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Matt Qvortrup

This conclusion presents some closing remarks on the preceding chapters of the book. The book has presented the briefest of historical outlines of how referendums have been used in Britain and abroad, and in doing so, it has implicitly presented some of the arguments for and against this institution. Between 1920 and 1960, there was little reason to have referendums in Britain as compared to constitutional referendums in Denmark and Ireland which were held in the 1950s. The referendum campaign in 1975 challenged the tribalism that had characterised the politics of the United Kingdom. The Brexit referendum and the referendum on the alternative vote electoral system saw spirited debate as well as disinformation on both sides. However, one cannot reject the referendum in general just because one disagrees with the way David Cameron blundered into to calling one.

in Government by referendum
Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

This chapter reviews a fast-growing sector of the current literature on Karl Marx, i.e. whether Marx condemn capitalism in the light of any principle of justice. It surveys the case for thinking he does not and the case for thinking that he does. Beginning with a preliminary sketch on the general lines of Marx's account of capitalist exploitation, the chapter reviews the texts and arguments put forward by those who deny that Marx condemned capitalism as unjust and the texts and arguments put forward by those who claim he did so condemn it. It also offers some conclusions, and argument in support of them. Marx's impatience with the language of norms and values is global in range. And yet he himself, despite it, does plainly condemn capitalism; for its oppressions and unfreedoms and also, as the argument of this chapter has been, for its injustices.

in The Norman Geras Reader
The key to governance
Nigel D. White

The possession of international legal personality explains how the UN and similar inter-governmental organisations have extensive powers separate from those rights of states. The UN Security Council has the power to impose sanctions on a state or an individual, thereby creating binding duties for all states; no state, no matter how powerful, has that legal right. This chapter addresses the debate about the extent of the doctrine of legal powers through three case studies. The case studies include the legality of peacekeeping undertaken by the UN (including a discussion of the Expenses opinion) and the competence of the WHO and UN in relation to the possession or use of nuclear weapons by states (including a discussion of the Nuclear Weapons opinions). They also include the legislative powers of the Security Council (focusing on its counter-terrorism decision in Resolution 1373 of 2001).

in The law of international organisations (third edition)
Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

There is an aspect of the unconditional in the duty to come to the help of people in danger. This has about it the pull of an irresistible demand. A sense of its unconditionality suffuses the literature of catastrophe. This chapter looks for it first in what may appear the least likely of places. In the general theoretical sense our responsibility for all of humankind and our guilt for the ills befalling others are universal and unlimited. However, it is different with respect to the amount of help any single person's duties can be thought to encompass. Within general moral code, we should not be drawn into a moral absolutism, permit ourselves a standard fit only for saints. This is for metaphysical and anthropological reasons, and it is also for reasons straightforward humanity in the ethical sense. The chapter considers these three kinds of reasons in turn.

in The Norman Geras Reader
Abstract only
Reflections on the work of Norman Geras
Terry Glavin

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.

in The Norman Geras Reader
Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

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.

in The Norman Geras Reader
Series: Pocket Politics
Author: Matt Qvortrup

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.

Matt Qvortrup

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.

in Government by referendum
Abstract only
Wyn Grant

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.

in Lobbying
Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

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.

in The Norman Geras Reader