Inside: Terrorism in Nigeria ■ Mechanobiology Advances ■ Education Reform in Malaysia
Trinity 2012 / Vol 2. Issue 3
Europe’s Lineage of Kings
The Shellfare State of Brunei
Japan’s Reign of Emperors
Liechtenstein’s Growing Monarchy
Leading the Chinese
Monarchies A foreign affairs magazine produced by students of the University of Oxford
Uprising in Gulf Monarchies
The Arab Shift
The Arab Spring may have subjected the Gulf States to a generation of growing irrelevance Morenibayo Bankole
Terrorism in Nigeria
A New Front Temisan Boyo
Israel and the Arab Spring
When Arabs Spring, Israel Gets Nervous Eylon Aslan-Levy
French Party Politics
Budapest Tackles Brussels
Hungary For More
The post-Soviet poster child looks to the EU to feed its shrinking economy Richard Mathers
Liberty! Equality! Extremity? Jamie Pickering The Iran Tribunal
Taking Justice into Their Own Hands Eylon Aslan-Levy
The Politics of Business
Sydney’s Official Record Change
Lessons from Kenyan Athletes
The Invasion of Australia Benjamin Parkin
Dynasty Inc. Nabila Jamshed Running the Risk Michelle Sikes
Theme: Survival of the Monarchies
15 The Sultanate of Brunei
Rich and Religious
The enigmatic Bruneian monarchy uses oil money to buy freedom from the people Philip Bell
History of European Monarchy
The Death of Kings James McKean Fresh Prince of Lichtenstein Adam Clement
Publishing 20 Academic The Door Wide Open
Calls for free access to scientific research look set to revolutionise academic publishing Paul Shorkey
The Atacama Cosmology Telescope
Observing the Afterglow Renée Hlozek
The US and Government
What lies beneath American perceptions of government? Conor Dinan
Education Reform in Malaysia
Sexuality in America
The Once and Past King Tessa Dagley Manning the Military Douglas Sloan
Homosexuality in the Monarchy
Queens, Crowns and Comparative Silence
An insight into the hidden lives of homosexuals in today’s royalty James Hunt
A Force of Change Tyler Grant
The Last Emperor Claire Castles
The Princeling and the Party Jane Huxley-Khng
International Criminal Court
A New Imperialism? Leonie Amarasekara
OXONIAN Trinity 2012 / Vol. 2 Issue 3 Editor-in-Chief Sophie Stewart, Trinity Print Team Print Editor Natasha Rees, Hertford Deputy Print Editor Stephen Wan, St. Catherine’s Publisher Jessye Aggleton, Hertford Associate Editor Culture Maria Eliades, Oriel Associate Editor Politics Monica Marks, Queen’s Associate Editor Perspectives Philip Bell, Exeter Associate Editor Economics Eylon Aslan-Levy, Brasenose Online Team Online Editor Alice Robb, Keble Deputy Online Editor Temisan Boyo, Mansfield Robert Anderson, Keble Secretariat Secretary Lucy Zhou, Merton Deputy Secretary Aidan Davies, New
Funding and Marketing Team Priscilla Santhosham, St. Edmund Hall Amy Tortoishell, Lady Magaret Hall Anna Ventress, Merton Advisor Dr. Stephen Fisher, Trinity This magazine is published by students of the University of Oxford. The University of Oxford is not responsible for its contents.
012 will be remembered as a year with many important events: the London Olympics, the Arab Spring, the US presidential elections, the launch of private spacecraft, and the Euro crisis among them. It is also the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose 60-year reign began in an age where she could circumvent the globe without ever leaving her sovereign territory. Today she remains constitutional monarch of 16 Commonwealth realms, head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations, and head of state of the Crown Dependencies. Despite this, much has changed, and the world she reigns over today is far removed from that of her coronation in 1953. Nevertheless, she is by no means alone in being a surviving monarch; to commemorate her Jubilee year, over 26 sovereigns gathered to celebrate the longest-serving member of what is undoubtedly the most exclusive club in the world. Monarchies and their inevitable association with crowns, castles, bloodlines and wealth, are all too often portrayed as if they have been relegated to the pages of history. Along with the explosion of mass media and ‘revolution-by-Twitter’, the 21st century has seen not just the survival of some of the world’s oldest monarchies but also the emergence of new ones, whose power and status can be said to rival that of the greatest monarchs in history, if not surpass it. There are currently 44 or 45 nations with a monarch as a head of state today, depending on the criteria used. Either way, this number seems surprisingly large in an age of democracy and vaunted self-determination. Yet even this is a figure which takes only the strictest definition of monarchy into account. It includes the commonwealth nations who retain Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, constitutional monarchies in Europe or East Asia, Islamic monarchies, Tonga, Samoa, Swaziland and Lesotho in Africa, and Vatican City. The emergence of new monarchy is not, however, limited to such political sovereigns, but includes a wide range of individuals whose position in industry, media, business, law or the military gives them a status and influence beyond even that which ‘traditional’ monarchs once enjoyed. We hope you enjoy this issue. If you have any thoughts or comments, or would like to become part of The Globalist team, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support,
For the online version of The Oxonian Globalist, please visit toglobalist.org Front cover illustration by Jessye Aggleton Back cover photo by Garry Knight Photos on page 5 (left to right, top to bottom) via Flickr: kippster; habeebee; watchsmart; NRMA Motoring and Services; other sources: Wellcome Institute; ACT collaboration; acon online via Flickr. All pictures from CreativeCommons used under Attribution Noncommercial license. http://creativecommons.org All maps adapted from Wikipedia Commons All illustrations by Jessye Aggleton
Natasha Rees, Print Editor
Sophie Stewart, Editor-in-Chief
Also: Terrorism in Nigeria ■ Israel and the Arab Spring ■ French Party Politics
Destruction ■ The Pearl Roundabout in Manama demolished by Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy Uprisings in Gulf Monarchies
The Arab Shift Morenibayo Bankole
The Arab Spring may have subjected the Gulf States to a generation of growing irrelevance
HE Arab Spring uprisings have triggered notable shifts throughout republican Arab states, and deposed autocratic presidents in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The story in the Gulf monarchies, however, is starkly different. Protests in Bahrain have been violently quashed and oil-rich regimes in Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia have used government handouts to pacify their citizens. Overall, Gulf monarchies have opted to use their wealth as a means to ward off democratising reforms. While this may preserve the status quo for a while longer, it will harm the Gulf monarchies’ relations with Western allies and regional neighbours, particularly in revolutionary states like Tunisia and Libya. Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar are, for the most part, autocratic, hydrocarbon-rich states whose regimes derive legitimacy from tradition and an inflated ability to pacify populations through the distribution of petrol dollars. It was initially postulated that Gulf monarchies would be able to weather the Arab Spring by simply using oil wealth to stave off reforms. Brutal suppression in Bahrain and escalated calls for reform within Saudi Arabia itself have cast doubt on that assumption. In March 2011, barely one month after protests had begun in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, the Sunni monarchy
invited Saudi troops to help suppress their restive Shiite population. Quickly ascertaining that a successful rebellion would likely incite its own Shiite population to action, Saudi Arabia swiftly deployed its military to quell the Shiite protests. Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, previously the hub of protest activities, was destroyed that same month, and numerous protesters were killed. Despite the brutality, Bahraini Shiites and prodemocracy groups have continued the protests, clashing with police throughout the spring and summer months of 2012. Proposing Change In Saudi Arabia itself, calls for reform have likewise escalated. A 65-year old man self-immolated in protest on January
Gulf monarchies have opted to use their wealth as a means to ward off democratising reforms 21st 2011 and Faisal Ahmed Abul-Ahad, a protest coordinator on Facebook, was allegedly murdered by Saudi security forces before his planned “Day of Rage” protest could take place in March 2011. Many Saudis were also appalled at the role their forces took in suppressing the Bahraini uprising. Protests for
The Gulf Cooperation Council ■ The Gulf Monarchies have formed a supra-national organization
labour rights and women’s rights have continued until now in the Kingdom. In April, Saudi Princess Basma bint Saud bin Abdulaziz created a firestorm by publishing an article, ‘What I’d Change about My Country’, which proposed reforms of Saudi Arabia’s constitution, social services, and chaperone laws. By muting and suppressing these acts of protest, the Saudi regime may be dooming itself to a generation of increasing irrelevance when it comes to matters of civic leadership and ideological reform in the Arab world. Like other Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia remains autocratic and unsympathetic to democratising reforms in the region. Libya, Egypt, and especially Tunisia, remain more morally inspiring to Arab pro-democracy activists than any of the Gulf monarchies. Despite offering minor concessions, monarchies in Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait are widely perceived throughout the region as backward-looking regimes ►
► that suffocate free speech.
This perception will prove increasingly problematic for the Gulf monarchies as their political and strategic positioning in the region becomes less secure. With Turkey emerging as an economic heavyweight with great sway in the Levant, Mesopotamia, and North Africa, the Gulf monarchies are likely to find themselves ever more isolated. A Relationship Strained The relationship that the Gulf monarchies have with the West will also come under increasing scrutiny in future years as energy diversification and oil discoveries in other parts of the world mean developed nations will no longer have to depend so heavily on petroleum exports
from the Gulf monarchies. Even now, the largest proven oil reserves are no longer held by Saudi Arabia but by Venezuela, a nation that is friendlier with most of the BRIC powers. The episode in Bahrain also revealed the increasing cost of maintaining close relationships with the Gulf monarchies. While no doubt a pragmatic ploy to maintain a stable port for its 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, the United States’ silence in the wake of last year’s brutal suppression in Bahrain cast doubts on its democratic credibility during the Arab Spring. If the transitioning Arab republics manage their governments and economies in a productive manner, they may be able to isolate the Gulf monarchies using their influence as the main movers and
Terrorism in Nigeria
A New Front Temisan Boyo
The emergence of Boko Haram reflects the internal failures of Nigeria’s government
OKO Haram, an Islamic extremist group sometimes referred to as the “Nigerian Taliban”, has carried out increasingly sophisticated attacks since its founding in 2002. Its targets have expanded from government organisations to churches, schools, media outlets, bars and mosques belonging to rival Muslim groups across northern Nigeria. According to the BBC, these attacks have killed more than 1,000 people of both faiths since 2009. Boko Haram’s recent escalation from small-scale shootings to sophisticated high-powered explosions have fuelled speculation that the group receives
training and support from other radical organisations, such as al-Shabab in Somalia and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. In an interview with The Guardian, Boko Haram’s spokesperson recently confirmed this, stating “al-Qaeda
President Jonathan provoked ire by calling the bombings “one of the burdens we must live with” are our elder brothers. We enjoy financial and technical support from them”. Earlier
kippster via Flickr
Internal Upheaval ■ Nigeria is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims
shakers in the region. Already Qatar and Saudi Arabia are mounting large diplomatic offensives in Syria and elsewhere in order to maintain their relevance, protect their interests, and attempt to recover their station as leading Arab states. However, if the Gulf monarchies fail to reform, they may find themselves being marginalised in a part of the world where evolution has rendered them redundant. Although the Arab Spring may not have led to the creation of secular liberal democracies in all North African states, it might have signalled the beginning of the end of the powerful petrol monarchies in the Gulf. ■ Morenibayo Bankole studies History at Jesus College.
this year, the group uploaded videos to YouTube, which closely mirrored al-Qaeda broadcasts, showing its new leader draped in camouflage and positioned between two AK-47 assault rifles. However, the al-Qaeda connection should not be accepted unquestioningly. Boko Haram’s reach and concerns are still overwhelmingly domestic. Moreover, despite its new funding, the group is still visibly disorganised; its command structure is unclear and supposedly official messages are often inconsistent. Analysts suspect that disparate criminal groups may be using the name or that the original group has split into different factions, only some of which have links outside Nigeria. A Government at War with Itself Claims of allegiance to al-Qaeda may be a ploy to boost the group’s credibility while deflecting growing accusations that the group harbours internal allies. Rumours swirl in the Nigerian media that certain northern politicians are discreetly supporting Boko Haram in order to make the country ungovernable and ensure the return of political power to the north. These northern elites feel betrayed by current President Goodluck Jonathan, who, by standing for re-elections last year, failed to honour Nigeria’s power-rotating pact, an informal agreement that calls for the presidency to shift between the Christian south and Muslim north every eight years. The alleged involvement of northern politicians may help to explain why the current administration has handled the situation with such disquieting laxity. Following the 2011 Christmas Day attacks, Jonathan provoked ire by calling the bombings “one of the burdens we must live with” and conceded that members and sympathisers of Boko Haram had infiltrated his government, the armed forces, and the police. This ►
Trinity 2012 ► latter
acknowledgement was already evident from the group’s possession of high-level intelligence and access to classified information, which enabled it to carry out attacks without warning and evade capture. Jonathan has had some success. In what may be its biggest victory yet, his government claimed on May 12th to have captured one of the organisation’s key leaders in a raid on the ancient city of Kano. Jonathan’s government has also continued to call for ceasefire and dialogue with the group. Nevertheless, his administration remains hobbled by a visible unwillingness to confront this extremely politicised situation. Political Divisions, Physical Divides The combination of escalating sectarian violence and inadequate government response has led to murmurs of impending national breakup. Under British colonial rule, Nigeria’s Muslim north and part Christian, part animist south were governed as separate protectorates, and were only amalgamated in
1914 for commercial convenience. Boko Haram seems eager to reignite Nigeria’s long history of regional tension. The group has explicitly called for all southerners to leave the north, even setting a deadline in some regions and carrying out reprisal attacks on those who stayed. Although some southerners have relocated, there is no evidence to suggest that this is happening on a sizeable scale. More worryingly, groups in the south have reportedly carried out retaliatory attacks against Muslims. The country teetered on the brink of division during the 1967-1970 Biafran War; in an address to the nation, Jonathan referred to the deepening Boko Haram crisis as “worse than the war”. Despite these tensions, there are good reasons to believe the country will stay united. Firstly, Boko Haram does not represent the majority of Muslims, although there are valid accusations that moderate Islamic leaders have neglected to strongly condemn the group’s attacks. Most importantly, there is a sense of solidarity in the endemic poverty faced by all,
Israel and the Arab Spring
When Arabs Spring, Israel Gets Nervous Eylon Aslan-Levy
The Globalist speaks to Professors Avi Shlaim and Benny Morris about why Israel is not enthusiastic about the Arab Spring
S revolutions went viral across the Middle East, so too did a dance remix of an interview with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Commenting on the Arab Spring, he tells CNN that “everything is shaking” –
and waves his hands for the next minute or so as his words are caught on a loop over some electro hip-hop beats: “Shake, shake, shake, shake…” In many ways, this clip symbolises Israel’s reaction to the Arab Spring: it
Downing Street via Flickr
Netanyahu ■ The Arab Spring is “anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli and anti-democratic”
which serves to unite the nation. This was particularly visible from a nation-wide strike in January, which protested the removal of the government’s fuel subsidy. Christians and Muslims marched side by side and formed human shields around each other while praying. Finally, northerners are loath to lose control over the abundant oil reserves located predominantly in the south, particularly in the aftermath of Sudan’s tumultuous division, which has failed to produce a viable oil-sharing agreement. On the surface, Boko Haram may appear to be a problem of religion but this masks larger political and social problems within Nigeria, including the creeping risk of state failure and disappointment with the current administration. The threat of division is unlikely to materialise, but if the government does not strengthen its response to the growing sectarian violence, it may not last the year. ■ Temisan Boyo studies Law at Mansfield College.
hasn’t said much, but what little it has said has been repetitive and one-note – the Arab Spring is very bad news for the Jewish state. One of the most intriguing observations in international relations, however, is that democracies never fight wars against fellow democracies. So why is Israel, one of the few recognised democracies in the Middle East, not more enthusiastic about its neighbours’ democratic transformations? Professors Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim famously disagree on almost everything, but on one thing they are in perfect agreement: Israel’s response to the Arab Spring has been “ambivalent”. The Oxonian Globalist spoke to them to find out why. Understandably Uneasy “Israelis have always wanted the democratisation of the Arab world,” observes Morris. David Ben Gurion, the country’s first prime minister, hoped that the region would democratise after the 1948 war. With “decent people at the helm”, peace would surely ensue. Arab kings and autocrats, however, were only replaced by military despots, who were every bit as hostile. Israel fears that once the regimes that have kept a cold peace disappear, the peace treaties will not be worth the paper they are written on. Morris and Shlaim agree that Israel’s reaction has been dictated by its security fears, which Shlaim dismisses as “imperial paranoia” but Morris takes more seriously. Mubarak may have been a brute, ►
► Israel thinks, but at least he kept peace
on Israel’s borders, which radical Islamists might not. In picking between devils, Islamic extremists are the devils Israel would rather not know. Indeed, political Islamism is on the ascendency. The Muslim Brotherhood, for example, has won the Egyptian presidency and a majority of seats in the Egyptian People’s Assembly. This looks like trouble from Jerusalem’s perspective: the Brotherhood has very close links to Hamas, the internationally-designated terrorist organisation running the Gaza Strip and firing rockets at Israeli towns. Jittery in Jerusalem Shlaim dismisses this as ungrounded panic. “The rhetoric of Muslim extremists [against Israel’s existence] is extremely disturbing from Israel’s point of view,” he notes, but thinks that in reality Islamist parties are highly pragmatic. He points as evidence to Hamas’s offer of a long-term ceasefire with Israel, which broke down in 2008. Morris, however, is concerned that the peace treaty is “seriously at risk”. Already trade and diplomacy, keystones of the treaty, have all but evaporated. Not only has the Israeli embassy in Cairo remained shut since it was stormed by a mob last September, but Egypt has also closed its gas pipeline to Israel after intense public pressure and repeated sabotage. Should Egypt ever unilaterally scrap the peace treaty by moving troops into the demilitarised Sinai Desert, Morris warns, then “war is a prospect down the road”. Shlaim is more sanguine. Israel’s fear is exaggerated because it “doesn’t face an existential threat from any direction”: no
In picking between devils, Islamic extremists are the devils Israel would rather not know Arab state or combination of Arab states could face down its military supremacy or nuclear monopoly. It would be “uncharacteristically unpragmatic for the Muslim Brotherhood to even think about renouncing the peace treaty”, because the treaty serves Egyptian interests too. Israel’s only rational fear, he contends, is that the new Egyptian government will be less pliant on the issue of the Palestinians. Morris disagrees vociferously. Democracies do not go to war with each other, he notes – but they might if they are led by “doctrinaire, fanatical, religious movements”. The Muslim Brothers have had it “etched on their banners [for decades] to destroy Israel”, so should ideologically like-minded parties come to form a ring around Israel, the country is in trouble.
Lebanon Syria Israel Tunisia Iraq Palestinian Authority Jordan
Morocco Western Sahara
Iran Kuwait Bahrain
Saudi Arabia Oman
Government overthrown Related crises outside the Arab world Sustained civil disorder and governmental changes Protests and governmental changes Minor protests Civil war Major protests
Israel ■ Surrounded by revolutions on all sides
Besides, Morris is doubtful whether real democracy will emerge: the Russians had their revolution a century ago, he laments, but still have no democracy. “Why should the Islamic world be any better?” Decisions That Damn Shlaim is contemptuous of Netanyahu for warning the West that he could not make peace with untrustworthy tyrants but remaining equally intransigent now that the tyrants have gone. He grants that Israel should exercise caution, but lambastes Netanyahu for being “actively and strongly opposed to the Egyptian revolution from the start” instead of taking a “detached policy of wait-and-see, that we want genuine democracy and are on your side”. Morris insists the Israeli government has had little room for manoeuvre: as far as security goes, nobody thinks that Israel would be better off surrounded by extremist Islamist governments. Shlaim retorts, however, that Israel is missing a “historic opportunity” to finally become a “democratic role model” for the Arab world. He criticises Israel for “undermining Palestinian democracy” by conspiring to overthrow the Hamas government in 2006, on the grounds that the Palestinians “voted for the wrong people”. If Israel were simply to “stop the relentless settlement expansion,” Islamic hostility would wind down. Peace with
the Palestinians would “change the whole climate” and open up opportunities to promote democracy in the Arab world. Morris denies that Israel could do anything to encourage Arab democracy. “If Israel had come out in favour of someone, that person would have been regarded as a traitor; other Arabs would jump on them and say they’re supported by Israel”. Sadly, he opines, even if Israel wanted to encourage democratisation, any rebel group that received support from the Jewish state would lose all credibility in the eyes of the people. Shlaim remains optimistic: “All the cards are in Israel’s hands. Arab hostility isn’t preordained.” If one thing is sure, nobody knows how the Arab Spring will turn out. The future, for now, is up in the air. Much like Netanyahu’s hands. “Shake, shake, shake, shake…” Benny Morris is a professor of History at Ben-Gurion University. He is the author of 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. Avi Shlaim is a professor of International Relations and Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford. He is the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. ■ Eylon Aslan-Levy studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Brasenose College. ►
The Iran Tribunal
Taking Justice into Their Own Hands Eylon Aslan-Levy
In The Hague, a historic people’s court is preparing to prosecute the Islamic Republic of Iran for crimes against humanity
HE graves at Khavaran were so shallow that when a grief-stricken mother bent down to pick up a glove from the ground, she found herself clasping the cold hand of her dead son, poking through the crumbling soil. Behnam was only one of thousands of political dissidents arbitrarily arrested, viciously tortured, brutally executed and coldly dumped in mass graves across Iran. It was 1983. The crackdown against opponents of the new regime had been in full swing for two years. By the end of the decade, over 15,000 were dead, and the Islamic Republic was secure. The atrocities received scant international attention. The world was far too concerned with Iran’s ongoing war with Iraq, which claimed over one million lives, to care about its torture houses and human abattoirs. The international community failed to attempt to prosecute, but it could not have done so even if it had: there was no International Criminal Court, and there was no possibility of a Yugoslavia-style tribunal as long as the perpetrators were still safe – and in power – in Iran. The Iran Tribunal is a historic, grass roots movement established by survivors of these horrors, with one aim: to
prosecute the Islamic Republic of Iran for crimes against humanity, whether or not national governments want to help. Having recruited a remarkable team of celebrated law professors, retired judges and top QCs, and with a prosecution team headed by international lawyers who made their names in the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the campaign is about to reach a climax. In June, the Truth Commission in London heard evidence from 75
This October, a people’s court will be held at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the home of the International Court of Justice survivors of the systematic abuse and murder of prisoners in Iran in the 1980s. This October, a people’s court will be held at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the home of the International Court of Justice. It has no legal standing but it hopes its moral authority will see it through. The world will hear how political dissidents were abducted from their beds in the night, how they were handcuffed and yanked up to the ceiling on
Frontpage ■ The Symbolic Trial of Executions in the 1980s
a chain where the pressure sometimes broke their shoulders, how they were beaten with electric cables, how they were sentenced in two-minute trials in which they were blindfolded and couldn’t speak, and then how they were tied up, and shot. It will learn how children were imprisoned with their parents and how minors were made to kill fellow prisoners. It will hear about systemic rape, forced labour and subjection to the most senseless psychological torture. It will hear about the “Death Commissions” established by Ayatollah Khomeini in a fatwa in 1988, which grilled prisoners on their faith before dispatching 5,000 to death by hanging if they answered “incorrectly”. Judging by the action it has taken, theThe perpetrators are not only at large, but enrobed and ennobled. They sit on the Iranian Supreme Court and in its Parliament. Presidents Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani appointed members of the Death Commissions to their cabinets. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the so-called “reformer” who lost the rigged presidential election in 2009, was the prime minister throughout the entire decade. The world had better watch closely, and learn. ■ Eylon Aslan-Levy studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Brasenose College, and was the rapporteur of the Iran Tribunal Truth Commission. The full Iran Tribunal Truth Commission Report can be accessed online: http://tiny. cc/a2qjlw
BBC Persia June 2012
French Party Politics
Liberty! Equality! Extremity? Jamie Pickering
The rise of the Far-Right Front National movement in France
BY the way, has Madonna given back the children she stole from Africa? Or did she end up buying them?” asked Marine Le Pen after the singer placed a swastika on her face during a concert. The Front National (FN), an extremist far-right party in France led by Marine Le Pen, won a staggering 18% of the vote in the first round of this year’s French Presidential elections. This populist, nationalist, anti-immigrant party has in the past few years shifted from the fringes of the political spectrum to the core of French political debate. Two short-term factors help explain why the FN has been particularly successful in recent years. Firstly, France has fallen victim to unfavourable economic circumstances. High unemployment (around 20% for the under25s), stagnant growth, a pressurised euro and austerity have created great anger in France, as in many other European countries. This has dragged voters away from the discredited centre-ground and
“The immigrants are going to vote...and you abstain?!” – Slogan of an FN Poster towards the extremes. Secondly, the FN has been galvanised by their leader, Le Pen. Elected in January 2011, Marine replaced her father, the ageing Jean Marie Le Pen, as the leader of the FN. A charismatic woman, Marine Le Pen is both determined and a shrewd strategist. Since she has taken charge, the FN has not greatly changed its extremist, nationalist ideology, but Le Pen has rejuvenated the party and given it a vote-winning face. She has roused the movement, attracting more women and young people to a previously patriarchal and decaying party. This has been no mean feat, achieved partly through her charisma and oratorical skills, but also through astute political thinking. Understanding that not all FN sympathisers are xenophobic, she discarded the neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic vitriol of her father and replaced it with a strong anti-immigration, anti-establishment, and Islamophobic message, voicing people’s fears without damaging her respectability. Le Pen has also taken advantage of key political events, casting herself as a defender of the French nation. For instance, after the shooting by Mohamed
Merah, a 23-year-old French-Algerian Islamist, she spread anti-immigrant sentiment by asking the French public “how many Mohammed Merahs in the boats, the aeroplanes, which arrive each day in France?” A Political Snowball Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh, an Oxford fellow and specialist in French politics, believes that a number of long-term issues in France have acted much like a political “snowball”. Individually they are not particularly significant, but together they have huge political momentum and have helped push the FN to the forefront of French politics. One of these key issues is concerns over the future viability of the European Project. The FN has seized upon the people’s fear that greater European integration will lead to fewer jobs. Another key issue is immigration. By equating the number of jobless with the number of immigrants, the FN has used worries about immigrant numbers to help increase populist, anti-immigrant sentiment. The FN is not just anti-immigrant, but also anti-Islam. In recent years, migrant populations have also been predominantly Muslim; the two highest immigrant populations from outside Europe are Algerian and Moroccan. Generic fear and suspicion towards immigrants have now been channelled into a clearer sense of Islamophobia. Mainstream Failure Yet arguably one of the principal reasons why the far-right has been so successful is that it has been allowed to be. The mainstream parties have completely and utterly failed in challenging the dogma of the far-right. The left was humiliated in the 2002 presidential election when France was faced with the choice of two right-wing candidates: Jacques Chirac and the previous FN leader, Le Pen’s father. Parties across the political spectrum vowed to learn the lessons of this failure, but since then they have not addressed any of the major issues which caused the rise of the farright vote. Before Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the Left Party, made an impact in the election this year, no party has properly represented the working class. No party has addressed the needs of the vulnerable or the unemployed, and nor has any party solved the underlying economic issues in France, including the chronic problems
Andy Hay via Flickr
A Defaced FN Campaign Poster ■ Marine Le Pen still divides political opinion in the impoverished banlieues – the poor French suburbs which rioted in 2004. Former French President Sarkozy did not do enough, and the socialists have failed in local politics. In many regions of France the Socialist Party has been in power for decades, but in key battlegrounds such as Henin-Beaumont, voters are turning away from the mainstream parties due to their ineptness and corruption. In 2009 the incumbent Socialist mayor resigned due to a scandal involving corruption, and in both the consequent mayoral elections, as well as the following presidential election, the FN captured over 35% in both of the first rounds. However, the success of the far-right is also partly due to the failings of the voting system. Politicians from across the spectrum don’t openly oppose the populist policies of hate politics because they know that they will need extremist votes come the second round. In the second round of this year’s presidential elections, Sarkozy pandered to the far-right vote, spouted Islamophobia and talked of France returning to its “Christian roots”. It is a combination of political cowardice and the voting system which has helped to prevent a true challenge to the xenophobic politics of the FN. L’avenir – The Future It seems that the far-right is now structurally embedded in French politics. The party has a strong regional apparatus in the north, the east, and in the ProvenceAlpes-Côte d’Azur. The question now seems to be whether the centrist politicians can stand up to the sentiment of the far-right and combat the key issues which contribute to its success, or whether they will continue to kowtow to Le Pen and her cronies. ■ Jamie Pickering studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College. ►
Sydney’s Official Record Change
The Invasion of Australia Benjamin Parkin
Aboriginal Australians are not content to be written out of history
HEN Captain James Cook first sailed along the coast of Australia in April 1770, he noted in his journal that he spotted “several people upon the Sea beach, they [sic] appeared to be very dark or black colour”. Upon landing at Botany Bay, he recounted a brief but hostile encounter with members of the Gweagal people, in which musket fire was met with spear throwing. Some of those very spears are still on display at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. It was 18 years later, on January 26th 1788, that the first group of soldiers and convicts arrived from Britain to set up a penal colony. This day is now, 200 years later, celebrated as ‘Australia “Australia Day”. For aboriginal Australians however, including the descendants of those who first watched from the beaches as hostile ships of Cook’s landed, it is not so much a cause for celebration as remorse, regret, and anger. It was soon after their arrival that the British declared the land to be terra nullius – a land without a people – and set about systematically settling and colonising the land, using wanton violence and brutality. This darker side to Australia’s history is often wilfully forgotten, or deliberately ignored. In response to pressure by aboriginal groups, who wanted their experience of the past 200 years to be recognised, the Sydney City Council last summer voted to replace the words “European arrival” with “invasion” in the official record. Councillor Marcelle Hoff said it would be “intellectually dishonest” to describe the settlement in any other way. The move was both applauded and criticised. John Pilger, the esteemed journalist, wrote that it marks “a new Aboriginal articulacy”, and that “having finally uttered the forbidden word, white Australians should stand with them”. New South Wales Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello, however, argued the move was counterproductive, stating that “reconciliation and progress can only be built on language that unifies us, not language that divides us”. But this is more than a simply symbolic, “feel-good” gesture: Australia is set to have a referendum in the next couple of years in order to decide whether to remove two little-known sections of its constitution that would
shock many within and outside Australia if aware of their existence. One permits the government to disqualify people such as aboriginals from voting, and the other allows it to make laws based on racial lines. Furthermore, there is no mention of aboriginals anywhere in the constitution, presenting a worrying space for manipulation of their already fragile rights. When Cook declared New South Wales to be a colony of Britain, he actually broke with conventional British practice at the time by not making a treaty with the local people. Australia remains the only former British colony not to have a treaty with the indigenous population, and it was this absence that allowed the island to be considered terra nullius in the first place. For the following 200 years aboriginals suffered a lack of recognition. On Australia Day this year – dubbed “Invasion Day” by its critics – the prime minister Julia Gillard and her entourage were chased away from an award ceremony by some 200 activists chanting “shame” and “racist”, frustrated by the way that their history was yet again ignored – save the token “tribal dance”
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An Historical Change ■ Captain James Cook’s expedition to Australia will be remembered in a different light that precedes many public events. But this is not simply a battle about history; it is about the ongoing survival of some of the world’s oldest people, who came to the land c.40,000 years ago. ■ Benjamin Parkin studies Philosophy and Theology at St Peter’s College.
Rewriting History ■ Can Australia ignore its indigenous populations any longer?
Also: The Politics of Business ■ Lessons from Kenyan Athletes
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Peoples’ Protests ■ Anti-austerity protests in Budapest Budapest Tackles Brussels
Hungary for More? Richard Mathers
The post-Soviet poster child looks to the EU to feed its shrinking economy
HEN Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 with over 80% of voters in favour, it seemed as if Hungary’s 15-year transition from Soviet rule was complete. The economy had enjoyed stable growth for a decade and three democratic elections had already taken place since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Fast-forward to the present day and the political and economic outlook for Hungary is uncertain. The global financial crisis hit Hungary’s economy hard, causing it to contract by 6.4% in 2008-9. Increasingly bitter relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other global bodies, combined with the downgrading of Hungarian debt to junk status, have shattered hopes of a steadily growing economy. While this can be attributed at least in part to events elsewhere in the EU and across the world the 2010 election of the conservative Fidesz party and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has severely strained Hungarian relations with the outside world. A Controversial Government Orbán’s government has introduced controversial legislation during its two and a half years in office. The creation of a new state-run media authority and the drafting of a new constitution were met with protests across the capital when they came into force in January. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso defended press freedom as “a holy principle” for the EU, while several other European politicians from across the political and geographic spectra also criticised the new law. However, Orbán bullishly defended the changes, claiming that the French and German governments had been “unnec-
essary and hasty” in their criticism, and vowed to push the new law through. Similarly, the Minister for Government & Communications, Zoltán Kovács, explained that the constitution needed updating after the previous one had been “set by the Communists in 1949”. His words failed to pacify the street protesters, many of whom described him as a dictator. Recent issues surrounding Hungary have focused on the government’s disputes with both the IMF and the EU, the two international organisations most relevant to the country’s future. To address the growing budget deficit afflicting the economy, Hungary has been involved in negotiations with the European Commission to achieve its target of cutting its deficit to 2.5% of GDP in 2012. Although working with pan-European bodies has been a sticking-point for Orbán’s government, it seems as if Hungarian foreign relations are starting to turn the corner, with some government figures seemingly more willing than Orbán to engage in dialogue bodies. “The Hungarian government welcomes the decision of the European Commission to accept the answers submitted by Hungary in 90% of the issues raised by the Commission,” a government spokesman said. A Silver Lining? Disputes between the Hungarian government and the EU persist, although there are encouraging signs that indicate relations between the two may be starting to improve. The Budapest Times is confident that “an agreement between the EU/IMF tandem and Hungary will ultimately be reached”. On the domestic front, Orbán has been typically aggressive
in his rhetoric. Nonetheless, the harsh realities of the international markets are likely to force a deal. The deal is likely to include a fiscal stimulus package that attempts to promote short-term economic growth, although the Hungarian negotiating position has been weakened by the poor results from the first quarter of 2012: a 1.3% fall in GDP, the largest decline among all the 19 EU members that announced their figures together. The response to bailouts in Greece has been sluggish, but the Hungarian economy, with lower unemployment and only half of Greece’s level of public debt to GDP ratio, offers an environment where stimulus packages are more likely to succeed. A key point in the new constitution forbids the Hungarian parliament from passing law that would “result in the increase of the level of state debt”. Hungary is the only country in the world to have what is effectively a balancedbudget amendment written into its
Orbán’s government has introduced controversial legislation during its two and a half years in office constitution, a move that is likely to appease the international markets in the short-term. However, potential austerity measures, though unlikely to be as severe as those in Greece due to the much lower level of public debt, could have longterm fiscal and social ramifications. This year has already seen rioting in Budapest during protests against the implementation of the new constitution; if economic progress does not come soon, the Hungarian people may take to the streets again. For nearly two decades since the fall of Communist rule, Hungary had been one of Eastern Europe’s success stories through full democratisation and reaping the rewards of a steadily growing economy. In the last four years, however, Hungary has endured tough times, and its current prime minister seems to be a ►
► throwback to a more authoritarian era.
The near future for the country looks bleak, with austerity measures and tightening media controls, but in the long run, Hungary has shown enough underlying strength to allow prosperity in the future. ■ Richard Mathers studies Mathematics at Merton College. The Politics of Business
Dynasty Inc. Nabila Jamshed
The business of bloodlines and the corporation as a modern monarchy
HERE is a certain irony to political freedom. It resists the arbitrary tyranny of monarchs and the injustice of control by bloodline to create a free, unfettered society. However in the freedom that is built on the foundations of this struggle for democracy lies also the freedom to fight for power. In unfettered freedom, the spoils go to the victor: and new monarchies are born, albeit hidden. In the free economies of the modern world, corporations have become monarchies, as crown princes reign in boardrooms and CEOs command empires as a matter of birthright. As the market assumes greater control of our choices and freedoms and thus becomes a determinant, therefore, of our political rights, authority itself seems to be undergoing a fundamental transformation. In liberal democracies, we have come to value private actors as legitimate
Thomas Hawk via Flickr
The New Palaces ■ Crown princes reign in boardrooms, the authority of modern-day dynasties
providers of public goods. Infrastructure, social security, the media, culture, welfare and even military security, the last vanguard of state authority, have begun to be contracted out to the market. This means that the duality in the discourse of the state and market is changing, as authority is being transferred wholesale to corporations. More importantly for our politics, perhaps, is the fact that in giving authority to corporations, it is being handed to modern-day dynasties. Empires of Wealth Some of these modern monarchies have existed for centuries. Companies such as Kongo Guni and Hoshi in Japan have been controlled by one family for over 40 generations. Companies that grew out of more traditional occupations predating the Industrial Revolution, such as wine-making and glassblowing in Italy and France, have also been family businesses for centuries, their own power untouched by political revolutions against royal dynasties. Around the world, inns, banks and fashion houses have all been passed on from one generation to the next. These modern monarchies include among their ranks some of the biggest corporations and their bloodlines today, controlling a princely slice of the global economic pie. Forbes listed Walmart as the world’s largest corporation in 2011. The company alone accounts for US$421.9 billion (£262.5 billion) in revenue from its global operations every year. Founded by Sam Walton in 1962, its Board of Directors is now chaired by the entrepreneur’s eldest son, Robson Walton. It is in the history of the United States of America that some of these dynasties stand out as the stuff of legends. The legacy of John D. Rockefeller is a case in point. The second and third companies on the Forbes list of the Global 500 – Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil – are both descendents of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. The Rockefeller family and its fortunes went on to influence not only the economy by owning a large part of American GDP, but politics too: the Rockefellers have even produced a vice president of the United States under President Gerald Ford who himself came from the illustrious Ford lineage. To this day, the dynasty controls the enormous Rockefeller wealth. From Henry Ford to William Clay Ford, the Ford Company has also been a family business for generations. Corporate empires also abound in emerging markets, such as India and China. Mukesh Ambani, heir to the Ambani dynasty and Reliance Industries Limited is the second wealthiest indi-
vidual in Asia and chairman of India’s second largest public corporation by revenue. India’s Tata Group, led by Ratan Tata, has been passed down generation of Tatas since 1868. The firm contributes nearly 3% of India’s GDP. The South Korean conglomerate Samsung is another powerful empire controlled by a dynasty, and was recently in the news for the ongoing conflict between the current chairman and his siblings. Throughout history, wars of succession have characterized the lives and politics of monarchies, and corporate monarchies are no different in conflicts being waged for their own thrones. Paraphernalia of Corporate Monarchy In a modern culture of celebrity, contemporary monarchies have commanded the limelight too; their lustre draws attention and they know how to use it well. The Trumps became global household names following the success of the television reality show The Apprentice, perhaps the world’s bestknown job interview. Paris Hilton’s first claim to fame was her fortune: she is an heiress, a 21st century princess whose life is a matter of public interest. Dynastic control of wealth and production is nothing new: the rule, rather than the exception, of history. What makes it interesting for this epoch
In the free economies of the modern world, corporations have become monarchies is the clash between waves of democracy, with their clarion calls for freedom on the one hand and the merging, growing, flourishing business empires on the other. Where the state is limited and the market provides most goods, political control is now reverting to the hands of monarchs, albeit ones with degrees from Harvard and notionally under the scrutiny of a democratic polity. These dynasties are not sovereign and do not legally command a coercive apparatus; it is in this that they represent freedom even as they function through bloodline. Even so, their structural clout is worrying: they flaunt it to shape whole nations’ economic agendas and, by implication, their political discourse. Corporations can fund parties in democratic elections, employ influential lobbies and control the mass media, thereby becoming an important part of the state and its constitutional paradigm. Traditional monarchs of the pre-Westphalian disposition had explicit political powers. Modern monarchs may not have titles or formal powers of sanction, but they share many powers once the preserve of kings and queens. The more freedom ►
Trinity 2012 ► we give the market, the more space we
make for the rich to become richer; and in so doing, we revert to that pre-democratic history where some lords and rulers became authorities by virtue of their wealth and influence. While this may be entirely consistent with the logic of the free market, we would do well to consider the ways in which this power changes our politics.
Lessons from Kenyan Athletes
Running the Risk Michelle Sikes
The analogy of Kenyan runners as a successful model for healthy risktaking shows us how we can better manage risk
EFORE Linet Masai delivered to Kenya a gold medal in the 10,000m at the 2009 World Athletics Championships, her father made an investment decision: he sold enough cows to finance the costs of her full-time training regime. Like Linet, most aspiring Kenyan runners are young and penniless, so the money required to support this career first comes from family, friends and other social institutions. Sponsors assist prospective runners because they believe that after a few years, the runner will earn substantial prize money, some of which will return to the original investor. Missing Moral Hazard Yet investing precious savings in a would-be professional runner exposes the sponsor to various sources of risk. Not only might the runner fail on account of accident or injury but she also must move away from her family to the highlands, which offers the most conducive environment for training. When a runner is living apart from family and friends, these sponsors cannot monitor the consistency of that runner’s commitment to the training required to realising wealth through racing abroad. This presents the possibility of moral hazard, which happens when someone is responsible for the interests of another but has an opportunity to put her selfinterest first. Moral hazard could occur amongst Kenyan runners if rather than training intensively for greater future payoffs, they chose simply to enjoy living for the moment on sponsorship money. In reality, truancy and negligence are rare. Once given financial backing, it is highly unusual for a Kenyan athlete to act dishonourably or to endanger the investment that has been made in her talent. Why is this, and what does this mean for our understanding of healthy risk-taking
The free market is a wonderful thing, no doubt - but is it also an ideological tool of very powerful corporate monarchies, in the same way the idea of divine right was for the monarchies of yore? ■ Nabila Jamshed studies for an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford Department of International Development.
in wealthy societies? The risk model surrounding Kenyan runners provides creative lessons for countries looking to crack down on reckless risk-taking in their own societies. Healthy risk-taking can be nurtured when we reconfigure our apparatus of incentives to include strong, credible and personal punishments; international finance is likely to stabilise when risktakers are systematically forced to assume the consequences of their own decisions. Stripping The Knight If a runner performs poorly, she does not earn prize money. If she does not earn, her backers lose vital resources and she too suffers because her opportunity to completely transform her standard of living, and that of her family, goes for good. Her options are few; the next-best
Death as a consequence of failure is unacceptable choice is farming, a disappointing alternative to the glamour of international athletics. In short, the consequences for failure are personal, known in advance and deliver a penalty roughly proportionate to the large prospective rewards. Not unlike the runner’s family, who are unable to monitor the intensity of her training effort, investors who entrust private wealth and borrowed capital to wealth managers do so without a way to monitor fully whether those bankers’ decisions are reckless or prudent. Yet remuneration in the financial sector follows a completely different structure of risks and rewards. Negligence from a Kenyan runner carries severe penalties, whereas bankers, as columnist Will Hutton wryly points out, “always get more bucks or mega-bucks – never fewer bucks”. Financiers often receive bonuses for short-term performance and no matter what the outcome, they are able to reap significant personal gain. Little wonder they succumb to temptation and take undue short-term risks. The solution is clear: no one should receive such exceptional rewards without any threat of loss. For instance, the judgement to strip
the knighthood from Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, represents precisely the kind of personal deterrent that would foster a healthy level of fear among financiers, yet to date this action has been isolated and ad hoc. We must set rigorous and creative terms for penalties that would be known to all beforehand and then stand by the result. Insurer of Last Resort The model of Kenyan runners offers a second lesson. While runners enjoy the carrot if they succeed and suffer the stick if they fail, the local community also shares some of the loss so as to protect athletes from the most volatile effects of their decisions. If she fails, a runner is not then forced to repay every Kenyan shilling of the money invested in her: the sponsor bears most of this burden. If the runner were to repay this debt in full, she would end up unable to afford food or shelter. Death as a consequence of failure is unacceptable. It is paramount that individual financiers have some personal stake at risk, whether it be salary, bonuses, knighthood, even the very jobs that they hold. Yet other consequences of risk-taking activities should be spread across banks, private investors and the state in order to protect and sustain our global economic system. Economist Ricardo Cabellero has proposed a concrete solution. Rather than being solely lenders of last resort, governments should pre-emptively set up insurance mechanisms. The firms most in need would be able to acquire the necessary insurance in a flexible market of tradable insurance credits. In this way, the appetite for risk would be sustained at a fraction of the cost of pure capital injections, as happened when the US government infused its banks with billions of bailout dollars. Lessons from Kenya Non-Western countries offer lessons that can help us to understand that healthy risk taking in wealthy societies must occur in a context of incentives and threats permeating the entire economy. International bankers and Kenyan runners are each in pursuit of gain but only the runner is a true stakeholder; she pays dearly for lack of performance whereas the banker enjoys great reward for both good or bad performance. In short, taking risks in the face of real consequences for failure is not easy but it is untenable that we should to continue to reward negligence. ■ Michelle Sikes studies for a D.Phil in Economic and Social History at Lincoln College.
Also: History of European Monarchy ■ Liechtenstein’s Monarchy ■ Chinese Princelings ■ Japanese Monarchy
watchsmart via Flickr
Propagation for the Nation ■ The Sultan of Brunei, alongside his other many faces The Sultanate of Brunei
Rich and Religious Philip Bell
The enigmatic Bruneian monarchy uses oil money to buy freedom from the people
ASSANAL Bolkiah was crowned Sultan of Brunei in August 1968. After Bhumidal Adulyadej of Thailand, Queen Elizabeth II, Almu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah of Malaysia (whose name is nearly as long as his 54 year reign), and Oba Aetona of Nigeria, Bolkiah is one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the world. Known to some as the ‘shellfare state’, Brunei is heavily endowed with oil and gas resources. The 407,000 inhabitants enjoy free schooling and healthcare without being made to pay tax. The fruits of the oil industry are not, however, shared by Brunei’s rapidly industrialising neighbour Malaysia, which has a Gross National Income (GNI) of US$7,700 (£4,875) compared with Brunei’s US$31,800 (£20,132). Backed by Oil This rosy picture is undermined by an unsustainable political system. In 1991, amid calls for the democratisation of the state, the Sultan introduced a policy named ‘Malay Islam Monarchy’, where the members of the monarchy became the official ‘defenders’ of Islam. Through religion the Sultan has been able to maintain control of the people. The primary internet service provider is state-owned, and although only 33% of the population have access to internet, it is monitored for ‘subversive’ sites or messages including pornography which, if detected, leave the perpetrator subject to fines or imprisonment. In 2005, the Sedition Act was passed to regulate the national press, preventing publication of any criticisms of the religious or monarchical system. Freedom House, an international organisation dedicated to the survey of political rights and civil liberties, judges Brunei on a regressive scale from one to seven at just six.
At Odds with Global Investors However, the religio-monarchical structure causes more tension with foreigners than with locals. Positive discrimination gives religious elites and those related to the Sultan extensive social privileges. International companies can struggle to work effectively in Brunei because of the social barriers preventing criticism of those holding prestigious positions, many of which are not earned on the basis of merit. A British Gurkha regiment stationed at the Shell oil refinery is perhaps a further burden of next in line working in this volatile environment. Stuart Rylance, an affiliate of Shell Brunei, said: “[Shell] are now employing more Arabs from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates” than Europeans, due to religious barriers. Indians are also being drafted in. Despite this, there is an expatriate community in Brunei
Known to some as the “shellfare state”, Brunei is heavily endowed with oil and gas resources made up mostly of Dutch oil employees and British nationals left over from colonial rule, which lasted until 1984. Furthermore, it does not look like Shell will be moving from the huge oil and gas supplies in Brunei any time soon. Alienated by the theocratic Sultanate and small in number, the expatriate community is fairly transient, with most spending only four years in the country. They are allowed bacon once a year, and, while Europeans are allowed to import heavily taxed alcohol, Chinese residents have to find it illegally.
Shellfare State ■ The Sultan wears
the medals of religion and the media, crowned by oil
Fabulously Rich It is ironic that the Bruneian Sultanate is famously extravagant. As well as owning one of the most extensive collections of super-cars on earth, Prince Jaffri, Bolkiah’s younger brother, is said to own two boats affectionately named “Tit 1” and “Tit 2”. Jaffri, who was allegedly expelled from Brunei for organising an all-female naked tennis match, was sued by Bolkiah in 2000 for misspending US$15 billion (£9.6 billion). There are inherent contradictions between the philosophy of the state and its actual running. The monarchy act ►
► irresponsibly at times, and a huge proportion of the potential
wealth is consumed by them. The state is desperately undemocratic and the people do not have the freedom to say what they want. Despite this, it does not appear that a population which does not pay tax and enjoys a high standard of living see this as unfair. With a life expectancy of 81 for a woman and 76 for a man, they have the freedom to live far longer than in most other countries in the region. The system in Brunei seems temporary, bolstered by History of European Monarchy
The Death of Kings James McKean
The historical development of European monarchy is a complicated process, but it is the only way to understand its present and future
OR many, the word ‘monarch’ is indelibly associated with the image of a crowned head of state, reigning ceremonially until death should bring an heir – preferably a boy – to the throne. Yet the origin of the word offers no indication of this paradigm. Its origins lie in the Greek words monos, one, and archon, ruler. Under this etymological definition, David Cameron appears more a monarch than Elizabeth II. So, how did we get from a fairly ubiquitous term of governance to such a specific idea of what monarchy should mean? Whilst the development of kingship is a complex phenomenon, it is possible to extract a loose overview of the European monarchical tradition by tracing the development of three features synonymous with contemporary kingship: hereditary succession, agnatic primogeniture (the succession of the first son over siblings), and political impotency. Hereditary Succession In a Europe of elected politicians and appointed bureaucrats, why should the accident of blood transfer the headship of a state from one dynast to the next? Although not omnipresent – the Vatican’s papal monarchy being an example to the contrary – hereditary succession is embedded in the popular conception of how a kingdom should work. Whilst often criticised – the historian Edward Gibbon claimed it presented the “fairest scope for ridicule” – we must not forget that heredity is there for a reason: security. An incomplete transition of power precipitates volatility. This can be seen in North Korea, which BBC Seoul correspondent Lucy Williams called a “communist monarchy”. The death of Kim Jong-Il on December 17th 2011 caused neighbouring South Korea’s stock market to fall 3.43% due to concerns over the instability of the succession. The insecure assumption of a loosely-designated heir, Kim Jong-Un, threatened to create a power vacuum with catastrophic results for the geo-politics of the region. True hereditary succession seeks to avoid such uncertainty; by providing legitimacy to an unquestionable successor, the chances of a coup d’état are vitiated. Crowning an heir in one’s own lifetime brings a ruler further stability. Meanwhile, anarchy can prevail in elective monarchy; the Holy Roman Emperor lacked legitimacy, and faced succession disputes and civil war. However, a hereditary succession need not be inflexible. The 1936 Abdication Crisis, which pressured Edward VIII to abandon the throne due to an unsuitable marriage, was the latest episode in a long saga of consensual British monarchy. Heredity might bring stability, but all dynasties have to be adaptable to survive in the long term. A United Queendom? With Beatrix of the Netherlands, Elizabeth II of Britain, and
Theme: Survival of Monarchies
unsustainable oil money in a nation that is by many standards undeveloped. The freedom of the people appears to be bribed from them with black gold. Even a thieving and philandering monarchy are not publicly opposed by the Brunein people, as there is not yet enough of an incentive to go against the weight of the system. The question is, however, for how long can this go on? ■ Philip Bell studies History at Exeter College. Margrethe of Denmark so present in the media, one can forget that a female monarch is often an anomaly. Even as nations equalise succession between genders, they cannot cloak the institution’s patriarchy. So, why is it the United Kingdom, and not the United Queendom? The preponderance of agnatic primogeniture can be explained by misogyny which pervaded continental Europe, such as the Salic Law, the code which barred women from inheritance. Whilst the English exploited female claims, as Edward III did when he demanded the French throne through his mother’s line, a ruling queen was another matter. It is no coincidence that the accession of Matilda led to ‘The Anarchy’. Ruling queens present tangible difficulties. Historically, one of the prime functions of the king is martial, where women have been at a disadvantage. The ramification of marriage and heirs provide queens with a unique difficulty; to wed a subject is unseemly, but to marry a foreign prince is to give that country worrying influence, as with Mary Tudor’s Spanish husband.
Revolutions have deposed kings; parliaments and constitutions have neutered them; and some have ... boosted royal power Sovereign but Not Sovereign Today, most European monarchs are de jure heads of state, but no longer de facto administrators of the kingdom – they reign, not rule. In the UK, the Queen’s Speech expresses the policy of ‘her’ government, but the days when crown governed are long gone. The Grand Duke of Luxembourg even forgoes the formality of assenting laws, simply announcing them. Through its history, monarchical power has oscillated. Every country has reacted differently: revolutions have deposed kings; parliaments and constitutions have neutered them; and some have, like Lichtenstein, recently boosted royal power. One trend is the influence a monarch gains through the church. Princes have claimed divinity for millennia, blurring the division between king and god; mystical powers attributed to sovereigns, such as the Holy Touch curing scrofula, took centuries to fade. Even if a monarch couldn’t be God, they could always utilise the image of God. The English Reformation and creation of the Church of England made Henry VIII caesaropapist, granting him absolute spiritual and political authority. Henry VIII “became in effect Pope” in his realm according to Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford. As Europe became increasingly secular ►
Renett Stowe via Flickr
Render Unto Caesar ■ It would seem the Vatican is Europe’s last absolute monarchy
Trinity 2012 ► during the 18th and 19th centuries, the power of the monarchy
diminished. For others, the bureaucratic age induced the apogee of royal power: the absolute monarchy. Louis XIV of France probably never said “L’Etat, c’est moi” (“I am the state”); he didn’t need to. Although not unrestricted, his grandiose kingship was matched only by the violent response to it. Ideas of liberty unleashed, if not employed, during the French Revolution catalysed an increasing popular stake in government and left modern Europe a tapestry of republics and so-called ‘crowned republics’. Nevertheless, these kingdoms, principalities, and arch-duchies, are all characterised, to some extent, by the ideas of heredity and agnatic primogeniture, which have become so firmly rooted in the edifice of monarchy. Perhaps the deepest irony is that Europe’s last absolute monarchy, the Papacy, is not hereditary at all. ■ James McKean studies History at Lincoln College. Liechtenstein’s Monarchy
Fresh Prince of Liechtenstein Adam Clement
Liechtenstein is the closest thing in Europe to an absolute monarchy – but for how long?
UCKED away in the Alps between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein is described by its official tourism website as “the jewel at the pulse of Europe ... traditional and modern, just the right size and open to the world, athletic and sensual”. It is the world’s 7th smallest country by population; her people would take up less than half of Wembley Stadium. A principality of the Holy Roman Empire since 1719, Liechtenstein gained its sovereignty in 1806 when it joined Napoleon’s Confederation of the Rhine, and full independence in 1815 after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Since then it has become the world’s richest country by GDP per capita (at purchasing power parity), according to the CIA World Factbook, a position owed largely to a strong financial services sector and its status as a notorious tax haven. The country was the centre of a 2008 scandal in which various countries, in particular Germany, began to investigate this thriving industry. This drove a furious Crown Prince Alois to state that “Germany has clearly failed to understand how one behaves towards a friendly state”. Despite these events, though, it is usually one of the world’s least newsworthy countries. For God, Prince, and Fatherland However, Liechtenstein is also the closest thing that Europe has to an absolute monarchy. Certainly, it is the only state in Europe in which the power of the monarchy has actually increased in recent years. The Prince has the right to appoint judges, quash legal investigations, dismiss the government, and pass emergency legislation as long as it does not violate certain fundamental rights. Most importantly in Liechtenstein’s recent history, the Prince was granted extensive additional political power in a 2003 constitutional referendum, giving him an effective veto against any law passed by Parliament. Article 9 of the Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein states that “Every law shall require the sanction of the Reigning Prince to attain legal force”. Perhaps surprisingly, the constitutional referendum with a turnout of 88% granted these sweeping powers to the Prince with a substantial majority of 64.3% in support. A rival and concurrent proposal that would have limited the Prince’s powers achieved a mere 16.6% of the vote. During the referendum campaign, Prince Hans-Adam II capitalised on his popularity by
Theme: Survival of Monarchies
threatening to leave Liechtenstein for Austria if the referendum was not passed. While such a move would have incurred heavy costs, it was not an empty promise. The Liechtenstein dynasty is named after Liechtenstein Castle in Lower Austria, which is still held by the family. In fact, the Princely Family of Liechtenstein did not take up permanent residence in the Principality of Liechtenstein until 1938.
It is the only state in Europe in which the power of the monarchy has actually increased in recent years A Bloodless Revolution? Despite the resounding victory in the 2003 constitutional referendum, the monarchy of Liechtenstein faces some dissent from within the country. Article 64 of the Constitution of Liechtenstein states that a constitutional referendum in Liechtenstein can be triggered by a petition of no fewer than 1,500 registered voters. On May 10th democracy activists in Liechtenstein presented a petition of 1,732 signatures calling for a referendum that would take away the Prince’s power of veto. As the threshold for a constitutional referendum was passed, a vote must now be held. While no date has yet been formally established, the website of Demokratiebewegung in Liechtenstein (Democracy Movement in Liechtenstein) predicts that Liechtenstein will go to the polls on July 1st. The current campaign against the Princely veto comes in the wake of the acrimonious September 2011 referendum concerning abortion. The referendum, if passed, would have legalised abortion within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. While Liechtenstein is majority Roman Catholic, and Roman Catholicism is the state religion, a separate referendum in May of the same year had reaffirmed a parliamentary decision to legalise homosexual partnerships by an overwhelming 68.8% of the vote. The 2011 abortion referendum campaign, however, saw an intervention by Prince Alois, the Regent and Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein, who threatened to exercise his veto if the referendum passed. While the motion narrowly failed, with 52.3% against, the Prince’s intervention was blamed for reducing turnout and ultimately leading to the result: the turnout for the abortion referendum was 61%, compared to 74.2% for the May referendum. Indeed, Sigvard Wohlwend, a spokesman for Demokratiebewegung in Liechtenstein, stated that “the referendum was doomed” by the Prince’s veto threat. Princely intervention has also been a theme in the recent attempt to remove the Prince’s veto. In a speech to parliament on March 1st, Prince Alois threatened that the royal family would “completely withdraw from public life” if the referendum passed, stating that “the royal family is not willing to undertake its political responsibilities unless the prince ... has the necessary tools at his disposal”. The anti-veto campaign has stated prominently that removing the veto is their only goal, a tacit recognition that the monarchy remains popular in Liechtenstein and that an attack on the entire institution would jeopardise their chances of success. Nevertheless, according to Wilfried Marxer, political scientist and director of the Liechtenstein Institute, “opposition against the proposal of the initiators is widespread and the debate goes more on monarchy in principle than the specific article in the constitution which is the goal of the initiative. Thus the popular vote is shifting from a single issue vote to a fundamental decision on monarchy in Liechtenstein.” Ironically, should the referendum pass, it could be vetoed; the only legislation in Liechtenstein that is not subject to the Prince’s veto is the abolition of the monarchy. ■ Adam Clement Adam studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Jesus College
Theme: Survival of Monarchies
The Princeling and the Party Jane Huxley-Khng
An inauspicious start to China’s leadership transition reveals the challenges ahead
012 is an important year for China. After a decade in power, President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabo and the majority of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s principal decisionmaking body, will stand down this autumn to make way for the “fifth generation” of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership. Yet, in the run-up to this major event, the world has just witnessed China’s most dramatic political fall-out since Tiananmen, 1989: the scandal of Bo Xilai. Bo Xilai was the archetypal princeling. The son of a powerful and well-connected party member, he rose through the ranks to become Party Secretary to one of the biggest cities in China, Chongqing. Though tipped to become a member of the Politburo Standing Committee this autumn, Bo’s claim to the red aristocracy and the patronage of former president Jiang Zemin were unable to protect him from a swift and unexpected fall from grace. With the CCP predictably close lipped, the story that has developed in the Western press is a confused one. Based mainly on hearsay, current developments include plotting a plane crash and wire-tapping the President, while the central plot revolves around police brutality, corruption and political intrigue, with a cast including a murderous wife, a playboy son and an Englishman. In the media frenzy that followed Bo Xilai’s downfall it has been his son, Bo Guagua, who has become the unexpected face of the story. It is notoriously difficult to find anything out about Chinese politicians and their families and, to a certain extent, Bo Guagua’s availability has made him an easy target. Despite his father’s official wage of just 144,000 yuan (£14,400), the Bo family’s ability to finance their son’s education at Harrow, Oxford, and now Harvard, has been seen as proof of rampant corruption and embezzlement of state funds. What turned out to be the most damning of all was an anecdote apparently from the mouth of the former US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman: in early 2011, Bo Guagua collected Huntsman’s daughter from their Beijing home in a red Ferrari. Seeing Red Among all the speculation of torture and murder, it is somewhat surreal that a red Ferrari has managed to steal the spotlight. Eyewitnesses have been found, family friends quoted, and two of Huntsman’s daughters have come forward to put the record straight. In Bo Xilai’s press conference, as he tried to contain the rapidly spiralling situation, he took the time to denounce the
Each princeling jumps a queue of over one billion people still waiting for their turn to get rich disturbing rumours that his son had ever driven a red Ferrari. Bo Guagua himself declared in a letter to the Harvard Crimson, “I have never driven a Ferrari” (though it has become apparent that he drives a Porsche in Cambridge, Massachusetts). But just why have Bo Guagua and his red Ferrari become the enduring image of his father’s scandal? The current image of China is one of booming economic growth, shiny skyscrapers and potential graduate jobs. We read of networking businessmen playing golf and buying up the world’s best vintages at ludicrous prices, and their rich wives obsessed with designer brands and the latest handbags. Yet, this is only the reality of China’s 0.001%. China’s economic successes
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The Red Ferrari ■ The car’s debated existence has coloured discussions of China’s political elite
and the attendant benefits are due to the reforms begun under Deng Xiaoping in 1978, but the flipside is growing inequality, substantial environmental problems and a failing welfare system. While the economic reforms have certainly accelerated growing inequality and the current urban-rural divide, they are not entirely to blame. Despite the impressive Gini coefficients of the Mao period, there was also an established urban bias which has acted as the foundation for rising inequality. However, Deng’s reforms in the 1980s weren’t just economic: the so-called “one child policy” was introduced and harshly enforced; the communes and collectives of the Mao period were disbanded, along with the healthcare provision they had provided; and China’s government system began a process of decentralization. This has left the current central government with severe difficulties in enforcing any steps they take to improve areas, such as the rule of law, environmental protection, or welfare provision. With just one child to provide for both parents and sketchy health coverage, it is unsurprising that old age is a worrying prospect and that the norm is increasingly to save for an uncertain future. Children and teenagers have just as many worries: they are the ones who are expected to provide emotional and economic support for two parents – and possibly four grandparents as well. Dripping Success For the urban middle-class, these concerns manifest themselves in an obsession with education, both in schools and in evening classes, and particularly when it comes to preparing for the university entrance examination, gaokao. Images that appear on the internet of students hooked to IV drips to fuel their all nighters are extreme, but the competitiveness of the exams and the lengths students are willing to go for them are undoubtedly real. For the rural population, these concerns have fed massive migration to urban, particularly coastal, areas in search of work. This underclass of rural migrants is the labour that drives China’s factories and export market, yet their rural hukou (household registration) prevents them from accessing healthcare, education and legal support in the areas where they work and live. Desperate students and vulnerable migrants are an entirely different image from that of Bo Guagua, with his elite education, and high-end cars. It is the incongruity of these two images which causes such outrage. Rags to riches stories are far from unpopular in China – indeed, they are celebrated. After all, Deng Xiaoping began the reforms with the maxim “let some people get rich first” and each of these tales is a story of hope, but which unsurprisingly stirs a hotpot of resentment. The majority of the red aristocracy, though they may enjoy above average wealth and connections, live surprisingly lowprofile lives, and the fuss that has surrounded Bo Guagua shows exactly why. For the CCP, and particularly the crown princeling, Vice-President Xi Jinping, heir presumptive to the Party throne, this was an inauspicious beginning for the fifth generation. However, it poignantly reveals what may be their biggest challenge: the burgeoning divide between rich and poor. ■ Jane Huxley-Khng studies Oriental Studies (Chinese) at St Anne’s College.
Theme: Survival of Monarchies
The Last Emperor Claire Castles
The role of Japan’s head of state: past, present, and future
APAN is now the last country in the world whose monarch still uses the title of ‘Emperor’. Claimed to be the world’s oldest continuous hereditary monarchy, the Imperial line can be traced back over a millennium. Despite this supposedly unmatched period of sovereignty, the Japanese throne has not always been a seat of true power. Emperors have usually ‘reigned’ rather than ‘ruled’, with others, be it court regents, military shoguns, or government ministers, wielding actual authority whilst paying lip-service to the Emperor. The 1889 Constitution of Japan declared the Emperor as divine; in Article three he was officially described as “sacred and inviolable”. Throughout the following decades, he became a rallying focus for Japanese nationalism and aggressive militaristic expansion into Korea and China. Japan’s defeat in WWII was followed by a backlash of anti-nationalist sentiment, with perpetuators of the Imperial ‘cult’ seen as instigators of the conflict and thus responsible for its repercussions.
Hope in a Crisis The Emperor’s role today is as a symbol of national unity and hope. Following the earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster of March 2011, his visit to the stricken areas was seen as an attempt to bring a troubled country back together. His New Year speech on January 2nd showed recognition of the human cost of the disaster, whilst calling upon the Japanese people to rebuild their lives. He even voiced his sympathy through the ancient tradition of Imperial poetry composition. One poem by Emperor Akihito, On Visiting the City of Soma after the Great East Japan Earthquake, was translated as follows: As the tsunami gushed in Out sailed the brave boats to sea So glad am I To see them moored to their posts The boats that returned from sea The Emperor’s compassion in times of crisis has engendered public support, even amongst the younger generation. Yu Katono, a Law student from Fukushima Prefecture commented, “Before the tsunami, I didn’t care that much about whether we had an Emperor or not, but when he came to Fukushima … it encouraged us very much. It was then that I realised that the Emperor is a good thing for the Japanese people.”
The Japanese Imperial line can be traced back over millennia
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The Imperial Couple ■ Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greet crowds during the Emperor’s New Year Address
Post-war Reform It was unsurprising that the Emperor was a primary target for reform by the post-war American occupation, which took it upon itself to democratise and pacify Japan. The fact that Emperor Hirohito was allowed to remain at all, rather than being tried as a war criminal, remains a point of contention. The complex issues surrounding wartime responsibility made unclear the extent to which the Emperor had been taken advantage of by the military, and how far he had condoned its actions. “The Americans probably wanted to keep the Emperor as a means of controlling the Japanese,” comments Yuuki Shigemoto, a graduate student from Aichi Prefecture. “If they killed him … he would have become even more of a symbol for the nationalist cause.” Article one of the new Japanese Constitution of 1947, composed under Allied supervision, declares that the Emperor should be “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people”, with whom sovereign power resides. The Emperor remained only as a figurehead, severed from political activity. Since WWII, the Emperor’s image has been gradually humanised in the media. Sugimori and Hamada noted in a study that during the post-war era, newspapers’ use of special honorifics for the Emperor has steadily declined, being all but eliminated by 1993. This is part of a general trend transforming the Emperor from a revered, divine figure into a more down to earth monarch. The current Imperial couple, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, have broken with centuries of tradition in their request for a simple cremation after their deaths, “to minimize the impact on the lives of the citizens”.
The Succession Debate Perhaps the biggest problem facing the Imperial family today is the debate over Imperial succession and the shortage of legitimate heirs. Current law states that a female Imperial family member must officially leave the Imperial family upon marriage outside of the royal bloodline. In 2004, Emperor Akihito’s only daughter, Princess Nori, married a bureaucrat, forcing her to renounce her royal status. Some Japanese political commentators voice concerns that current succession practices are unsustainable, as eligible heirs grow fewer with each generation. One suggestion is to allow princesses to keep their royal status after marriage to commoners, creating their own branches of the Imperial family. This has proven contentious among conservative Japanese, as it would break the ‘uninterrupted’ patrilineal succession of Emperors. Nevertheless, the position of Emperor seems to be in little immediate danger. Whilst not receiving outspoken support from all citizens, there are relatively few who actively oppose his reign. Since the end of WWII, the Imperial office has become less politically charged in the eyes of the world, albeit that it is now Emperor Akihito, rather than the controversial Hirohito, who occupies the throne. The Imperial Household Agency ensures that his speeches avoid controversial topics, such as Okinawa and Japanese wartime atrocities. Such issues always hold the danger of opening up old wounds, which Japan has been reluctant to face head-on. The Japanese Emperor has shown an ability to adapt to the evolving requirements of a 21st century monarch, whilst retaining his link with the ancient traditions that many Japanese still hold dear. It remains to be seen how the Imperial office will be forced to change in response to future demands. Perhaps, as is the case with the British monarchy, we may see alterations to the rules of succession to allow the son of a princess to ascend to the throne. Unlikely as it seems for now, might there even be a time when Japan sees the reign of an empress? ■ Claire Castles studies Oriental Studies (Japanese) at Hertford College.
Also: The Atacama Cosmology Telescope ■ Mechanobiology Advances
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Access Denied ■ Published scientific research has traditionally only been accessible through costly subscriptions and individual purchasing schemes
The Door Wide Open Paul Shorkey
Calls for free access to scientific research look set to revolutionise academic publishing
RTICLES vetted by peers and published in academic journals have long been the currency of scientists, serving as the medium through which research findings are shared with the wider world. Access to these articles, however, has never been free. On the contrary, affiliation with a university that purchased expensive journal subscription packages was, until recently, a near requisite for gaining access to the latest scientific discoveries. The only alternative was to buy individual articles from publishers on a one-off basis, usually for a fee of between US$15 and US$30 (£10 and £18) each. The last decade, though, has witnessed remarkable change. The most recent push from many researchers, librarians, university presses, and even some publishing houses has been the provision of free, open access to published research. Leading the revolution, open-access publishers like BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) have actively defied the old guard of traditional academic publishing houses, making all articles in their journals freely accessible on the web. Submissions to such journals have been rising almost exponentially; just five years since its launch in 2006, PLoS ONE published almost 14,000 articles last year, making it the largest peer-reviewed academic journal in the world. An Open Debate Such changes in the publishing landscape have not been without controversy. Major scientific publishing houses like Elsevier, with revenues of US$3.2 billion (£2 billion) in 2010, assert that they add substantial value throughout the publication process. Organising the peer-review system, providing editing assistance, and marketing the journals in which academics publish are among
the services they claim must be covered. Indeed, the costs of publication are by no means zero; open-access publishers cover such costs by charging researchers – up to US$5,000 (£3,100) in the case of Nature Communications – to publish an article. Proponents of open science, however, are not convinced. They argue that journal publishers are high-margin businesses which exploit researchers as unpaid
Open science activists have gathered serious momentum reviewers then charge exorbitant rates for access to new research findings. Elsevier’s 37% profit margin last year, they say, is glowing evidence of this injustice. Many of the scientists themselves believe that restricted access is actively hindering faster progress in the discipline; since January, over 11,000 researchers have joined a web-based boycott of Elsevier. “No matter how much value peer review adds” says open science activist Michael Eisen, founder of PLoS, “it cannot make up for the myriad ways in which traditional scientific publishing retards scientific progress.” Although the movement for open access to published research is growing, practical concerns abound. For one, academic promotion and tenure are still largely contingent on finding one’s name in print in the most prestigious journals a field has to offer. The majority of these are still run by for-profit publishing houses requiring pricey subscriptions. Service to journals in the form of editing or reviewing is also valued highly by universities when looking to promote. Thus refusing to provide such services to closed journals can become a difficult, perhaps career-limiting decision for a young scientist.
Legislative Action The debate over access has not stopped at online advocacy forums. In December 2011, two members of the US Congress introduced a piece of legislation called the Research Works Act. The bill proposed barring federal agencies from doing anything that would result in the public sharing of research published in private journals. If passed, such a law would have spelled the end of policies like the US National Institute of Health’s (NIH) public access requirement, which mandates that the results of research conducted with public funds be made openly available on its database within a year of publication. Although the Research Works Act was initially backed by a number of large publishing houses, Elsevier formally withdrew its support in late February after intense criticism from the academic community. The bill’s two congressional sponsors have also recently promised not to pursue further legislative action. An opposing piece of legislation, dubbed the Public Access Act, was introduced in February. Its goal is to expand the public access mandate of the NIH to even more governmental agencies, and to change the time limit for online posting from one year to six months. Nongovernmental bodies have begun to take notice as well. In April, the UK-based Wellcome Trust, responsible for funding £650 million of scientific research annually, announced intentions to sanction grant recipients who do not make their research findings openly available. The trust has also introduced plans to create a new high-end open-access journal, called eLife, meant to compete directly with prestigious publications like Nature and Science. Access Granted In an election year such as this, the Public Access Act is unlikely to make much progress. But the recent legislative back and forth highlights the success the open science movement is having in pushing issues of access into the highest spheres of public policy-making. Publishing companies are no doubt feeling the pressure. Although academic ►
Science 3500 Publications by PLoS ONE per quarter since launch, 2007-2011 3000 2500 Publications
2000 1500 1000 500 0 2007
Data from plos.org
► tradition still rests heavily on their side,
open science activists have gathered serious momentum. If nothing else, the movement has been successful in shining a critical light onto the traditional publishing process
that has existed, with little change, since the 17th century. For the most part, scientists have been more than thankful for this. Cash-strapped libraries have already begun to drop subscriptions to expensive journals, and open publishers are becoming popular choices for the scientific community. As a result, publishing houses are beginning to prepare for a future that doesn’t exclude the vast majority of individuals from accessing research. For those with trust in the process of scientific inquiry, one thing is for sure. After rigorous testing and a bit of experimentation, the strongest model will ultimately rise to the top. ■ Paul Shorkey is studying for an MSc in Neuroscience at Merton College.
The Atacama Cosmology Telescope
Observing the Afterglow Renée Hlozek ACT collaboration
The Atacama Cosmology Telescope offers some dazzling new results from the Chilean desert
HE early universe was not a fun place to be. The logical consequence of an expanding universe, first proposed around ninety years ago, is that the universe started in a hot, dense state – the big bang. This fiery early universe was a soupy mix of protons and electrons. Radiation interacted with the electrons, bouncing around and making the universe appear opaque, for much the same reason that we can’t see into the centre of the sun. As the universe expanded, however, it cooled, until it was cool enough for atoms like hydrogen to form – the building block from which all other atoms formed. In this slightly cooler universe, the photons no longer interacted with the electrons and were free to start their long journey through space, eventually reaching us billions of years later as Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation. The existence of the CMB is a direct prediction of the big bang model – the afterglow of a fiery birth. Visible to Microwave While this light was incredibly hot when it started its journey towards us, the expansion of space has stretched the light to long, microwave wavelengths, and cooled it dramatically; the temperature of this radiation is less than three degrees above absolute zero. And yet this cold, microwave light unlocks the secrets of the universe.
Window to the Universe ■ The ACT measures the temperature of the microwave sky
In order to measure the distribution of the temperature of this microwave light on the sky, an extremely dry site is needed. The Atacama Desert in northern Chile proved to be ideal. At 5,190m above sea level and with less than a few millimetres of rainfall per year, the site is atmospherically stable and provides an excellent view of the sky. It was therefore chosen as the home for the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), which began its survey of the sky in 2007, and continued until 2010. Unlike telescopes that ‘point’ at certain known objects on the sky, ACT is a survey telescope, scanning the sky repeatedly and making a map of the radiation above it. In doing so, it takes a picture of the baby universe. By looking at the photons that have been travelling to us from the early universe, we are basically looking back in time to the infancy of the universe, which started 13.7 billion years ago. The detection of this radiation earned Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson the 1978 Nobel prize. After its detection, scientists began to measure and analyse the CMB radiation, and in particular to measure its energy spectrum. The Cosmic Microwave Background Explorer, which turned 20 in April, was the first probe to measure the spectrum of the CMB. The pioneering work of the scientists who led that search was again given the nod of the Nobel committee in 2006, when George Smoot and John Mather shared the prize.
Measuring the temperature of the CMB, and how that temperature changes as a function of position on the sky, tells us how uniform the universe is. While the universe started out as an incredible uniform ‘soup’, it was the tiny ripples in the density of the universe that would grow to form the structures we see today. Just as a small snowfall can start an avalanche, so tiny over-dense regions in the universe grew under gravity, becoming more and more dense over time and collapsing to form large structures. This growth is extremely sensitive to how much of the various components of the universe, such as dark matter and dark energy, are present. The CMB, light from the nascent universe, allows us to understand the ‘birth conditions’ under which our universe began. Massive Cluster Shadows While we use the CMB light to illuminate early times, the photons that have been travelling towards us for over 13 billion years have also been interacting with all the stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies along the way. Hot gas in the clusters of galaxies far away cause photons to scatter, with large clusters effectively casting a ‘shadow’ compared to the light normally seen from CMB. ACT is specifically designed to detect large clusters, and El Gordo (“fat one”) scooped the top spot recently for the largest cluster in the universe. El Gordo is composed of two separate clusters that have collided with each other at several million kilometers per hour. This collision can be seen in the X-Ray image, where the blue colour traces the hot gas in the cluster, which clearly shows a ‘wake’
This cold, microwave light unlocks the secrets of the universe as the two clusters merge and combine. Felipe Menanteau from the University of Rutgers in New Jersey led the ACT search for this goliath, and was delighted to be able to find “the most massive, the hottest [cluster], which gives off the most X-rays of any known cluster at this distance or beyond”. ACT has studied the sky for three years and is now in the process of being upgraded to have even more sensitive detectors capable of measuring not only the temperature of the CMB, but also the amount of polarisation in the radiation. The next few years will provide more data, more exciting discoveries, and more challenges as we strive to push the limits of our understanding to greater and greater depths, and to smaller and smaller scales. ■ Renée Hlozek studied for a D.Phil in Astrophysics at Christ Church College.
Trinity 2012 Mechanobiology Advances
A Force of Change Tyler Grant
Advances in mechanobiology offer a new approach to old problems
HEN astronauts escape gravity their bones become weaker, when body-builders lift weights their muscles grow, and when tennis players train their bones become stronger in their hitting arm. These are just three examples of mechanobiology, or how living cells respond to forces. Cell biologists have paid little attention to engineering in the past, but recent findings suggest that it is time to rethink the role of mechanical forces in biology. Forces are thought to contribute to numerous processes from cancer progression to stem cell differentiation and are likely to be instrumental to treating and preventing a number of debilitating diseases. Early Beginnings In 1892, Julius Wolff, an orthopaedic surgeon and anatomist, made a novel discovery: bone formation responds to physical loading. He found that fractured bones form an architecture different from that of healthy bones that optimises force transmission following structural damage. This observation suggests that cells can test their mechanical environment and reorganise their structure in response to changing mechanical conditions. Lacking the necessary tools to investigate this process, forces remained under the radar of the scientific community for nearly a century. Mechanobiology was further pushed aside during the molecular biology revolution in the 1960s, which set out to explain how genes and proteins contribute to biological function. Researchers focused on developing new tools to better understand biochemical signalling pathways, which describe how chemical signals elicit a physiological response in cells. Following 50 years of research, significant progress has been made, but it is evident that molecules and proteins cannot fully explain these pathways and biologists have begun to reconsider forces. In 2006, Dennis Discher, a biophysicist and biologist, made an important discovery while studying the effect of forces on stem cell expression. His team placed mesenchymal stem cells, a type of cell that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, on gels of varying stiffness. Remarkably, they found that cells that are placed on soft gels resembling the stiffness of brain tissue become neurogenic, those placed on medium
stiffness gels resembling muscle become myogenic, and those placed on hard gels resembling bone become osteogenic. This finding highlights the significance of the microenvironment on cell differentiation and its implications for tissue disease and regeneration. How It Works Cells are situated in the extracellular matrix of tissues and are exposed to a range of external forces. For example, as we walk, our muscles contract, pushing us forward by transmitting forces to our bones through tendons. Our lungs expand as we breathe and our heart pumps oxygen throughout our body by means of blood vessels. During this relatively simple task, cells in our muscles, tendons, bones, cartilage, lungs, and heart are pushed, pulled, and twisted. These forces are sensed by cells and transmitted into biochemical signals through a process called mechanotransduction, which lies at the heart of mechanobiology. Recent studies have shown that cells possess a structure called the primary cilium, a rod-like protein that extends from the surface of most mammalian cells. When fluid flows past these structures the rod bends acting as a sensor that can detect fluid flow, similar to a speedometer attached to the bottom of a boat. When primary cilia bend, their conformational change induces a biochemical response that is translated into changes in biological function. For example, fluid that has a smooth flow has been shown to prevent an inflammatory response in tissue whereas fluid that is turbulent promotes inflammation. Cells are furthermore capable of producing internal forces that influence tissue development and cell migration. For this reason cells should be viewed as dynamic structures that are constantly
Natureâ€™s Architecture â– The
cytoskeleton of mammalian cells that allows them to push and pull on their surroundings
pushing and pulling on their microenvironment rather than as static objects like water droplets, whose movement is dictated by external forces. Recent time-lapse images have captured how skin cells pull on fibres as they migrate through a matrix. When they encounter a weak fibre they let go and attach to another fibre thereby weaving their way through the construct. This observation suggests that skin cells migrate towards areas of high stiffness and are thought to have implications on scar formation and tumour progression, which are much stiffer than healthy tissue. Looking Ahead Cell biology was shaped by the development of enabling technologies in the 20th century. Likewise, mechanobiology will rely on the invention of new and sophisticated tools. The recent devel-
Molecules and proteins cannot fully explain every pathway, and so biologists have begun to reconsider forces opment of biophysical tools, such as magnetic tweezers, will be key to understanding mechanotransduction mechanisms. Magnetic tweezers are capable of applying piconewton forces to surfaces, that is one trillionth of a newton, and can be used to probe cells to observe their biochemical response. Although much work is yet to be done in the field of mechanobiology, forces are being used to promote tissue regeneration in the clinic and have shown promising results. For example, over 200,000 amputations have been prevented through the development of a technique called Vacuum Assisted Closure Therapy. Healing is enhanced by placing a sponge-like material over the wound and applying a cyclic force to the sponge using an oscillating suction pump. Patients undergoing this treatment show enhanced blood vessel generation and cell division due to the micromechanical stimulation of cells. Forces dominate activities such as breathing and blood flow, but have been shown to play an important role in all cellular functions. Rather than considering forces as a specialised case in biology they should be regarded as an essential part of biological function. With the development of enabling technologies, mechanobiology may dominate the twenty-first century similar to the molecular biology revolution that took place over the past 50 years. â– Tyler Grant studies for a D.Phil in Biomedical Engineering at Christ Church College.
Also: Education Reform in Malaysia ■ Sexuality in America
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The American Dream ■ Summed up in an SUV? The US and Government
Driving Perceptions Conor Dinan
What lies beneath American perceptions of government?
HERE is nothing more American than the car. That, at least, is how Americans themselves see it. Car ownership, surprisingly perhaps, is less widespread than in Germany, but has a hallowed cultural niche that is shared by few other societies. The car is a symbol not just of rugged individualism, but of American ingenuity and the genius of capitalism. The interstate system is the pride and joy of American infrastructure. Speed cameras have not really caught on, and they ignite a firestorm of public resistance wherever they are introduced. Local and state elections hang on issues of traffic flow. When President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, some Republicans depicted the Manhattanite solicitor-general as less than fully American because she hadn’t learned to drive until her late twenties. The car is a cultural obsession. Ever since Eisenhower built the interstates and mass car-ownership opened the suburbs, the US has found its national identity in its cars and the world it built around them. It is the country that invented the drive-thru, and this car culture is no less robust today. The car you drive is a reflection of your personal identity. The wealthy drive luxury vehicles, but it is more than a question of rich and poor. Hippies drove Volkswagen vans. Rednecks drive pick-up trucks, generously festooned with bumper stickers. Suburban mothers drive minivans. Macho conservatives drive SUVs and Hummers while their tree-hugging liberal counterparts drive hybrids. An American’s car is his guarantee of independence and self-sufficiency. Americans can, and mostly do, get their driving licenses at sixteen or younger. Doing so is a major rite of passage; in Virginia, it
involves a court ceremony. Getting one’s first car, of course, is an even bigger milestone. To an American car-owner, his vehicle is the perfect bundle of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Devilish DMV Its antithesis is a state-level bureaucratic outpost generically known as the Department of Motor Vehicles. The organisations vary from state to state, but the initials DMV are the universal shorthand for a shared national dread. The DMV is stereotypically a labyrinth of forms and queues, staffed by unhelpful pen-pushers. It is synonymous with government inefficiency and with the sort of bureaucratic foibles that the average Republican – perhaps the average American – probably imagines going on in Washington, on a much greater scale. This connection is especially noteworthy because the American right’s narrative of small government and the free market can be retold effectively in automotive terms. The average American is a decent, hard-working man who is therefore rewarded by the magic of the markets. This income he owes to nothing: not his race, education or sheer good fortune, but it is instead a product of
To an American carowner, his vehicle is the perfect bundle of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness his own virtue. This is an article of faith not just for Republican politicians but the large Calvinist section of American Christianity. So, he ventures forth and purchases that great symbol of the American way – a car. The DMV has no role but villainy. Already, some distant abstraction called “the gum’mint” has limited his choice with its bogus emissions standards and safety regulation. The DMV punishes his productive work, diluting the rewards the market has earmarked for him by making him queue for hours, fill out
One and the Same ■ The
American image of its own government?
forms, register for things, acquire insurance, pass inspections and pay substantial taxes. All that seems to come of this is a class of condescending bureaucrats living off his toil. State Stories To be fair, the DMV is not a focal point for right-wing rage. For one thing, it is run at the state level, so is outside federal politics. For another, the need for its services is self-evident, and the sense of freedom lost is far outweighed by the day-to-day danger of a world without its safeguards. Still, when Americans across the land rally in their millions against the spectre of growing government, one cannot but sense that for many of them, l’etat, c’est le DMV and that semi-consciously this underpins all their perceptions of government. This narrative is somewhat flawed. The government builds and polices the roads. Moreover, if our imaginary American is publicly employed or works for a private contractor to any appendage of any government, if he has had any public education, if his line of work relies on using roads or highways or if, indeed, he has the luxury of discretionary spending now because his retirement plans are partly eased by Social Security and Medicare, then he has been enriched by his government at every step of the way. This connects to a much broader national issue. Republican politicians promise to reduce the size of government, and it is easy to see how the upper classes would stand to benefit. ►
► Antisocial Services
Furthermore, Medicare and Social Security constitute a political third rail. Voters tend to compartmentalise, a tendency reinforced by the echo-chamber qualities of the right-wing media. To those at the Republican base, an attack on Medicare is an attack on them, but the connection between tax cuts and the country’s dismal public schools, for example, is not made. Instead, these voters support an ideology that promises to ‘create wealth’ that will mainly be amassed by the well-to-do, by destroying the actual pillars of the nation’s prosperity: the public schools and universities, the highways and airports and railroads, the pristine environment and the major effort in the last half-century to eliminate poverty and prejudice. Yet as all these assets crumble, one imagines that the great American people will hold only one thing responsible: the pesky, evil government, with its forms, regulations and the seemingly endless queues at the DMV. ■ Conor Dinan studies Turkish and Islamic Studies at Wadham College. Education Reform in Malaysia
The Once and Past King Tessa Dagley An “historic” hero faces review in the evolution of an egalitarian multiethnic society
N the cosmopolitan entrepôt of 15th century Malacca, a city on the west coast of today’s Malaysia, a Malay warrior slew his closest – yet increasingly seditious – friend, to emphasize his own loyalty to the Sultan. Some 500 years later, this story of Hang Tuah – immortalised in his Hikayat – is causing intellectual, political and ethnic unease in contemporary Malaysia. Having been celebrated in film and taught in schools as the locus of Muslim-Malay mores, the warrior’s story was categorically refuted in January by Professor Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim, historian and Chancellor of KDU University College, as nothing more than a myth. All Historians Now In the last year, the Malaysian education system has undergone major review. In April the National Education Dialogue was created to gather perspectives from all levels of society on how to improve teaching and learning. Encouraged by the Minister of Education, and in conjunction with UNESCO, this dialogue aims
Gabriel Sai via Flickr
Just a story? ■ Hang Tuah holds childhood friend Hang Jebat after being forced to end his killing spree
to cultivate a new generation of globally competitive Malaysians. In the midst of discussions, History, a subject pursued by a very small minority, is enjoying heightened attention. In May 2011, the Ministry of Education declared that it should be a “must-pass” subject in secondary schools from 2013, while scholars and NGOs concurrently launched a campaign for “A Truly Malaysian History”. Its spokesman, Dr Lim Tek Ghee, Director of the Centre of Policy Initiatives, called for immediate actions to “ensure a broad and balanced perspective of major civilisations and events”, for “accurate historical facts of Malaysia’s historical development” and for the “fair recognition to the contribution of all communities”. All this seems reasonable. Nonetheless it raises questions about the inclusion in school textbooks of the Hang Tuah story – a melange of fact and fiction, suffused with the supernatural, and hitherto intrinsic to Malay, but not national Malaysian, identity. As soon as Professor Khoo aired his views, Facebook and Twitter erupted in furious debates. One tweet pointed out how Chinese-sounding Tuah’s name is. Another questioned the written record of Adam and Eve. Academics, such as the National Laureate, Dr Muhammad Salleh, retaliated with assertions that Tuah was an irrefutably historical figure, appearing 128 times in six chapters in the Malay Annals. Meanwhile, a group claiming to be the Hang Tuah’s descendants announced that only they knew the ‘real account’ of the famed admiral, based on ownership of an ancient Jawi script passed though the generations. Nation and Narration After independence in 1957, there was a struggle for post-imperial control in the new Malaysia. The Malays, under the auspices of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), have been the
dominant political body of the last 40 years, with bumiputera status since the 1970s (after the racial riots of 1969). As “sons of the soil”, they have enjoyed advantages in education and politics, to the chagrin of other ethnic groups. The myth of Hang Tuah, along with his maxim, “Malays will never vanish from the face of the earth”, had since gained rising resonance, though the story has provided a moral reference point, teaching humility and bravery. On a darker level, it has fuelled nationalist convictions. Following the country’s Islamisation in the 1980s under Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Hang Tuah story became ever more sacrosanct in national history teaching. The process of Islamisation – consolidating links with the wider Islamic world, solidifying the predominance of Muslim values in public life, and improving the economic position of the Malays (while, for example, curbing the establishment of non-Muslim places of worship) – provoked the reassertion of racial identity. Paradoxically it emulated the model of colonial Malaya, when the British sought to separate the Malays, Chinese and Indians into distinct groups to cement their own authority. Even amid recent Bersih (literally, ‘clean’) demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur in April, where Malaysians of all races demanded electoral reform, the Hang Tuah story was invoked. The opinion of Mohammad Salim, a 51-year old fish breeder from Lingga has been particularly highlighted in the local press. Like other Malays living on the island, he endorsed the race “advancement” efforts of Mahathir and of the present Prime Minister Najib. Salim envies his privileged fellow Malays on the paeninsula, and tells them to take strength from Tuah’s words, rather than engaging in public protest. Nationalist Symbols Reconsidered Does it matter if this warrior - who ►
Trinity 2012 ► incidentally doubled as a globe-trotting
diplomat – was real or not? The only truth is that no-one knows for sure. What is most fascinating is Hang Tuah’s place in the national psyche, not in his Tanjung Kling Mausoleum. In this way, Dr Noor has again suggested that the vociferously partisan are missing the point: as a universal figure only recently claimed by one group for political purposes, Hang Tuah deserves to rise above petty squabbles. Perhaps a positive consequence of the brouhaha surrounding Hang Tuah has been the stimulation of “scholarly” discussion, as a New Straits Times editorial suggested. After all, this is what history should be about. Hang Tuah does
not need to be consigned to the historical dustbin. Rather, the warrior’s symbolism should be incorporated in myriad identities – a reflection of Malaysia’s richly diverse culture. What this case underlines is the need for healthy scepticism – and, fundamentally, the need for society to allow myth to coexist with history. All nations need symbols. But in illuminating the power of history, the Hang Tuah debate ultimately reveals the necessity of dialogue – especially in the quest for educational reform. ■ William Barns-Graham studies Philosophy and Theology at Regent’s Park College.
Sexuality in America
Manning the Military Douglas Sloan
Attitudes to homosexuality in the American armed forces and the implications of Bradley Manning’s trial
N the same day that President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, an openly homosexual American solider experienced his 714th day of incarceration. He had not been convicted of any crime. Bradley Manning, the alleged Wikileaks informer, has been in custody since May 2010, and was in solitary confinement for nine months. What is most striking about the case, however, is the degree to which it has been sexualised. Not only have Manning’s reputation and credibility been attacked using his homosexuality, but his defence centres on the assertion that he struggled with gender identity issues. As a result of having to suppress his homosexuality due to the prevailing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, Manning’s defence deems that he was not mentally fit to be given access to classified information, and as such the blame for the leak lies with his superiors. That homosexuality can be considered a defence in such a case seems to
The administration’s support for samesex marriage seems almost like a natural progression undermine both the work done by LGBT rights groups and the progress that the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ represents. To view it as a plea of homosexuality, however, is to misunderstand the issue at hand. Manning’s defence is more one of aggravated mental disturbance than of sexuality, for all this aggravation
Colin Dunn via Flickr
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ■ The flag of the United States juxtaposed with the LGBT flag
was a consequence of his sexuality and the military’s reaction to it. Questions must be asked of an institution that drove a man to such extremes that he would go for a weapons rack during a counselling session, send pictures of himself in women’s dress to his commanding officer and potentially leak thousands of sensitive documents. Whether he was responsible for the leak or not, his situation hardly reflects well on the American military. A Brave New World? For the Obama administration, this is not the time for embarrassing indictments of intolerance in the military to come to light. Following the landmark repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, Obama has taken a pro-LGBT stance on the Defence of Marriage Act, the Hate Crimes Protection Act, the Affordable Care Act, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In this light, the administration’s support for same-sex marriage seems almost like a natural progression. Judging by the action it has taken, the administration certainly seems to be trying to promote a pro-LGBT agenda, and the rhetoric of its leading politicians underlines this stance. In a recent statement, Obama promised Americans that “together we can continue to build the more perfect union, in which LGBT Americans have the same legal rights and responsibilities as every American”. Hillary Clinton, in an address to the United Nations last December, described the issue of LGBT rights as “one of the
remaining human rights challenges of our time”. There appear, then, to be both an awareness of the problems at hand and the political will to devote time and resources to solving them. Yet there are still misgivings as to how genuine the White House’s progressive sentiment may prove to be. Obama’s line on his “evolving” stance towards LGBT issues does not sound entirely convincing. His Vice President, Joe Biden, has claimed that a similar change of heart lies behind his recently declared support for same-sex marriage. The string of fundraising events following Obama’s announcement will have done nothing to dissuade cynics, who see the administration as chasing votes and funds for November’s presidential election. The night after the announcement was made, Obama attended a fundraising party at George Clooney’s Los Angeles home that was reportedly expected to raise US$15 million (£9.76 million). Whether this is seen as cashing in on a fashionable political stance, or as procuring the necessary monetary support for a radical and progressive position to make a difference in reality, it does not paint Obama’s decision in the most flattering of lights. A Rainbow Nation In March, an American solider raised the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement over a military base in Afghanistan. A photo of the event was posted on Facebook, and was almost instantly picked up by anti-LGBT groups and websites. An event that could have symbolised increased military tolerance and progressive feeling instead became the target for homophobic vitriol. In a way, this incident highlights America’s greatest problem regarding LGBT issues – that of ingrained prejudice. Given that homosexuality has only been legal in every state since 2003, America has come a long way. Led by progressive action and declarations of intent from the top of the political establishment, much has been done to aid the LGBT cause through legislation and education. What is lacking, though, is action that truly changes the deep-seated prejudice evident in some quarters. Dan Choi, an LGBT activist who was himself discharged from the army on the grounds of his sexuality, declared that Manning “is not the one on trial, the United States of America is on trial”. America has undoubtedly taken much needed steps along the path to equality. When Bradley Manning goes on trial, America will discover how far along that path it stands. ■ Douglas Sloan studies History Economics at Pembroke College.
Also: International Criminal Court
acon online via Flickr
Using Royalty for Good ■ Prince Gohil speaks at a HIV prevention conference Homosexuality in the Monarchy
Queens, Crowns and Comparative Silence James Hunt
An insight into the hidden lives of homosexuals in today’s Royalty
N 1967, Queen Elizabeth II gave royal assent to the Sexual Offences Act. She thereby lifted the ban on homosexual acts between two men that had shackled homosexuals to the fear of blackmail and imprisonment since 1885. This would provide momentum for the LGBT movement that has since championed the welfare of sexual minorities across much of the Western world. Homosexual acts in private were no longer forbidden and would eventually begin to shed their taboo. Yet how far was the article that the Queen signed in 1967 applicable to her own family? With one in ten of the British population estimated to be gay, it is easy to recognise the immediate benefits of legal toleration of homosexuality in the private sphere. Yet when the monarchy, by definition, remains a public institution, how far are members of the Royal family at liberty to live out their sexual identities – a right held for decades by the private subjects whom they continue to represent?
At times monarchies appear to be at the mercy of their government and citizens Contradictory Messages Most modern-day monarchies operate within a legislative limbo. They remain at the very pinnacle of the power hierarchy, symbolic heads of state, yet without the means necessary to implement their will. At times monarchies appear to be at the mercy of their government and citizens. As national communities herald the rights of their LGBT citizens royal heads of state remain ostentatiously mute. Of course, scandals persist in the wake of royal silence. Stories of kings taking male consorts date back to Edward II’s reign in the 14th century, while King James’ intimacy with the Earl of Lennox
was widely acknowledged. More recently, Prince Edward in 1990 was forced to emphatically deny he was gay after being confronted by a deluge of media speculation in Britain and across the Atlantic. He has since married and divorced. This year, the high profile conviction of Saudi Prince Bin Nasser al Saud for murdering his male servant and lover Bandal Abdulaziz was fraught with revelations of the Prince’s clandestine gay lifestyle - away from prying eyes and regal responsibilities in Riyadh. While most agree the prince will remain immune from prosecution in Saudi Arabia following his UK gaol term, Bin Nasser al Saud notably attempted to convince the jury of the existence of a girlfriend rather than to profess his innocence. Ironically, it is the Saud family’s absolute decree that homosexuality remains a capital offence that has led one of its members to deny his sexual identity so fervently. Saudi Arabia is thankfully an exception in LGBT welfare. Yet the presence of a gay prince in a family who aid the demonization of homosexuals in Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi legal institutions exposes the folly that royalty equates to moral superiority. Since openly gay politicians occupy the upper echelons of governments in countries such as Britain and Sweden, Alan Duncan and Andreas Carlgren acting as respective examples, it is clear that sexual minorities are present in the powerful classes of constitutional monarchies. Systematic Obstacles Yet when monarchs have ‘come out’, what has been the reaction from their subjects? In the cases of an Italian and an Indian prince, who both declared their homosexuality in the early 2000s, the response was negative. The mother of Indian royal Mavendhra Singh Gohil attempted to disinherit
the princeling of his wealth and title after he disclosed his sexuality in 2006. A small mob of traditionalists also burnt his effigy in the streets of Rajpipla. Gohil has been recognised by the LGBT movement across the world for his promotion of LGBT issues in the Indian public sphere. He is chairman of the Lakshya trust, and has managed to reach out to 18,000 men living with HIV in India’s gay and transgendered communities through his patronage of the charity. While he laments the hostile reaction by some of his citizens, he feels that he has managed to retain the popularity of the people in light of coming out through his charity work raising awareness for HIV/AIDS. Likewise, the Italian Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj is an active supporter of LGBT rights in conservative Italy. A high-profile court case with his sister Princess Gesine Doria Pamphilj has occupied Italian tabloid coverage. Princess Gesine, a devout Catholic, has raised issue with the inheritance of their estate to his two adopted children, arguing that it is illegitimate under Italian law. Ironically, Gesine and her brother were both adopted by their mother, the late Princess Orietta, in the early 1960s. Interestingly the Italian tabloid press have reveled in the scandal of the two sibling’s estrangement instead of adopting a condemnatory line against the Prince’s adoption. Rome is interested rather than repulsed by the actions of Prince Jonathan. Prince Gohil has similarly announced plans to adopt a child in 2008. If he succeeds, he will become the first openly gay man to adopt a child in India, raising very important implications for royal succession. A Future for Monarchy Monarchies continue to be predicated upon blood connections. Crowns pass from father to son: dynasties remain in gene pools. When the survival of modern-day monarchies depend upon public popularity, royal adoptions that are considered both illegitimate and morally reprehensible by largely conservative populations such as in Rajpipla, could spell disaster for royal families. ►
But perhaps monarchies will begin to find that as a new generation of royal subjects, who are increasingly sensible of LGBT issues, come of age, kings and queens will have to alter their public images accordingly. Queen Elizabeth II has revealed how “like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and
wayward youngsters and of family disagreements”. Royalty remains at its core a family affair and monarchs should put the welfare of their gay siblings, children and relations before efforts to maintain an illusion of sexual uniformity. That would surely be a display of regal virtue. ■ James Hunt studies English at LMH.
International Criminal Court
A New Imperialism? Leonie Amarasekara
As yet another African leader is held to account, the spotlight is on the institutions administering international justice
N 26th April, Charles Taylor was convicted for aiding and abetting war crimes and for crimes against humanity before the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Taylor is the first head of state to have been tried to completion before an international court, death by natural causes and assassinations having snatched others prior to their hearings. In its short life, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted 27 Africans from seven countries. These statistics have led to accusations of neocolonialism from the African Union (AU). As institutional legitimacy is inherently linked with public perception, it may be a death knell for the ICC if the AUs suspicions are found to have a basis. What is the ICC? The phenomenon of international criminalisation has proliferated international justice mechanisms. The ICC is a permanent court, situated in The Hague. Established in 2002 via the Rome Statute, it prosecutes individuals for four internationally recognised crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. The ICC is a court of last resort, acting only when a national government lacks the will or capacity to prosecute. Case-selection occurs via three referrals: by state parties, the Security Council or the Chief Prosecutor. International law depends on state consent, thereby the ICC’s jurisdiction is confined to states that have ratified the Rome Statute; the number stands at 121, which does not include the US and other powerful states. It is an inexplicable irony that Africa is blessed with an abundance of potential, yet is blighted by individuals who manifest humanity’s greatest follies. Justice for victims is undeniably one of the ICC’s aspirations. ICC involvement in Darfur, for example, is the paradigm of what the court ought to be investigating.
tlupic via Flickr
A Different Tack ■ Supporters of Charles Taylor demonstrate the controversial nature of ICC work The incumbent Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has stated, “all of the victims [in ICC cases] are African victims… they’re the ones who are suffering these crimes”. On this view, the geographical consistency may be justified. Dapo Akande, Oxford Lecturer in Public International Law and one of the AUs consultants on the ICC, believes that a case-by-case analysis is required. In the cases of Sudan and Libya, African members of the Security Council voted unanimously for referral; moreover, three of the African cases brought before the ICC have been selfreferred, indicating cooperation. But perhaps the crucial question is, ‘who has not been prosecuted?’ Although the ICC cannot be expected to prosecute every crime, it is undeniable that there are atrocities worthy of prosecution which remain unaccounted. It is safe to say that no Russian leader will ever appear before an international court for Chechnyan war crimes. The same is perhaps true of China and Tibet, Gaza, or US and British generals for alleged war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is certainly not for want of heinous crimes that the ICC’s caseload has such a narrow focus.
If we aspire towards grassroots healing, the ICC model is not ideal The Fiction of International Justice Politics is inextricably bound in case-selection. The key battleground is Security Council referral. The interests of powerful Security Council members, such as the USA, can influence the ICC’s caseload, whilst essentially remaining beyond the court’s reach. This perpetuates a chronic double standard. We have an ostensibly international court, without global jurisdiction. International criminal justice is not
blind to the considerations of powerful states but is dependent on their support. The EU contributes 60% of the court’s funds and the US has the capacity to influence decisions despite its lack of ratification. We cannot expect the US or NATO to be so frank as to state that Libyan intervention was influenced by Libya being Africa’s fourth-largest oil producer, or that it rests on an expanse of freshwater, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer. The official line is humanitarian protection ICC defenders may argue that the problem lies with the Security Council, not the Court. However, by virtue of the Council channelling cases to the ICC, it becomes the court’s problem. Possible Solutions Courtenay Griffiths QC (lead defence counsel for Taylor) in an interview for The Oxonian Globalist, stated that “the ICC is trying to be universal at a time the world is not ready for global jurisdiction”. He argues that the AU should have its own international court. An African Court on Human and Political Rights already exists, but the grounds for the AU to break from the ICC have led to proposals of extending the court’s jurisdiction to international crimes. Yet this is the third jurisdictional amendment and the court has still not been ratified. If we aspire towards grassroots healing, the ICC model is not ideal. The Hague is detached from local communities; the distancing effect breeds suspicions of imposing Western legal traditions on Africa. Moreover, as only a select few are prosecuted in the ICC, the process is often criticised as contrived. To counter these issues, there could be greater emphasis on community justice, such as the gacaca courts in Rwanda. They should not be adopted to the exclusion of international tribunals, but they are worthy of fresh focus. It is a stretch to say that the ICC is part of a new scramble for Africa, but with its wealth of potential, Africa is a source of mercenary interest for the international community. The selection of African cases and non-selection of others are symptomatic of a deeper issue. There is a nexus between international law and politics, suggesting that objective justice might never be a reality. Our focus should be on strengthening local mechanisms, equipping them to facilitate progress away from past atrocities. Though the Taylor case has marked a milestone for Sierra Leone, this is not the first time an African leader has been subject to the international legal order. It will certainly not be the last. ■ Leonie Amarasekara studies Law at Exeter College.