by Henry Farrell on June 2, 2005

Have just found out that the better part of the argument that I made in “this post”:, and which I imagined in a rather self-satisfied way to be quite original, was made (apparently some weeks ago) by Mark Leonard in this “online piece”: for _Foreign Policy_ (online). Oh well. Great minds and all that … (or perhaps, as has just been revealed in my case, not so great).

Bloggers and the French referendum

by Chris Bertram on June 2, 2005

The BBC News website has “a piece on the role of bloggers in the French referendum”:, and especially that of a “non” “manifesto by law professor Etienne Chouard”: .

Women Drivers

by Kieran Healy on June 2, 2005

The suggestion that women in Saudi Arabia might, conceivably, be allowed to drive cars provokes squeals of outrage:

Consultative Council member Mohammad al-Zulfa’s proposal has unleashed a storm in this conservative country where the subject of women drivers remains taboo. Al-Zulfa’s cell phone now constantly rings with furious Saudis accusing him of encouraging women to commit the double sins of discarding their veils and mixing with men. … [Opponents], who believe women should be shielded from strange men, say driving will allow a woman to leave home whenever she pleases and go wherever she wishes. Some say it will present her with opportunities to violate Islamic law, such as exposing her eyes while driving or interacting with strange men, like police officers or mechanics.

“Driving by women leads to evil,” Munir al-Shahrani wrote in a letter to the editor of the Al-Watan daily. “Can you imagine what it will be like if her car broke down? She would have to seek help from men.” …

It is the same argument used to restrict other freedoms. Without written permission from a male guardian, women may not travel, get an education or work. Regardless of permission, they are not allowed to mix with men in public or leave home without wearing black cloaks, called abayas.

From the guy’s point of view, the great thing about a nakedly patriarchal arrangement like this is that, absent a shift in the whole social order, women driving alone really _would_ be in serious danger. Many men who saw them would likely conclude that they were out cruising for sex, and either beat them up or rape them — and, naturally, blame the women themselves for provoking either outcome. People being the way they are, there will also be women on hand to applaud this sort of thing, thereby helping to justify it. For instance, Wajiha al-Huweidar said Saudi women did not want “the intellectuals to shine and their names to glitter at our expense. We will not permit anyone and we have not appointed anyone to speak on our behalf.” Good for you, sister! You tell those degenerate liberal intellectuals and their disgusting ideas about driving. We need some feminists in Saudi to publish a book on this topic called Our Hardbodies, Ourselves.

Industrial relations reform in Australia

by John Q on June 2, 2005

An unexpected outcome of the 2004 elections in Australia was that the Howard (conservative) government somewhat unexpectedly gained control of the Senate, giving it, from July 1, the power to pass legislation without relying on the support of minor parties or independents.

The most significant outcome, so far, has been industrial relations reform. Until now, Australia has experienced much less radical change in industrial relations than other English-speaking countries such as Britain and New Zealand. Not coincidentally, in my view, there has been much less growth in inequality in Australia than in these countries or the US.

Employment relationships are complex, and I can’t claim to be an expert on the details of the Australian system, either as it now exists or as it would operate under the proposed reforms. Having had most of the hard work done for me by the union, and before that by central wage fixation, I’ve tended to neglect the topic, but it’s certainly time for a crash course.

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