This introduction covers some key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. In parliamentary systems, referendums are redundant as by seeking a simplistic binary yes/no answer to complex questions, they succumb to emotion and run amok. The book explores whether there more referendums now than in the past, whether that has made the world become more democratic. It examines whether referendums are linked with the growth in social movements in recent years and whether there is a tendency to use alternative channels to challenge the status quo. It also examines whether there is the undeniable prominence of referendums undermining representative democracy. The book outlines the world history of the referendum, and analyses the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence and the 2016 vote on the UK's membership to the EU, and summarises some of the trends and tendencies in the use of the referendum internationally.
The phrase 'what's there is there' is taken from a 13 May 2009 blogpost by Norman Geras on the subject of Karl Marx's antisemitism. Many Marxists have been, at best, unwilling to deal with these less savoury aspects of Marx's thought and character. Much of the work of Geras involved significant dissent from the Marxist tradition in which he located himself, precisely because unvarnished honesty prevented him from glossing over the many troubling ideas and notions that, simply, are there. The willingness to draw out the good in liberalism from a Marxist standpoint was one key reason for the distinctiveness of Geras's approach to modern political theory. Normblog, launched by Geras in 2003, demonstrated how Geras, as a Marxist, took on the shibboleths of the postmodern left, and in particular the relativism whose malign influence he had noted when writing his book on Marx's conception of human nature.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book makes it clear that the law of international organisations is dominated by the united nations (UN). It defines and explains inter-governmentalism and the role of law in its regulation. The book presents a number of case studies that shows how the law works within an institutional order dominated by politics. The case studies highlight the debates that surround even the most basic legal issues; the furore surrounding the membership application of Palestine to join the UN, or the UN's claim to immunity in Haiti where it has been responsible for a catastrophic outbreak of cholera. The book also shows that law plays a significant role in curbing excesses and the abuse of power, as well as facilitating the channelling of power to achieve those purposes.
The term 'lobbying' derives from the particular location in which the activity supposedly takes place, the parliamentary or legislative lobby. In practice, most lobbying takes place elsewhere: in government offices, in restaurants or online. This chapter presents the arguments in favour of and against lobbying. The expansion and greater sophistication of lobbying makes the task of government more difficult. Lobbyists make demands of government, but they do not provide solutions. One solution that was advanced in the past was to incorporate pressure groups into the business of government. Government cannot satisfy all the demands made by lobbyists, but it may seem to be particularly susceptible to those made by corporate interests. This can undermine citizen confidence in the capacity of government and hence in the democratic process.
International organisations are a central component of modern international society. This book provides a concise account of the principles and norms of international law applicable to the intergovernmental organisation (IGO). It defines and explains inter-governmentalism and the role of law in its regulation. The book presents case studies that show how the law works within an institutional order dominated by politics. After a note on the key relationship between the IGO and its member states, it examines the basic relationship between the UN and states in terms of membership through admissions, withdrawal, expulsion, suspension, and representation. The debate about the extent of the doctrine of legal powers is addressed through case studies. Institutional lawmaking in the modern era is discussed with particular focus on at the impact of General Assembly Resolutions on outer space and the Health Regulations of the World Health Organization. Non-forcible measures adopted by the UN and similar IGOs in terms of their legality (constitutionality and conformity to international law), legitimacy and effectiveness, is covered next. The different military responses undertaken by IGOs, ranging from observation and peacekeeping, to peace enforcement and war-fighting, are discussed in terms of legality and practice. The book also considers the idea of a Responsibility to Protect and the development of secondary rules of international law to cover the wrongful acts and omissions of IGOs. It ends with a note on how the primary and secondary rules of international law are upheld in different forms and mechanisms of accountability, including courts.
This chapter discusses what makes the constituent treaty of the United Nations (UN) and similar inter-governmental organisations different from many other treaties so that it is appropriate to use the term constitution in relation to such treaties, although the legitimacy and strength of such constitutions varies. In a minimal sense, the UN Charter constitutes, or establishes, an organisation with organs possessing legal powers and members with rights and duties, justifying the use of the term 'constitution'. The chapter also discusses the constitutional features of the UN Charter, including the debates surrounding the so-called 'supremacy clause' of the UN Charter contained in Article 103. It presents two case studies featuring judicial decisions on the primacy of UN obligations by the International Court of Justice in the Lockerbie cases of 1992 and 1998, and the European Court of Human Rights in the Al-Jedda case of 2011, to illustrate the controversies surrounding constitutionalism.
The term 'lobbying' derives from the particular location in which the activity supposedly takes place, the parliamentary or legislative lobby. In practice, most lobbying takes place elsewhere: in government offices, in restaurants or online. This book presents the arguments in favour of and against lobbying. It deals with the various types of lobbyists prevalent in Britain: insider groups, outsider groups, business lobbyists, and commercial lobbyists. The renewable energy industry and the alcohol industry are examples of associations engaging in business lobbying. The book examines how lobbying is carried out, how lobbyists frame or define a policy issue and challenge existing framings, the initative taken by governments to consult stakeholders, the role of social media in revolutionising lobbying, and the forming of advocacy coalitions. It considers three case studies of lobbying in action: the campaign to reduce sugar consumption, issues relating to fixed odds betting terminals, and the future of the Green Belt. The case for and against the regulation of lobbying is discussed next. The book looks at the UK system of regulating lobbying and the regulation prevalent in the European Union. It also examines the issue of whether the democratic process gets unduly distorted by lobbying. Electoral politics can still trump pressure politics.
This chapter considers three case studies of lobbying in action: the campaign to reduce sugar consumption; issues relating to fixed odds betting terminals; and the future of the Green Belt. Two of these cases relate to potential harm: in the case of sugar, to the population in general; in the case of fixed odds betting terminals, to a subset of those who gamble. The issue of the Green Belt relates to deeply held values in one section of the population. A number of apparently independent reports on Green Belt development appeared, which turned out to be funded by, or closely linked to, the same group of housing industry consultants. Economists and the pro-development lobby helped to get the Green Belt on to the political agenda, changing its hitherto sacrosanct status.
In this short article, which was first published on 'Normblog' in 2009, Geras speaks of the inclination of certain Marxists, as well as others who admire Marx's work, to deny the antisemitic material there is in his essay On the Jewish Question. Geras brings in this article Bruno Bauer's argument that the political emancipation of the Jews, their availing themselves of political and civil rights within the democratic state, was incompatible with their Jewish particularism and Marx's counter-argument that political emancipation, so far from being incompatible with religious particularisms, presupposes them. None of this, however, can obscure the themes which Marx deploys in the second part of his essay and the article presents a key passage from it. It is fruitless to pretend that these themes are expressed merely ironically when there is no clear supporting evidence that they are to be read in that way rather than straightforwardly.
In this article, which was first published in 'New Left Review', Geras begins from an astonishing fact: Leon Trotsky's prediction of the impending Jewish catastrophe, which is a common and well-grounded theme in the literature of the Holocaust that the disaster was not really predictable. He offers some general reflections on Marxism as a body of theory in relation to the Nazi genocide against Jews, presenting a couple of brief phrases on the singularity of the Holocaust and a critical review of Ernest Mandel's thinking on the subject. Mandel connects to a wider historiographical, socio-psychological and other literature on the Holocaust, adding to it, to be sure, what Marxism is best-placed to add. He asserts that the Holocaust was an extreme product of tendencies which are historically more general. But he perceives a need to balance the assertion with an emphasis on the singularity of the fate of the Jews.