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Essays

Revolution 2011: dictators, technocrats and the unemployed.................Dr M. Aspinwall........p.4 Filling the Global Democratic Deficit?...................................................R. Laidler..................p.6 Occupy IR Theory.....................................................................................L. Sanjuan Mejia.......p.8 And What about the Women? ..................................................................N. Turak...................p.10 Organic Pioneers: The Rise of Urban Agriculture...................................A. Ross.....................p.12 Greece: The Indignant Citizens Movement and the Digital Polis..........M. Kalyviotou..........p.14 A Fake Revolution?..................................................................................B. Gradecki..............p.16 China and the sway of Ai Weiwei............................................................O. Giles....................p.18 A Central Asian Spring?...........................................................................A. Koves...................p.20 Don’t blame the tax lawyers....................................................................M. Hargreaves.........p.21 Iraq and the Revolutions of 2011.............................................................G. Andrews..............p.22 India’s Anti-Corruption Movement..........................................................U. Jain....................p.24 The Illusion of Cyber Power.....................................................................P. Rocha.................p.27

Illustrations

Kristellys Zolondek.......................................................................................................Front Cover

Leviathan is generously supported by the University of Edinburgh Department of Politics and International Relations and the Edinburgh University Politics Society. The opinions and views expressed in Leviathan are those of their authors alone. All of the images used are under the Creative Commons license.

To donate or advertise with Edinburgh’s premier politics journal and provide opportunities for students to contribute meaningfully to our most crucial debates contact us at leviathanjournal@gmail.com


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Dear Reader,

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elcome to all students, staff and interested readers. To those reading Leviathan for the first time, a short introduction is in order. This is a student-run journal which aims to provide reasoned debate and analysis on pressing yet sometimes overlooked issues in politics and current affairs. In order to address a topic as comprehensively as possible, each issue focuses on a specific theme, and the theme for this issue is “People Power”. “People Power” aims to cast a wide net across the global polity in order to analyse popular movements in the last year and to assess their ability to bring meaningful change. As we live in turbulent times, where previously held certainties on what constitute sound politics and a fair society are being increasingly questioned, so our submissions have addressed the various possibilities, nuances and challenges of new assertions of people power. Maintaining a strong international focus, our issue includes discussions on new forms of mobilisation emerging in Greece, changing political narratives in China, and the possibility of a new democratic movement in Central Asia. Closer to home, we raise questions on the adequacy of contemporary international relations theory, the apparent invincibility of financial capital and its hold on public policy, and whether civil society can help to rectify deficiencies in modern democracy. Before concluding, we must acknowledge those who made this issue possible. The Department of Politics and International Relations has generously sponsored this issue along with the Politics Society. Their constant encouragement and support have been invaluable to this journal. Finally, our editors, producers, and fundraisers have done another tremendous job in putting together this issue. Their willingness to go well beyond what was asked of them and their constant suggestions of new ways in which to improve the final product has helped build a dynamic work ethic at Leviathan, and I look forward to continuing this excellent performance for the next issue. As always, we urge you to critically analyse and respond to the articles by sending in your thoughts. Letters to the editor are welcome and should be sent to leviathanjournal@gmail.com. Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy the issue. Uday Jain Editor-in-Chief

Staff

Editor-in-Chief:

Uday Jain

Senior Editor:

Gabriel Gill Andrews

Assistant chief: Marika Andersen Editorial team: Katerina Kobylka, Hannah Toope, Charles Jamieson, Mitchell Hargreaves, Jana Bischler, Joel Sharples Production chief: Hannah Toope Production team: Mitchell Hargreaves, Katy Osborn, Joakim Bjornestad, Charlotte Mohn, Mike Yeomans

Fundraising chief: Marie Alter Fundraising team: Mary Helen McDougall, Andrew Merry, Milena Aksentijevich, Sanah Saeed Zuberi Sianan Irvine, Charles Jamieson


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Revolution 2011: dictators, Professor Mark Aspinwall, Head of Politics and IR, connects the dots between

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e live in interesting times. 2011, a year which brought some of the most dramatic changes since 1989, began on 17 December 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi lit a match and ended his life. Bouazizi’s self-immolation also ended the political life of Tunisian President Ben Ali, who left office shortly thereafter. Revolutions then spread like wildfire across the Middle East and North Africa, where authoritarian regimes were tolerated for far too long. Yet until the Syrians and Yemenis achieve a lasting democratic settlement, 2011 will still be with us.

helplessness, marginalization, poor economic prospects, and a feeling of injustice. Despite living in vastly different worlds, the rioters of London, the Occupiers of Wall Street, and the hopeful citizens of the MENA countries were all motivated by these emotions. So often, the world seems to be divided between the powerful and the rest of us.

But in another sense the events were all the result of the steady pressure being applied to national governments to uphold rules which are accepted by the international community. Norms of ap2011 travelled to London, where the propriate behaviour – over human rights, idle and the opgovern“From central bankers to economic portunistic rose up ance, the rule of in protest at having human rights lawyers to law, democracy, nothing to do (or many other climate scientists to nuclear and to replenish their areas – are crysstocks of brand-name weapons inspectors, techno- tallising to the goods). It went to point where there crats are on the rise.” southern Europe, is less room for where corrupt, ingovernments competent Eurozone governments squan- to deviate from them without incurring dered opportunities to get their houses in political costs. order during times of plenty. It ended up all over the world, in city-centre OccupaTechnocrats – trained experts who tion encampments of protesters angry at set the rules, advise on how to apply the privileges and power of the superthem and how to solve problems – are rich. becoming increasingly influential. From central bankers to human rights lawyers 2011 never went to North Korea, to climate scientists to nuclear weapons though the death of the Dear Leader inspectors, technocrats are on the rise. Kim Jong-Il was an opportunity (was Debates are less political – less ‘demothere ever a country whose population cratic’ – and more technical. To make needed Al Jazeera’s Middle East covera dent in these debates it pays to be a age more?). ‘DL’ was an eccentric in scientist, a lawyer, or some other profesthe same league as Muammar Gaddafi, sional with expert knowledge. though apparently without the Village People costumes that Gaddafi liked to Regimes in which anointed leadwear. In a country where presidential ers behave as they wish are under the succession is a gift, succession passed spotlight. Eccentric governance is costly. to his son Kim Jong-Un. 2012 may tell Even democratic regimes can find their us whether or not the Young One has the room for manoeuvre limited because capacity to steer North Korea toward reinternational money markets charge sponsibility, openness, and engagement. high-risk premiums to lend money, or international organisations publish damnWhat connects these events? Where ing reports. It’s not just the Burmas, there were uprisings, they were clearly North Koreas, and Irans of the world, propelled by street-anger: a sense of but Berlusconi’s Italy and Papandreou’s

Greece. Sometimes regimes don’t live by the rules that the rest of the world accepts, leading people to rise up in protest (as in MENA). Sometimes regimes accept them and people believe democracy is being undermined or lost (as in Greece, Italy, Occupy). In a future in which norms are recognised and accepted as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and where communication technology permits the rapid diffusion of information, governments will feel increasingly constrained, both by technocrats and by their own constituents. What else happened in 2011? We’ve been told that the BRICs are the future, and 2011 provided further evidence. I began this essay alluding to the purported Chinese curse ‘may you live in interesting times’. Interesting timing, then, that the growth of China (and other emerging markets) coincides with sluggish growth in Western economies. Strong BRIC growth rates have given rise to a bristling sense of self-confidence. But that self-confidence is premature. The BRICs may have robust trade surpluses but they suffer from a deficit of good governance. Even the ones that are democratic face serious challenges to improve governance. For the rest, democracy is not what they need. What they need is better governance – rule of law, open and transparent decisionmaking, accountable institutions, strong and independent legal systems. Without a solid foundation of good governance the BRICs remain infants in CRIBs. Their rise is precarious and contingent. They lack the capacity to address and resolve social conflict equitably. As and when growth slows, confidence can easily give way to suspicions of rent seeking, corruption and mismanagement. In a nutshell, they have not yet latched on fully to the norms and standards of good governance which are accepted by


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technocrats and the unemployed

the previous year’s most important social, economic and political events most of the world. In any case, is it sensible to focus so much on growth? China grows at 9% and those of us in Europe are lucky to eke out 1% growth. China has overtaken us in the quantity of goods and services

ductivity is generated by longer working hours. The productivity advances we make are distributed very unevenly. Anyway, if the world is being taken over by BRICs and technocrats, what does that mean for the rest of us? 2011

BRICs leaders at 2010 summit, represent the world’s most fastest growing economies, however they lack democratic robustness. (from left to right: President of Russia Dimitri Medvedev, former President of Brazil Lula da Silva, President of People`s Republic of China Hu Jintao and Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh). Photo: José Cruz, Creative Commons.

provided further alarming news on the it produces because it is steadily addstate of the job market for young people: ing more (and better trained) people disastrous. The highest level of unemand capital to its economy. Instead, our ployment for many years. Not only can growth mainly comes from advances in those in work be victims of downsiztechnology. We invent things and proing or outsourcing, but new entrants cesses which increase our productivity, “Not only can those to the workforce face enormous challenges meaning that we can in work be victims of securing a job in the first turn out more ‘stuff’ with the same amount downsizing or out- place. What can a young graduate do to maximize of labour and capital. sourcing, but new en- their chances of a secure But do we need 9% trants to the workforce future? more products? Why face enormous chalAnswer: become a not 9% more time technocrat. What does a with our friends and lenges securing a job technocrat do? As I hintfamily (time which is in the first place. ” ed earlier, a technocrat is gained with advances a professional, someone in our productivity)? who knows the codes and routines of a 9% more time making the world a better given field. Technocrats understand rules place by volunteering our energies for and how to apply them. They know that worthy causes? Or making ourselves accepting the status quo is not always the fitter and healthier? Unfortunately, this right thing to do (but often it is). They is almost definitely a pipedream. In most are constructively critical in ways that cases, those who have more leisure time engage those they work with, and that have 100% of it (not 9%) because they are unemployed. Those remaining in jobs improve the field they work in. have no time at all, because extra pro-

They have skills in finding, analysing, processing, and communicating information. Their skills may be in data analysis (maths, statistics), or in languages (Arabic, computer-programming). They may be in people-skills, such as negotiating, resolving, consoling, communicating, and managing expectations. Professionals need to be creative problem-solvers. They need to convince. They need to apply careful reasoning to known problems (i.e., if X occurs because of Y, then we should do Z, because past experience or known relationships make it obvious that this is the right thing to do). Example: if the national debt grows to 140% of GDP and we still haven’t balanced our books, reformed our corrupted civil service or nailed our tax cheats; and if economic growth is miniscule and our principal exports are olives, island holidays and feta cheese; and if international lenders have finally realized the scale of our problems and jacked up the interest rates they charge us to borrow their money, then maybe we had better think about being taken into receivership by technocrats (ie, have an austerity package imposed on us from outside and hand over our government to non-elected experts). 2011 provided some harsh lessons and bitter medicine, and the Eurozone crisis was just one of them. We need to learn from these experiences, and all of us need to be prepared to face the challenges of a world which is not only more closely linked and interdependent, but in which problems are more complex.


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Filling the Global

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Rachel Laidler explores whether global civil society can

rocesses of globalisation have created an increasingly interdependent world. Governance has expanded ever outwards from the national level, becoming internationalised and institutionalised into an overarching system of global governance – a system that has produced powerful new bodies and actors (the WTO, the IMF and particularly the UN).

legitimacy is through their domestic electoral processes (if indeed they are actually democratic), a link surely too attenuated to be truly democratic. And as the decisions taken at the global level become more and more intrusive, the influence of individuals on matters of global governance is declining concurrently. In a nutshell, individuals have no real representation in processes of global governance. “Many developing coun- A global democratic tries find it hard to gain deficit is present – can this be remedied?

And yet, this increasing interconnectedness between access to GCS, and to political bodies has not led to democratic A correspondpromote their views processes being coring growth in what respondingly extend- alongside those of their Carothers calls ‘the ed and strengthened. Northern counterparts.” phenomenon of advoElectoral democracy cacy across borders’ simply does not exsuggests that it can ist at the global level and the world’s be.2 In reaction to more interdependent, citizens are hard pressed to hold global global processes of governance, a form actors to account.1 Indeed, the only way of Global Civil Society (GCS) appears that states purport to have democratic to be developing. This is seen in the

proliferation of international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and New Social Movements (focusing on issues such as human rights, women’s rights and environmentalism). These new GCS actors are similar to their domestic counterparts in that they exist in parallel with, but are separate from, the institutions of global governance. They contain myriad beliefs and views, just like their domestic counterparts. And they likewise have the capacity to advance the views of citizens (from around the world). The question is: can GCS act as representatives for the people of the world?

On the surface of the matter it appears it can. GCS has given individuals “a voice”, providing them with an avenue through which their opinions and concerns can be recognised.3 The state is no longer their only link to the processes of global governance. Through GCS, they are empowered to create ties with other individuals throughout the world who share similar beliefs, and to represent ideas at the global level. Through advocacy GCS can promote particular values that are important to specific groups of citizens, putting pressure on the institutions of global governance to take these interests seriously, and to act on them accordingly. Indeed, GCS has gained an expanded influence in this role, so much so that many institutions of global governance have now set up channels through which the opinions of GCS can be taken into account4 – Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are Director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth, here at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in 2008. Rachel Laidler asks whether organisations such as Human Rights Watch can play a representative role in the global democracy. Photo: Kai Mörk, Creative Commons.


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Democratic Deficit?

fill a representative role in the global democratic vacuum frequently consulted on human rights issues, for example.

privileged.

Furthermore, it seems to be hypocritical that GCS should criticise the Despite this, is GCS really fulfilling a representative role? Even though it is processes of global governance as being undemocratic when their own interproviding a form of representation, Annal workings are often opaque to the derson and Reiff argue that it can never general public as well. Within GCS, be truly representative in the same 5 NGO leaders are usually appointed way as are domestic political parties. rather than elected and After all, the purpose of political parties “Ultimately GCS rep- much documentation on issues of finance and is to compromise, resents itself, not the decision-making are to reflect as many interests as possible, wishes of a global not published for public consumption. As one and to aggregate populace.” observer stated: ‘when them into a single you point a finger you approach. They provide vital social and political integrative need to do it with a clean hand’.7 functions which GCS, in its “purity In the end, GCS appears to be limited of principle”, cannot do. It does not in the extent to which it can fill the attempt to mirror the wishes of “global global democratic vacuum through constituents”, but to persuade them to being representative. This is not to say accept the importance of a particular issue it has deemed central. GCS in this that it does not in part help to alleviate the deficiencies of the global demorespect is self-interested, reflecting its cratic system by providing an avenue own principles above and beyond the through which individuals all over interests of particular constituents. It the world can express their particular does not attempt to reflect the opinions interests. But, its lack of concern for of the people of the world, but to direct the wider views of the global populace, them. Ultimately GCS represents itself, its focus on its own narrow interests not the wishes of a global populace. and its inherent Northern bias, as well as a lack of internal democracy, mean This issue is further exacerbated that its ability to challenge the global when the unbalanced nature of GCS democratic deficit through a representais taken into account: GCS, although tive role is severely limited. certainly containing a broad range of interests and beliefs, is still undoubtedly The focus here has been on whether biased towards the Global North, i.e. wealthy Western nations. It is the inter- GCS can alleviate the democratic deficit ests of these groups that dominate GCS, through a representative role. Although this appears doubtful, it is possible and it is their beliefs that gain the most to end on a hopeful note. The role of influence within global governance. Indeed, many developing countries find GCS is not limited to representation. The other activities tundertaken by it at it hard to gain access to GCS, and to the global level (such as its abilities to promote their views alongside those of 6 educate, monitor, and ensure accountatheir Northern counterparts. This bias bility) still show a great deal of promise towards the most powerful promotes for promoting democratic standards. certain interests over others, and puts GCS is not an alternative to a global into question whether GCS can ever democratic system, but it can help to fill the global democratic deficit if it only represents the interests of the most support it.

Kaldor, M., (2003) ‘The Idea of Global Civil Society’, International Affairs 79 (3), pp.583 – 593. 2 Carothers, T. (1999) ‘Civil Society: Think Again’, Foreign Affairs, 22, pp.18-29. 3 Glasius, M., (2009) “Global Civil Society and Human Rights” from Michael Goodhart (ed), Human Rights: Politics and Practice , pp.147-163, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 4 Scholte, J. A., (2004), ‘Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance’, Government and Opposition, 39 (2), pp. 211-233. 5 Anderson, K., and Rieff, D., (2004) ‘Global Civil Society: A Sceptical View’, in Anheier, M., Glasius, M., and Kaldor, M. (Eds.), Global Civil Society 2004/5, London: Sage, pp. 24-39. 6 Carothers, T. (1999) ‘Civil Society: Think Again’, Foreign Affairs, 22, pp.18-29. 7 Scholte, J. A., (2004), ‘Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance’, Government and Opposition, 39 (2), pp. 211-233. 1


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Occupy

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was recently added to a Facebook group called “occupyIRTheory”. The group is composed of academics seeking to understand the global movements of 2011 and to unearth the realities of what we previously thought were the neutral and objective foundations of International Relations (IR).

Ledys Sanjuan Mejia critically questions contemporary theoretical tools to generate meaningful insights into the true complexity of people power. New “post-structuralist” enquiries, beginning in the 1980s, have attempted to explain the phenomenon of ‘The Protester’ as a player in IR, and the insights of this movement have had severe implications for our attitude to the traditionally accepted mainstream paradigms.

It is unsurprising, given this selective historicism, that these analyses have been caught off guard in the context of the global uprisings. The common sound bites: “no one could have predicted…”, “no one could have known that…” and my personal favourite “they don’t really seem to know why they are protesting” resonate throughout the media and academic debates alike. The effect of these social movements perhaps calls into question the continuous replication of the global capitalist system and our (pre) constructed models of IR. Yet we still reduce these movements to “springs”, “domino effects”, “spill overs” which fail to capture the historical continuity of global exploitation and the forms it takes both culturally (i.e. corruption, fear, exclusion, discrimination) and materially (i.e. unemployment, underemployment, poverty, environmental degradation).

In a controversial move, Time magazine named “The Protester” person of The landscape “There is no doubt the year. The main of IR has long been criterion was the exthat people power is dominated by the tent of influence, “for debate, destabilising the core neo-neo better or worse”, that and there has been a person had affected assumptions that previ- a common relucon the events of the to contest this ously underpinned our tance past year.1 From the dominance. These self-immolation of paradigms fail to ‘common sense’ ” Mohammad Bouazizi recognise resistance and the Arab Spring, as a major factor in to general strikes in Spain, Portugal and international politics and are thus unable Greece, to student demonstrations in to grasp and explain the significance of Chile, Colombia and the UK, to Occupy changes to the contemporary political Moreover, the separation of politics Wall Street and every other little corner landscape. Epistemological positivism from economics permeates the field. ”occupied” in response to the democrat- underpins these dominant paradigms, During the 1970s, IR opened up a space ic deficit unveiled by the financial crisis: and these approaches, which are intenof enquiry into global economic organithere is no doubt that people power is tionally ahistorical3, sation through the indestabilising the core assumptions that place emphasis on “The effect of these auguration of the field previously underpinned our “common the construction of of International Posocial movements sense”. IR has long been obsessed with “systemic theories”, litical Economy (IPE) diplomats, great power holders and the models with scientific studies.4 However, the perhaps calls into 2 (classical and neo-) realist paradigm, rigour. These models domination of “high” question the conhowever, clearly the content of underoften ignore events IR disavows an analygraduate courses must now be revised that delegitimise and that contests the tinuous replication of sis to give due attention to the new heteroquestion them. It is organisation of global the global capitalist capitalism along class, doxy that is emerging and the debates not that neo-realism that global resistance movements and and neo-liberalism do and racial system and our (pre) gendered crises have recently generated. not look at historical lines. Thus, the fact events at all, but rather constructed models of that the most exIt is unsurprising that Time magathat historical facts ploited yet productive IR.” zine, and indeed this publication, are are analysed through people in the world enquiring into our public prerogative to a priori constructions are black women of resist, since this prerogative is now so of Power, “man”, the system, anarchy, the global south remains unrecognised ubiquitous and influential. However, and so on. How would these categories in IPE. The focus on diplomatic treaI want to highlight the fact that the explain solidarity or general strikes? ties, free trade agreements, and so on, historical and social roots of “people How would this notion of Power exobscures how the unjust system is replipower” are fundamentally at odds with plain camping out in opposition to bank cated through class relations of exploitamainstream IR theories’ cognitive maps. bailouts? Are these the “men” they tion and subordination. These relations Neorealism and neoliberalism lack the speak of? have a historical and social relevance in


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IR Theory

IR Theory and proposes a re-articulation every context, be it global or local. The inevitable consequence of deemphasising the dependence of the world’s most powerful people and states on exploitation leaves us unable to understand why these people suddenly rebel and resist the world order. Also problematically, IR students are taught to delegitimise resistance and put it aside as not worthy of comprehensive enquiry. Furthermore, our understanding of the global political economy in Western academia has its own bearing on the replication of that very system, and it also leads to the promotion of uncritical thought. Additionally, the historical and socioeconomic lacunae that the major theories exist upon are also embodied institutionally in university IR courses. Students spend weeks learning about the neo-neo debate, yet frequently critical approaches – Marxism, Feminism, Green theories, and others – that stem from historical struggles and the true reality of social relations, are all lumped together. These approaches are taught

together as if thought – as one tutor once said to me – by “some nutters on the fringe”. Approaches that are in fact relevant to resistance movements, that can explain and wish to push forward the struggle of ‘The Protester’, are devalued; their complexity and heterogeneity mocked to the service of the permanence of the dominance of the orthodoxy. Finally, that we are taught to delegitimise resistance and to side-line it, is occurring while austerity measures across the Western world mean that university courses are being cut and fewer scholarships are being awarded. Ironically, the social sciences are being challenged not only by the delegitimisation of the persistence of traditional paradigms by mass social movements, but also by the very austerity measures that have often led to the movements themselves. As IR students and researchers, we often ignore not only the reality of the world’s most exploited people but our own position as classed, racial, and gendered in-

The tent cities that came to be emblematic of the worldwide occupy movement. Here, at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. Matt Sharpe, Creative Commons

dividuals. The acceptance of the status quo through our focus on a chosen field of enquiries leads to a contradiction. Therefore, I propose a re-articulation of IR theory, an occupation of the field, to begin a process of resistance and strong debate. This should be done in order for the field to reflect peoples’ daily existence and better understand processes such as revolutions and social movements.

Stengel, R., (2011), ‘Times Person of the Year 2011: The Protester’, Available at: http://www.time.com/time/special/ packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132,00.html. Last accessed Dec. 27th 2011. ii Rosenberg, J., (1994), Empire of Civil Society: a Critique of Realist Theory of International Relations, Verso: London. iii Ashley, R., (1981), ‘Political Realism and Human Interest’, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 25 (2), pp. 201-236. iv Underhill, G., (2000), ‘State, Market, and Global Political Economy: Genealogy of an (Inter-?) Discipline’, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944), Vol. 76 (4): 805-824. i


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And What About

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Natasha Turak draws attention to the rights of

the midst of all this, half of the populanly a few months ago, popular protests rocked the streets of Egypt tion has been widely overlooked: the women. and the greater Middle East: impassioned cries for democracy flooded a The uprising of 25 January 2011 unitregion notoriously devoid of political ed millions of Egyptians from a range of freedom. Men and women stood side religious and socio-economic backby side to march and to occupy—they grounds against a common enemy: their even shared tents with strangers and long-time President Hosni Mubarak. slept next to one another on the ground Despite the fact that sexual harassment of Tahrir Square. The rest of the world has been a signifiwatched on with and widespread awe, hope and “Women organised pro- cant problem in Egypt, suspicion. A country tests, helped smuggle the BBC identified of 81 million people there were ‘no and a regional leader supplies into the square, that reported cases’ in the in the Muslim and and made their voices protests leading up to Arab world, Egypt resignaseemed on the edge heard in the struggle to Mubarak’s tion1. Women organof a democratic ised protests, helped precipice. end oppression.” smuggle supplies into the square, and made Now, Egypt’s their voices heard in the struggle to end Arab Spring has all but withered away oppression. This seemed a promising into what some have called the “Arab advance for a country where women Winter”. Dreams of genuine civilian routinely face pervasive discrimination rule are suspended as the military postand scant legal defence against endemic pones relinquishing power like Harold violence and sexual abuse.2 Camping postponing the Rapture. In

Women in Tahrir Square, Al Jazeera English, Creative Commons

On 8 March, International Women’s Day, several hundred women marched in Cairo to demand equal rights in what they hoped was a new Egypt. They were met instead with anger and violence as many men insulted, groped and even beat them, shouting that they should go back home where they belonged.3 For Egypt and for the world this represented not a political ill but a social one—a deep-seated misogyny that was unfortunately not discarded despite the weeks of integrated protests. The situation in Egypt today has not changed very much from the one that precipitated the protests a year ago. Economic woes have not been allayed, speech is still heavily restricted and protesters continue to populate Tahrir Square. The role of the bad guy has been replaced by SCAF—the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has suspended the Constitution, establishing itself as the sole source of law. Egypt’s military, once so praised for defying Mubarak and refusing to fire on Egyptians, now carries out arbitrary arrests and detentions of civilians facilitated through the use of military trials. On 9 March, one day after the women’s march, military forces arrested 100 men and 17 women demonstrating in Tahrir Square. They were detained on charges of prostitution and “thuggery”, forced to sign false confessions, and beaten severely, some with electric prods or stun guns.4 Seven of the women were then forced to take ‘virginity tests’ performed by a male doctor and watched by leering soldiers. Because honour and virginity play a huge role in Muslim (and most religious) societies, few of the women could bring themselves to the public fore to decry these acts. Only one woman, Samira Ibrahim, 25, spoke out to human rights groups and filed legal claims against the military. Her battle, recounted in an emotional 22-minute YouTube interview,5 seemed futile. No


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the Women?

women and their role in the Arab Spring when women do consult the police, they are often ignored or told that they will only cause trouble for themselves and bring shame on their families. One woman claimed she felt “every day less and less like a human being”.8 In response to the “blue bra girl” incident, On 27 December, a Cairo court bold- some Egyptian men are reported to have ly declared that the imposition of virgin- said that she must have wanted the exposure because she wore fancy lingerie.9 ity tests constituted a criminal offense – one that amounted to a violation of the Such blatant dehumanisation of half the population is surely unacceptable, human rights of the female demonstraand fosters a backwardness that thwarts tors, stating: “the Egyptian military had wrongly violated the human rights of fe- Egypt’s transition to a democratic society. And in the face of continuing male demonstrators by subjecting them economic and social instability, women to ‘virginity tests’ intended to humiliate fear that they will be targeted all the them.” 6 The news was broadcasted all more. As Lamya Lofty over Egypt by a media “As women find the of the New Women establishment previput it, ously too afraid of strength to stand up Foundation “Some of them will repercussions to report for their rights, these try to find a tool for negatively on the anger, and there ruling generals. This courageous steps [...] their is a big chance, it will news followed the release of recent footage slowly but surely ap- be us, women”.10 of soldiers beating and proach not just their Fatma Adel, a stripping a female prosinger and young testor in Cairo, known own liberation, but Tahrir activist, notes only as “blue bra also the liberation of that when men don’t girl” because of the have their rights and colour of her exposed the entire nation.” live in insecurity, they undergarments. In frequently take out response, thousands— not hundreds, but thousands—of women the injustice they feel on women. “If took to the streets of Cairo and marched all Egyptians have their human rights, women’s rights will be achieved”, she in the biggest female demonstration in says.11 That statement rings true for modern Egyptian history. In a region many historical examples—take John where women are largely silent regardLocke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau ing their rights, this was truly a waterextolling the values of freedom, equalshed moment. ity and sovereignty. At the time, this concerned only land-owning white men. However, the battle is far from over. After the American colonies’ triumphant In a recent survey conducted by the revolution for freedom from the British, Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, 83% of women questioned reported that society still took well over a century they had been the victims of sexual har- to reach a point of stability where men could allow the same freedoms for assment.7 Other human rights groups women. When my great grandmother claim that the real numbers are much immigrated to the United States, the higher—but women rarely report inciself-appointed bastion of Democracy, dents of harassment and rape to avoid women still did not have the right risking blame and humiliation. Even one in a position of power in Egypt was willing to help her; she even received a number death threats. But after nine months of fighting, Samira and the wider female population of Egypt achieved their first victory.

to vote. We forget how recent these developments are, even in the West. As Europe gradually became politically and economically stable and grew into the democracies existing today, women’s rights also expanded. But this was not instantaneous. It is the most unstable and insecure regions of the world today that are the most patriarchal and abusive toward women. Egypt pales in comparison to far more oppressive societies like those of Sudan and Afghanistan. What is necessary is a shift in values, priorities, and an honest look at the numbers. According to the World Food Program, for instance, “when women in the developing world earn income, they reinvest 90% of it in their families. They buy books, medicine, bed nets. For men, that figure is more like 30% to 40%”.12 This statistic, among many others, demonstrates the potential for stronger societies that accompanies female empowerment—the empowerment of the world’s mothers, sisters, and daughters. As women find the strength to stand up for their rights, these courageous steps—marches and efforts spanning from Egypt to Yemen and even to Afghanistan last July—slowly but surely approach not just their own liberation, but also the liberation of entire nations from the burden of intolerance and hate. “A Woman’s Place in the New Egypt”, BBC Online, Mar. 23, 2011. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middleeast-12819919 ii “The New Egypt: Leaving Women Behind”, Al Jazeera, Mar. 08, 2011. Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/featur es/2011/03/201138133425420552.html iii BBC Online, Mar. 23, 2011. iv “Court in Egypt Says Rights of Women were Violated”, New York Times, Dec. 27, 2011. Available at: http://www.nytimes. com/2011/12/28/world/africa/egyptian-court-says-virginity-testsviolated-womens-rights.html?_r=3 v “‫شيجلا و ةريمس‬: ‫“ ”ةيرصم ةاتف ةصق‬Samira and the Army: The Story of an Egyptian Girl,” Available at: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=c29CAXR141s vi New York Times, Dec. 27, 2011. vii “Women in Egypt Face Serious Harassment Every Day”, New York Times, Jul. 05, 2011. Available at: http://www.nytimes. com/2011/07/06/world/europe/06iht-letter06.html?pagewanted=all viii New York Times, Jul. 05, 2011. ix “Mass March by Cairo Women in Protest Over Abuse by Soldiers”, New York Times, Dec. 20, 2011. Available at: http://www. nytimes.com/2011/12/21/world/middleeast/violence-enters-5thday-as-egyptian-general-blames-protesters.html?pagewanted=2&_ r=1&ref=world x New York Times, Jul. 05, 2011. xi BBC Online, Mar. 23, 2011. xii “To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls”, TIME Magazine, Feb. 14, 2011. Available at: http://www.times.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2046045,00.html i


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Organic Pioneers: The Rise 2

Alex Ross discusses urban agriculture’s potential

011 will be remembered for the did nothing to address inner city ‘black popular movements covered in this spots’,1 where the elderly, disabled and issue – from the streets of the Middle those without transport find it difficult East to Occupy in the West. But another to access fresh and healthy food. Fresh largely unnoticed and under-examined produce is also prohibitively expensive movement is also taking place: an urban for many poor families. The problem agricultural revolution. Urban agriculis access – in both the geographical and ture (UA) is the practice of growing and economic sense. distributing food in an urban or peri-urban David Cameron, “The UA revolution meet Will Allen. setting. It includes animal husbandry the BDA, Allen gains momentum each Like and growing fruit observed inner city year, and if properly ‘food deserts’ in the and vegetables. The UA revolution gains United States.2 He harnessed it has the momentum each was concerned about potential to change how inner city reliance on year, and if properly harnessed it has the fast food and the poorest eat in the de- cheap potential to change ready meals to feed veloped and developing families. The meals how the poorest eat in the developed and are laced with high world” developing worlds. levels of saturated fat and salt, and often In the West, the movement is growing have low nutritional value. Allen’s as a response to the obesity crisis that solution has been far more fruitful than disproportionately affects the poorest in current public policy in the UK. Allen society. Recently, David Cameron has developed the non-profit foundation attempted to improve the situation by Growing Power, which owns fourteen distributing 4 million leaflets containurban greenhouses, covering two acres ing cheap, simple and healthy recipes. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are Dale Rees, a spokesman for the British situated just half a mile from the city’s Diabetic Association (BDA) criticised largest public housing project and the move, stating that the programme provide over ten thousand residents with affordable fresh fish and organic fruit and vegetables, both by distributing to local smaller shops and by selling directly through the farm shop.3 This scheme provides locals with essential An aquaponic food production system. Photo: Ryan Somma, Creative Commons

vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as with delicious food, while remaining an affordable price. The environmental benefits of urban agriculture add to its appeal. Production takes place right next door to the market, so the carbon footprint of transportation is dramatically reduced. UA also steers away from energy-intensive industrial farming methods. Aquaponics is an example of this. Water is sent from fish tanks to a gravel bed, the fish waste is then broken down by good bacteria, firstly into nitrite and then nitrogen: helping the plants grow. All the system needs is a small pump. Hydroponics (soilless cultivation) is now also gaining momentum as the science progresses; plants grow in a mineral nutrient solution, in gravel or mineral wool, meaning contamination is not an issue and water can be reused. In the cultivation method used by Growing Power, crops and fish can be cultivated together in a re-circulating system, which facilitates organic fertilisation and decreases negative externalities. These projects also foster community bonds. Brooklyn saw the emergence of UA cooperative Value Added. Like Growing Power, it provides food for the local community, but a key part of its mission is to provide hands-on experiences of business management, leadership and teamwork to local youths, giving them a head start in finding employment. The social benefits of UA projects can be tremendous, as people in the community come together for a common good that yields tangible benefits. It produces a “can-do” attitude where people are able to make a positive and unique impact on their community by joining forces with other residents. The National Food Alliance and the SAFE Alliance report on Growing Food in Cities emphasised these social advantages.4 Executive Director of Value Added, Ian Marvy, described their activities as resulting in a “social, ecological and


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of Urban Agriculture

advantages for health and food security economic bottom line”.5 Clearly, UA projects have the potential to benefit society in numerous lasting ways.

UA is also crucial to food security in the developing world, especially in areas where food often makes up the largest part of household expenditure. If a family is food secure, there is no risk of hunger Community Garden in Gent, Belgium. Photo: Lamiot, Creative Commons even more dependent on UA: 60 percent or starvation. Arof food consumed by a quarter of the mar-Klemscu describes UA as ‘a major lowest income group was produced in component of the urban food system’ in an urban setting.9 UA evidently has the developing countries. This is because of substantial production in private gardens, potential to increase the food security of inner cities, preventing them from and also in larger operations similar to 6 having to depend on relatively expensive Growing Power. rural produce. It also helps to protect inner city populations from devastating Production of fruit and vegetables in price fluctuations, as seen in the 2007-2008 an urban setting often means that food world food price crises. UA enables citiis produced for personal use or in a zens to provide their own buffer to global non-profit context, rather than involving market forces. rural profit-making ventures. Important“UA evidently has the However, large-scale ly, UA also results in potential to increase the urban farming has its low transport costs. drawbacks. Inner city When produce is affood security of inner land is not cheap and fordable, vulnerable is limited as a cities, preventing them production groups are able to result. Staying profitable minimise their food from having to depend is also often a problem: security problems. Power could not on relatively expensive Growing operate without donaUA has been tions.10 rural produce” reasonably successful so far. Mwangi’s study of Nairobi Undoubtedly these are substantial concludes that those involved in urban barriers, but we should not abandon the farming are better off in terms of energy idea. These barriers simply make it more and protein consumption.7 Sawio’s study important that governments respond of Dar es Salaam residents indicated that proactively by supporting farms through urban agriculture made up 20-30 percent finance and technical transfers. Crop and of households’ food supplies.8 Harare is dairy farming are notoriously unprofit-

able in global markets, yet Western governments do not waver in their subsidisation of these economically inefficient practices. In the Global South, UA is too integrated in local food systems to neglect it in public policy. Supporting UA worldwide would ensure that some of the poorest individuals and communities directly benefit in numerous ways, in both developed and developing states. Obesity and food security are multifaceted issues, so it is not reasonable to expect UA to be the only solution. It is one of many potential policies to combat the problem. Simply put – only by increasing the stock of affordable organic food that is easy to obtain can citizens be empowered to make positive choices about their health, leading, perhaps, to a more prosperous future.

BBC (2012) ‘Families encouraged to eat healthily on the cheap’ Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16365230. 2 Royte, E. (2009) ‘Street Farmer’, Available at: http://tinyurl.com/ r3uz6a. 3 Ibid. 4 Lang, T et al. (1994) ‘Growing food in cities’, (1), National Food Alliance and Safe Alliance, London. 5 Royte, E. (2009) ‘Street Farmer’, Available at: http://tinyurl.com/ r3uz6a. 6 Armar-Klemesu (2000) ‘Urban agriculture and food security, nutrition and health’, Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security, 4 (3), p. 103. 7 Mwangi, A. M. (1995) ‘The role of urban agriculture for food security in low income areas of Nairobi’, Nairobi: Afrika-Studiecentrum. Pp. 6-8. 8 Armar-Klemesu (2000) ‘Urban agriculture and food security, nutrition and health’, Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security, 4 (3), pp. 99-108. 9 Ibid. 10 Royte, E. (2009). Street Farmer. Available: http://tinyurl.com/ r3uz6a. 1


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Greece: The Indignant Citizens Maria Kalyviotou on democracy,

A

t the end of a tumultuous year in which they have witnessed a number of major social and economic changes in their country, the Greek people have responded in a range of ways to the ongoing sovereign debt crisis. A key development has been the formation of a new field of democratic participation – the digital polis.

length from national decision making and is effectively reduced to a spectator role in the political sphere.1

Perhaps the most significant impact of the emergence of the neoliberal model as the guiding ideology of Western states has been on media organisations. As corporate entities themselves, they have been tied to the same agenda now preemThe idea of a polis in which citizens inent in political discourse in Western have an inherent right to a role in govern- societies: namely, the subordination of ing their city is a quintessential feature of the public will to the needs of corporate modern Greek democracy, not to mention interests. Mass media therefore tends Greek pride. The ancient Greek polis is to reinforce neoliberal thinking when often credited as being the birthplace of it comes to policy without necessarily Western conceptions of democracy – the giving appropriate weight to alternative place where the demos (people) were ideas. As Frederic Jameson has put it, held up as the body of the “in the present sostate that had the power to “The consequence of cial and economic make decisions. During the context of a longthis transformation wave downswing, last few decades, however, the rise of neoliberalism has is that the demos are anti-statism and dramatically altered Greek the prevalence of regaining a degree of neoliberal policy democratic policies by disseminating market values to social independence, orientations, the almost every aspect of social idea of the market and political activity. As a and through it an now itself becomes result, the position of the sort of ‘Leability to control the aviathan demos in the political sphere in sheep’s has been subordinated to a production and dis- clothing’ and its drive towards economic “raimpact is semintation of infor- ultimate tionalism”. Democracy, at to restrict rather least in the classical sense, than to promote mation” appears weakened as the political freedom public policy debate appears to be having or cultural diversity”.2 little impact on the actual policy-making process. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that many commentators have noted This phenomenon is not unique to increasing public disenchantment with Greece. As Noam Chomsky argues, the mainstream media over the past two corporate and government interests decades. Nick Couldry summarised this across the West have become interlinked. effectively when he described in 2010 Governments cannot secure economic how one great domain of popular voice – (or electoral) success without catering to media – operates today in ways that reinthe wishes of corporations, which tend force explicit neoliberal values and their to lack the same level of accountability wider corrosion of political life with the as public institutions. In this context, result that “politics in neoliberal democChomsky stresses the importance of racies…has been thoroughly corroded, ‘controlling the public mind’ so that the with negative consequences for social outcomes of the democratic process are life and for people’s belief in the transthe ones desired by corporate interests. formative possibilities of democracy”.3 The public is therefore kept at arm’s

Although he was describing a phenomenon evident throughout the Western world, his comments seem particularly appropriate for explaining current developments in Greece. Mainly because of the appalling economic situation in which the country has found itself, disenchantment with the current state of democratic politics and with the way in which it has been reported in the mass media has become widespread. According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, unemployment rates have reached 18.4 percent. One in four people in the 15-24 age group are not in work or training.4 Among OECD countries, Greeks in employment work longer hours than everyone but the South Koreans, with an average of 2109 hours worked per year compared to the OECD average of 1749 hours.5 At the same time, yet more job losses and welfare cuts are occurring because of the privatisation and austerity drives initiated as part of the conditions set down by the EU, part of efforts to prevent a default on Greek debt. Confronted with such a dire economic situation, the strength of indignation among Greeks is perhaps unsurprising. Last year the country saw protests on an unprecedented scale. Starting on 23 February, a series of recurrent and violent protests and strikes involved around 100,000 people who condemned the austerity measures adopted by the Greek government. Three months later, the “Indignant Citizens Movement” emerged in response to Spanish protesters chanting “Be quiet, The Greeks are sleeping”. Approximately 30,000 people gathered in Syntagma Square, opposite the Greek Parliament, and campaigned for “Direct Democracy Now!” These peaceful demonstrations were organised online and spread to several other Greek cities, including Heraklion, Kalamata, Larissa, Patras, Rethymno, Thessaloniki and Volos. On 28 June 2011 the situation escalated again as Greek workers’ unions called a 48-hour strike against the austerity


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Movement and the Digital Polis technology and the Greek protests

measures and the ongoing deterioration of the country’s economy. Thousands of people participated in these mobilizations, and most of the public and private services were frozen. After attempts to evacuate Syntagma, accusations of police brutality were commonplace.6 Policemen drove through the crowds on motorbikes and made extensive use of tear gas, even inside the Syntagma metro station. This station was adapted to contain a medical centre during the strike, set up to treat the 500 demonstrators injured by the police. In addition, according to Ministry of Health figures, a further 99 protesters were hospitalised.7 Despite this, the Greek Indignants did not leave city squares until 14 August. The latest batch of protests was started by the announcement of new austerity measures on 6 September. A new general strike started on 17 October and concurrent demonstrations were coordinated with the “Occupy” movement using social media tools. On the second day of the protests, reported to be the largest in decades, a riot ensued that resulted in the death of one demonstrator. For all their challenges, however, one

key element of the protests is a new dynamic in protest movements that I argue is creating a new form of citizenship for the Greek people. It is this new form of citizenship that I call the digital polis. Built upon the so-called “Web 2.0” technologies that include tools ranging from Weblogs, Wikis and Podcasting to the likes of YouTube and Facebook, the digital polis is allowing people a level of access to the political sphere that they simply did not have before. Rather than simply allowing people to absorb information, users can produce and transmit content too. This has changed the media landscape in Greece because, as Jaeho Kang notes, it allows people to “go beyond the limits of one-way communication embedded in mass media and to foster mutual communication on an unprecedented scale.”8 The consequence of this transformation is that the demos is regaining a degree of social independence and through it an ability to control the production and dissemination of political information. As McLuhan puts it, when the flow of information is so fast, “the tendency is for politics to move away from representation and delegation of constituents

toward immediate involvement of the entire community in the central acts of decision.”9 Citizen, or independent, journalism is one manifestation of this that has become increasingly visible among groups of people starting websites, radio stations and electronic magazines under the slogan: “don’t hate the media – be the media”. All of this points to a conclusion that the digital polis has the potential not only to change political discourse in Greece but also to aid the revival of Greek democracy itself. Social movements should therefore conduct more and more of their activities using the Web 2.0 technologies that have made the digital polis possible. In Greece, resentment of the effects that decades of neoliberal thinking have had on the country’s democracy has finally boiled over in the crisis of the past two years. An invigorated desire to protest against the harsh austerity measures adopted by the Greek government has prompted people to develop new techniques that allow them not only to organise but also to create alternative sources of information about political events. These developments mean the growing digital polis has the potential to change and replenish Greek democracy.

Chomsky, N. (1997) Market Democracy in a Neoliberal Order: Doctrines and Reality, The Big Eye. Available at: <http://bigeye. com/chomsky.htm> [Accessed 3 January 2012]. 2 Jameson, F. (1990) From Postmodernism and the Market, in Socialist Register 1990: The Retreat of the Intellectuals. London: The Merlin Press. 3 Couldry, N. (2010) Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics after Neoliberalism. London: SAGE. 4 Hellenic Statistical Authority (2011) Unemployment by Quarter, Available at: http://www.statistics.gr/portal/page/portal/ESYE [Accessed 2 January 2012]. 5 OECD (2011) Average annual hours actually worked per worker, Available at: http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=ANHRS [Accessed 2 January 2012]. 6 Ugagabum (2011) Athens 28 & 29 June 2011, [video] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch? NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=itU CddYki0A [Accessed 3 January 2012]. 7 Ibid. 8 Kang, J. (2010) ‘The Media and the Crisis of Democracy: Rethinking Aesthetic Politics’. Theoria: A Journal of Social & Political Theory, 57 (124): 2. 9 McLuhan, M. (2001) Understanding Media. New York: Routledge. 1

Riots in central Athens. Photo: Jesse Garcia, Creative Commons


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A Fake

Bartosz Gradecki on how anti-status quo

T

he year 2011 saw a popular awakening among the Western nations. Greek and Spanish “indignants”, Occupy Wall Street, and other similar movements active in most Western countries brought hope for much needed meaningful change to the political and economic status quo. Unfortunately, as time passes, it becomes clearer and clearer that not only will this awakening fail to bring about such change, it paradoxically might serve to conserve the status quo.

tion of their interests in return. This selves, have been permitted to dictate configuration, though mutually benefito sovereign countries how they should cial, is asymmetrical: financiers could deal with this crisis. They have even still function without such protection, been permitted to replace democratically but modern politielected prime miniscians could not do so ters with technocrats without the resources “What constitutes the when the former do provided by the not obediently folessence of the Western low their directives. financial markets. The superior position status quo is the seem- This happened to Mr of the financial elites Papandreou in Greece ingly indissoluble alli- and to a certain extent has allowed them to replace the people ance between the political with Mr Berlusconi. – theoretically the establishment and the What constitutes the essence of the source of sovereignty If such a state of afWestern status quo is the seemingly – as the subject to fairs is to be changed, financial elites” indissoluble alliance between the politiwhom governments it is imperative that cal establishment and the financial elites: answer. we understand why the former obtains financial resources it emerged in the first place. The reason needed to sustain its political position, If there is any benefit to the ongowhy the financiers exercise their influwhilst the latter obtain extensive protecing crisis, it is that people have finally ence over the politicians is as straightstarted to realise that forward as the reason why men grow the state of affairs de- moustaches: they can. And the financiscribed above is not ers can, because the chief principle of some kind of lunatic the modern art of ruling countries is conspiracy theory, what I would call “the borrowing prinbut the most conspicciple”. It came to life around the time uous truth. The crisis of the Great Depression, when governhas given us far too ments eagerly began the implementation many confirmations of the Keynesian idea that they should of the validity of such ‘spend money they don’t have’.1 Obvia view; it will suffice ously, in order to spend money they do to mention here just not have, governments have to borrow two. it, and they borrow it from those who have it, i.e. from financial markets. The first is arguably This, in turn, puts financiers in a position the greatest financial of power over indebted governments, swindle in history: a position which, rather unsurprisingly, bailing out the reckthey take full advantage of. less banks, reportedly “too big to fail”, with The instruments financiers use are enormous amounts various but can be basically divided into of taxpayers’ money ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’. The carrots may – obviously without include the cancellation of part of the consulting the taxdebt, or the offer to lower the interest payers. The second rate for loans already granted or for prois that “experts” from spective loans. The sticks may include organisations like the increasing the interest rate for prospecIMF, WBG and ECB, tive loans or a refusal to give them. The who greatly contribterm “Debtocracy”, popularised by the uted to the emergence so-titled 2011 film,2 seems to be quite The European Central Bank. Photo: Eric Chan, Creative Commons of the crisis theman appropriate name for such a system;


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Revolution?

protests will reinforce the status quo way to change this situation is to abandon the disastrous Keynesian axiom and follow instead the axiom of sanity: spend at most as much as you have, and preferably save something for a rainy day. If it is the state of perpetual public indebtedness which allows the financiers to exercise such power over the politicians (which it is), then the only way to get rid of this power is to get rid of indebtedness.

Let us now turn to the hope-inspiring protest movements. Do they propose anything that can break the toxic connection between politicians and financiers and J. M. Keynes (right) at the IMF in 1946. Photo: IMF, Creative Commons force the governments to serve the people once it is indeed very telling of the modern again? Though these movements do not economy that the spectre at which govconstitute a homogenous entity to which ernments most shudder with fear is the some clearly delineated demands can be prospect that Standard & Poor’s might easily ascribed, we change their countries’ credit rating “On the one hand, most might agree that the two principal ideas from AAA to AA+. of them want to take are to regulate the The inviolable posi- away impunity from the financial world more strictly and to force it tion of the financiers is not a failure of the financiers and give them to chip more money free market economy well-deserved punish- into the common pool, e.g. by introducing as some would have ment, but, on the other a ‘Robin Hood’ tax. it. Rather, it is a failure of the Keynesian hand, they wish to pre- Such proposals are, at naïve. However, mixed economy, in serve the system that best, it is not necessarily which governments can not only excuse ensures such impunity” naïve to believe that the policies will be the existence of budget deficits, but are in fact obliged to implemented. It is entirely possible that they will be – as part of an appeasement run a deficit in the name of boosting the strategy that will make people believe economy, helping the poor and meeting that some real change is taking place. other spending commitments. The only

But it is, rather, naïve to believe that if implemented they would bring about any real change. Unfortunately, neither proposal even touches the essence of the problem, which is the practice of perpetual governmental debt incurrence. I would contend that although the protesters purport to be fighting against the status quo, they are not against it in practice. They do not oppose the principle of spending more money than a government has, despite the fact that this structural consideration is what is holding back change. On the one hand, most protesters seem to want to take away impunity from the financiers and give them well-deserved punishment, but, on the other hand, they wish to preserve the system that ensures such impunity. Other demands that can arguably be ascribed to many of the protesters reaffirm such a supposition: limiting military activity or taxing the richest, for example, aim only at gathering additional resources, which then might be used to sustain for a bit longer the disastrous system of excessive spending. In conclusion, many of the indignant protesters are perhaps disarmed by their blindness to the fact that excessive governmental spending, resulting in perpetual borrowing, is the underlying cause of the financiers’ inviolability. At best, the implementation of the protesters’ demands may bring about minor improvements. It is more likely that doing so would preserve the status quo. Reich, R.B. (1999) John Maynard Keynes. Time Magazine, 29 March 2 Debtocracy (2011) Greece [distributed online]. The English version available at <http://www.debtocracy.gr/indexen.html> 1


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China and the

“I

t’s the dark age for China in terms of human rights” stated Lee Cheuk-yan, a Hong Kong legislator, just before beginning a 62-hour fast to protest against the Chinese government’s imprisonment of artistactivist Ai Weiwei.1 Many commentators saw the imprisonment of Ai in April 2011 as exemplifying China’s poor attitude to human rights and freedom of speech and, in many ways, it did. However, the public outcry to Ai’s detention, particularly in Hong Kong and amongst the international art community, has illustrated the power of public pressure on China. It will never be proven whether the public pressure exerted on the Chinese government resulted directly in Ai’s release. However, the protests against Ai’s imprisonment were successful in a much larger way, as they illustrated China’s dictatorial and opaque justice

© Photo: ‘Free Ai Weiwei’ by Jason B. Chen (www.jasonbc.com)

Protests against Ai Weiwei’s arrest have secured more system and ensured that international attention was drawn to the human rights abuses China commits against its activists every year. Between March and October 2011 the Chinese government detained over 130 activists, including Ai; the majority of those detained have been kept at unknown locations without any formal statement of their arrest being released.2 This crackdown has been named the “Jasmine Revolution” and it began due to the Chinese government’s fear that the Arab Spring would inspire similar protests in China. Ai was the highest-profile case of the Jasmine Revolution and it was his arrest that led to the international outcry. Ai was arrested whilst boarding a flight to Hong Kong, and it was here that the first protests ag ainst Ai’s ar-

rest occurred. Although the city-state of Hong Kong is an administrative division of China, it has an extremely high degree of autonomy, a separate political system and a wholly capitalist economy. The Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping coined this relationship “one country, two systems”, and it has left intact all the laws put in place by the British colonials. Hong Kong citizens’ right to protest, a right consistently denied to the citizens of Mainland China,3 is enshrined in Hong Kong’s codified constitution, the Basic Law. This put Hong Kong citizens in a unique position to reveal and campaign against the Jasmine Revolution while much of the rest of the world remained focused on the Arab Spring. As the Hong Kong media followed Ai’s arrest very closely, the first protests against his detention started within days of his arrest. Five days after Ai’s arrest several members of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party staged a 62-hour fast outside the China Liaison Office; this was the beginning of a series of protests that would mark Hong Kong out as the centre of protests against Ai’s imprisonment. However, these protests also criticized the imprisonment, or in some cases “disappearance”, of other Chinese activists. The attention that was given to Ai’s imprisonment by the press helped Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters unite against a larger problem than Ai’s detention; it helped protesters unite against the series of injustices carried out against activists in China. Due to Ai’s fame hundreds of Hong Kong citizens, even those not directly involved in the arts or in politics, attended protests; Ai’s arrest has indirectly led to a renewed focus within the city on China’s broader human rights record.


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sway of Ai Weiwei lasting change than simply Ai’s release, argues Oliver Giles However, it was not only the public who protested against Ai’s detention; Hong Kong’s arts communies also acted in protest and helped inspire even larger public protests. Within days of Ai’s arrest, street artists, who claimed that they wanted to raise public awareness of Ai’s detention, began spray-painting stencils of Ai around Hong Kong. This guerilla campaign was successful in drawing attention to Ai’s imprisonment internationally, and the Hong Kong artists’ slogan “Who’s afraid of Ai Weiwei?” was adopted by protesters worldwide. This graffiti campaign was not openly supported by any of Hong Kong’s official arts groups, but the desire to encourage the public to protest alongside the arts community was a shared sentiment of both guerrilla and more traditional artists.4 The arts community also organised one of the first protests in favour of Ai’s release when, on 17 April, 150 people, the majority of them artists, took to the streets.5

never been an alliance of Hong Kong artists”.7 Ai’s arrest has resulted in a realisation among the Hong Kong arts community of the potential power they hold. Equally, the strong stance taken by the arts community perhaps led to many more of the Hong Kong public becoming involved in protests against the imprisonment of Ai and other activists. Protests against Ai’s detention were not limited to Hong Kong; the international arts community also responded quickly to his arrest. The New Yorkbased arts organisation Creative Time organised the “1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei” event, in which artists were called upon to bring chairs to Chinese embassies around the world and “sit peacefully in support of the artist’s immediate release”. These “chair-in” protests were held in cities ranging from Berlin to Los Angeles. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the International Council of Museums released a joint petition shortly after Ai’s arrest demanding his immediate release, which over 140,000 people signed.8 This international response had a greater impact than simply the release of Ai, as it led members of the international art community to comment more broadly upon China’s continued human rights abuses. The statements issued by arts groups tended to condemn China much more strongly than any national governments did, and these statements helped strengthen the claims made by the Hong Kong protesters.

“This event isn’t about me but about the whole society” – Ai Weiwei

Although the speed of the Hong Kong arts community’s response to Ai’s arrest was commendable, they lacked, at first, the notion of unified action. Nevertheless, the city’s arts community was crucial in sparking wider protests within Hong Kong and also in keeping media attention focused on Ai. Less than a week after the artists’ protest, over 1000 people took part in another protest against Ai’s detention, after having been inspired by the arts community’s example.6 This politicisation of the Hong Kong arts community is unprecedented; John Batten, a Hong Kong-based critic, claimed “there’s

After his release Ai stated: “this event isn’t about me but about the whole society”.9 The protests against Ai’s arrest, in Hong Kong and interna-

tionally, revealed the power that public pressure can have on the Chinese government. The precise impact that the protests had upon the Chinese government’s decision to release Ai will never be established, but the outcry against his imprisonment certainly limited the Chinese government’s control over the situation. It was artists and ordinary citizens, not states or international organisations, who successfully exerted this pressure on China. It is disappointing that other nations failed to take a strong stance against China’s crackdown on activists, but it is a victory for the power of protesting that so much attention has been drawn to China’s human rights record. Protests against Ai’s arrest led to a new politicisation of the Hong Kong public, which will undoubtedly continue; new protests have recently erupted calling for the release of other activists. The protests against Ai’s detention have renewed hope among Chinese dissidents; hopefully this will encourage even more of the Chinese public to stand against the abuses that their government routinely commits.

Yan, Cathy. “Hong Kongers to Protest for Ai Weiwei’s Release.” The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 8 Apr. 2011. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/7t6n5hy. 2 China should release jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and wife.” Amnesty International. N.p., 5 Oct. 2011. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/83r6hk7. 3 Gu, Bo. “You can protest in China, if you get permission.” NBC News World Blog. N.p., 17 Mar. 2009. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/76m54sg. 4 Meigs, Doug. “Who’s afraid of Ai Weiwei? Certainly not Hong Kong artists.” CNN GO. N.p., 15 Apr. 2011. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/3ekvp7e. 5 “Protest in Hong Kong over Ai Weiwei detention.” Al Jazeera. N.p., 17 Apr. 2011. Web. Available at: http:// tinyurl.com/858al3y 6 Pomfret, James. “Thousands march in Hong Kong to demand release of China’s Ai.” Reuters. N.p., 23 Apr. 2011. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/7zjpera. 7 Meigs, Doug. “Who’s afraid of Ai Weiwei? Certainly not Hong Kong artists.” CNN GO. N.p., 15 Apr. 2011. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/3ekvp7e. 8 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. “Call for the release of Ai Weiwei.” N.p., 10 Apr. 2011. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/3gtoh9w. 9 Ng, David. “Ai Weiwei: imprisoned but not silenced.” Los Angeles Times. N.p., 20 Aug. 2011. Web. Available at: http://tinyurl.com/7l4wm3v. 1


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A Central Asian Spring? Adam Koves considers the likelihood of an Egypt-style revolution in Central Asia

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he year 2011 has certainly been a Soviet states. As pointed out, Turkmenigood one for Francis Fukuyama and stan and Uzbekistan are known for their for those who subscribe to his arguably terrible record of oppression, creating an myopic liberal theories. People in Egypt, atmosphere in which people are afraid Tunisia and Libya took to the streets to go out to the streets. In 2005, Uzbek calling for democracy, and they eventuprotesters were brutally crushed by their ally succeeded in toppling their autocratic government’s forces. Uzbekistan’s Presiregimes from the bottom up. There have dent Islam Karimov is highly unlikely been protests in sevto step down, and a eral other authoritarian “Some expect the Central revolt could foreseecountries including lead to civil war. Asian autocracies to be ably Russia, Syria and In such a case, foreign Yemen. So what hap- the next dominos to fall. intervention to help pens next? rebel forces would Tyrants there have been the be highly unlikely. Some expect the rigging elections, detain- Uzbekistan is a vital Central Asian auto the US; most ing members of the oppo- ally tocracies to be the US supplies to Afnext dominos to fall. sition, and restricting the ghanistan go through Tyrants there have freedom of the press ever Uzbek territory, espebeen rigging elections, cially with the worssince they took power. ” ening US–Pakistani detaining members of the opposition, and relations, creating an restricting the freedom of the press ever imperative to remain friendly with Karisince they took power. Nearly every state mov’s regime. Furthermore, US-led, and in the region, except for the democratic especially NATO, military action would Kyrgyzstan, scores above 5.5 on the 1-7 be controversial so close to Russian terscale of political oppressiveness in the ritory, and the Russians themselves are Freedom House’s annual report, with notoriously intransigent when it comes to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan apparently questions of sovereign prerogative. two of the most repressive regimes in the world, each scoring full marks.1 The region’s largest and most influential state, Kazakhstan, is an unlikely canThere are several similarities between didate for revolution. Its government is the Middle Eastern and Central Asian less oppressive than its neighbours’, and societies in terms of the societal characits GPD per capita has already surpassed teristics and demographics that argu$6,000, which is often thought to be the ably facilitated revolution in the former. threshold for democratic change.3 That Both societies have young populations said, most of Kazakhstan’s GDP comes with a median age of between 24 and from its status as a rentier economy with 26. Compounding this, perhaps, more a vast wealth of natural resources. The Central Asian people have access to the president controls most of the revenue internet: for instance, in Kazakhstan and generated and can easily use it to bribe its Uzbekistan it is 36 and 27 percent of the population and to reform defensively. population respectively.2 There is also a religious parallel between the two rePresident Nursultan Nazarbayev gions, and even though Islam is the most perhaps feared an upsurge when he called followed religion in the Central Asia, it is for a snap election in April 2011. Opbeing repressed, with governments often position parties point out that the sudden labeling Muslims as terrorists. nature of the election provided little opportunity for them to prepare, thus However, there are several factors that they had no chance of winning. It also would hinder revolution in the former seems, despite the president’s fears, that

the Kazakh people did not favour change as his approval ratings skyrocketed above 90 percent.4 At a more basic level, however, Central Asia lacks the social movements that have been essential to topple regimes in the Middle East. Religious groups, for example, may not have been the main protagonists of Arab Spring, but they have certainly been an enabling factor in its development. Religious groups have been central to Arab life for many years, and they have often provided welfare benefits such as health care and education where the state has failed to do so. The former Soviet republics lack similarly influential movements. Nevertheless, a “Central Asian Spring”, if it did come to pass, would have dramatic consequences. Ex-American presidential candidate Herman Cain was apparently not interested in the politics of “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”, but everyone who passed Politics 101 knows what is at stake. There are two great powers in the neighborhood that will do everything they can to maintain stability. Russia no doubt fears contagion of the kind of revolutionary fervour that spread across the Middle East, especially in light of the current protests in Moscow against allegedly fraudulent election results. For China, Kazakhstan remains an important trading partner, as its insatiable appetite for oil and other raw materials continues to expand unabated. The fall of the Eurasian dictators might not be near – in Kyrgyzstan for example the tyrannical president has already been expelled twice without any effect on other states in the region. A “Central Asian Spring” remains unlikely, yet the governing forces should not feel too comfortable. After all, few observers predicted the Arab Spring. http://www.freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-world https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index. html 3 http://www.internetworldstats.com/ 4 Ibid. 1 2


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Don’t Blame the Tax Lawyers

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Mitch Hargreaves comments on populism’s scapegoating of legal services

logic, which the Prime Minister failed ince October 2010 the protest group tions, to operate within the confines of to correct, is tantamount to condemning UK Uncut have led a campaign the law. wealthy murder suspects for hiring the grounded on the premise that, collecbest lawyers to prove their innocence. If tively, people have the power to hold Tax avoidance by definition can you don’t like the use even the largest corporations to account. never be completely of particular legal They may have some cause to celebrate, eradicated. But a “Anybody is free to channels, close the as the Prime Minister recently anounced effort to voluntarily pay more concerted channels, but don’t plans to crack down on tax avoidance. enforce tax laws more blame lawyers or In his speech, the Prime Minister echoed tax than they are legally competently is comtheir clients for folhis audience’s criticism of the use of mendable, at least in obliged to, but the “fancy corporate lawyers”1 in finding tax lowing the rules of theory. With this in the law. loopholes. This touches on a worrying concept only sounds mind, condemning Mr issue, as the implication of this critiCameron’s passing appealing when it’s The Prime Miniscism is that the Prime Minister shares remarks on the use ter was not alone in his audience’s concern not only with applied to big businesses of corporate lawyers his condemnation of trying to close down loopholes, but also may seem petty. But and their wealthy the use of lawyers in with discouraging the use of lawyers to if the Prime Minister tax avoidance. His find those loopholes in the first place. fails to realize that the executives” Deputy, Nick Clegg, Whilst UK Uncut might welcome a time problem is not lawalso argued that people were “rightly in which corporations no longer employ yers doing their job, then he was poorly legal professionals to help them minimise angered” by the “wealthy elite” and their informed, and his comments thoughtless. their tax bills, tax avoidance is not illegal. “army of accountants”2 unethically seek- If he does realize it, then reinforcing the ing out ways of minimizing their tax bill. The suggestion that it is important to public’s criticism of the use of lawyers prevent companies from using lawyers to This seems to be an attempt to tap into was irresponsible, and patronizing to his the popular sentiment against the prividiscover legal methods of reducing their audience. His comments, deliberately leged “1%”, implying that corporations tax bill is, at best, missing the point and, or not, represent the assertion that it is with the wherewithal to pay for the best at worst, a deliberate and misleading, the responsibility of every individual legal counsel to inves- and corporation not to seek to better cynical use of populist tigate the intricacies of understand the finer details of tax law. It “Tax avoidance is rhetoric. The Prime law have a moral Minister could have is unlikely, however, that this posturing simply the practice of tax responsibility not to. corrected the comover the use of tax lawyers was sincere, plaint, or ignored it, or that it will amount to anything. This is an individual or firm Of course, anybody is free to voluntarily but he chose to repeat as it embodies the call to deny seeking to minimise pay more tax than they reassuring, it, which is telling. people the power to act within certain arare legally obliged eas of the law, purely by virtue of the fact their tax liabilities to, but the concept Tax avoidance is that they are wealthier than the majority through legal methods, only sounds appealsimply the practice of of voters. ing when it’s applied an individual or firm as opposed to tax to big businesses seeking to minimise evasion, its illegal and their wealthy their tax liabilities BBC News, 5th January 2012. Clegg and Cameron pledge action on firms’ tax avoidance. [online] Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/ executives. None of through legal methods, counterpart.” news/uk-politics-16422437>. this is to say that tax as opposed to tax evaIbid. loopholes ought not to be tightened. But sion, its illegal counterpart. Of course, the government’s piggybacking on the a disparity exists between companies popular anti-corporate sentiment comes which can afford to hire the best professionals and those which cannot, however, across as a cynical attempt to placate organizations such as UK Uncut by prethe solution to this is not to simply target the lawyers. In fact, the suggestion that it senting them with an ostensible victory for people power over corporate greed. is morally unjustifiable to use lawyers to find and exploit such opportunities repre- In practice, the Prime Minister and his sents a frankly sinister assault on the con- Deputy are promoting a message that would limit the power of people, albeit cept of the legal empowerment of people only those at the top of large corporaitself. At the risk of hyperbolising: the 1

2


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Iraq and the

T

Gabriel Gill Andrews reflects on why

he 2011 Arab Spring took us all – but these were easily brought under the principal insurmountable stumbling by surprise and spread like wildcontrol by the Iraqi security forces who, block. Iraq is pretty well defined by the fire across the Middle East and North frankly, barely batted an eyelid.2 persistence deeply rooted ethnic and Africa. The spell of obedience was sectarian divisions. It is these divisions broken in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, That is not to say, however, that the that, in the presence of a power vacuum, and the despots themselves, for the first very same forces are not severely under have led to suicide bombings and detime, experienced a taste of the very pressure as this journal comes to press. struction (first seen when Saddam was fear that they had used to command Demonstrations themselves are one toppled and the US had not yet consolicowering multitudes for decades: justice thing, but Iraq’s very recent experience dated control, and now, once again, seen indeed. We are now all too familiar has been defined by instability of an with their departure). with the rather pathetic altogether different image of Mubarak’s kind. Everyone but In Iraq, the principal fault line splits “Iraq’s trial, with him lying in perhaps the odd Arctic Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. Additiona hospital bed while his demonstrations were explorer or inhabitant ally, but less significantly, ethnicity also sons desperately try in the Celebrity Big divides portions of the country: between most notable for of vain to shield him from Brother house will the majority Arab population (around 80 the global press. Many percent) and the minority Kurdish popuhow very limited have tweaked that of us are even more Iraq’s government and lation (around 20 percent).4 The implithey were, almost familiar with the grisly nation are once again cation of these divisions is that political images, and even grisgrievances, instead of being directed disarmingly so.” in a state of turmoil. lier stories, of Gaddafi’s The relative stability above, are more often than not directed final moments. of the slow US withlaterally – at one another. This state of drawal has once again been replaced, at affairs is of course not at all conducive Elsewhere: Bahrain, Syria and Yemen its completion, by suicide bombings and to popular mobilisation. Indeed, around have also seen significant uprisings. general wanton destruction. The power the world, ‘history is replete with stuAnd more limited demonstrations vacuum left by the final withdrawal can dent movements, workers’ strikes, and have taken place in Algeria, Morocco, of course explain the timing of this: peasant uprisings that were readily put Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, it hardly takes a genius to connect the down because they remained a revolt of Sudan and, finally, Iraq, whose experidots. However, the one group, rather than 5 ence of 2011 is the focus of this article. search for the root “Among Iraq’s reli- of broad coalitions’. Revolutionary fervour, though notable, causes of this chaos When the groups from giously and ethnically which these “broad has comprehensively failed to take hold brings us neatly back in Iraq. The Iraqi people have certainly to our original quesare supfractious population, coalitions” not been lacking in grievances, but tion about the lack of posed to derive are “political grievances, in such bitter conflict these alone were not sufficient to spark an Iraqi Spring. And, a full-scale revolution. Far from this, if you’ll bear with me, one another, the instead of being di- with Iraq’s demonstrations were most notable I’ll tell you why. task of uniting them rected above, are for how very limited they were, almost for a common purpose disarmingly so. Goldstone – a incredibly more often than not becomes preeminent theorist of difficult. Waiting for Casting our minds back to the early revolution, and, not directed laterally – at that to happen would period of Nouri al-Maliki’s premiership, to be outdone, one of be like waiting for one another” certain trends of bad governance, power the first eager academGodot. abuses and the illegitimate promotion of ics to gobble up the narrow vested interests became prevaevents of the past year, digest them, and Iraq as a state is essentially an exlent.1 These trends of corruption have give us his two pennies’ worth – points ternally created colonial fabrication; now, unfortunately, become entrenched. out that in order to have a significant it can hardly really be regarded as a The limited uprisings of 2011, in soliuprising, ‘a broad-based section of nation. Like much of the region, Iraq’s darity with the rest of the region and in the population, spanning ethnic and borders were arbitrarily laid down by response to these internal trends, first religious groups and socio-economic outsiders (in this case the British), and broke out last February in Kurdistan classes, must mobilize.’3 And here lies the different groups within its territory


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Revolutions of 2011

the “Iraqi Spring” never quite took hold – well aware of this fabrication – have goes some way to explaining the suicide an extremely limited sense of identifibombings I mentioned earlier. Shi’ites cation with one another. Many Iraqis and Sunnis are far more concerned see themselves far more as “Arabic” or about their positions in relative terms “Muslim” than Iraqi, and sectarianism to one another than they are about their and Arabism alike have severely inhibpositions in absolute terms, the Achilles ited the development heel of any will for of any distinctive, popular uprising. “At the time of last cohesive Iraqi national identity. Aside from the year’s uprisings, the These observations societal divisions, semblance of normality let us imagine for a can shed some light on the confusion felt and security that was moment a hypothetiby many Americans time at which the returning to daily life cal when they lament different groups bury on the occupation the hatchet. Even if was not something and wonder: “why did happen, it is that the majority of the this are they killing not enough to have their own people?” people of Iraq, whether a broad base of the Answer: they don’t population that are Sunni or Shi’ite, regard their victims willing to revolt, for as their own people, were willing to put in what is also necesand not everyone sary is a common objeopardy.” is so tied to their jective around which nationality as many they can rally and for in the United States certainly are. which they can strive. It is a question of motivation, and this common objective Much like the Ottoman Empire, can be positive or negative. An examBa’ath rule in Iraq subordinated the ple of the former would be seeking an numerically superior Shi’ites to the alternative political order; an example favoured Sunni’s, who populated the of the latter would be the removal of an majority of upper-echelon occupations.6 autocratic ruler. In the second instance, Indeed, they remained largely unopgrievances must be directed vertically posed for centuries in this regard, but and from below towards said regime this is clearly no longer the case. The from a wide base of repressed suborfall of the Ba’th party has shifted the dinates. Since the fall of Saddam, Iraq sectarian balance of power and put the has lacked an autocratic ruler to provide previously latent Shi’ite majority in a the focal point for any such revolution. more powerful position vis-à-vis the So not the negative motivation then. Sunnis, who were ‘the big losers of the occupation’.7 Iraq now has a tenuous Returning to the idea of a viable, power-sharing model of governance and utopian alternative to the status quo a serious sovereignty deficit; the state as a positive revolutionary motive. At has well and truly lost its monopoly the time of last year’s uprisings, the on the use of violence (of which it had semblance of normality and security taken full advantage under the previthat was returning to daily life was ous regime). At any rate, the balance not something that the majority of the of power is now slightly, to the chapeople of Iraq, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, grin of the Sunnis, tipped in favour of were willing to put in jeopardy; for the Shi’ites, many of whom want to years they had grappled with disorder. capitalise further on their gains, which That status quo, given the uncertainty

of political change, was preferable to the risk of a return to violence. For the Iraqis, the stakes were simply too high. How tragic and ironic it is, then, that corruption, nepotism, and a deficit of accountability remains, yet the spectre of daily violence has once again returned, and the revolutionary moment has passed. Tripp, C. (2007) ‘The American Occupation and the Parliamentary Republic’ in A History of Iraq, Ch. 7, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 303. 2 International Crisis Group (2011) ‘Failing Oversight: Iraq’s Unchecked Government’, Middle East Report No. 113, pp. 1-33. [pdf] Available at: www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/ middle-east-north-africa/iraq-syria-lebanon/iraq/113-failingoversight-iraqs-unchecked-government.aspx [Accessed 01 November 2011], p. 1. 3 Goldstone, J. (2011) ‘Understanding the Revolutions of 2011’, Foreign Affairs, 90 (3), p. 8. 4 Marr, P. (2002) ‘Republic of Iraq’, in The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa, Ch. 5, Long, D. & Reich, B. (eds), Oxford: Westview, p. 115. 5 Goldstone, J. (2011) ‘Understanding the Revolutions of 2011’, Foreign Affairs, 90 (3), p. 9. 6 Marr, P. (2002) ‘Republic of Iraq’, in The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa, Ch. 5, Long, D. & Reich, B. (eds), Oxford: Westview, p. 116. 7 Diamond, L. (2006) ‘Can Iraq Become a Democracy?’ in Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq, New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt & Co., p. 322. 1


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India’s Anti-Corruption Movement

W

hile Indian democracy has rarely seen moments of stagnation – given its structural location in a political economy of significant flux – it is at present facing enormous challenges in terms of its ability to provide meaningful governance to its citizens, and its extremely limited popular legitimacy. These challenges are typified in the government’s inability to extend its sovereignty over a large territorial expanse within its borders (the ‘Red Corridor’), where a Maoist-style insurgency – known as the Naxalite movement – has been referred to by the Prime Minister as the biggest single security threat to the state.1 The insurgency, active in 195 districts and 16 states in the country, is seen as a violent response to structural neglect and almost famine-like conditions in India’s interior2, where the rights of tribal communities are simply ignored and their land has been acquired, on questionable claims, for the purpose of mining and Special Economic Zones. This incapacity to provide basic governance is further highlighted by the poor provision of food in the country, with India ranking 67th in the Global Hunger Index – below nations with far more limited means, such as Rwanda, North Korea and Sudan.3 These fundamental challenges of rapidly increasing inequality and poor governance aside, the government has also faced a popular agitation on the issue of prevalent corruption over the past year. While the issues highlighted above are indeed critical problems that India needs to address, the issue of corruption has captured the imagination of urban areas and the rising middle class in a unique and powerful way. After providing a summary of the key events regarding this agitation and the state of anti-corruption legislation today, we will highlight some important questions that the political response to this movement raises about Indian democracy. There has long been public knowledge

Uday Jain analyses the recent anti-corruption of, and discontent regarding, corruption – can streamline current anti-corruption in Indian politics. Yet a recent series structures, as well as allow them to act of revelations over the past two years freely, without prerogatives or limitabrought it up as a primary issue: as the tions from the Centre.5 problem holding back progress and development. Most notable were the The rallies in New Delhi and many following: the Commonwealth Games other major cities in support of this in 2010 where “serious irregularities” bill commanded large crowds, and were found by India’s state auditor; the the movement itself gained popularity gross underselling of telecoms licenses through constant television and print that has put many media coverage. The “The unending regu- onus was now on the rulsenior politicians behind bars and ing coalition led by the larity and relative under investigaCongress party, as well ease with which these as on the opposition, to tion, which could have cost the respond to egregious crimes were adequately taxpayer £24.5 these demands for new being uncovered and anti-corruption legislation, bn; and a mining scam in the state still shaping it in a the apparent lack of whilst of Karnataka, manner conducive to their where the close swift justice against own interests and beliefs. involvement of those accused created After an onerous conthe Chief Minister Yedyurappa in a political space on sultative process – which criminal activities temporarily brought on anti-corruption...” necessitated his board Anna Hazare and resignation.4 The other prominent leaders unending regularity and relative ease in the agitation, and many disagreewith which these egregious crimes were ments through the autumn of 2011 being uncovered, and the apparent lack – the government finally introduced a of swift justice against those accused, rather watered-down Lokpal Bill in late created a political space on anti-corrupDecember. It was passed with many tion which none of the leading parties amendments in the Lok Sabha (Lower could readily appropriate: corruption cut House of Parliament), yet was not voted across party lines, and popular cynicism on in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House). would simply not allow them to do so. In dramatic circumstances, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned at midnight on 29 It was this feeling of popular resentDecember as the ruling coalition faced ment against corrupt politicians that numerous amendments and even the sustained the widespread agitation led possibility of a drastically different Bill by ‘Gandhian’ activist Anna Hazare. being passed.6 The bill is now in limbo Over the course of public rallies, and as the next session of the Rajya Sabha multiple fasts-unto-death, he called for can only begin with the assent of the the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill by the government. Its weakening parliamenparliament. The bill would create the tary position – as well as large divisions post of an autonomous ombudsman who with opposition parties, and even its is appointed to inquire into complaints own coalition partners on how the Bill raised by citizens as well as to investishould be drafted – mean that it is very gate any allegations of wrongdoing by difficult to see how or in what form it politicians in the government. The inwill survive the messy bargaining prodependence and institutional structure of cess that is to come this year. the Lok Pal – or citizens’ ombudsman


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and the Challenges of Democracy

movement and its impact on Indian politics Now let us turn to what we have learned about Indian democracy over the past year as a result of this movement. Firstly, the demagogic nature of the agitation was particularly telling in how it revealed its fragile and somewhat undemocratic foundations. We must remember that Anna Hazare and his cohort were simply a group of individuals who had taken to the public arena and had achieved, to some extent, an important influence on the process of passing national legislation. Their unrelenting insistence that their draft was the correct and right bill to pass seemed to display a profound contempt for the democratic process.7 Their subsequent disavowal of the expected amendments, and messy bargaining that followed in December, indicates a certain disdain for how parliamentary democracy regularly works. They might argue in response that in a country so corrupt, and with such complacency in the political elite, one needs an absolutist and stubborn moral compass to ensure that they are brought to justice and that India is rid of the corruption menace. Yet it is to counteract these very tendencies of a group of individuals exerting their will on the majority that the Indian constitution and political system was built. It is indeed the effective functioning of a system of checks and balances that has prevented them from hijacking the legislative process, and ensuring that their – likely one-off and transient – popularity does not result in ill-thought-out policies.8 This leads us to the fragility of the anti-corruption campaign, which already seemed to have lost much of its momentum at the close of last year. Anna Hazare and his cohort called for another set of popular demonstrations in the last week of December to pressure parliament into passing their particular vision of the Bill, but the turnout was markedly poor. 9 What has become of the “Indian Spring” against corruption in light of

this lack of enthusiasm? Where were the large crowds in the urban centres that brought about the shift in the political debate in the first place? Was the wellspring of popular support indeed momentary and not a meaningful and long-term civic commitment to activism?

questionable assertion) – much remains the same with the highly divided and regionalised party-system remaining paramount in the governing process. As parliament began debate on the bill in late December, the influence of Anna Hazare and other activists began to diminish rapidly (as outlined above) and electoral calculations took precedence above all else.

It largely appears so. Some of the loss of support for Anna Hazare can be put down to growing criticism of his The ruling Congress party sought stubborn and demagogic approach to to do enough on the bill to effectively politics. His entry into the political fray campaign on its anti-corruption efforts against the Congress Party in favour in upcoming Legislative Assembly of the BJP 10 has to some extent underelections in March. Yet if the Congress mined his credibility as an impartial could not maintain its control on the activist. Furthermore, this seems to provisions of the bill, it was happy to reflect a systemic lack of long-term civic let the Rajya Sabha adjourn and blame engagement the opposition for failing among India’s pass it. This latter ef“We must remember to urban middle fort would ensure that any class, who arthat Anna Hazare and resulting bill would have rived in great consent of the ruling his cohort were simply the numbers and party and would not allow voiced their a group of individuals provisions that might be proud support problematic for its leaderwho had achieved, in April and ship in the future.11 August but to some extent, an failed to do so In a classic political important influence on manoeuvre, the opposiin December. This is, howthe process of passing tion – especially the BJP ever, a more – wanted to ensure that the national legislation” Congress would not get structural problem of Indian credit for passing a Lokpal democracy that Bill, and thus could run a other civil-rights and activist groups strong campaign this spring against the have dealt with on a regular basis in the ineffective and corrupt ruling coalition. past few years. The loss of momentum Thus the bill that passed the Lok Sabha for the movement at this juncture thus did not get the constitutional status reminds us that six months is a long that the Congress had wanted, a status time in politics, and it is doubtful that that would have made it more difficult the movement will regain the popularity for future governments to repeal this that it achieved in 2011. legislation.12 Finally, the untidy bargaining process of the Bill in parliament, and its subsequent failure, reminds us that – while there might have emerged a new civic mode of participation in Indian politics with the anti-corruption agitation (still a

We also have to discuss the motives and actions of important regional players. The Bengal-based Trinamool Congress party objected on the grounds


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other hand, opposition parties were unwilling to allow the ruling coalition political mileage as a result of passing such a Bill, and were able to seek the moral high ground by arguing that the draft proposed was so weak that they could not pass it without significant amendments. Thus a legal and constitutional debate has now become a debate on who deserves the credit for the passing of such a bill, and, more importantly, who should be blamed for its failure. In sum, what began in April as a that the bill undermined states rights’ popular anti-establishment agitation and subverted the federal structure of against endemic corruption in Indian polthe Indian constitution. The Left paritics is now yet another hotly contested ties, and Uttar Pradesh-based BSP and topic of discussion in parliament, with a SP, also agreed with the above objecsatisfactory legislative solution unlikely tions and sought to bring the necessary in the short term. The movement itself amendments to the bill in the Rajya was limited by its appeal to those in the Sabha, where as we know the House urban middle class who are less likely to was adjourned without or even take “The debate over the participate voting taking place. a meaningful interest This temporary alliance Lokpal Bill has put in national politics. thus sought to take the opposition parties As popular interest the moral high ground waned towards the end against what they saw in a happy alignment of the year, and as the as a weak and ineffecof interests with those movement’s leaders tive draft proposed by were subject to greater the Congress.13 seeking a strong anti- critical scrutiny, the corruption institution ” decline in December Thus, on the one was almost unavoidahand, the Congress ble. For the movement desperately sought to pass a bill that to have succeeded in applying pressure retained enough provisions to ensure a consistently on the legislative process, a weaker Lok Pal institution. The Condifferent kind of civic engagement was gress was also content to let debate be necessary, and it seems that the issue lost adjourned till at least March as it could its appeal as it entered the “pigsty” of blame the opposition for failing to supparliament. port its draft adequately enough. On the Anna Hazare, seen fasting last August. Ramesh Lalwani, Creative Commons

The debate over the Lokpal Bill has put the opposition parties in a happy alignment of interests with those seeking a strong anti-corruption institution. The success of such an institution indeed depends on their ability to amend the draft further and to pressure the Congress Party into passing the amendments in spite of its various prevarications. Thus the movement that sought to shame the entire political class altogether is now dependent on the political class itself to ensure that its demands are met, a contradiction that says much about the lack of political awareness by Anna Hazare as well as how little things have changed despite their agitation. Activists in the Anna Hazare movement might take this as a sign of the failure of Indian democracy to adequately respond to what they see as the critical issue of corruption. I would argue in response that – while the Indian government has failed its citizens in its provision of justice, human security, and political rights, and indeed needs to be addressing these issues in a meaningful manner – parliamentary scrutiny and party-politics in itself cannot be faulted for the above issues, and both are essential features of a functioning democracy. The Economist. The Red Heart of India. Nov. 5, 2009. http://www. economist.com/node/14820724?story_id=14820724 2 Tej Pratap Singh. Deconstructing The Maoist Insurgency in India. Centre for South Asian Studies, Nov. 24, 2011. 3 The Economic Times. Global hunger index does not reflect hike in production, supply. Nov. 28, 2011. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-11-28/ news/30450171_1_food-security-global-hunger-index-wheat-andrice 4 BBC News. India’s corruption scandals. Aug. 19, 2011. http:// www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12769214 5 Dougal, S. Outlook India. The Lokpal Debate. Apr. 6, 2011. http:// www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271226 6 The Times of India. Lokpal Bill put to sleep at midnight. Dec. 30, 2011. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lokpal-Bill-put-tosleep-at-midnight/articleshow/11298043.cms 7 Hoskote, R. Tehelka. The Dangers of A Movement. Apr. 23, 2011. http://www.tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ne230411Co verstory15.asp 8 Roy, A. and Bhardwaj, A. Indian Express. Yes, there is an alternative. Aug. 24, 2011. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/yes-thereis-an-alternative/836152/0 9 Hindustan Times. Crowds catch the chill, low turnout at protest venues. Dec. 28, 2011. http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/ NewDelhi/Crowds-catch-the-chill-low-turnout-at-protest-venues/ Article1-788071.aspx 10 The Economic Times. Anna Hazare-Baba Ramdev to campaign against Congress in Uttarakhand. Jan 19, 2012. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-01-19/news/30643297_1_lokpalbill-bc-khanduri-ramesh-pokhriyal 11 Vyas, N. The Hindu. Analysis – Parties play it out with an eye on elections. Dec. 29, 2011. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ article2755774.ece 12 Ibid. 13 The Times of India. Bring Amended Lokpal Bill in budget session: Karat. Jan 20, 2012. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ india/Bring-amended-Lokpal-Bill-in-budget-session-Karat/articleshow/11568944.cms 1


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The Illusion of Cyber Power

T

Pedro Rocha dismisses the notion that individuals are empowered by Net 2.0

he advent of the so-called “information revolution” has led to much thought on the benefits that “cyberspace” – or, more specifically, the internet – can bring to common citizens with its facilitated access to information and communication.

latter’s database through hacking.

“With his novel type of power, argues Nye, individuals can produce outcomes not only with the cyberdomain but also in the real world: examples range from Russian hackers to perhaps Wikileaks.”

In one recent publication, The Future of Power, Joseph Nye goes as far as to suggest that this revolution has led to the emergence of “cyberpower” as a new category of power.1 ‘Defined behaviourally, cyberpower is the ability to obtain preferred outcomes through the use of the electronically interconnected information resources of the cyberdomain’.2

With this novel type of power, argues Nye, individuals can produce outcomes not only within the cyberdomain but also in the real world: examples range from the patriotic Russian hackers causing Georgia’s internet access to shut down in 2008 to perhaps the more recent case of Wikileaks.3 Furthermore, the entry cost to such an environment is relatively low: one does not even have to be able to purchase a computer; cybercafes offer a cheaper option. Cyberpower has also been associated with the spread of the use of social media to coordinate protests to topple authoritarian regimes during the Arab Spring, although media experts suggest that social media was a tool rather than the moving force behind the movements.4 Seen together, these factors create the illusion that the individual has been empowered vis-à-vis the state. At first, the individual seems to have been empowered to coordinate political movements and dissent against their governments or even access secret information in the

and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) legislation proposed in the United States Congress suggests so: threatening to shut down blogs or even entire domains for any small type of copyright violation, such as posting the logo of a company without its authorization.7 Tellingly, user content-based domains like YouTube and Wikipedia would have been greatly affected by the original drafts of SOPA and PIPA.

In reality, states still retain the capability to allocate more resources to build power in the cyberdomain, training personnel and acquiring advanced equipment to maintain a degree of control over what individuals access on the internet from within It seems therefore that cyberpower their territory. The creates only the illusion that individuals most mentioned examare being empowered: the populations ple today is perhaps the censorship of of authoritarian regimes might actually “Tienanmen Square” in search engines in suffer a power deficit while those in China. A more radical case was that of democracies gain little in this regard. In the Tunisian government using phishing the former it may actually make it easier techniques to hijack activists’ Gmail and for the regime to identify and track disFacebook accounts during the protests sidents’ leaders, while in the latter the in January 2011.5 state still maintains a Especially with reladegree of control and “In reality, states still tion to social media, retain the capability to therefore power. ‘the state is gaining increasingly sophisallocate more resources ticated means of to build power in the monitoring, interdictcyberdomain, training ing, or co-opting these 6 tools’. personnel and acquiring

advanced equipment And that is true for both authoritarian and to maintain a degree of democratic regimes. control...” Simply searching for Nye, J. (2011) ‘Diffusion and Cyberpower’. The Future of Power. hashtags on Twitter or New York: Public Affairs, pp. 113-151. getting access to the list of members or Ibid p. 123. The Faster Times, 14/08/2009, ‘Hacking for Mother Russia’, Availlikes of a Facebook page will tell a govable at http://www.thefastertimes.com/russia/2009/08/14/hackingernment who and how many people have for-mother-russia/. Last accessed 20 January 2012. Democracy Digest, 12/09/2011, ‘Social media shaped Arab spring approved of the president’s new haircut. agenda - and created slacktivist illusions?’ Available at http://www. 1

2 3

4

Nevertheless, whereas authoritarian regimes have been making use of such tools to track and punish dissidents, democracies have not. Still, social media is said to guarantee the right of free speech, something that democracies do not lack by definition. On the side of the access to information, even democratic governments control the content accessed by its citizens on the internet. The recent case of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

demdigest.net/blog/2011/09/social-media-shaped-arab-spring-agenda-and-created-slacktivist-illusions/. Last accessed 20 January 2012. 5 Al Jazeera English, 06/01/2011, ‘Tunisia’s bitter cyberwar’. Available at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/01/20111614145839362.html. Last accessed 20 January 2012. 6 Shirky, C. (2011) ‘The Political Power of Social Media’ Foreign Affairs, vol. 90 (1), pp. 28-41 7 1st WebDesigner. 13/12/2011. Available at http:// www.1stwebdesigner.com/design/how-sopa-pipa-can-affect-you/. Last accessed 20 January 2012.


Inviting interested editors, graphic designers, illustrators, and writers to contribute to our next issue For the next issue, the theme will be “Realpolitik”. In a nutshell realpolitik is amoral, power politics: based on material considerations, self-interest and pragmatism, but not ethics. On the one hand, many regard it to be ubiquitous; on the other, many regard it as a fiction, what is your view? Are these kinds of considerations legitimate? From the ballot box to the courtroom, from Westminister to the UN: are they even a part of decision making? Has this been the case throughout history? Is there a place for morals and ideals in politics and international relations, or even daily life? Can we reconcile power politics with an ethical vision to secure justice, progress and prosperity? The issue will aim to discuss these and other related questions in order to assess the relevance of “Realpolitik” to our understanding of theory, politics and society today. The deadline for submissions is March 30. To find out more, email us at leviathanjournal@gmail.com

Upcoming lectures and events February 8 Modernisation in Russia by Igor Yugens, Institute for Contemporary Development, Playfair Library, Old College 17:15. Tickets available at www.eventbrite.com February 9: Putin’s Russia? A Mid-Election Roundtable with Paul Chaisty, Derek Averre, and chaired by Luke March, 15:00-17:00, venue to be confirmed. February 17: The EU in Crisis: a return of realism to the continent? by Dan Kenealy, Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 13:00 March 2: EU Enlargement and its Neighbours. William Nöe, European Commission. Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 13:00 March 5: Europa Institute’s Mitchell Lecture by Alec Stone Sweet, Yale University. Old College, 18:00-19:30 March 9: The EU Global Governance and the G20 by Alessandro Fussachia, Council of the EU. Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 13:00 March 16: DFID: International Partnerships and Faith Groups by Mike Battcock, Department for International Development. Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 13:00. March 23: Climate Change and Moral Responsibility by Liz Cripps, University of Edinburgh. Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 13:00 March 30 ‘The Media are American’ by John Lloyd, Financial Times. Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 13:00. These events are open to all, for updates and more information please visit http://www.pol.ed.ac. uk/events/index.


People Power, January 2012