Clampdown!

It’s hard sometimes to get the balance right. When it comes to the subject of December’s Big Story on the authoritarian assault on democratic rights around the world, one is in danger of being swamped by negativity.

To balance, we sought out an example of a fertile political space with a record of creative alternative-building. Catalonia seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Whatever the ultimate results of the current independence struggle, Catalans have a proud record of building radical democratic alternatives especially in their economic lives.

As the number of examples of state and corporate assault on the right to dissent mount it becomes crucial to build effective coalitions to defend our basic rights. This issue of the magazine is a contribution to the effort to do just that.

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Included in this issue

Environmentalists killings: Indigenous and other activists gather in front of the Honduran embassy in London in response to the murder of anti-dam campaigner Berta Cáceres in 2016.

Defame, criminalize, murder

How environment defenders are being stopped in the Global South. Leny Olivera and Sian Cowman report from Latin America.

Shrinking political space: the current clampdown on popular rights mirrors a profound malaise with our system of top-down political representation.

Whose streets? The clampdown on popular rights

Across the world political space is shrinking. Richard Swift explains how and why.

Artist Kaya Mar with his satirical portrait Erdoğan, the Turkish Sun King – after France’s absolute monarch Louis XVI.

How Turkey’s citizens lost their rights

The low-down from Turkish writer and analyst Hakki Mahfuz on the country’s crackdown.

Turkey political prisoners: Turkish riot police crack down on people protesting against the purge of academics, outside Ankara University.

İştar Gözaydın: from lectern to prison

Academic İştar Gözaydın’s first-hand experiences of the clampdown in Turkey.

Colonizing civil society

Colonizing civil society

Political strategists brainstorm ways to remove democratic impediments to their bosses’ plans.

Catalonia background: Catalan revolutionaries get ready for action to defend their revolution from Franco back in 1936.

Homage to Catalonia

Taking the long view of fearless resistance. By Kevin Buckland, writing from Barcelona.

University students from the Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance resist police using water cannons during a protest in Jakarta, 1 December 2016. University students from the Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance resist police using water cannons during a protest in Jakarta, 1 December 2016. West Papua petition

‘Every signature was an act of courage’

How did West Papuan campaigners build a 1.8 million-strong petition despite Indonesian repression? By Danny Chivers.

ELN interview: Guerrilla leader Pablo Beltrán of Colombia’s ELN talks to Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín

Guerrillas gamble for peace

‘Each person must say we won’t do this again.’ Guerrilla leader Pablo Beltrán of Colombia’s ELN talks to Mónica del Pilar Uribe...

World’s largest coalmine: Protesters, including First Nations people, blocking the road to Adani’s Abbot Point coal port.

Plan for Australia’s largest coal mine faces struggle

Australia’s Adani mine must be stopped, argue Tom Anderson and Eliza Egret.

Mel Brooks recently spoke against politically correct comedy.

When comedy sides with tyranny

More dull old men have recently told us that political correctness ruins culture, echoing Donald Trump. Chris Coltrane writes.

A profile photo of Nithin Sawhney, by Suki Dhanda

A word with Nitin Sawhney

The British-Indian musician on colonialism, music and being ‘someone who gives a shit’. By Subi Shah.

Mark Engler on sexual violence today in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Jürgen Fälchle/Alamy

Confronting a culture of sexual violence

We need organizing and mass mobilization to make it a thing of the past, writes Mark Engler.

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