deal with rumour in a crisis? After Fukushima, the anti-rumour strategies of the Japanese government led some to question which party, the masses or the government was more involved in the dissemination of rumours. Dominant political thinking considers rumours merely a threat to be contained. But if you allow emotions into the picture, you could reach a very different conclusion, one that requires a return to Rousseau’s general will.

Development is history looking forwards

Ten ideas for lobbying David Cameron as co-chair of the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals High Level Panel

'Tiger Head, Snake Tails' by Jonathan Fenby: book review

Big-but-piecemeal reform will only exacerbate weaknesses elsewhere in the Chinese system, since everything is connected... Fenby isn't just right about the biases and simplifications that are commonplace in airport-book ‘polemics’ about China - he is right for the right reasons. 

Democracy against social reform: the Arab Spring faces its demons

The link between ‘karamah’ and ‘al hurriyah”, the call for dignified existence and the rejection of oppression has given birth to a further crucial concept – that of the social responsibility of public authority.  This cannot be achieved by maintaining the economic polices of the old regimes. 

The real-time online direct democracy challenge

Can we imagine how real-time online direct democracy might improve the following: freedom of speech; the democratic process; the accountability of the government to the electorate; fairness and the rule of law?

Hooligans, hacks and highbrows: addressing the disconnect between Britain’s media and universities

The UK's media and universities have for too long fostered a destructive antagonism. But in a context in which both institutions are facing vast structural changes, establishing a more productive co-operation is urgently needed to prevent these vital democratic bodies becoming mere instruments of capital. 

Professor Charles Tripp on Art and the Arab Uprisings (Event Recording)

In the third and final event in Arab Awakening's 'Tahrir Square Meme' series, Charles Tripp, professor of middle east politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, provided a feast for the mind and the eye in his exploration of the power of art in the Arab Spring.


A spring full moon in South Louisiana causes tension, prompting our author to share some completely scientific background on this moon business

Out of view: the unnameable poor in India and Bangladesh

My friends in teaching jobs in Afghanistan and Korea or aid organizations in Bangladesh, nearly all returned to the United States, to ask themselves hard questions about their educational pursuits or their student loans. Suffering offers infinite growth. But faith is like a blanket, only large enough to keep so many children warm. 

Biopolitics, territories and signs of crisis in multinational network companies

There is still a solid social cushion in France if we compare it to other European countries. But the pressure for work-hour productivity – one of the highest in the world – oppresses generations of digital cognitive workers. 

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