openDemocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/ en Call for participants: Syria, Middle East Forum https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/opendemocracy/call-for-participants-syria-middle-east-forum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl" style="text-align: right;">يبحث موقع openDemocracy عن مشاركين لمنتدى الشرق الأوسط&nbsp; لسوريا.</p><p>openDemocracy is looking for participants for the Middle East Forum for Syria.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/middle-east-forum">Middle East Forum</a> is a project that encourages emerging young voices to express themselves, exchange views and be heard. The project provides participants with a series of workshops to develop writing skills, media presence, and digital security as well as a free discussion space where they have the capacity to debate constructively. Participants in the forum host speakers, acquire skills, share knowledge, and give feedback to one another. </p><p dir="ltr">We are currently looking for 7 participants in or from Syria to join the project. If you are interested in participating in this project and developing your journalistic skills read the information below and send in your application. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Participants:</h2><p dir="ltr">We expect that each participant will have the opportunity to achieve the following benefits:</p><ul><li>- Career-related experience</li><li>- Practical and increased practice-based knowledge of journalistic writing, debate, social media </li><li>- Training which enhances digital security and the handling of human rights issues</li><li>- Increased knowledge and experience on how to create an online journalistic presence</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">Participants will be expected to:</h2><ul><li>- Adhere to policies, procedures, and rules governing professional behavior;</li><li>- maintain a punctual and reliable working relationship, abiding by the scheduled sessions and number of articles agreed to;</li><li>- communicate regularly with the facilitator, particularly in situations where the participant may need to adjust the terms of the working relationship (e.g., to reschedule a meeting/session);</li><li>- respect the opinions expressed and confidentiality of the group;</li><li>- take the initiative to volunteer for tasks or projects that the participant finds interesting.</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">Requirements</h2><p dir="ltr">In addition to these general expectations, the participant will also be required to meet the following requirements during the program:</p><ul><li>- Meet a minimum commitment of 12 sessions; </li><li>- develop a working relationship with the facilitator, such that he or she can adequately serve as a mentor;</li><li>- actively engage in debate, with a focus on the topics and how the discussions unfold;</li><li>- actively take notes during each session, to be shared amongst the group;</li><li>- actively engage and participate in developing an online space for debate;</li><li>- actively produce a minimum of one article per month, based on the discussions that take place;</li><li>- understand how to and actively promote your work;</li><li>- evaluate and monitor your own success in terms of reach;</li><li>- upon completion of the program, reflect upon and write about your experience during the program.</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">Who can apply?</h2><p dir="ltr">You can apply for the position if you fall under any of the following:</p><ul><li>Between the age of 21 - 30;</li><li>Are an aspiring journalist or blogger;</li><li>Possess knowledge in the specific region of the program;</li><li>Have an excellent command of Arabic and/or English.</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">How to apply?</h2><ul><li>- Send in a sample piece of 1000-1500 words in Arabic or English of something that interests you - a conversation that took place that struck a chord, an observation from your surroundings, a cultural event, an interesting initiative, your point of view on the politics of the region or why you would like to take part in this program.</li><li>- Your resume.</li></ul><p>Deadline for applicaiton: April 20th. </p><p class="direction-rtl"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/middle-east-forum">منتدى الشرق الأوسط</a> هو مشروع يشجّع الأجيال الصاعدة الشابّة على التعبير عن نفسها وتبادل الآراء وإيصال صوتها. يقدّم المشروع للمشاركين سلسلة من ورش العمل لتطوير مهاراتهم في الكتابة والحضور الإعلامي والأمن الرقمي كما يوفّر المشروع فضاء للمناقشات يمنح المشاركين فرصة التحاور بطريقة بنّاءة. يستضيف المشاركون في المنتدى متحدثين ويكتسبون مهارات ويتشاركون المعلومات ويعبّرون عن رأيهم بعمل زملائهم.</p> <p class="direction-rtl">نبحث عن 7 مشتركين من سوريا للانضمام إلى المشروع. إذا كنت مهتماً بالمشاركة في المشروع وبتطوير مهاراتك الصحفية، تابع القراءة وأرسل طلبك. </p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong><span>المشتركون:</span></strong></h2> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>سيحظى كلّ مشترك بفرصة اكتساب الأمور التالية:</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; خبرة مهنية</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; معرفة عملية بالكتابة الصحفية والمناظرات ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تدريب يعزّز الإلمام بالأمن الرقمي والتطرّق إلى قضايا حقوق الإنسان</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; إلمام إضافي وخبرة في كيفية تعزيز الحضور الصحفي على الإنترنت</p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>يُتوّقع من المشتركين</strong>:</h2> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; احترام السياسات والإجراءات والقواعد الملائمة للسلوك المحترف</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; المحافظة على علاقة عمل دقيقة وموثوقة والالتزام بالجلسات المعيّنة وبعدد المقالات المتفق عليه</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; التواصل بانتظام مع الميسّر، وتحديداً في المواقف التي يحتاج فيها المشترك إلى تعديل شروط علاقة العمل (مثلاً، تغيير موعد الحصة/الاجتماع)</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; احترام السرية والآراء المعبّر عنها ضمن المجموعة </p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; أخذ المبادرة للتطوّع لمهمات أو مشاريع يجدها المشترك مثيرة للاهتمام</p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>المتطلّبات:</strong></h2> <p class="direction-rtl">بالإضافة إلى المتطلبات العامة، يجب أن يلتزم المشترك بالتالي خلال البرنامج:</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; الالتزام بحدّ أدنى من الحصص يساوي 12حصة</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تطوير علاقة عمل مع الميسّر للعب دور المرشد بشكل صحيح</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; المشاركة بالمناظرات بنشاط والتركيز على المواضيع وكيفية تبلور النقاش</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تدوين الملاحظات فعلياً خلال كلّ حصة وتشاركها مع المجموعة</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; الانخراط في تطوير فضاء إلكتروني للمناظرات والمشاركة فيه</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; كتابة مقال واحد على الأقلّ في الشهر، استناداً إلى المناقشات التي حصلت</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; فهم كيفية تحسين عملك وتطبيق ذلك</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تقييم ومراقبة نجاحك استناداً إلى اتساع نطاق تأثيرك</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; التفكير في تجربتك والكتابة عنها لدى إتمام البرنامج</p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>مَن المرشّحون لهذا التدريب؟</strong></h2> <p class="direction-rtl">يمكنك التقدّم بطلب إذا:</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; كنت بين سنّ 21 و30؛</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; كنت تطمح لتصبح صحفياً أو مدوّناً؛</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; لديك إطّلاع واسع على المنطقة المحددة للبرنامج؛</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تتكلّم وتكتب العربية و/أو الإنكليزية بطلاقة. </p> <p class="direction-rtl"><strong>كيف يمكن التقدّم للتدريب؟</strong></p> <p class="direction-rtl">أرسِل نصّاً من&nbsp; 1000 – 1500 كلمة باللغة الإنكليزية أو العربية عن موضوع يهمّك، مثلاً حوار أثّر فيك أو مراقبتك لمحيطك أو حدث ثقافي أو مبادرة مثيرة للاهتمام أو وجهة نظرك حول سياسات المنطقة أو سبب اهتمامك بالمشاركة في البرنامج بالاضافة الى سيرتك. </p> <p class="direction-rtl">الرجاء إرسال جميع الطلبات والمستندات المرتبطة بها إلى موقع <a href="mailto:arabawakeningteam@opendemocracy.net"><strong>arabawakeningteam@opendemocracy.net</strong></a> والموعد النهائي للتقديم هو 20 أبريل.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Middle East Forum Arab Awakening Syria Opportunities at openDemocracy middle east openDemocracy Thu, 16 Mar 2017 10:46:47 +0000 openDemocracy 109474 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Call for participants: Egypt, Middle East Forum https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/opendemocracy/call-for-participants-egypt-middle-east-forum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl" style="text-align: right;">يبحث موقع openDemocracy عن مشاركين لمنتدى الشرق الأوسط&nbsp; في مصر.</p><p>openDemocracy is looking for participants for the Middle East Forum for Egypt.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/middle-east-forum">Middle East Forum</a> is a project that encourages emerging young voices to express themselves, exchange views and be heard. The project provides participants with a series of workshops to develop writing skills, media presence, and digital security as well as a free discussion space where they have the capacity to debate constructively. Participants in the forum host speakers, acquire skills, share knowledge, and give feedback to one another. </p><p dir="ltr">We are currently looking for 7 participants in Egypt to join the project. If you are interested in participating in this project and developing your journalistic skills read the information below and send in your application. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Participants:</h2><p dir="ltr">We expect that each participant will have the opportunity to achieve the following benefits:</p><ul><li>- Career-related experience</li><li>- Practical and increased practice-based knowledge of journalistic writing, debate, social media </li><li>- Training which enhances digital security and the handling of human rights issues</li><li>- Increased knowledge and experience on how to create an online journalistic presence</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">Participants will be expected to:</h2><ul><li>- Adhere to policies, procedures, and rules governing professional behavior;</li><li>- maintain a punctual and reliable working relationship, abiding by the scheduled sessions and number of articles agreed to;</li><li>- communicate regularly with the facilitator, particularly in situations where the participant may need to adjust the terms of the working relationship (e.g., to reschedule a meeting/session);</li><li>- respect the opinions expressed and confidentiality of the group;</li><li>- take the initiative to volunteer for tasks or projects that the participant finds interesting.</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">Requirements</h2><p dir="ltr">In addition to these general expectations, the participant will also be required to meet the following requirements during the program:</p><ul><li>- Meet a minimum commitment of 12 sessions; </li><li>- develop a working relationship with the facilitator, such that he or she can adequately serve as a mentor;</li><li>- actively engage in debate, with a focus on the topics and how the discussions unfold;</li><li>- actively take notes during each session, to be shared amongst the group;</li><li>- actively engage and participate in developing an online space for debate;</li><li>- actively produce a minimum of one article per month, based on the discussions that take place;</li><li>- understand how to and actively promote your work;</li><li>- evaluate and monitor your own success in terms of reach;</li><li>- upon completion of the program, reflect upon and write about your experience during the program.</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">Who can apply?</h2><p dir="ltr">You can apply for the position if you fall under any of the following:</p><ul><li>Between the age of 21 - 30;</li><li>Are an aspiring journalist or blogger;</li><li>Possess knowledge in the specific region of the program;</li><li>Have an excellent command of Arabic and/or English.</li></ul><h2 dir="ltr">How to apply?</h2><ul><li>- Send in a sample piece of 1000-1500 words in Arabic or English of something that interests you - a conversation that took place that struck a chord, an observation from your surroundings, a cultural event, an interesting initiative, your point of view on the politics of the region or why you would like to take part in this program.</li><li>- Your resume.</li></ul><p>Deadline for applicaiton: April 20th. </p><p class="direction-rtl"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/middle-east-forum">منتدى الشرق الأوسط</a> هو مشروع يشجّع الأجيال الصاعدة الشابّة على التعبير عن نفسها وتبادل الآراء وإيصال صوتها. يقدّم المشروع للمشاركين سلسلة من ورش العمل لتطوير مهاراتهم في الكتابة والحضور الإعلامي والأمن الرقمي كما يوفّر المشروع فضاء للمناقشات يمنح المشاركين فرصة التحاور بطريقة بنّاءة. يستضيف المشاركون في المنتدى متحدثين ويكتسبون مهارات ويتشاركون المعلومات ويعبّرون عن رأيهم بعمل زملائهم.</p> <p class="direction-rtl">نبحث عن 7 مشتركين في مصر للانضمام إلى المشروع. إذا كنت مهتماً بالمشاركة في المشروع وبتطوير مهاراتك الصحفية، تابع القراءة وأرسل طلبك. </p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong><span>المشتركون:</span></strong></h2> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>سيحظى كلّ مشترك بفرصة اكتساب الأمور التالية:</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; خبرة مهنية</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; معرفة عملية بالكتابة الصحفية والمناظرات ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تدريب يعزّز الإلمام بالأمن الرقمي والتطرّق إلى قضايا حقوق الإنسان</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; إلمام إضافي وخبرة في كيفية تعزيز الحضور الصحفي على الإنترنت</p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>يُتوّقع من المشتركين</strong>:</h2> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; احترام السياسات والإجراءات والقواعد الملائمة للسلوك المحترف</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; المحافظة على علاقة عمل دقيقة وموثوقة والالتزام بالجلسات المعيّنة وبعدد المقالات المتفق عليه</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; التواصل بانتظام مع الميسّر، وتحديداً في المواقف التي يحتاج فيها المشترك إلى تعديل شروط علاقة العمل (مثلاً، تغيير موعد الحصة/الاجتماع)</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; احترام السرية والآراء المعبّر عنها ضمن المجموعة </p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; أخذ المبادرة للتطوّع لمهمات أو مشاريع يجدها المشترك مثيرة للاهتمام</p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>المتطلّبات:</strong></h2> <p class="direction-rtl">بالإضافة إلى المتطلبات العامة، يجب أن يلتزم المشترك بالتالي خلال البرنامج:</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; الالتزام بحدّ أدنى من الحصص يساوي 12حصة</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تطوير علاقة عمل مع الميسّر للعب دور المرشد بشكل صحيح</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; المشاركة بالمناظرات بنشاط والتركيز على المواضيع وكيفية تبلور النقاش</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تدوين الملاحظات فعلياً خلال كلّ حصة وتشاركها مع المجموعة</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; الانخراط في تطوير فضاء إلكتروني للمناظرات والمشاركة فيه</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; كتابة مقال واحد على الأقلّ في الشهر، استناداً إلى المناقشات التي حصلت</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; فهم كيفية تحسين عملك وتطبيق ذلك</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تقييم ومراقبة نجاحك استناداً إلى اتساع نطاق تأثيرك</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; التفكير في تجربتك والكتابة عنها لدى إتمام البرنامج</p> <h2 class="direction-rtl"><strong>مَن المرشّحون لهذا التدريب؟</strong></h2> <p class="direction-rtl">يمكنك التقدّم بطلب إذا:</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; كنت بين سنّ 21 و30؛</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; كنت تطمح لتصبح صحفياً أو مدوّناً؛</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; لديك إطّلاع واسع على المنطقة المحددة للبرنامج؛</p> <p class="direction-rtl">-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; تتكلّم وتكتب العربية و/أو الإنكليزية بطلاقة. </p> <p class="direction-rtl"><strong>كيف يمكن التقدّم للتدريب؟</strong></p> <p class="direction-rtl">أرسِل نصّاً من&nbsp; 1000 – 1500 كلمة باللغة الإنكليزية أو العربية عن موضوع يهمّك، مثلاً حوار أثّر فيك أو مراقبتك لمحيطك أو حدث ثقافي أو مبادرة مثيرة للاهتمام أو وجهة نظرك حول سياسات المنطقة أو سبب اهتمامك بالمشاركة في البرنامج بالاضافة الى سيرتك.</p> <p class="direction-rtl">الرجاء إرسال جميع الطلبات والمستندات المرتبطة بها إلى موقع <a href="mailto:arabawakeningteam@opendemocracy.net"><strong>arabawakeningteam@opendemocracy.net</strong></a> والموعد النهائي للتقديم هو&nbsp; 20 أبريل.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Middle East Forum Arab Awakening Egypt Opportunities at openDemocracy middle east openDemocracy Sun, 12 Mar 2017 10:19:45 +0000 openDemocracy 109386 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Turkish referendum and Bild https://www.opendemocracy.net/omar-kassem/turkish-referendum-and-bild <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A tale of two deep states?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 14.18.49.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 14.18.49.png" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot, Bild. March 27, 2017.</span></span></span>Why did <a href="http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/tuerkei/staatsgruender-atatuerk-haette-nein-gesagt-51016826.bild.html">this centre-spread</a> in the BILD newspaper instruct Turkish voters that the founder of their new Republic, Mustafa Kemal “Atatürk” (pictured) would have voted NO in the recent referendum? BILD, owned by the media giant Axel Springer, is the largest circulation newspaper anywhere outside East Asia. </p><p>In the first place, understanding what Atatürk was up to confuses many. He followed the ideas of August Comte at the Paris <em>École Polytechnique</em>, mentor to many of the French-trained élite officer corps who helped him carry out the coup in 1908, though not Atatürk himself. It was Comte’s ideas about “rational religion” that he sought to apply to Islamic practice to generate a strict moral code he would maintain was a genetic Turkish characteristic.</p> <p>This ideology of state supervision by a Soviet-style “Directorate of Religious Affairs”would later be called <em>Ataturkism</em> by 1980 coup leader General Kenan Evren. It could be argued that the straightjacket of<em> Ataturkism</em>, which would not allow for variations in belief (viz. Alevis) or ethnicity (viz. Kurds), together with its aggressive policing, still lies beneath Turkey's divisions today, prompting the political psychosis of what Kerem Oktem refers to as an “<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Angry-Nation-Turkey-History-Present/dp/1848132115/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1492758859&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=angry+nation">Angry Nation</a>”.</p> <p>Atatürk ruled through a single party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which is the current bitter opponent of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by Erdoğan in 2001. From the 1930s onwards, the Ataturkist (or Kemalist) élite sought to emulate the “good” European idea of a multi-party system, which stuttered forward in a continuous stream of opposition parties. But these would invariably be closed down, one after the other, when judged unsuitable by a tutelary military.</p> <p>In short Atatürk, the iconic figure who wrested the Turkish nation from imperial aggression, was hardly a paragon of tolerance and democracy. Why then did BILD feature him in this way? A clue may be found in an announcement made by Bruno Kahl, head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s spy agency, in the run-up to the referendum.</p> <h2><strong>The BND, BILD and the Gülenists</strong></h2> <p>Kahl <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-germany-idUKKBN16P0LQ">announced</a> that Erdoğan’s principal antagonist, the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gülen was not behind the July 15, 2016 attempted coup in Turkey. The Gülenist organisation, according to him,‘...is a civil organisation that aims to provide religious and secular education’. This certainly contradicts Stuart Smith at the US Consulate in Istanbul who a decade before had compared this organisation to that of a mafia (as <a href="https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/05ISTANBUL1336_a.html">revealed</a> in the Wikileaks cables), an assessment echoed independently in several books by journalists such as Ahmet Şık (in <a href="http://www.tuerkeiforum.net/enw/index.php?title=The_Army_of_the_Imam:_Infiltrating_the_Police"><em>The Imam’s Army</em></a>), Nedim Şener and Soner Yalçın and former police chief Hanefi Avcı (in <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Hali%C3%A7te-Yasayan-Simonlar-Devlet-Cemaat/dp/9752870759/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1492458958&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=Hali%C3%A7%27te+Ya%C5%9Fayan+Simonlar"><em>The Simons Living on The Golden Horn</em></a>). These writers would all be arrested on trumped up charges by prosecutors belonging to the Gülenist organisation: now exonerated, they have all <a href="http://www.milligazete.com.tr/odatv_davasinda_13_saniga_beraat_karari/461581">recently been released</a>.</p> <p>Kahl at the BND made what amounted to an essentially supportive and conciliatory political statement regarding the Gülen organisation, nine months after the coup, and weeks before the upcoming April referendum, presumably to have some kind of effect on the referendum outcome. Why would Kahl come out of the shadows to say these things? We need to look at the role of the press and the link between BILD, the press in general and the BND in Germany.</p> <p>BILD is the tabloid representative of the German political right, owned by the Axel Springer Group. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Gekaufte-Journalisten-Geheimdienste-Deutschlands-Massenmedien-ebook/dp/B00PVHCWD0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&amp;qid=1492167886&amp;sr=1-1">Udo Ulfkotte</a> has documented how in the 2005 elections which brought the CDU/CSU to power with Merkel at the head, Gerhard Schröder, leader of the left of centre Social Democratic Party (SDP), complained bitterly of a media stitch up at the centre of which stood Axel Springer and BILD. In the late 1960s, Axel Springer had led the charge against the student movement. When student activist and leader Rudi Dutschke was gunned down in 1968, his followers and many in the community at large <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/the-attack-on-rudi-dutschke-a-revolutionary-who-shaped-a-generation-a-546913.html">blamed BILD</a> headlines for inciting the public to violence against him and other individuals in the student movement. </p> <p>The entire stable of Axel Springer publications instructs its journalists to abide by an extraordinary <a href="http://www.axelspringer.de/en/artikel/The-Essentials_40219.html">ideological contractual code</a>, which commits them to taking the fight to “religious extremism” (however defined by editorial edict), to defend America and “transatlanticism”, and to protect the State of Israel. There is no reference to ‘journalistic values’ in the code.</p> <p>Udo Ulfkotte’s book <em>Gekaufte Journalisten </em>describes the pervasive influence on the German press of the BND, and its subservience to the CIA. As editor of <em>Frankfurter Allgemeine</em> (FAZ), Ulfkotte’s description of the sheer extent of BND interference in what was, unlike the Alex Springer newspapers, an independently owned and edited newspaper is astonishing. The BND would rent rooms near the paper’s offices where their own staff would write the stories Ulfkotte admits he had to accept and publish wholesale. He goes into detail about the BND’s ‘...&nbsp; pervasive influence on literati, musicians, publishers or public broadcasters’, an account corroborated by many, including the retired head of German broadcaster ZDF, <a href="http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/medienquartett-bitte-nicht-stoeren-hauptstadtjournalisten.1301.de.html?dram:article_id=343058">Wolfgang Herles</a>.</p> <p>The German government and the EU were clearly against Erdoğan’s constitutional amendments and had published legal opinions decrying them as a ‘<a href="http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/events/?country=31">dangerous step backwards for democracy</a>’. But if Ulfkotte’s description of how the BND operates is correct, the overt campaign against the YES camp led by BILD, and which included ARD TV broadcasting in both German and Turkish during the referendum, was accompanied by a more covert one.</p> <h2><strong>The April 16 Turkish referendum</strong></h2> <p>European institutions waited in the wings to weigh into the fray in the aftermath of the referendum result in the event of a victory for Erdoğan and the YES camp. Within an hour of the result, which saw a 51.4% win for YES out of 49.7m votes cast (from a total electorate of 58.3m), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) declared the campaign unfairly biased towards the YES camp. Various EU institutions made rapid fire announcements demanding transparency. </p> <p>In Turkey, the CHP, whose leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had so far failed to use his party’s resources in an energetic campaign, sprang into action and now sought the referendum’s annulment. Kılıçdaroğlu based his demand on the Electoral Board (YSK)’s acceptance of “unstamped” ballot papers as valid. No soorner were the CHP’s complaints filed, than a stream of images about contraventions filled social media, chatter mushroomed and, the YSK was charged with being in Erdoğan’s pocket. Newspapers globally <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/turkish-referendum-victory-name-only-erdogan">carried claims</a> that the ‘... supreme election board unexpectedly decided to accept ballots without the official seals’. The YSK, on the other hand, said that all ballot papers without exception carried the official watermark and the voter’s own mark. An additional stamp had been missing on a few occasions due to the failure of some officials to do their job. This, <a href="http://www.trtworld.com/turkey/anatomy-of-turkish-referendum-stamp-controversy-339962">said</a> the YSK head, could have been due to ‘... error, neglect or manipulation’. It had occurred in past elections when the CHP itself had <a href="http://aa.com.tr/en/politics/election-board-head-says-unsealed-ballot-papers-valid/798709">advised</a> overlooking the problem, since not accepting the ballots would unfairly penalise the voters in question.</p> <p>As it was, the audit confirmed the correct total number of ballots counted originally supplied to the polling stations. The NGO ‘Vote and Beyond’, formed to improve transparency in Turkish elections after the Gezi Park protests, <a href="https://bianet.org/english/human-rights/185785-vote-and-beyond-election-monitoring-organization-releases-report-on-referendum">detected</a> inconsistencies in a mere 0.22% of the total vote count, or 100,000 ballots (the difference between the YES and NO camps was close on 1.5m).</p> <p>The indecent haste of EU institutions, whether the OSCE or the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), to discredit these democratic procedures without waiting for the YSK to make their statements, tells its own story. These are institutions who give unqualified support to Israel and the current Egyptian junta, and who according to, for example, <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/EUs-Role-World-Politics-Internationalism/dp/0415679451">Richard Youngs</a>' assessment of the EU’s role in world politics, pursue policies which are ‘...increasingly illiberal... [using] the ostensible principles of multilateralism as a means of shoring up its own relative power in a more multipolar world... [and seeking] containment of, rather than forward-looking engagement with, political Islam’.</p><h2> </h2><h2><strong>The Gülenists, ultranationalists, and the attack on the referendum</strong></h2> <p>What role did the messages put out by Kahl and BILD play in all of this? Atatürk is a totemic figure in ultranationalist circles, and Gülenists, to whom they were appealing, are largely ultranationalist. They are, furthermore, deeply ensconced in Turkish coup history. Gülen backed the 1980 military coup by General Kenan Evren, and became a purveyor of <em>Ataturkism</em> at a time when the west was panicking about Khomeini’s 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Much later Gülen would back yet another military coup, this time in 1997 against his supposedly close friend and ally, Islamic politician Necmettin Erbakan.</p> <p>With this background in coup-culture, Gülen joined Erdoğan in the AKP project in 2001, until they fell out when Erdoğan launched the “<a href="http://carnegieeurope.eu/2009/12/01/kurdish-opening-in-turkey-origins-and-future-event-1494">Kurdish Opening</a>” in 2009, which sought to make inroads into Turkey’s Kurdish problem by legalising the use of the Kurdish language, launching Kurdish studies in schools and universities and allowing Kurdish media. The Kurdish Opening involved a reconciliation process with the Kurds which, as an ultranationalist, Gülen couldn’t stomach.</p> <p>It involved trying to defuse the situation with the militant Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Gülen’s followers in the police wiretapped Hakkan Fidan, Erdogan’s MİT chief, while he met with PKK representatives in an Oslo hotel on five occasions between December 2009 and January 2010. They released the tapes to the press on the basis that the government was negotiating with a proscribed terrorist organisation, <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&amp;n=alleged-pkk-talks-tape-rattles-turkish-politics-2011-09-14">causing a furore</a> in nationalist circles. Gülen later tried to have Fidan arrested on that charge while Erdoğan lay in hospital. Ever since, he and Erdoğan have been enemies, while Gülen’s followers in the police and judiciary are accused of laying ambush after ambush for the Turkish leader.</p> <p>The Kurdish issue has always been at the centre of Turkish politics, exploited by factions in and out of country for different political ends. The April referendum was no different.</p> <p>In order to pass the legislation for the referendum campaign in parliament the AKP had no choice but to partner the Nationalist Party (MHP) with Devlet Bahçeli at its head, given the refusal by Kılıçdaroğlu and the CHP, and by the HDP, to countenance such a move. However, while Bahçeli delivered the necessary votes in parliament to pass the referendum law, his grassroots deserted him.</p> <p>In fact, the NO campaign was more energised by a dissenting group of MHP members of parliament than a lacklustre CHP. Meral Akşener, Koray Aydın, Ümit Özdağ, Sinan Oğan and Yusuf Halaçoğlu had earlier tried to remove Bahçeli as leader <a href="https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/2016/07/16/backed-by-executive-board-bahceli-seeks-to-expel-mhp-dissidents">but failed</a>. Erdoğan is used to securing the Anatolian vote in its entirety, but Ankara went against him by 51.15%. Those bureaucratic heartlands, with their concentrations of MHP voters, were won over to the NO campaign partly by these dissident ultranationalists.</p> <p>What saved the day for Erdoğan was the Kurdish vote. Out of 19 Kurdish-majority provinces 10 voted YES (Adiyaman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Kars, Malatya, Muş, and Sanliurfa). Out of 5.5m people in those areas, 3m voted (54.5%) YES; the crucial development being, however, of a shift in votes which occurred in NO-voting areas like Hakkari, Şırnak, and eastern Ağrı (as well as YES areas like Muş) compared with the November 2015 AKP results. This handed over nearly 1m votes to bail out the YES camp. Within hours of the failure of the insurrection the dissident MHP MPs were <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/mhp-dissidents-lean-toward-staying-in-party.aspx?pageID=238&amp;nID=112243&amp;NewsCatID=338">appealing to Bahçeli</a> to keep them on.</p> <h2><strong>Judging the Venice Commission’s findings</strong></h2> <p>The constitutional amendments passed on April 16 will come into effect in March 2019, when new presidential and parliamentary elections will be held, if and only if a whole raft of new supporting laws can be passed in the meantime. Erdoğan’s ability to effect legislative and constitutional change has been based on an unshakeable <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/05/29/the-akps-appeal-to-the-working-class-explains-why-the-turkish-government-has-managed-to-retain-its-support-during-the-countrys-protests/">core support</a> of about 32% of the Turkish population. The “black Turk” meme used in his speeches exploits the divisions in Turkish society left over from the Atatürk legacy. But if he didn’t ally himself with other sections of what is a “multi-polar” society by using the “big tent” approach for which he is renowned, he could never have achieved the majorities which have propelled him forward so far. It is the perception that PKK violence and Gülenist subversion is supported by foreign powers that gives Erdoğan not only his majority, but the backing of a post-Ataturkist (Kemalist) establishment. </p> <p>Clearly, the concern is: what now? Is the future trajectory different from the past? Close analysis of the constitutional changes point to the fact that although Erdoğan has indeed bought himself some extra time in power, nothing really changes. If an opposition with a credible programme forms the right alliances, there is as much if not more chance for it to replace Erdoğan (for instance in the March 2019 elections) as in the past.</p> <p>The legal opinions issued by the Venice commission which decry the April 16 constitutional amendments present objections that are typical of formulaic EU institutions working through templates and directives. They focus especially on the ability of the presidency to issue executive orders, the concurrent nature of presidential and parliamentary elections, and the ability of the presidency to dissolve parliament. But as with all formalism, which cannot see the wood for the trees, it is not only myopic but wrong about what Turkey is trying to achieve. For instance, parliament can actually pass a law by a majority vote, which immediately replaces any executive order from the president. Moreover, the presidential impeachment processes put in place by the new constitution do have more teeth than its critics concede.</p> <p>The Venice Commission fails to recognise that really nothing has changed in a system where the dissolution of parliament is not possible without the simultaneous resignation of the president and where a concurrent cycle elects presidents and MPs at the same time. All that has happened is that the “prime minister” has simply become “president”. </p> <p>If there is no change there, significant changes however that will take place as laws are passed prior to March 2019 will shape the actual nature of the administrative structure, especially with regard to the intelligence services and the armed forces.</p> <p>It is these last aspects of the new reforms which Erdoğan has long sought to bring into a centralised and reduced structure, in order to consolidate the “security state”, to use the terminology from <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Decline-Democratic-Politics-Twentieth-Century/dp/0226538214?ie=UTF8&amp;*Version*=1&amp;*entries*=0">Hans J.Morgenthau</a>’s School of Political Realism, on which the country’s sovereignty is deemed to depend. Crucially, on this, likewise, depends the “democratic state” and all its institutions. If the US and Europe struggle in the modern age to keep the correct balance between these two aspects of the modern state, Middle Eastern states suffer not so much from an imbalance between them, as from a spectacularly overbearing “security state”. </p> <p>However, if we have learned no more from the Arab Spring, we have at least learned that this unfortunate situation has been caused as much by the presence of the western security state in the region as by anything else. Independence from this particular interference is necessary for democracy to succeed in the region. This is essentially what Erdoğan's Turkey is trying to achieve.</p> <p>If Erdoğan and the AKP are seeking structures to minimise the kind of foreign interference in Turkish affairs witnessed in the events being related here, it is inevitable that Kurds will be granted federal status eventually, as he undertook way back in 2005 when he said ‘the Kurdish problem is my problem’. Then the PKK will have to face not the Turkish state, but the Kurdish constituency itself, and the lever European powers have over Turkish politics will disappear.</p> <p>If Erdoğan succeeds in putting the security state fully under civilian control in Turkey in a centralised fashion, the traditional competition between different deep state actors will end, together with their solicitation of different foreign backers to pursue colliding interests. The resulting stability will allow the democratic state inherent in the multi-polarity of Turkish society and culture to flourish.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Arab Awakening United States EU Germany Turkey Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Turkish Dawn Omar Kassem Sat, 29 Apr 2017 14:00:49 +0000 Omar Kassem 110508 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Second Amendment and democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/fernando-betancor/second-amendment-and-democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Could our democracies be on the wane and our rights under attack because we are less willing to take up arms to die and kill for our country?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/youthtraining.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/youthtraining.png" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Common Sense.</span></span></span>I just bought my son his first air rifle. It is a Gamo G-Force breech break rifle in .177 caliber (4.5 mm) shooting a 12 gram steel ball or pellet at 360 feet per second: painful, but not dangerous unless you hit someone in the eye. </p> <p>The synthetic polymer stock and steel barrel weigh in at just over 4 pounds and from butt plate to muzzle crown, the single-shot rifle is just over 37 inches long. It is perfect for a young man or woman, and will bring him many pleasurable hours shooting at targets, “plinking” or convincing the neighborhood field rats that they are not welcome on our property. </p> <p>More importantly, it will teach him the discipline of arms: safety first and always, the responsibility for maintenance and care of the equipment, accuracy and pride in accomplishment when hitting a difficult target, and respect for the weapon and its potential harm when carelessly or maliciously used.</p> <h2><strong>The right to bear arms</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>In our country, the US, the right to bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution: important enough that the framers of that document included it as the second of ten amendments designed to preserve the liberties of our people and avoid the despotism of a tyrannical government. </p> <p>It was almost left out: not because the right was disputed, but because agreement was so general and complete that many Founding Fathers thought it unnecessary. After all, the necessity of arms had just been proven in the Revolutionary War, with simple farmers and townsmen taking up their weapons in defense of their hearth, their home and their freedom from oppressive old King George.</p> <p>During the extended public debate over the proposed constitution, both those for and against the new, more powerful Federal government assumed that the public would be armed. The Anti-Federalists especially feared the power to form a standing army granted the new government, like the hated redcoats sent over by Parliament. Patrick Henry, in typically dramatic Patrick Henry fashion, argued that freedom was won and would be maintained only by force of arms; that an armed citizenry was not only the necessary and proper shield against foreign invasion, but also the indispensable guardian against domestic tyranny.</p> <h2><strong>Armed citizenry</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>In answer to the anti-Federalist fears of a standing army and centralized government, the Federalists also turned to the existence of an armed citizenry. Alexander Hamilton countered:</p> <p>“If circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow-citizens.”</p> <p>Fellow Federalist James Madison agreed with Hamilton and assured the public that anti-Federalist fears of a central government tyranny were overblown: “the people need never fear the government because of the advantage of being armed.”</p> <p>The right to bear arms was not an innovation of the Founding Fathers; it was one of the “traditional English liberties” which they had started the Revolution to protect. The militia system had a long and robust history in English law and tradition dating back at least to the Plantagenet kings of the 12th century, who required:</p> <p>“that every man in the same country, if he be able-bodied, shall, upon holidays, make use, in his games, of bows and arrows…and so learn and practice archery.”&nbsp;</p> <p>It was the property-owning English freeholder, the backbone of the medieval peasantry, whose brawny arm and skill with the longbow had won the battles of Crecy and Agincourt. It was they, as much as the barons, who had imposed Magna Carta upon a reluctant King John. And during the English Civil War, it was the armed farmers and villagers who formed the core of the Parliamentary Army that went on to defeat the aristocratic cavaliers and cut off the head of King Charles Stuart.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>An English liberty</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>The delegates to the Constitutional Convention were intimately familiar with the English Bill of Rights, secured by the victors of the Civil War during the restoration of the Stuarts, which guarantees:</p> <p>“No Royal interference in the freedom of the people to have arms for their own defence as suitable to their class and as allowed by law.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The English Bill of Rights had enormous influence on the American Constitution and Bill of Rights. The American version goes further than the English bill, to raise the bearing of arms to the level of a natural right. This was in keeping with the direct experience of colonial history in the English colonies, from the first settlements to the Revolution, which was one of an armed citizenry banding together to defend hearth and home against native attack and foreign invasion, sometimes both.&nbsp; No doubt the memory of the citizen militia of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill played a major role in shaping the minds of the delegates to the Convention; so too did British attempts to disarm the citizenry to impose Parliament’s will by force.</p> <p>Today, the right to bear arms is not as universally accepted as it once was. There are a number of reasons for this, which have been explored by many authors over the last four decades. Yet it would be a mistake to dismiss the Second Amendment as something irrelevant to our times. It is much more than a license for a few farmers or sportsman to go into the woods and shoot at wild animals every now and then; it goes beyond mere self-defense. Every right the citizen reserves has a countervailing duty as well, and the obligation to bear arms is at the heart of our republican form of government.</p> <h2><strong>Representative government</strong></h2> <p>To understand why this is so, you have to first comprehend that representative government, whether a republic or a democracy, is an innovation that conferred tremendous military advantage on the people who adopted it. </p> <p>Yes: democracy is primarily <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Why-West-Has-Won-Carnage/dp/0571216404">a military innovation</a>. That will sound grating to many ears, especially to those who believe armaments and militaries to be unsavory relics. But throughout all of human history, civilization has progressed as much by war as by peaceful cooperation and trade. In the Ancient world – as well as the modern one – you did not need to hold a sword to die by one, and slavery or death was the all too common lot of those people who failed to defend themselves adequately. In an international landscape of brutal and unfettered competition between tribes, cities and states, anything that conferred military advantage for offense or defense was highly desirable.</p> <p>Representative government offered exactly that. In fact, so advantageous was it, that throughout history you have examples of republics routinely defeating much larger and at first blush more powerful autocratic states: the allied Greek cities defeating the vast Persian Empire; the Roman Republic defeating all comers to conquer the Mediterranean; the Venetian Republic defending itself from the Ottoman Empire; the Dutch Republic waging 70 years of revolution and war to defeat Imperial Spain; the United Kingdom conquering half the globe in the eighteenth century; the French Republic overcoming internal disorders and the enmity of all of Europe to defend the Revolution and then to conquer most of the continent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte; and, of course, the United States, the most powerful republic of them all.</p> <h2><strong>Representative republicanism</strong></h2> <p>Strictly speaking ,there are no true democracies in the world today, only republics. In a republic, people vote for representatives, who vote in their name and interests (supposedly). In a democracy, like that of classical Athens, the people vote on all matters directly.</p> <p>What makes republicanism such a powerful military tool? There are a number of factors that have been pointed to by learned men from Aristotle to Madison:</p> <blockquote><p>1. &nbsp;Representative government depends upon the rule of law more than any other system. Autocratic states are <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Power-Prosperity-Outgrowing-Capitalist-Dictatorships/dp/0465051960">ultimately legitimized banditry</a>, which acts as a disincentive to production and investment. States with a strong rule of law protect property rights and avoid arbitrary taxation and rent-extraction, which encourages investment and productivity. Money has always been the sinew of war so a more productive society starts with a material advantage in its war-making capability. Naval warfare is particularly expensive – anyone can deploy a mass of infantry – which is precisely why the most successful naval powers have all had representative government: the Athenians, the Romans, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>2. &nbsp;Representative governments are also more efficient at financing their military struggles. Because they enjoy greater legitimacy than autocrats, they are able to more effectively levy exactions on the population that would lead to revolts in other systems. The repeated bankruptcies of the House of Habsburg was a principal cause of Imperial Spain’s defeat by the smaller Dutch Republic, that never suffered a cash shortage despite fighting the entire 70 years of war on their territory. The Venetian Republic was so proverbially efficient and stable financially that the ducat was the gold standard of currency for the entire Renaissance and much of the early Enlightenment. The English Civil War broke out over taxes as did the French Revolution;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>3. &nbsp;Republics and democracies, based on a much broader franchise and participation in government than autocracies, are better able to mobilize and energize their populations for the defense of the state. The Greeks and Romans were able to mobilize much more significant percentages of their populations than their imperial competitors and came closest to the concept of the “people in arms” in the Ancient World. This is how the Greek city states were able to routinely beat the stuffing out of the Persian Empire after 479 B.C. despite the enormous advantage enjoyed by the later in size, population and total wealth. The Roman Republic suffered catastrophic defeats against Hannibal for more than a decade during the Second Punic War, but was able to reorganize army after citizen army to take the field and win eventual victory. The Dutch Republic defeated the might of the Spanish Empire and the feared <em>tercios </em>with a tenth of the population and resources of the latter; and the French Revolution reintroduced the <em>levee en masse</em> to go from utter defeat to total victory on all fronts in the pre-Bonaparte wars. It took the entire might of all of Europe’s great powers to defeat Republican France in 20 years of war.</p></blockquote> <p>The rent extraction, suppression of revolts and internal policing that are a common feature of autocracies are all expensive to install and maintain. They require substantial resources, which must be diverted from the common defense or expansion to internal security and repression.</p> <p>An army that is garrisoning the major cities and towns to prevent revolt is not one that is easily able to deploy abroad, or very efficient when it does. Because of their greater legitimacy, representative governments can use their resources more efficiently and are able to face the prospects of sending most of the military on foreign adventures or reducing the size of the peace-time army without fear of the peasantry immediately taking up their pitchforks.</p> <h2><strong>Enter the people</strong></h2> <p>If the benefits of representative government are so self-evident and decisive, the obvious question is: why haven’t there been more of them? Republics and democracies have been as rare as hippogriffs for most of human history; the five or six examples I’ve cited above pretty much exhaust the list until the late eighteenth century. The reason for this should also be obvious: in democracies and republics, the people have a greater share of power. <span class="mag-quote-center">It is an unfortunate reflection on human nature that the vast majority of elites in all times and all places have shown far less interest in pursuing the common interest than in maximizing their own power, influence and wealth.</span></p> <p>It is an unfortunate reflection on human nature that the vast majority of elites in all times and all places have shown far less interest in pursuing the common interest than in maximizing their own power, influence and wealth. “Commonwealth” is synonymous with “republic” but elites have almost always shown that they would prefer to dispense with the “common” and keep all the wealth themselves. For this reason, it has always taken an unusual set of circumstances to bring forth representative government and military necessity has often been one of those catalysts.</p> <p>While representative government is unquestionably the most advantageous for the general public in securing their rights and wealth and the rewards of industry, it is also the most exacting and demanding in the imposition of obligations upon the whole body politic. In an autocratic state, the only obligation is obedience: all other civic duties are forbidden since they lead to political power. For a representative government to function properly, the people must exercise their power and fulfill their duties. It is not enough to vote periodically: citizens must run for office, perform jury duty, serve in the military, attend local assemblies, and stay informed of the issues of the day. Citizenship in a republican or democratic state is hard-work. There is no room for apathy or uninterest: this leads rapidly to the concentration of power in elite hands. </p> <h2><strong>No shirking</strong></h2> <p>There is no such thing as a republic with a mercenary army or with a dynastic political cadre.&nbsp;In ancient Athens, citizens were obligated by law to participate in government and fulfill their duties: shirkers not only faced fines, they were reviled and shamed by their peers.</p> <p>Our republican form of government belongs to us, the citizens; ultimately, it is ours to defend or to lose. National service – in all its forms – is not something to be avoided by running to Canada, nor can it be fulfilled by others so that we are not inconvenienced. Representative Steve King recently said to Europeans “you can’t save your civilization with someone else’s babies.” But he should have reflected that Americans can’t save their republic if no one serves it. </p> <p>The congressmen should perhaps be more concerned about the family dynasties that are increasingly prevalent in US politics and business or the fact that the vast majority of soldiers in our military are from a tiny percentage of underprivileged citizens and foreign immigrants: a situation many Late Empire Romans would have found surprisingly familiar.</p> <p>So before you decide that the Second Amendment is an anachronism fit only for psychotics and hillbillies, you may want to reflect that the entire history of republican government rests on the willingness of an active citizenry, familiar with and having access to arms, defending their hard won rights from all enemies who would strip them of those, both foreign and domestic. </p> <p>You may want to reflect that the Founding Fathers might have thought about and debated the constitution they were drafting a bit more than you have; and that it has survived for 230 years with only periodic updates to improve it. You may want to consider the wise words of former President Barack Obama: “rights may be self-evident, but they have never been self-executing.” There is always someone somewhere who wants to take them away from you.</p> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="http://www.fdbetancor.com/2017/04/13/the-second-amendment-a-duty-as-much-as-a-right/">Common Sense</a> on April 13, 2017 under the title, </em>The Second Amendment: A Duty as Much as a Right<em>. </em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences">A nuclear peril, and its silences</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/david-held/broken-politics-from-911-to-present"> Broken politics: from 9/11 to the present </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/un-talks-nuclear-weapons-what-can-they-achieve">UN talks to ban nuclear weapons: what can they achieve?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> UK United States Conflict Democracy and government International politics Fernando Betancor Sat, 29 Apr 2017 11:53:50 +0000 Fernando Betancor 110507 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Making the future possible again https://www.opendemocracy.net/boaventura-de-sousa-santos/making-future-possible-again <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The twentieth century began with two major models of progressive change in society, revolution and reformism, and the twenty-first century begins with neither. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" alt="open Movements" width="460px" /></a><br /><b>The <i><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements">openMovements</a></i> series invites leading social scientists to share their research results and perspectives on contemporary social struggles.</b></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-18618578.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-18618578.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Belgrade, Serbia, 2014. Graffitti of Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip who shot prince Franz Ferdinand in 1914 in Sarajevo, triggering WW1. The text reads: 'Our ghosts will wander through Vienna, stroll around the palaces and scare the masters'. Photo: Thomas Brey/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>When we look at the past through the eyes of the present, we find huge cemeteries of abandoned futures, struggles that inaugurated new possibilities but were neutralized, silenced, or distorted, futures murdered at birth, or even still-born futures, contingencies that determined the winning choice later ascribed to the course of history. </p> <p>These abandoned futures are also buried bodies, often bodies committed to wrong or useless futures. We worship or execrate them depending on whether the future they aspired to coincides with what we want for ourselves or not. </p> <p>That is why we mourn our dead, though never the same dead. Lest we believe that recent examples include only suicide bombers, martyrs to some, terrorists to others, two celebrations of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, an event that would lead to the outbreak of World War I, were held in Sarajevo in 2014. In a Sarajevo neighborhood, Bosnians, Croatians, and Muslims celebrated the king and his wife, while in a different neighborhood, Bosnian Serbs were fêting their murderer, Gavrilo Princip, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlmRfe6WV9U">even erected a statue</a> in his honor.</p> <p>In the early twenty first century, the concept of abandoned futures threatens to be obsolete, perhaps alongside the very concept of ‘future’. The future seems to have stopped in the present and to be prepared to linger in there for an indefinite period. Novelty, surprise, indetermination follow one another so trivially that all the good and bad things that were supposed to happen in the future are happening right now. </p> <p>The future has anticipated itself and has fallen on the present. The speed of time passing is the same as the speed of the time that stops. The trivialization of innovation goes hand in hand with the trivialization of glory and horror. </p> <p>Many experience this with indifference. They have long given up making the world happen and therefore accept with resignation the fact that the world happens to them. These are the cynics, the professionals of skepticism. However, there are two different groups of people, very dissimilar in kind and size, for whom giving up is just not an option.</p> <h2><strong>The future determined</strong></h2> <p>The first group comprises the overwhelming majority of the world’s population. The exponential rise of social inequality, the proliferation of social fascisms, hunger, precariousness, desertification, expulsion from ancestral lands coveted by multinational companies, irregular wars specialized in killing innocent civilian populations – all of this means that an increasingly larger portion of the world’s population is now focusing on tomorrow instead of looking to the future. </p> <p>Today they are alive, but they don’t know whether they will be alive tomorrow; today they can feed their children, but they don’t know whether there will be food for them tomorrow; today they have a job, but they don’t know whether they will tomorrow. The immediate tomorrow is the mirror in which the future does not like to look, because the image it reflects back is the image of a mediocre, banal, uninspiring future. These huge populations ask so little of the future that they surely won’t be prepared to handle it. </p> <p>The second group is a minority group much as it is powerful. It envisions itself making the world happen, defining and controlling the future indefinitely and exclusively so that there is no chance of an alternative future. </p> <p>This group is made up of two fundamentalisms. They are fundamentalist because they are based on absolute truths, they reject dissent, and they believe that the ends justify the means. These two fundamentalisms are neoliberalism, controlled by the financial markets, and Daesh, the radical Jihadists who claim to be Islamic. Although extremely different, even opposed, these two groups do share important traits. They are both based on absolute truths that do not tolerate political dissidence, be it a ‘scientific faith’ in the priority of investors’ interests and the legitimacy of the infinite accumulation of wealth it allows, or ‘religious faith’ in the doctrine of the Khalifa, which promises freedom from western humiliation and dominion. They both aim to control access to the most valued natural resources. They both cause tremendous, unjust suffering, claiming that the ends legitimize the means. To disseminate their proselytism, both resort to new digital information technologies with equal sophistication. Their radicalism has the same character, and the future they proclaim is equally dystopic – a future unworthy of humanity.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Franzferdinand40hel1917.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Franzferdinand40hel1917.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Commemorative postage stamp for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in memory of archduke Franz-Ferdinand and Sophia, duchess of Hohenberg, 1917. Wikicommons/Nickpo. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>A worthy future?<br /></strong></h2> <p>Is a worthy future possible between the two unworthy futures I have just mentioned: the minimalism of tomorrow and the maximalism of fundamentalism? I believe it is, although the history of the last one hundred years recommends that we approach it with due caution. Our baseline was not brilliant. The twentieth century began with two major models of progressive change in society, revolution and reformism, and the twenty-first century begins with neither. </p> <p>It is worth recalling the Russian Revolution again, since it radicalized the choice between the two models and gave it practical political consistency. With the October Revolution, it became clear to workers and peasants (or the popular classes, as we would now call them) that there were two ways of bringing about a better future, which announced itself as post-capitalist, or socialist: either revolution, which entailed a (not necessarily violent) institutional breach with the mechanisms of representative democracy, a breach with legal and constitutional procedures, and sudden, dramatic changes in the land ownership system; or reformism, which involved respect for democratic institutions and gradual progress concerning workers’ claims as electoral processes progressively became more favorable to them. Both models shared one and the same aim – socialism. </p> <p>Today I will not be focusing on the vicissitudes of this choice over the past hundred years. I would briefly just like to mention that after the failure of the German revolution (1918-1921), the idea that reformism would be the preferred approach both in Europe and in the USA (the first world) progressively gained ground, while the third world (note that the Soviet socialist world gradually established itself as the second world) would follow either the revolutionary path, as indeed happened in China in 1949, or some combination of the two models. </p> <p>In the meantime, as Stalin ascended to power the Russian Revolution became a bloody dictatorship and sacrificed its best children in the name of an absolute truth that imposed itself through maximum violence. In other words, the revolutionary choice transformed itself into a radical fundamentalism that preceded those mentioned above. </p> <p>In its turn, as the third world freed itself from colonialism, it gradually became clear that reformism would never lead to socialism – it might, at the very best, lead to capitalism with a human face, like the one that was emerging in Europe after World War II. The Non-Aligned Movement (1955-1961) proclaimed its intention to reject both Soviet socialism and western capitalism. </p> <p>For several reasons both models of social transformation collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The revolution became a discredited, obsolete fundamentalism that collapsed down into its very foundations. Democratic reformism, on the other hand, gradually lost its reformist drive and with it its democratic density. </p> <p>Reformism became a byword for the desperate struggle to maintain the rights of the popular classes (public education and health, infrastructures and public goods, such as water) that had been acquired during the previous period. Reformism duly slowly languished until it became a squalid, disfigured entity reconfigured by neoliberal fundamentalism by means of a facelift and transformed into the sole model of democracy export, i.e., liberal democracy converted into an instrument of imperialism with the right to intervene in enemy or uncivilized countries and to destroy them in the name of this much-coveted trophy. </p> <p>However, when awarded, the trophy shows its true colors: neon-lit ruin, transported in the cargo of military and financial bombers (structural adjustment), the latter being piloted by the World Bank CEOs and by the International Monetary Fund. </p> <h2><strong>Beyond historic failure</strong></h2> <p>In the present state of this journey, the revolution has become a fundamentalism similar to the maximalism of current fundamentalisms while reformism has deteriorated into the minimalism of the form of government whose precariousness prevents it from seeing the future beyond the immediate tomorrow. Have these two historical failures been the direct or indirect cause of the imprisoning choice in which we live, between dystopian fundamentalisms and tomorrows with no day after tomorrow? </p> <p>More important than answering this question, it is crucial that we know how we get out of here, which is the condition for the future to become possible again. I will offer a possible way out: if historically democracy and revolution were on opposite sides and historically both did collapse, maybe the solution lies in reinventing them so they can coexist in mutual articulation. Differently said, let us democratize the revolution and revolutionize democracy.</p> <div style="background-color: #f9f3ff; width: 100%; float: right; border-top: solid 3px #DAC2EA;" class="partnership-in-article-banner-infobox"> <div style="margin-bottom: 8px; padding: 14px;" class="partnership-in-article-banner-infobox-inner"><span style="font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 8px;"><b>How to cite:</b></span><br /> de Sousa Santos, B. (2017) Making the future possible again, Open Democracy / ISA RC-47: Open Movements, 29 April. https://opendemocracy.net/boaventura-de-sousa-santos/making-future-possible-again</div><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img style="width: 460px;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" /></a></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner-small_1.jpg" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements">openMovements</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openmovements Boaventura de Sousa Santos Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:42:38 +0000 Boaventura de Sousa Santos 110459 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 100 days of Trump — and resistance from grassroots women's groups https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yifat-susskind/100-days-trump-resistance-grassroots-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The multiplicity of harms can feel overwhelming. But with thoughtful coordination we can support each other to resist this administration's agenda and its global impacts.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Iraqi women and children, receiving humanitarian aid (c) OWFI.jpg" alt="Iraqi women and children." title="Iraqi women and children" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Iraqi women and children, receiving humanitarian aid. Photo: OWFI.</span></span></span>There’s been a pattern to the whirlwind first 100 days of the Trump presidency. In the face of multiple wars and famine threats, Trump responds on two fronts. First, he exacerbates problems, and then he eviscerates potential solutions.</p><p>It’s like setting a house on fire, while draining the water from the fire truck. And for those trapped in the blaze, local grassroots women’s groups are often the only first responders they can count on.</p><p>Take US military policy. Trump has ratcheted up airstrikes while seeking to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40103-donald-trump-s-war-crimes" target="_blank">loosen restrictions meant to limit civilian deaths</a>. In March alone, US-led airstrikes on Iraq and Syria&nbsp;<a href="https://news.vice.com/story/the-us-led-coalition-killed-a-staggering-number-of-civilians-in-march-monitor-reports" target="_blank">killed over 1,782 civilians.</a>&nbsp;Trump expanded&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/accelerating-yemen-campaign-us-conducts-flurry-of-strikes-targeting-al-qaeda/2017/03/02/8a9af8cc-ff91-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html?utm_term=.fb94b06e00e7" target="_blank">“areas of active hostilities” in Yemen</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://apnews.com/56909416c23c41c7b6024f4b42f354bb" target="_blank">Somalia</a>, placing thousands more people in the cross-hairs of US drone operators. And in Afghanistan, he launched&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/trump-drops-the-mother-of-all-bombs-on-afghanistan" target="_blank">the “mother of all bombs,”</a>&nbsp;a phrase that insults mothers everywhere, perhaps none more than those struggling to keep their children safe from US airstrikes.</p><p>Equally insulting is Trump’s purported concern for the “<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/04/11/tillerson_heads_to_moscow_with_a_message_but_what_is_it.html" target="_blank">beautiful little babies</a>” killed in the 4 April chemical attack in Idlib, Syria. Rather than channel moral outrage at the attack to reinvigorate peace talks, as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/syria-women-peace-talks_us_56e9cdeae4b0860f99db7d7c" target="_blank">many Syrian women’s groups have demanded</a>, Trump&nbsp;<a href="https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/04/12/trumps-syria-attack-trampled-many-laws" target="_blank">opted for an illegal missile strike</a>. The move fuels more war, while doing nothing to prevent future attacks on civilians.</p><p>In fact, any humanitarian rationale for war is suspect coming from Trump. He was remorseless about ordering a&nbsp;<a href="https://theintercept.com/2017/03/09/women-and-children-in-yemeni-village-recall-horror-of-trumps-highly-successful-seal-raid/" target="_blank">January attack in Yemen that killed 10 children</a>. No one in Trump’s administration is calling for justice&nbsp;<a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-mosul-casualties-20170405-story.html" target="_blank">for the nearly 300 civilians</a>, including children, killed in a single US airstrike in Mosul, Iraq; or for the deaths of over 30 civilians,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/30-displaced-people-killed-air-strike-isil-held-raqqa-hits-shelter/" target="_blank">killed when the US bombed a school in Syria</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">...any humanitarian rationale for war is suspect coming from Trump.</p><p>Meanwhile, the administration actively blocks support to people facing attack. It has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/apr/07/after-syrian-missile-airstrikes-will-trump-change-/" target="_blank">banned refugee families from the countries it is bombing</a>. It also proposes draconian&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/trumps-plan-to-slash-foreign-aid-comes-as-famine-threat-is-surging/2017/03/01/509029ac-fdbd-11e6-9b78-824ccab94435_story.html?utm_term=.fccb466d4009" target="_blank">cuts of more than one-third to foreign aid programs</a>&nbsp;that help communities survive and recover from war.</p><p>In many of these communities, it’s grassroots women’s groups that are stepping into the breach to provide life-saving assistance. For example, when thousands of families fled Mosul from ISIS violence and US airstrikes, they found shelter with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, which <a href="https://www.madre.org/press-publications/your-support-action/breaking-new-shelter-families-fleeing-us-bombs" target="_blank">set up safe houses and distributed humanitarian aid</a>.</p><p>Likewise, in Syria and its neighboring countries hosting refugees, local women’s groups are at the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.madre.org/press-publications/your-support-action/syrian-women-and-girls-access-reproductive-healthcare" target="_blank">forefront of providing aid, including reproductive healthcare for women</a>. </p><p>Such critical work has globally been dealt a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/jinamoore/trump-just-slapped-an-anti-abortion-rule-on-foreign-aid?utm_term=.hjK9gxAK6#.crvxJDLZe" target="_blank">severe blow by Trump’s global gag rule</a>, which strips US funding from healthcare facilities in poor countries that so much as mention abortion rights. This, in combination with Trump’s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-abortion-defunding-global-mexico-city-rule-un-population-fund-a7666916.html" target="_blank">defunding of the UNFPA</a>, a major reproductive health and family planning agency, will cause needless death and suffering among the world’s poorest women.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Nicaraguan clinic nurse (c) Elizabeth Rappaport.jpg" alt="Nicaraguan clinic nurse." title="Nicaraguan clinic nurse" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nicaraguan clinic nurse. Photo: Elizabeth Rappaport.</span></span></span></p><p>This is not the only burning crisis that women first responders are mobilising to address. The uptick in US violence comes as international aid agencies warn that famine is about to overtake places like Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/world/africa/why-20-million-people-are-on-brink-of-famine-in-a-world-of-plenty.html" target="_blank">endangering the lives of over 20 million people</a>.</p><p>Trump’s response to the crisis? He hopes to slash vital humanitarian programs that would save lives, for example by&nbsp;<a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/13/white-house-seeks-to-cut-billions-in-funding-for-united-nations/" target="_blank">cutting US contributions to the UN by 50%</a>. Trump’s proposed budget would also exacerbate causes of famine such as climate change and war. It would&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/budget-reflects-trumps-vow-to-cut-epa-in-almost-every-form/2017/03/15/0611db20-09a5-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html?utm_term=.f65fd6fcc465" target="_blank">gut the Environmental Protection Agency</a>, charged with implementing US climate policy, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-budget-idUSKBN1661R2" target="_blank">shift $54 billion</a>&nbsp;from social spending, including programs to combat violence against women, to the US military.</p><p>So where war and climate change may drive millions to the brink of survival, Trump stands ready to push them over the edge. In Yemen, he plans to further enlarge a civil war into a proxy war for regional powers, by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vox.com/world/2017/3/27/15073250/trump-pentagon-war-us-yemen-saudi-arabia" target="_blank">fueling Saudi Arabia with weapons and military support</a>. The war compounds the destruction of a protracted drought,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Water-Wars-Experts-Urge-Rethinking-Our-Relationship-with-Water-20170320-0029.html" target="_blank">clearly driven by climate change</a>, which Trump has dismissed as a hoax. The consequences for Yemeni civilians are catastrophic, with&nbsp;<a href="http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/two-years-escalation-war-yemen-left-isolated-and-starving" target="_blank">two-thirds of their population</a>&nbsp;in need of humanitarian aid and with the threat of mass starvation looming.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The multiplicity of harms can feel overwhelming.</p><p>In Somalia, as people migrate to find food amidst worsening famine and drought, there is greater risk that they will be mistaken for fighters or killed as a result of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-us-military-africa-command-somalia-airstrikes-al-shabaab-yemen-mosul-iraq-a7661181.html" target="_blank">loosened restrictions on civilian casualties</a>. Meanwhile, in Kenya where many Somalis have sought refuge, women first-responders are sourcing food aid from local women farmers, in a win-win that saves lives while sustaining local economies.</p><p>It is as if the Trump administration is hoping that we won’t be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. </p><p>That we won’t grasp the connections between fundamentally dangerous policies and their real-life impacts. That we won’t register the gulf between US rhetoric and reality. That we won’t be able to resist militarism, environmental destruction and humanitarian disaster, and ramp up support for humanitarian relief – like that spearheaded by women in&nbsp;places rocked by disaster and conflict.</p><p>But we can do all of this. We can support the work of grassroots women’s organizations providing necessary humanitarian aid while calling for policies that uphold peace and justice.</p><p>We can call out false attempts to wrap destructive actions in humanitarian ideals, and we can call for support and welcome to refugees and migrants.</p><p>We can condemn war crimes and rights violations by all states, we can condemn the US’s own needless killing of civilians, and we can call for a halt to US military escalation.</p><p>The multiplicity of harms can feel overwhelming. That’s because no single person can take it all on. What we need instead is thoughtful coordination among those resisting Trump’s agenda – in the next 100 days and beyond&nbsp;–&nbsp;to support each other’s efforts to douse the fires he spreads&nbsp;and to build back from the ashes together.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 women's movements women's human rights women and power 50.50 newsletter Yifat Susskind Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:08:59 +0000 Yifat Susskind 110499 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Virtue-signalling as a route to social status: instances from the semi-periphery https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/orsolya-bajusz-dalma-fer/virtue-signalling-as-route-to-social-status-instances-fr <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="normal">Two Budapest-based activists give a vivid account of the ideological constraints they are working under, not helped by certain fashionable forms of ‘intersectionality’.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 20.04.09.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 20.04.09.png" alt="lead lead lead " title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Who gets to represent certain issues and how, is determined through complex social processes. By representing a ‘progressive’ cause, the spokesperson will also come to public attention and can bask in the light of ‘progress’. This is why the audacious display of progressivist <a href="https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/10/i-invented-virtue-signalling-now-its-taking-over-the-world/">virtue signalling</a> is in a sense similar to <a href="http://www.conspicuousconsumption.org/">conspicuous consumption</a><span>,</span> –&nbsp;it comes to signify one’s belonging to a more ‘refined’ social class.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p class="normal">Representing certain issues functions as a signifier of class distinction because those issues are formulated according to class interests. If social problems are presented as originating from the prejudices of individuals rather than as deep-seated structural issues, questions about systemic problems can be avoided. Virtue signallers do exactly this job: they suggest that problems can be solved by raising people’s morale i.e. by making them more tolerant and humane. They can then claim authority over a universal humanity that grants them the special role of civilizing others.</p> <p class="normal">Not all issues are ‘worth’ representing to the same extent. Some issues are presented as the cutting edge of human rights struggle and hence get more media attention and funding. <a href="https://frgnyu.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/fraser-young-butler-in-nlr.pdf">Nancy Fraser’s analysis</a> about how different groups (e.g. blacks, women, homosexuals) are situated with respect to matters of redistribution as well as of recognition, help to explain why groups experiencing more recognition- than redistribution-related injustices have become increasingly central to the human rights discourse of recent decades. Such issues can be more easily presented as mere questions of tolerance and humanity and therefore have more potential to be instrumentalised while legitimizing the current socio-political system.</p> <p class="normal">Thus, while liberal feminist and liberal anti-racist advocacy – masquerading the fact that the injustices these groups experience have a material basis – have become <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/14/feminism-capitalist-handmaiden-neoliberal">capitalism’s ‘handmaidens’</a>, this material embeddedness makes them less effective handmaidens than groups with issues less directly connected to redistribution, such as LGBT rights. </p> <p class="normal">This has global implications: while these issues are based on culture-specific conceptions, they serve as signifiers of the allegedly singular-universal path of progress, marking out a hierarchy of civilization vs. backwardness. Due to the structural reasons mentioned above, LGBT rights have become an especially effective instrument of the cultural supremacism of economic core countries – a situation to which Jasbir Puar refers by using the term, <a href="https://ctlsites.uga.edu/bravernewerworld/fighting-for-social-change/">homonationalism</a>.</p> <p class="normal">Even within the LGBT movement different topics have come to the forefront. Since the adoption of same-sex marriage in the United States, transgender issues have been presented as the struggle’s next frontier. Transgender bathroom use has received immense attention. North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’, which legislates that in government buildings people may only use bathrooms and changing facilities corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates has been met with boycott by numerous companies and representatives of the entertainment industry. This issue was a great opportunity for <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/25/the-corporate-fight-for-social-justice">big business</a>, including <a href="http://www.feministcurrent.com/2016/04/14/heres-hoping-bruce-springsteen-and-bryan-adams-speak-out-against-xhamster-too/">porn companies</a> to turbocharge their reputations while conveniently <a href="http://theconversation.com/the-rise-of-pride-marketing-and-the-curse-of-pink-washing-30925">turning a blind eye to or committing serious human rights violations</a>.</p> <p class="normal">Virtue signalling thus presents specific material interests as matters of universal humanity and morality while framing those who oppose the status quo as morally deficient. Speaking for ‘progressive’ issues functions as a mutual source of legitimacy for virtue signallers and the global world order.</p> <h2>What makes a virtue on the semi-periphery: self-colonizing discourses</h2> <p class="normal">How does virtue-signalling play out on the semi-periphery? As Larry Wolff writes, historically the Enlightenment inserted the ambiguous space that our region has occupied into a West-East hierarchy and thereby invented eastern Europe as a complementary concept to western Europe. </p> <p class="normal">The region’s position in the emerging global economy as sidelong viewers of colonial processes was formative in its role as an incidental background setting to a supposedly universal and singular world history <a href="http://monumenttotransformation.org/atlas-of-transformation/html/s/self-colonization/the-self-colonizing-metaphor-alexander-kiossev.html">according to </a><a href="http://monumenttotransformation.org/atlas-of-transformation/html/s/self-colonization/the-self-colonizing-metaphor-alexander-kiossev.html">Alexander Kiossev</a>. Eastern Europe, simultaneously included in and excluded from Europe, came to hold an intermediary position that was meant to mediate between Europe and the Orient, measuring the distance between ‘civilization’ and ‘backwardness’.</p> <p class="normal">As these lateral cultures did not experience the brute force of colonization, they became less resistant to the symbolic invasion of the colonizing powers: they interiorized their values, ideologies, and hierarchies. Their sense of lacking the whole ‘modern European’ civilization model has driven them to a perpetual struggle to ‘catch up’ with the economic and cultural centre. These cultures have thus created two opposing but symmetrical self-colonizing narratives: westernization, based on the mistaken universalism and progressivism of the Enlightenment, judging human value according to a competition of ‘civilizational achievements’; and nativism, that attempts to uncover and preserve a ‘pure’, authentic’ culture against foreign influence, giving rise to ardent nationalisms.</p> <p class="normal">These two opposing narratives not only markedly structure Hungarian political traditions but, as Attila Márton Farkas points out, they are embedded in economic interests. Nativism strives to protect existing class prerogatives against the western-oriented rising classes with a reference to ‘ancient’ customs: while westernizers struggle to adjust the country to the actual political-economic centre, subordinating the country to the nationalisms of the dominant powers, which they interpret as universalism and internationalism. They have thus assisted foreign powers in taking economic advantage of the country for a share of a return for themselves. These two opposing narratives complement one another: they both legitimate themselves by referring to the other as the source of the ultimate threat.</p> <p class="normal">The agenda of virtue-signalling that fits so well into the progressivist westernist tradition comes ready-made from its economic core countries. Virtue-signallers mostly commit themselves to issues that the economic centre uses to prove its supremacy. They frame it as such, and they thereby also proclaim the backwardness of their own region when it comes to LGBT rights and the liberal mode of minority protection. Let us track these discourses through two case studies of progressivist virtue-signalling in Hungary.</p> <h2>The lowest common denominator: channelling anger and dissatisfaction</h2> <p class="normal">The Facebook page <em>Nem tehetsz róla, tehetsz ellene</em> (<em>NTRTE</em>) (‘You can’t help it, you can do something about it’) and its adjacent blog, <em>A nem az nem </em>(’No is no’) is a clear example of virtue signalling. </p> <p class="normal">The page was started as a reaction to the videos of Baranya County Police, blaming victims for sexual violence, which has caused outrage countrywide. The founders of the page made a counter-video, which in turn advocates chivalry to prevent sexual violence, namely good practice is depicted as a hooded man following and grabbing a lone woman leaving a bar at night and asking her whether he may call her a taxi. Commentators have pointed out that this film is very harmful as it ignorantly reproduces damaging clichés about sexual violence as if it was a matter of good vs. evil and not a complex and structurally embedded social phenomenon, just as the police video had done.</p> <p class="normal">One of the authors of the video and the Facebook page (Vera Mérő) came to be known for a book she had written about the relationship between pornography and female sexuality. The book received negative criticism both for the absurdity of its research methodology and the lack of engagement with the relevant literature. The book claimed that the connection between pornography and sexual violence was unproven. This porn apologism is an example of how the cool girl trope comes to be manifested: through saying allegedly ‘taboo’ and ‘risky’ things and ignoring the reality in a country where the sex industry is widespread (as a country of transit, destination, origin) and where cases of human trafficking connected to the sex industry are often featured in mainstream media. </p><p> Moreover, though <em>NTRTE</em> declares that it addresses violence against women, a substantial amount of the content they re-share with their own commentary concerns entirely different matters, with no explanation as to why and how it should be relevant to the stated page topic. There are posts about refugees, people with disabilities, politicians from far away countries, anti-Trump memes, everything Justin Trudeau (sometimes the page seems like a fandom for the ‘progressive icon’), transgenderism, a friend looking for a wife, even memes of cute dogs or kids, and inspirational videos. Meanwhile, their own hashtag initiative (<a href="https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/shedoesit?source=feed_text">#</a><a href="https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/shedoesit?source=feed_text">SheDoesIt</a>&nbsp; <a href="https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/hedoesit?source=feed_text">#</a><a href="https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/hedoesit?source=feed_text">HeDoesIt</a>) to frame everyday life incidences (such as a woman rowing a boat or a child playing with building blocks) are portrayed as battles in a culture war.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 18.53.20.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 18.53.20.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="239" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>When it comes to representing ‘cases’, they often show anomalies, bizarre and extraordinary occurrences as if they were representative. For example, on Women’s Day an article was shared about (alleged) sperm-thieving women as a ‘dramatic’ example of ‘violence against men’. These articles often result in tabloid-like sensationalist commentary, such as in a statutory rape case (one high school teacher had sexual relations with 3 male students) they talk about ‘a woman who raped three men’.</p> <p class="normal">Through representing ‘cases’ and often anomalies, the authors of the page attempt to look very thorough, as if juxtaposing all these ‘cases’ and stories together under the umbrella of mottos such as ‘violence is never okay’ and ‘the victim is never responsible’ will eventually lead to something universally meaningful. This approach glosses over the fact that violence against women is not only the product of a certain mode of social organisation but also a tool in perpetuating these structures.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 18.56.05.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 18.56.05.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="404" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The main strategy is affective involvement, also an opportunity for the page’s authors to claim the universal validity of their own subjectivities, views and agendas and to promote themselves. For instance, Mérő describes in detail how a bus crash made her cry, or when visiting the court proceedings of a domestic murder case (local feminist NGO ‘courtroom monitoring’ volunteers have been doing this for a long time) she had to post her (admittedly illegible) handwritten notes, just short of a selfie, in order to insert herself into the narrative of the highly publicized case.</p> <p class="normal">By this logic, the page confers authority on itself to exercise censorship and ajudicate in matters of ‘humanity’. The sexist, lame puns of some seedy local bar deserve online bullying, but Nike and Vodafone advertisements are tear-jerkingly profound works of art. Through such means, the page becomes the perfect local replicator of the discourse of multinational corporations seeking to access the markets of the semi-periphery and whitewash themselves with the symbolic representation of ‘progressive’ agendas. </p> <p class="normal">The universalist claim of liberal, ‘progressive’ agendas is taken almost to the level of satire: long-winded polemics about ‘humanity’ are a regular feature, for example they declare that ‘paedophiles can be human as well’ when it comes to sharing an article about plastic sex dolls designed for paedophiles. </p> <p class="normal">They talk as if a Facebook page was some kind of totalitarian authority with the right to&nbsp; decide whether or not someone is human (or sometimes ‘humane’). Sometimes they act as arbiters making allegedly “objective and subtle” choices between opposing parties. For example, during the recent protests in Budapest against the intended closure of the Central European University, two activists threw paint at the president’s residence and were prosecuted. Taking up the position of a supreme authority, <em>NTRTE</em> scolded both parties, stating that throwing paint at the building was ‘helluva wrong’, but that leading them handcuffed on a leash was a ‘blood-boiling atrocity’. <em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p class="normal">The page does not care to propagate any kind of already established feminist knowhow. They pretend no-one in Hungary has ever before engaged in a meaningful manner with the topic of gendered violence (which is obviously not true), and always they return to a bottom line in which it is a question of bad people doing bad things. </p> <p class="normal">The solution is obvious – to follow a reliable moral compass such as them, relying in turn on the wisdom of corporate inspirational media, western politicians, Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and so on. They attempt to channel any passing surge of outrage into their own framework, so that besides basing their authority on the ideals of the ‘progressive west’, they can even claim to have a kind of populist base. </p> <h2><strong>Context as ‘exceptionalism’: an extreme form of universalism</strong></h2> <p class="normal">Another example of virtue-signalling in Hungary is a network of overlapping activist groups, with a large part of their membership made up of the alumni/students of the Central European University, most of them foreigners. </p> <p class="normal">Since this network is not well-informed about local public discourse and the problems it raises for discussion (most of them can’t speak Hungarian), they are not able to engage with these issues in a meaningful way, and instead they lay claim to agendas and principles they deem to be universal. They apply a globalized activist toolkit independent of any local context, since they do not seek to get to know the latter.</p> <p class="normal">They also fail to address the broader public because they regard locals as a source of threat, uninitiated into their own progressive principles. For this reason most of their actions are addressed to a very limited audience. Even the terminology to be found on their ‘<a href="https://klitbudapest.wordpress.com/">community space</a>’ – (its address kept secret due to 'security concerns') – &nbsp;enhances this effect. Their ‘<a href="https://klitbudapest.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/feminist-self-defence-training-march-2016/">feminist self-defence trainings</a>’ came with a long list of forbidden (‘oppressive’) expressions and gestures, and with a strict injunction to stick to vegan food. </p> <p class="normal">Among the many overlapping groups/projects, the most visible one is Rhythms of Resistance (RoR), the local branch of a network of percussion bands that play at demonstrations and protests. The RoR movement was originally started in London, and as the Budapest branch <a href="http://lmv.hu/node/6122">explains</a>, they went on to develop their skills under the influence of the Vienna branch. Besides playing percussion sometimes they organise protests too. The language they use is English but usually they translate event descriptions and invites into Hungarian, although some events have only sported an English title for ‘technical reasons’, the excuse being that it is foreigners who attend anyway. A former (Hungarian) member also told the press at a demonstration in a very condescending manner that Hungarians hardly ever came to their protests.&nbsp; </p> <p class="normal">This year they organised the local version of the worldwide Women’s Day March. Initially it was co-organised with a local liberal feminist organisation who later withdrew due to ideological differences, among them RoR’s unswerving support for the sex work agenda. The event description was originally published in English and later translated into Hungarian. The translation was riddled with grammar and vocabulary errors. Their failure to engage with the local context was so extreme that they did not even comprehend whether their slogans made any sense at all within a Hungarian framework. For example, some protesters had ‘Black lives matter’ and ‘Indigenous lives matter’ protest signs despite Hungary having neither a sizeable black minority nor a colonial past. ‘Indigenous’ in a Hungarian context is either unintelligible or right-wing anti-immigration rhetoric.</p><p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 19.34.35.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 19.34.35.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="356" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In their video statement featured on Al Jazeera, their first priority was to stand against transphobia and for sex worker rights. These issues are completely alien to the lived reality of most Hungarian women as they focus on tiny minorities from an individualist, identitarian perspective that serves to hide structural issues. </p> <p class="normal">According to the event description, they marched against five things: first against racism (‘discrimination of women based on skin color’ - and yet in Hungary cultural codes are much more direct markers of marginality than skin colour or phenotype), then against borders (‘We will dismantle your fences!’) and then against fascism, whoever the fascists are supposed to be, and against transphobia. See <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/333882570342326/?active_tab=discussion">Facebook event</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera/videos/10155296184833690/">Al Jazeera video here</a>.</p> <p class="normal">Violence against women was the last thing mentioned in both the Al Jazeera video and the event description. Marching against ‘határok’ is an especially unfortunate choice of words, because unless clarified it can either mean state borders or personal boundaries, and in a women’s rights context one would sooner think boundaries than borders - something which should be protected from state interference.&nbsp;</p> <p class="normal">Their lack of knowledge about local matters was criticised not only from the right but also the left of the political spectrum. The organisers’ answer was that these critics come from the perspective of so-called ‘Hungarian exceptionalism’. ‘Hungarian exceptionalism’ is a non-existent concept in social theory, modelled on ‘US exceptionalism’ as if replacing a word in it would be enough to understand Hungarian society. (For a comparison: Hungary’s population is about 10M. It never had any overseas colonies, and played no part in the transatlantic slave trade. During its history, it was occupied by the Mongols, Turks, Habsburgs, Soviets.) Despite speaking to international mass media and organising public events, they denied they were representing anyone. (The video itself seems more like it was made for an international than for a Hungarian public.) </p> <p class="normal">They had no compunction in accusing of ‘nationalism’ the person who dared to bring up the question of representational legitimacy or their inadequate knowledge of local issues. We can assume they would not dare to do this to black or third world women – to speak over their heads without adequate knowledge of local historical specificities, yet the semi-periphery is not thematized as ‘oppressed’ within this mediatized <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-0424.12211/abstract">branch of intersectionality theory</a>, therefore it is easy to stigmatize Hungarian criticism of western universalism as nationalism. </p> <p class="normal">This women’s day march has provided the Hungarian right with an ample opportunity to forge their own political capital. Hungarian <a href="http://politicalcritique.org/long-read/2017/gender-as-symbolic-glue-how-gender-became-an-umbrella-term-for-the-rejection-of-the-neoliberal-order/">anti-gender mobilizing</a> gained momentum in February and March this year when the right-leaning media, among them publications controlled by the government, started to report that one of the largest universities in Hungary is opening a gender studies department. Certain right-wing politicians followed suit, wanting to stop the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and reasoning that it was the Trojan horse of ‘gender ideology’. </p> <p class="normal">This women’s day march was a great opportunity for the right-wing to parade their ‘gender ideology’ conspiracy theories. Some of the agendas (decontextualising identity and choice in an individualist framework) promoted by the march’s organizers indeed serve the needs of global capital, but these organisers have neither the resources nor the skills the right-wing adversaries of ‘gender ideology’ attribute to them. </p> <p class="normal">The significance of this women’s march organized by a handful of people comes from right-wing political actors finding it significant. Obviously the problem with the march is not that they propagate issues opposed by the right-wing, but that their framework is hinged on the supremacy of the economic centre, whose symbolic agendas they adapt and then represent without any critical reflection as if it was ‘left-wing’ ‘anarchist’ ‘feminist’ activism. </p> <p class="normal">This does not only reinforce but even deepen the dichotomy between progressivism hailing western universalism as redemption and a guarantee for women’s emancipation, and isolationist nationalism rejecting any ‘foreign’ intervention, thus making it even harder to gain a foothold outside this framework.</p> <h2 class="normal"><strong>The corollary of virtue-signalling: reproduction of dichotomies</strong></h2> <p class="normal">There seems to be a big difference on the level of rhetoric between the two case studies: certainly in the way that they relate to global financial capital. The organizers of the women’s day march claim to be anti-capitalists and anarchists, very much unlike <em>NTRTE</em>, who devote an enthusiastic blogpost to the merit of a marketing gimmick of a Wall street company, and take about every other corporate lean-in ‘feminist’ PR stunt at face value.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 19.46.02.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 19.46.02.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="486" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cheering for a Wall Street marketing stunt as a terrific work of art.</span></span></span>Despite this seeming chasm, both their respective discourses are individualistic: instead of looking at how a given phenomena is socially embedded, they promote individualist survival strategies and defense mechanisms as a means of emancipation through the decontextualization of identity and choice. </p><p class="normal">They also claim to speak for humankind and to represent each and every justice cause under the flag of tolerance and inclusion and/or in the name of an intersectionality theory that has been vulgarized into mathematical formulas purportedly encompassing all forms of oppression. </p> <p class="normal">With this approach they smoke-screen the fact that, as resources are not infinite, if we advocate for material interests, other interests are going to be hurt. </p> <p class="normal">Obscuring material interests, they claim to speak in the name of some transcendental goodness and truth. The mechanisms of legitimization are also strikingly similar in both cases: they act as the local governors of ‘Western progress’ in the ‘backward East’, as the local advocates of values and practices deemed universally significant. </p> <p class="normal">With this strategy it is easier to carve themselves a space in the liberal public sphere. Through this they reproduce the dichotomy between the self-colonizing narratives of the progressive west and the backward east while convincing themselves that they stand <em>on the right side of history</em>, and with their actions they contribute to the shrinking of the already limited space for efficient advocacy beyond the symbolic agenda.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Hungary Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Orsolya Bajusz Dalma Feró Fri, 28 Apr 2017 17:55:19 +0000 Dalma Feró and Orsolya Bajusz 110502 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Towards an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/joseph-daher/towards-inclusive-and-pluralistic-citizenship-in-syria <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Talk about building a new form of citizenship in Syria might seem unrealistic today, but in fact, it should be seen as a long-term strategy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/8647281373_3c4f395205_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/8647281373_3c4f395205_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“Syria for everyone”, picture taken in Raqqa in April 2013. Picture by Beshr Abdulhadi. Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The war in Syria has had important consequences in the country in terms of rising sectarianism and racism. In this in-depth article, I demonstrate the importance of a dynamic and open understanding of citizenship. </p><h3>Citizenship between theory and practice </h3><p>Firstly, the concept of citizenship should not be understood as a fixed concept, but as constantly in flux. Citizenship is not a universally accepted concept, but differs from one country to another. Some people limit the concept of citizenship to nationality, some to political rights, while others go further to include socio-economic, education, national and cultural rights. "Liberal" systems for example have always resisted giving legal (and constitutional) expression to the inclusion of social rights, such as health care for all, thereby limiting their understanding of citizenship to the right to vote and respect for private property. </p><p>At the same time, there is conflict between theory, and practice. For example, the French Revolution greeted women as "citizens" (citoyennes), but they had to wait until 1945 (in France) before their complete political rights were recognized. Similarly, France, and other western countries, continued the process of colonization and denied the rights to people in their colonies. Also today, stateless people and refugees are most often denied any rights pertaining to citizenships, and are not even treated as human beings. </p><p>I argue that citizenship should not be linked to the issue of nationality. A person living and working in a country, whether holding its nationality or not, should be extended all the rights as other citizens. This for example would allow Palestinians in Syria, who had been living for more than 60 years in the country, to participate in all sectors of society, in elections, etc… Indeed how can we demand from Palestinians in Syria to take side with the objectives of the uprising while not allowing them to participate in the future of the society? </p><p class="mag-quote-left">The struggle for an inclusive and pluralistic concept of citizenship is a continuous one</p><p>The difference in the forms of citizenship and its understanding are rooted in socio-economic and political conditions and reflect the balance of social forces in a particular society. History shows that this is a transforming concept with no precise definition, that has always been at stake in struggles. Any broadening of citizenship to include social, economic, cultural and national rights has been the result of successful struggles from below including economic civil rights, voting, unionizing, civil rights, gender equality, etc. all were the result of numerous struggles. The dominant ruling classes never willingly gave in to demands. We can see this particularly with the Assad regime’s four decade long repression of the Syrian population’s political, social, economic and national rights. </p> <p>However, the improvements and broadening of rights in the concept of citizenship is not linear. We see this clearly today in Europe with the continuous rise of racism and islamophobia. Neoliberal policies limiting the political, social and cultural rights of people, particularly Muslim populations with the veil ban in French schools or the imposition of a particular identity linked to a so-called Christian and Jewish common heritage and culture, are all examples of how citizenship is becoming more excluding. </p><p>The struggle for an inclusive and pluralistic concept of citizenship is a continuous one. Philosophers like Jacques Rancière and Hannah Arendt define democracy as a process of permanent anti-oligarchic “insurrection” rather than as a stable regime. Citizenship, is no different and requires a permanent struggle to eliminate all forms of exclusion, whether cultural, social, ethnic, or religious, etc… </p><p>In order to build an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria, it is important to clearly point out the responsibilities of the current situation in the country. The Assad regime is the main actor responsible for the killing, displacement and destruction as well as being the key in the rise of sectarianism and racism in the country. Assad’s regime was accustomed to playing the “sectarian card” and more generally “primordial identities” (racism and tribalism) to divide the Syrian people and put the different groups against each other in order to maintain its rule. </p><p>In fact, the regime is far from being secular, as presented by some. It has promoted a constitution with an Arab chauvinist discourse, reserving the position of President to the Muslim faith, while in 2012 Islamic jurisprudence became a primary source of legislation, instead of a main source of legislation. These are only some of the many examples that show the lack of any kind of secular nature of this regime. </p><p>Since the first days of the uprising, the regime has targeted the peaceful, non sectarian and democratic activists. Many of them were arrested and tortured to death in prisons, others had to flee the country out of fear of the repression while others were killed. Meanwhile, the regime released Islamic fundamentalist groups and allowed their development at the expense of democratic groups. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">Today no major political or armed force in Syria is offering an inclusive and pluralistic project of citizenship. </p><p>This being said, foreign actors such as Iran, Turkey, or the Gulf Monarchies, as well as sections of the opposition in exile gathered around first the Syrian National Council (SNC), then the Etilaf, and Islamic fundamentalist movements have also played a role in the rise of sectarianism by deepening the divisions among various ethnic and religious groups in the country during the uprising. </p><p>Today no major political or armed force in Syria is offering an inclusive and pluralistic project of citizenship. The High Negotiations Commission (HNC) for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces has failed in reflecting the democratic and inclusive message of the revolutionaries and the popular movement since the beginning of the uprising. In Autumn 2016, its vision within an Executive Framework for the Political Solution in Syria that was far from offering an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship as we can see in it’s first article: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“Syria is an integral part of the Arab World, and Arabic is the official language of the state. Arab Islamic culture represents a fertile source for intellectual production and social relations amongst all Syrians of different ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs as the majority of Syrians are Arabs and followers of Islam and its tolerant message which is distinctly moderate”. </p><p>This is of course exclusionary for all ethnic and religious minorities in the country, in addition to all people not identifying with these identities. The Etilaf and many of the personalities linked to it have also promoted a sectarian, racist (particularly against Kurds), and authoritarian discourses and behaviors. Similarly, when it comes to women, the Etilaf has completely neglected their large participation in the uprising, providing them with only “decorative positions” without any effective role in the decision making process. </p><p>The various Islamic fundamentalist movements (such as the jihadist organization of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the salafist organisations Ahrar al Sham and the Islam Army, as well as others such as the Muslin Brotherhood who call for a civil state but in practice support the creation of an Islamic state with the implementation of Shari’a) defend an Islamic State despite their differences on how to reach this objective or the nature of this state. This is of course an exclusionary project for various groups such as religious minorities, women, or those who have a different understanding of Islam, etc… Their sectarian and authoritarian practices have also confirmed this pattern. </p><p class="mag-quote-left">For a big majority of Kurdish political parties and activists, Rojava is only a new form of authoritarianism rather than democratic confederalism in action</p><p>The last main actor is the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is more complex to analyze, but in my mind did not provide an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship model, despite its “social contract” and political discourse promoting theoretically these ideas. In the areas controlled by the PYD, there has been progressive advances that must be acknowledged such as the promotion of women rights and gender equality, secularisation of laws and institutions, and to a certain extent some forms of coexistence between the various ethnicities and religious sects, despite some tensions. </p><p>The possibilities for the Kurdish people, long oppressed in Syria, to manage territories in which they are a majority is another positive thing in the framework of support for their self-determination. However, without entering into details there are a series of problems. Institutions in PYD controlled areas, such as Rojava for instance, have been dominated by PYD-affiliated organisations, with an assortment of Arab, Syriac and Assyrian personalities who had little to lose from entering the project. </p><p>For a big majority of Kurdish political parties and activists, Rojava is only a new form of authoritarianism rather than democratic confederalism in action. At the same time, these new institutions lack legitimacy among large sections of the Syrian Arabs in these areas, although an Arab president had to be elected to the male/female joint presidency of the town’s local council. For instance Shaykh Humaydi Daham al-Jarba, the head of a tribal Arab militia and outspoken supporter of the Assad regime, was nominated as the governor of the Jazirah canton in Rojava in 2014. His son became the commander of the al-Sanadid Forces, one of the main Arab militias fighting alongside the PYD-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Prominence of tribal leaders in the Rojava institution was also preserved, rather than challenged. </p><p>Furthermore, human rights violations against Arab, Assyrian and Kurdish civilians have also been documented in the area. The authoritarianism of the PYD was demonstrated in its repression and imprisonment of activists, political opponents and the closure of critical organizations or institutions. Lately, this repression against other Kurdish political groups and activists has even increased. </p><p>This is why I believe that there is no significant political movement today, which is providing an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship able to unite the various components of the Syrian people. In my opinion, to reach a broad understanding of citizenship including the social, political, national and economic rights of the Syrian people, three main issues must be tackled: political rights (democracy, self organization and equality), socio-economic rights (social justice and inequality) and the issue of self determination of the Kurdish people in Syria. I have chosen these issues because they are based on the political and social experiences accumulated by large sections of the Syrian people involved in the uprising in the past five years. </p><h3>Democracy and equality </h3><p>In the first two years of the uprising, the dominant message from the large popular movement with its demonstrations and statements was an inclusive and democratic discourse that is not threatening for a majority of Syrians. This movement challenged the rhetoric of the regime as being the only barrier against extremism. In addition to this, the local councils and coordination committees played the role of an alternative institution to the state by providing services to local populations, and created a situation of dual power where the authority of the state disappeared. These two elements created the conditions to present a political alternative appealing for large sections of the population with the capacity to become hegemonic against the propaganda of the regime portraying them as a foreign and sectarian conspiracy. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Participation from below, by the underprivileged and popular classes in managing their societies at all levels has been the most significant element in the uprising.</p><p>Experiences of participation of local populations in decisions pertaining to society at all levels multiplied. The experiences of the “liberated” areas and local popular councils are in this perspective something to maintain in any concept of citizenship. In fact. participation from below, by the underprivileged and popular classes in managing their societies at all levels has been the most significant element in the uprising. </p><p>According to a survey by the independent Syrian-led civil society organization The Day After Tomorrow (TDA), conducted between November 2015 and January 2016, the population actually wanted to maintain this experience. This is visible in the expressed support for some form of decentralization in a way to, </p><p class="blockquote-new">“endorse the allocation of broad competencies to local authorities, and this support explicitly increases in opposition-held areas (if) compared with regime-controlled areas. It seems that the absence of the state in opposition-held areas has contributed to increased support for decentralization, and the spread of positive perceptions about it (…) (especially) the idea that it enhances ‘participation in governance’ tops the list of advantages.”</p><p>The issue of equality must also be put forward in order to challenge the patriarchal structures of society. In the first two years of the uprising, the involvement and participation of women was a very important element, breaking many conservative social codes and overcoming traditional barriers. Female activists often agree that the beginning of the revolution opened the door for women to challenge restrictive social conventions, whether they were legal, familial, religious or social. On Women’s Day, March 8, 2012, the female activists of the youth movement Nabd for example issued a statement that read: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“We, the revolutionary women of Syria, address the regime on Women’s Day saying: Our revolution will continue until we have each and every single one of our usurped rights, like a woman’s right to nominate herself for presidency and to grant her nationality to her children”. </p><p>Political rights guaranteeing the participation and self-organization of local populations at all levels of society must be guaranteed in a new concept of citizenship, and not limited to the right to vote and choose its representatives in elections every few years. Similarly, the issue of equality must also be put at the center of any new struggle for a pluralistic and inclusive citizenship. </p><h3>Social Justice </h3><p>Social justice and the redistribution of wealth in the country is another necessary step towards an inclusive citizenship that should not be limited to the upper class in urban centers. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">Regional structural injustices existed before the uprising in 2011</p><p>Before the uprising, the upper class and foreign investors were satisfied with the state’s neoliberal policies. This was especially true for investors from the Gulf monarchies and Turkey, which were not hostile to the Assad regime prior to the revolution, at the expense of the vast majority of Syrians, who were hit by inflation and the rising cost of living, while public services and investments (health care, education, housing) were diminished considerably. </p><p>Regional structural injustices existed before the uprising in 2011 and increased with the accelerated adoption of neoliberal policies by the regime of Bashar al-Asad. On the eve of the upheaval, the proportion of poor people was higher in rural areas (62%) than in urban ones (38%). Poverty was more widespread, more rooted and more marked (58.1%) in the north-west and north-east (the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ez-Zor and al-Hasakah), where 45% of the population lived. Just over half (54.2%) of all unemployment was found in rural areas. </p><p>In addition to this, before the beginning of the popular uprising, the geographic concentration of business was as follows: </p><p>Governorates distribution for micro enterprises (less than 5 workers):</p> <p>– Damascus and Rural Damascus: 27.36%</p> <p>– Aleppo 21.72%</p> <p>– Homs 9.93%</p> <p>– Hama 6.06%</p> <p>– other governorates 34.93% (10 other governorates)</p> <p>while governorates distribution for small enterprises (between 5 to 14 workers)</p> <p>– Damascus and Rural Damascus: 29.40%</p> <p>– Aleppo 41.55%</p> <p>– Homs 5.89%</p> <p>– Hama 4.70%</p> <p>– other governorates 18.46% </p> <p>Foreign private investments were also concentrated in the two cities of Damascus and Aleppo in unproductive sectors (real estate, tourism, services such as bank insurance companies), while other regions and rural areas were left out of any kind of economic development and of provision of services. In addition to this the most impoverished areas of the country were the areas mostly populated by Kurds such as in the north-eastern Jazirah province. Jazirah was the region with the highest level of illiteracy and poverty, hosting 58% of the country’s impoverished population before the occurrence of the 2006 drought. </p><p>In 2010, poverty increased considerably, reaching 80 per cent of the Jazirah inhabitants, as the impact of four consecutive droughts since 2006 had been dramatic for both small-scale farmers and herders. In addition to this, the Jazirah region produced two thirds of the country’s grains (and 70% of wheat) and three quarters of its hydrocarbons. Despite the industrial underdevelopment of the Jazirah, and the scarcity of industrial installations in the region, which accounted for only 7% of the overall sector, this plain was nevertheless important. For example, 69 percent of Syria’s cotton was produced in the region, but only 10 percent of cotton threads were spun there. Of course, all ethnic groups in the area, Arabs, Syriacs-Assyrians, and Kurds, suffered from economic marginalization. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">There has been a continuous impoverishment of rural areas since the 1980s</p><p>The most important component of the Syrian uprising was actually that of economically marginalized rural workers, and urban employees and self-employed workers, who have borne the brunt of the implementation of neoliberal policies, in particular since the coming to power of Bashar al-Assad. The geography of the revolts in Idlib, Deraa and other mid towns, as well as in other rural areas, all historical strongholds of the Baath party, and which benefited from the policies of agricultural reforms in the sixties and had not played a large role in the insurgency of the early 1980s, including the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo, showed the involvement of the victims of neoliberalism in this uprising. </p><p>There has been a continuous impoverishment of rural areas since the 1980s and the droughts from 2006 accelerated rural exodus. This situation was exacerbated by an annual population growth of around 2.5 percent. This growth affected particularly small rural mid towns, in which the population often multiplied by five to ten times since the 1980s, while public services provided by the state did not increase but rather diminished with the neoliberal policies, leading local populations to lack or witness a deterioration of their living conditions. In the main towns of Damascus and Aleppo, the geography of revolts was nearly similar to their socio-economic divisions. Many bourgeois and middle class Aleppo urbanites used to characterize the protesters in the first demonstrations at the university and rural Aleppo as “Abu Shehata” (derogatory term meaning literally “Father of slippers” insulting the social class of the protesters). </p><p>Similarly again, these neoliberal policies had particular and deep consequences on women, especially when it comes to their access to the labour market. The total number of women in the work force decreased since the mid 1980s, while it was growing before essentially because of the state controlled public economic sector. There was definitely an important gender dimension to the unemployment before the uprising in 2011, with unemployment rates among young women almost twice as high as those among young men. The unemployment rate in 2007 was estimated at 22.6% (14.5% for men, and 53% for women). The rate increased to 30.3%, if non-citizens are accounted for. </p><p>In addition, 50% of young women in Syria (aged between fifteen and twenty-nine) were neither in the labour force nor in school, suggesting potential barriers to labour market entry. Women’s participation in the labour force was 18%. Women lost around 50% of their total jobs between 2001 and 2007, and were pushed away from the labour force. The state-owned sector (government and state-owned companies) created 119,000 jobs between 2001 and 2007 (52% of which were for women); while the private formal sector lost 77,000 new jobs; men gained 77,000, but women lost 154,000. Most urban labour markets were mainly constituted by informal employment, with no social/maternity protection for women. By the year 2006, 25% of workers in the public sector were women, while in the private sector, only 8 percent were women. According to the 2008 labour force survey the majority of employed women (55%) work in the public sector. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">Neoliberal policies had particular and deep consequences on women, especially when it comes to their access to the labour market. </p><p>The issue of wealth redistribution in society and across the different regions will have to be tackled in any future political system in Syria. On this perspective, the Etilaf economic policies are problematic because they support the same neoliberal policies of the Assad regime against the interests of the underprivileged classes. The socio-economic injustices in the society and across regions must be linked to the democratic issue. </p><h3>The Kurdish Issue</h3><h3> </h3><p>It is absolutely necessary to tackle the Kurdish issue in order to be able to provide an inclusive and pluralistic citizenship embraced by all in Syria. The large majority of the Kurdish parties – as well as of the Kurdish population in Syria – are not satisfied by the way most Arab opposition political parties consider the Kurdish issue as simply and uniquely a citizenship issue. In other words, the Arab opposition believes that Kurds are normal Syrian citizens who have been deprived of some of their rights and that the problem is therefore limited to the single issue of the census of 1962, which resulted in around 120 000 Kurds being denied nationality and declared as foreigners, leaving them, and subsequently their children, denied of basic civil rights and condemned to poverty and discrimination. </p><p>There were between 250 000 and 300 000 stateless Kurds in the beginning of the revolution in March 2011, roughly 15 percent of the estimated two million total Kurdish population in Syria. The large majority of the opposition political parties have not been ready in any way to recognize the Kurds as a separate “people” or “nation” and are not ready nor willing to listen to demands for federalism and administrative decentralization. The demand for a federal system in Syria is a demand of the quasi majority of Kurdish parties in the country despite their political differences and rivalries. </p><p>We have to understand that the demand for a federal system by the Syrian Kurdish political parties is rooted in decades of state oppression, and this since the independence of the country in 1946, on a national basis (policies of quasi systematic discrimination against Kurds, policies of colonization in the framework of the “Arab Belt” and cultural repressions at all levels), but also has socio-economic consequences. </p><p>According to a survey conducted between November 2015 and January 2016 by the TDA, respondents in both regime (86.7%) and opposition-held areas (67,4%) agree on rejecting federalism, while proponents of federalism almost reach a consensus in Kurdish-led Self-Administration areas (79.6%). These results show that a Kurdish-Arab divide exists and that the first imperative regarding any future political system in Syria is dealing with the “Kurdish issue”, although it is not the only requirement. </p><p class="mag-quote-center">No solution for the Kurdish issue or an inclusive Syria can be found without recognizing the Kurds as a proper “people” or “nation” in Syria</p><p>The majority of the Syrian Arab opposition did not address or even acknowledge this reality, thereby mirroring the regime’s position. </p><p>In general, no solution for the Kurdish issue or an inclusive Syria can be found without recognizing the Kurds as a proper “people” or “nation” in Syria and providing unconditional support to the self-determination of the Kurdish people in Syria and elsewhere; this clearly does not mean being uncritical of the policies of the leadership of the PYD or any other Kurdish political party. </p><p>The elimination of the Kurdish issue from the discussions under the pretext that it allows more unity within the opposition and less problems, is actually a recipe for division and lack of confidence between the various components of the Syrian people. </p><p>By recognizing the Kurdish people we make a move forward towards building a new society and citizenship not based on an ethnicity, but one that recognized the various peoples constituting Syria: Armenians, Palestinians, Syriacs, Assyrians, Turkmens, etc.... </p><h3>Conclusion</h3><h3> </h3><p>The basis for any future inclusive and pluralistic citizenship in Syria must include the democratic and social empowerment of the popular classes to manage their own societies. </p><p>In this perspective, a possible decentralized and/or federal state could best answer some of the issues discussed in this article, notably by respecting the principle of self determination of the Kurdish population in providing more tools and power to manage their affairs, on the one hand, and in trying to correct regional social injustices, on the other. Such an option would also strengthen participation and self-organisation from local populations in decision-making processes. </p><p>However, the implementation of a decentralized or federal state is not a guarantee per se to achieve an inclusive and democratic system. Indeed, all future options in Syria, whether federal, decentralized or otherwise, will need to take into account these issues in a secular political framework encouraging the participation from below of the popular classes and in which democratic and social rights of all Syrians without gender, ethnic and religious discrimination are guaranteed. This means notably providing the popular classes with the right to organize politically in their workplaces, society, and neighborhoods, and to defend their interests. </p><p>This is also the only way to prevent foreign states from instrumentalizing particular religious sects or ethnicities for their own political interests, while fueling sectarianism and racism. </p><p>Reaching these goals requires new struggles at all levels of society when it comes to democratic, social and national issues. This also requires working towards the unity of democratic and progressive actors and movements against the different counter revolutionary forces, whether these are the authoritarian regimes or the Islamic fundamentalist movements. There is therefore a need to build an independent front away from these two forms of reactionary forces and against all forms of discrimination. Such a struggle for radical change in society is a dynamic from below in which the popular sectors of society are the agent of change. </p><p>The issue at the core of building a new inclusive and pluralistic citizenship is to protect the freedom and dignity of the people as the popular movements have demanded since the beginning of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa in 2010-2011, including in Syria, against authoritarian and unjust regimes.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/andres-barkil-oteo/agency-and-hope-helping-communities-healing-themselves">Agency and hope: helping communities healing themselves</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/hammoud-hammoud/political-islam-syria-war-islamist">عقدة الإسلام السياسي السوري وعقدة مستقبله</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/joseph-daher/revolution-and-counter-revolution-in-syria-part-i">Revolution and counter-revolution in Syria (Part I)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/joseph-daher/syria-grassroots-democracy-future-prospects-part-ii">Syria: grassroots democracy, future prospects (Part II)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maria-al-abdeh/syria-instumentalising-women-s-rights">Conflict in Syria: stop instrumentalising women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/loubna-mrie/aleppos-forgotten-revolutionaries">Aleppo&#039;s forgotten revolutionaries</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Arab Awakening Syria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government revolution citizenship Revolution Through Syrian eyes Violent transitions Joseph Daher Fri, 28 Apr 2017 16:20:47 +0000 Joseph Daher 110490 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Setting the EU scene: a management crisis, not a refugee crisis https://www.opendemocracy.net/sophie-magennis/setting-eu-scene-management-crisis-not-refugee-crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The EU can and must show leadership in managing refugee movements effectively in accordance with international law.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24734831.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-24734831.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Valletta Summit on Migration, held in November 2015, brought European and African leaders together to discuss the “European migration crisis” and address the “root causes”. Jonathan Raa/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>In 2015, more than one million refugees and migrants undertook dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean sea in search of safety. While this figure was exceptional, it needs to be put into perspective. That same year, according to UNHCR figures, 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide. 86 per cent of the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate were hosted in low- and middle-income countries close to situations of conflict. <span class="mag-quote-center">That same year, according to UNHCR figures, 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide.</span></p> <p>Despite the fact that only a minority of those fleeing their homes came to the EU, the member states’ capacity and the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) were severely tested. Many EU member states proved to be insufficiently prepared. The Dublin system faltered. Gaps in the implementation of the other CEAS instruments became apparent. This situation contributed to secondary onward movements within the EU. Despite attempts to address the situation in a concerted manner, many EU member states took unilateral measures. Those measures were predominantly restrictive. </p> <p>In an attempt to address the situation in a concerted manner, in the course of 2015 and 2016, the European Commission released proposals to recast CEAS instruments. Considering the need for a revitalized CEAS, UNHCR welcomed the launch of the reform process and, in particular, the Commission’s aim of further harmonizing the CEAS. The remaining differences in the quality of asylum practices, reception conditions and integration-related measures are all shortcomings that need to be addressed urgently. However, in UNHCR’s views, aspects of the Commission’s proposals do not go far enough.</p> <h2><strong>Reforming the CEAS, including Dublin, through better management, partnership and solidarity</strong></h2> <p>In line with UNHCR’s mandate, and building on some elements of the current CEAS instruments and of the European Commission’s proposals, in December 2016 UNHCR put forward a number of recommendations. They can be found in the paper “<a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/58385d4e4.html">Better Protecting Refugees in the EU and Globally</a>”. With these recommendations, UNHCR aimed at outlining a principled, pragmatic and common approach to manage refugee movements effectively and in accordance with international law. The proposals are also informed by the lessons learned over recent years.</p> <p>In line with the commitments that all EU member states and institutions made in the New York Declaration, as well as with the European Agenda on Migration, UNHCR proposed a comprehensive approach. UNHCR’s proposals focus on four priority areas: an EU that is engaged beyond its borders to protect, assist and find solutions; an EU that is prepared; an EU that protects through a well-managed common asylum system; and an EU that integrates refugees. These four areas are interconnected and need to be advanced in parallel.</p> <p>First, EU member states would register persons arriving irregularly in a common EU registration system. This system would build upon Eurodac and other databases to improve data collection and management. A common EU registration would ensure orderly processing of arrivals, security screening and access to protection, and would support family reunion within the EU. </p> <p>Family reunion would be facilitated immediately after the registration phase. While maintaining family unity, this approach would contribute to reducing onward movement. Indeed, to best address onward movement, it is key to take into account its drivers. Evidence has shown that many asylum-seekers who move onward irregularly do so because of the difficulties to reunite with their family in a regular manner. <span class="mag-quote-center">Evidence has shown that many asylum-seekers who move onward irregularly do so because of the difficulties to reunite with their family in a regular manner. </span></p> <p>Efficient, fair and streamlined asylum determination procedures would help managed mixed arrivals of refugees and migrants. Asylum-seekers with manifestly well-founded or unfounded claims would be channelled into accelerated procedures. When EU member states would be under particular pressure, EU Agencies would support them in carrying out the procedures. The accelerated procedures would provide quick access to international protection for those who need it. They would also facilitate return for those who do not. All the other cases would be processed through regular asylum procedures. </p> <p>This approach focuses on determination procedures within the EU. By contrast, the introduction of mandatory admissibility procedures based on the safe country concepts would contribute to restricting access to the EU’s protection space while shifting responsibility and burdens upon non-EU countries. </p> <p>A fair and workable distribution mechanism would guarantee intra-EU solidarity and responsibility sharing. When an EU member State receives more asylum-seekers than a percentage previously agreed at EU-level, a mechanism would be triggered to distribute cases above this share to other EU member states. UNHCR is of the opinion that incentives, rather than sanctions, would foster compliance with this system, thereby reducing irregular onward movement. </p> <p>Consequently, to the extent possible, the distribution mechanism would take into account the asylum-seekers’ extended family connections, substantive links to EU member states (incl. previous work, studies) and preferences. </p> <p>Additionally, after six months in the member states which granted protection, refugees who have the means to be self-reliant would be able to establish themselves in other member states. Member states also need to be incentivized to comply with the proposed system. For example, the share of asylum-seekers and refugees they would be responsible for could be reduced as a reward for high quality and fast processing of a significant number of cases. <span class="mag-quote-center">An effective return system, in line with international standards, is essential to build trust in the integrity of the asylum system. </span></p> <p>A common and specific approach would be in place for unaccompanied and separated children, with the best interests of the child at its core. Notably, unaccompanied and separated children would be identified quickly, registered, immediately provided with safe and age-appropriate care arrangements, including a guardian. Together with partners, UNHCR has been consulting with practitioners and policymakers to support EU member states and institutions in putting these standards into practice.</p> <p>Finally, an efficient system for return for those found not to be in need of international protection after a fair procedure would need to be in place. An effective return system, in line with international standards, is essential to build trust in the integrity of the asylum system. </p> <h2><strong>Making the most of existing instruments, pending their reform</strong></h2> <p>The reform of the CEAS provides a unique opportunity to address the gaps and shortcomings that became apparent in 2015 and early 2016, while fostering a protection-oriented and solidarity-based approach. In that context, UNHCR will continue to engage with EU member states and institutions, notably on the basis of the aforementioned proposals.</p> <p>Yet, pending the reform of the CEAS instruments, and in particular the Dublin Regulation, existing instruments have the potential to foster solidarity in the interest of applicants and member states alike. This is particularly the case for the Dublin III Regulation, as well as for the emergency relocation mechanism. </p> <p>UNHCR’s forthcoming study on the Dublin III Regulation shows that the current gaps in its implementation contributed to both the applicants’ and the member states’ lack of trust in the system. This came with adverse consequences on the speediness and outcome of Dublin procedures. However, the Dublin Regulation is the only instrument that has the potential to assist in reuniting families within the EU while fostering cooperation between EU member states. This would require member states to allocate sufficient resources for the system to function. UNHCR also encourages member states to use their discretionary powers under the regulation on compassionate or humanitarian grounds, in particular to keep or bring together extended family relations. <span class="mag-quote-center">In that context, UNHCR calls on member states to pledge the full amount of relocation places foreseen in the Council’s Decisions without restrictive preferences.</span>The emergency relocation mechanism is an unprecedented initiative to show solidarity to frontline EU member states in a way that is also in the interest of asylum-seekers. In that context, UNHCR calls on member states to pledge the full amount of relocation places foreseen in the Council’s Decisions without restrictive preferences. It is also key that member states urgently undertake initiatives aimed at streamlining relocation procedures. Finally, member states should step up the relocation of vulnerable persons, notably unaccompanied and separated children.</p> <h2><strong>Conclusion: a two-step way forward</strong></h2> <p>As part of any comprehensive approach, and in line their commitments to global responsibility-sharing, EU member states should be able to offer access to protection to those who need it within the EU, through a well-managed common asylum system. The reform of the CEAS instruments will be key to meeting that objective. </p> <p>However, pending a reform, EU member states need to make a full use of existing instruments, in particular the Dublin III Regulation and the emergency relocation schemes. These mechanisms have the potential to foster solidarity in the interests of applicants and EU states alike. The EU can and must show leadership in managing refugee movements effectively in accordance with international law.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>See <a href="https://www.ceps.eu/content/ceps-ideas-lab-2017-reconstructing-union">CEPS Ideas Lab 2017 - Reconstructing the Union</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ideaslab2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/CEPS-Armband.jpg" width="100%" style="margin-bottom:10px;" /></a> <div style="90%;"> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ian-borg/migration-policies-effective-ways-to-address-smuggling">Migration policies: effective ways to address smuggling</a><br />IAN BORG <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/karolina-babicka/refugee-crisis-and-central-and-eastern-europe-what-solidarity-do-we-need">Refugee crisis and Central and Eastern Europe: what solidarity do we need?</a><br />KAROLINA BABICKA <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/jean-pierre-schembri/tomorrow-s-agency-for-asylum">Tomorrow’s Agency for Asylum</a><br />JEAN-PIERRE SCHEMBRI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/brian-donald/migrant-smuggling-to-eu-need-for-coordinated-response">Migrant smuggling to the EU – the need for a coordinated response</a><br />BRIAN DONALD <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/regina-catrambone/three-humanitarian-proposals">Three humanitarian proposals</a><br />REGINA CATRAMBONE <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/m-rio-marques/challenges-of-mediterranean-illegal-migration-crisis">Challenges of the Mediterranean illegal migration crisis</a><br />MÁRIO MARQUES <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anneliese-baldaccini/it-is-time-to-move-beyond-dublin-logic">It is time to move beyond the Dublin logic</a><br />ANNELIESE BALDACCINI <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/kamil-matuszczyk/migration-crisis-in-2017-challenges-for-eu-solidarity">Migration crisis in 2017 – challenges for EU solidarity</a><br />KAMIL MATUSZCZYK </div> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> EU CEPS 2017 Sophie Magennis Fri, 28 Apr 2017 15:44:57 +0000 Sophie Magennis 110497 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A nuclear peril, and its silences https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-peril-and-its-silences <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The true history of Britain's nuclear-weapons policy should be discussed frankly, not buried in evasion and smear. <br /></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-25300963.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/558532/PA-25300963.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="313" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Defence Secretary Michael Fallon during a visit to Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant, one of the UK's four nuclear warhead-carrying submarines. Danny Lawson/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>When Britain's new prime minister Theresa May announced the next stage of the Trident replacement programme in July 2016 she was asked directly whether she would ever “press the button” and fire these, the nuclear missiles in the United Kingdom's arsenal. She said yes, unreservedly, ensuring that the UK would remain a fully functioning <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/ukprofile">member</a> of the nuclear club: that tiny group of nine states compared with the 186 states that do <em>not</em> possess nuclear weapons (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/nuclear-world-eight-and-half-rogue-states">A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states</a>", 13 January 2017).</p><p>The opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked the same question during the current general-election <a href="https://www.defenceiq.com/air-land-and-sea-defence-services/articles/uk-general-election-how-parties-compare-on-defence">campaign</a>, and repeated his oft-expressed refusal to do so. For this he was roundly condemned by leading Conservatives and their supporters in the press. The defence secretary Michael Fallon <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/michael-fallon-to-slam-jeremy-corbyn-on-defence-plans-10848875">termed</a> Corbyn an out-and-out security threat, while confirming that Britain’s retains a nuclear "first-use" strategy. To put it bluntly, Theresa May is <a href="https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/theresa-may/news/85324/michael-fallon-theresa-may">prepared</a> to start a nuclear war whereas Jeremy Corbyn won’t (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain's nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a>", 17 September 2015).</p><p>The implications of this very bald statement are startling in two quite different ways. The first is that starting a nuclear war would most probably be the war <a href="http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide/nuclear-weapons/">crime</a> to end all war crimes; the second is that the prospect of this raised scarcely a flicker of interest in the media or the country at large, apart from the opportunity for the Conservatives to label Corbyn unpatriotic and a threat to British security.</p><p>True, any self-respecting analyst of British nuclear <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-nuclear-deterrence-factsheet/uk-nuclear-deterrence-what-you-need-to-know">policy</a> knows full well that successive political leaders may have been reluctant to talk about firing nuclear weapons. A previous column on the topic in this series remarked on the manner in which Theresa May was at least open about it (see also "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-weapons-future-no-done-deal">Britain's nuclear-weapons future: no done deal</a>", 21 July 2016). &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Such an analyst will also know that the British government has never signed up to the <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/nuclear-obama-north-korea-pakistan/499676/">idea</a> of “no first use”, but that this is almost never stated in public. Indeed, the willingness to "go first" is typically consigned to a few weasel words hidden in the depths of a lengthy defence statement, and then only rarely.</p><h2><strong>The big boys' club</strong></h2><p>It is not easy to understand why one of the smaller nuclear <a href="http://www.ploughshares.org/world-nuclear-stockpile-report">powers</a> is willing to undertake the ultimate and entirely self-defeating effort to “punch above its weight” in nuclear weapons (and other geostrategic) terms. But it helps to put this in a historical perspective. In the 1950s, Britain had not yet shed its imperial past; but it had become the world’s third nuclear power after the United States and the Soviet Union, and was seen by the British establishment as still in status a <a href="http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/collection/27/cold-war-origins">co-equal </a>among three superpowers.</p><p>This was a radical change from the multipolar world of the 1930s. Then, six states – Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, Germany and France – were all in military competition. The second world war then saw Germany and Japan defeated, and France humbled, leaving the newly <a href="http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Uk/UKArsenalDev.html">nuclear-armed</a> Britain to see itself very much as part of the "big boys’ club".</p><p>In those days, before the advent of <a href="http://www.cnduk.org/">CND</a> and the era of anti-nuclear campaigning, a legacy of wartime endured: namely, the military continued to see nuclear weapons as not so dissimilar from conventional weapons except in the level of power they unleashed. After all, the argument went, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki <a href="http://www.atomicheritage.org/history/bombings-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-1945">bombs</a> had not been hugely more devastating than the conventional massed bomber raids on Hamburg and Dresden, or indeed the terrifying <a href="http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/deadliest-air-raid-history-180954512/">destruction</a> of Tokyo by firebombing.</p><p>The notion that <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat">nuclear weapons</a> represented just another item in the arsenal had a particular significance for Britain, which could no longer even begin to match the conventional forces of the Soviets or Americans. A fact now lost in the depths of nuclear <a href="http://www.atomcentral.com/the-cold-war.aspx">history</a> is that when Britain’s interests in Asia seemed threatened by the rise of Chinese communism in the <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/en/Books/Humanities/History/Regional national history/Asian history/Middle Eastern history/Cold Wars Odd Couple?menuitem={CF3DC5B3-6EAA-4206-81E9-245510E35612}">1950s</a>, defence analysts actually theorised about the need to prevail in a war by using nuclear weapons.&nbsp;</p><p>One of the most influential such thinkers, <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SwoAAAAAMBAJ&amp;pg=PA140&amp;lpg=PA140&amp;dq=john+slessor+nuclear+weapons&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=DXj1X4vPd1&amp;sig=mKdaZwva1fWVlFK6PdePRmadbMA&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwi9kou7iMbTAhXCWxQKHVCrAkAQ6AEIQTAI#v=onepage&amp;q=john%20slessor%20nuclear%20weapons&amp;f=false">John Slessor,</a> believed that: “in most of the possible theatres of limited war… it must be accepted that it is at least improbable that we would be able to meet a major communist offensive in one of those areas without resorting to tactical nuclear weapons” (see Milan Rai, <a href="https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780951818862?cm_sp=bdp-_-9780951818862-_-isbn13"><em>Tactical Trident, the Rifkind Doctrine and the Third World</em></a>, Drava Papers, 1995).</p><p>In the late 1950s and early 1960s the UK developed the capability to drop nuclear bombs from the V-bomber force based in the Middle East and southeast Asia, and by <em>Scimitar</em> and <em>Buccaneer</em> aircraft on carriers. The ideas behind this were illustrated by the then defence minister, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/27/obituaries/lord-duncan-sandys-79-dead-smoothed-way-to-end-of-empire.html">Duncan Sandys</a>, in a 1957 debate:</p><p>“One must distinguish major global war, involving a head-on clash between the great powers, and minor conflicts which can be localised and which do not bring the great powers into direct collision. Limited and localised acts of aggression, for example by a satellite Communist state could, no doubt, be resisted with conventional arms, or, at worst, with tactical atomic weapons, the use of which could be confined to the battle area” (see <a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmdfence/ucsnd2/snd373.htm"><em>Hansard</em>, Volume 568, column 1765</a>, 16 April 1957).</p><p>The idea of <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=21511">limited nuclear war </a>persists to this day. It was and is a central part of Nato’s strategy of flexible response. This was originally codified in document MC 14/3 of 16 January 1968, and has long been a part of Britain’s nuclear thinking, however hidden from public view (see Lewis Betts, <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/br/book/9781137585462"><em>Duncan Sandys and British Nuclear Policy-Making</em></a>, Palgrave 2016).</p><p>When Argentina <a href="http://guides.library.harvard.edu/c.php?g=310591&amp;p=2078512">overran</a> the Falkland/Malvinas Islands in 1982, prime minister Margaret Thatcher ordered the despatch of a naval taskforce, with the defence secretary John Nott telling the House of Commons that it would carry its full range of weapons. At the time this <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1984/HJA.htm">included</a> helicopter-borne nuclear depth-bombs for anti-submarine warfare and free-fall bombs for delivery by Sea Harriers. There followed a row within Whitehall over the wisdom of putting such weapons at risk in a warzone. Some, at least, were reportedly transferred to an auxiliary, <em>RFA Regent</em>, which was deployed to the south Atlantic but, unlike its sister ship <em>RFA Resource</em>, was kept clear of the warzone (see "<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/conflict/nuclear_weapons_4217.jsp">Nuclear weapons: the oxygen of debate</a>", 29 December 2006).</p><p>In recent years there has been an assumption that Britain has given up the idea of limited nuclear war, having withdrawn all its tactical nuclear weapons in the 1990s. But this is not correct, since a low-yield variant of the otherwise very powerful <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4438392.stm">Trident</a> thermonuclear warhead is available ("low yield" in this case meaning merely the size of the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bomb).</p><h2><strong>A new danger</strong></h2><p>All this, and much more, has long been in the public domain (see Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.worldcat.org/title/sub-strategic-trident-a-slow-burning-fuse/oclc/474555561/editions?referer=di&amp;editionsView=true"><em>Sub-Strategic Trident: A Slow Burning Fuse</em></a>, London Defence Papers No 34, Brassey’s for the <a href="https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/warstudies/research/groups/cds/index.aspx">Centre for Defence Studies</a>, King’s College, London, 1996). Yet it almost never figures in the public debate about defence. Indeed, on rare occasions when people like Jeremy Corbyn raise the issue, they are labelled security risks.</p><p>In part such attitudes are still explained by the British establishment’s fundamental need to <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13523260701489925?src=recsys&amp;journalCode=fcsp20">see</a> the UK as a major world player, especially at a time of relative decline. But there is also the matter of generational change. These issues were debated In the 1980s, at least to an extent. But the cold war <a href="https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/robert-service/the-end-of-the-cold-war">ended</a> in 1990, and few people under the age of 40 have much awareness of just how dangerous that period was.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Today, with Trump, Putin, Kim Jong-un and even Theresa May around, the world has entered a new period of uncertainty and potential nuclear <a href="http://www.nti.org/newsroom/">danger</a>. Yet there are few signs of any kind of rational debate emerging in the weeks of campaigning until Britain's general election on 8 June. Instead, there is the appalling prospect of serious discussion about UK nuclear weapons being submerged by accusations of unpatriotic behaviour and threats to national security.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Society%20%20social%20sciences/Politics%20%20government/Political%20activism/Armed%20conflict/Irregular%20War%20Islamic%20State%20and%20the%20New%20Threat%20from%20the%20Margins.aspx?menuitem=%7BE8A98B5E-F20B-476E-8EE5-B1C4BE955AD3%7D"><em>Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2016)</p><p><a href="http://treasureislands.org/"><em><span class="st"></span></em></a><span><span><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group </a></span></span></p><p><a href="http://www.basicint.org">British American Security Information Council (BASIC)</a></p><p><a href="http://www.britishpugwash.org">British Pugwash</a></p><p><a href="http://www.acronym.org.uk/">Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy</a></p><p><a href="http://sustainablesecurity.org/">Sustainable Security</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-weapons-future-no-done-deal">Britain&#039;s nuclear-weapons future: no done deal </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain%27s-defence-path-to-change">Britain&#039;s defence, the path to change</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/nuclear-weapons-risk">The nuclear-weapons risk</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-submarines-out-of-time">Britain&#039;s deep-sea defence: out of time?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-endgame">Britain&#039;s nuclear endgame</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/what-labour-should-do-now">What Labour should do now</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/britain_nuclear_3693.jsp">Britain&#039;s nuclear-weapons fix</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-plans-corbyn-factor">Britain&#039;s nuclear plans: the Corbyn factor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britains-nuclear-force-transparent-future">Britain&#039;s nuclear deep: a new transparency</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:14:03 +0000 Paul Rogers 110478 at https://www.opendemocracy.net