Terry Glavin here speaks of how he was attracted to Normblog and offers some reflections on the work of Norman Geras, particularly citing the 9/11 incident and the terror against the Afghan democrats by the United States. By the time Norm's conversations evolved into the Euston Manifesto, Norm's helpfulness and the significance of his work was made plain in the way the modest document was greeted with such livid fury from so many on the left. If there is a single point when it can be said that the left's hegemonic narrative for the coming years was inaugurated, that the die was fatally cast and the primary expression of left-wing activism for more than a decade was set in motion, there is no better marker than 18 October 2001. Norm Geras's writings and commentary retain a surprisingly vivid and prescient sense about them all these years later.
This chapter presents the text of the 2006 Euston Manifesto, in which Geras outlines the principles for a democratic and anti-authoritarian left-wing politics. The initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the 'blogosphere'. The broad statement of principles that are outlined is a declaration of intent. The initiative sets forth that leftists must define themselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic 'anti-imperialism' and/or hostility to the US administration. The values and goals which properly make up that agenda i.e. the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression, are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.
This book is a series of 'remarks' and 'sketches', which together form a mosaic to show how the use of the referendum followed a strict, almost Hegelian pattern of the 'unfolding of freedom' throughout the ages. It outlines how referendums have been used in Britain and abroad, presenting some of the arguments for and against this institution. The book commences with an outline of the world history of the referendum from the French Revolution to the present day, and then discusses the British experience up to 2010. The book examines the referendum on European Economic Community membership in 1975, considering the alternative vote referendum in 2011 and the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. Next, the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in 2016, especially the campaign leading up to it, is discussed. After the analysis of the Brexit referendum, the book touches on the Maltese referendum on divorce in 2011. It summarises some of the trends and tendencies in the use of the referendum internationally, highlighting that Britain is not a unique case in holding referendums. The book shows that, notwithstanding the general assumptions about referendums, these are not usually associated with demagogues and populism, but the referendum has tended to be used as a constitutional safeguard. However, in Britain, a country without a formal written constitution, these safeguards were not in place. For the referendum to work, for this institution to be a constitutional safeguard, it must be a people's shield and not the government's sword.
This chapter deals with the British referendums in the 1970s and beyond. It looks at the referendum on EEC membership that took place in the mid-1970s and the history lessons learnt from the 1975 referendum. The chapter discusses Harold Wilson's renegotiation of the EEC membership and the referendum which saw 67.2 per cent voted for Britain to stay in Europe. David Cameron held two referendums and presided over a third. In 2011 the questions were devolution to Wales and whether to replace the first-past-the-post electoral system with the alternative vote, and three years later in 2014 it was the issue of Scottish independence. Britishers voted that Welsh Assembly could pass primary legislation, that the existing electoral system be retained and that Scotland remains in the United Kingdom.
Over time the nature of lobbying in the UK has changed. Coalition and minority governments provide a range of lobbying targets, and assessing the balance of forces within government becomes more difficult. This chapter examines how lobbying is carried out. It discusses how lobbyists frame or define a policy issue and challenge existing framings, the initative taken by governments to consult stakeholders and the increasing use of actions taken by court and judicial reviews of government decisions. The chapter explores the role of social media in revolutionising lobbying and the forming of advocacy coalitions by campaigning organisations to enhance their influence. It also discusses influencing of the European Union (EU) as more decisions are taken by the EU when compared to those of individual member countries.
It is remarkable that many have discerned, with the emergency of the materialist conception of history, a dismissal by Marx of the idea of human nature. The German Ideology, expressly criticizes the mistake of those who, ignoring what it terms the 'real basis of history', thereby exclude from the historical process 'the relation of man to nature', create an 'antithesis of nature and history'. At one point it echoes a passage from The Holy Family just in emphasizing nature's internal and external dimensions. In this chapter, Geras shows how the materialist usage of 'powers of human nature', 'natural desires', 'natural character' plays an important role in the formulation of Marx's theory of history, showcasing the concepts and arguments placed in these two works and the Theses on Feuerbach. The Holy Family is an 'early' work; it antedates historical materialism, while The German Ideology itself proposes the theory of historical materialism.
The principle of humanitarian intervention stands not only at the origin of the offence of crimes against humanity, but also on the other side of its arriving at maturity, so to say, in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The question of humanitarian intervention is posed when crimes against humanity, crimes according to jus cogens norms are being widely committed. In this chapter, Geras addresses two questions pertaining to the existence of a scale threshold for humanitarian intervention. The first of them tests whether such a threshold is relevant in every instance, and suggests that sometimes, for atypical cases, it may not be. The second question asks whether, even in the case that a scale threshold is relevant, it needs to be set as high as it conventionally is. There are a number of requirements standardly held to constrain the would-be intervening power or coalition of powers.
Although there are controversies about the UN Security Council making binding general international law, this should not disguise the fact that the UN General Assembly has been hugely influential in shaping international law since 1948. This chapter explores institutional lawmaking in the modern era, looking in detail at the impact of General Assembly Resolutions on outer space in the 1960s and the WHO's Health Regulations. Both the General Assembly Resolutions and the WHO's Health Regulations are shown to be international laws in their own right and that they are paradigmatic of UN lawmaking more generally. The chapter examines whether inter-governmental organisations, in exercising their autonomous competence, have the potential to produce laws in their own right, irrespective of whether their output feeds into the traditional sources, such as treaties, custom or general principles, of international law.
This chapter defines and explains an inter-governmental organisation (IGO) and argues that the United Nations (UN) is paradigmatic of this genre. A contrast is made with other forms of organisation, particularly the supranational integration organisation. The chapter also defines the law of international organisations as the law governing, applicable to, and produced by, such organisations, and explains how this is best studied through a focus on the UN and related IGOs. It explores how law and politics work within the UN and helps the reader to understand how to identify and apply the law, and to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the law. The chapter concludes with a case study drawn from the practice of the Security Council involving the exercise of the veto to distinguish when practice is a valid interpretation or development of the law, and when it is a breach.
This chapter addresses the legal construction that helps to answer the question of how the UN and inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) are separate and autonomous i.e. independent of member states, when member states have created IGOs and sit and vote in their organs. It reminds the reader about the possibility of creation of separate, abstract legal entities, such as clubs, societies, corporations, and states. In international law there needs to be an assessment of whether IGOs are legal subjects of the international legal order, thereby having international legal personality, separate from the states. The chapter presents the International Court's advisory opinion in the Reparations case, which was in favour of the UN possessing international legal personality, with the concomitant right to bring claims against states.