In this week’s New Statesman: The G-Zero world

Why no one wants to take charge in the new world order. PLUS: Turkey in turmoil.

Ian Bremmer: G20 to G-Zero

This is the era of “G-Zero”, a more volatile world order with a “global leadership vacuum” – and Britain is among those countries that stand to lose the most, writes Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer in our cover story this week.

Writing in advance of the G8 Summit on 17 and 18 June, Bremmer argues that modern bargaining forums such as the G20 have “not produced much of value” and suffer “a lack of global leadership”, arising from a “growing numbers of transnational problems” – namely Middle Eastern turmoil, power shifts in Asia, climate change, poor cross-border financial regulation and the redesign of Europe.

Our most pressing challenge now is how to reconcile a group of world powers “that does not share a common set of assumptions about the proper role of the state in an economy, or about the value of the rule of law, transparency and freedoms of speech, press and assembly. Competing values create competing interests.”

In the face of these trends, Bremmer argues, the solutions will be “diversification” and “strategic alliances” – solutions that some countries are better positioned to take advantage of than others. Bremmer says Britain will be among those countries that will be worst off in the new order, particularly if we abandon the European Union:

For some countries, making new friends, even in a G-Zero environment, is not so easy. There are three big unfolding stories in international politics and the global economy: China’s rise, Middle East turmoil and the redesign of Europe. The three countries with most to lose from these trends are, respectively, Japan, Israel and Britain . . .

If the UK eventually lands outside the EU, it will pay a heavier price than many Britons now realise. Shedding many of Europe’s rules and regulations and its Common Agricultural Policy would pay early dividends, but waving goodbye to a club whose members buy half of Britain’s exports would damage the country’s core economic strength, and dozens of bilateral trade deals would have to be renegotiated. Outside Europe, Britain would lose much of its international political clout.

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE MAGAZINE

 

Ece Temelkuran: The “generation without ideology” wakes up

The Turkish author and political commentator Ece Temelkuran writes from the heart of the Istanbul protests. She comments on the 30 May sit-in that spurred a national rebellion against the “growing authoritarianism” of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, and how a younger, apolitical “generation without ideology” is coming to life:

It was never just about trees, but the accumulation of many incidents. With the world’s highest number of imprisoned journalists and thousands of political prisoners (trade unionists, politicians, activists, students, lawyers), Turkey had already been turned into an open-air prison . . .

Throughout [Erdogan’s] tenure, his rhetoric has been no different. Even some of his closest colleagues accept that Erdogan “no longer listens to anyone” . . .

Two years ago, I followed the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings. Arab people overcame their fear and I saw how it transformed them from silent crowds to people who believed in themselves. This is what has been happening in the past week in Turkey . . .

One more important point: the generation that has taken to the streets was born after the 1980 military coup that fiercely depoliticised the Turkish public. The general who led the 1980 coup once said: “We will create a generation without ideology.” And so this generation was – until the startling events of recent days.

 

Helena Drysdale: Turkey’s Greek Orthodox minority is in a “struggle for survival” bound up with the Erdogan government’s shift away from secularism

The writer and journalist Helena Drysdale retraces the footsteps of her great-grandfather to a small island in Turkey (known to the Greeks as Halki; in Turkish “Heybeliada”), where the Greek Orthodox seminary, a Christian institution, sits at the symbolic centre of a “struggle for survival” by Turkey’s dwindling ethnic Greek population. The seminary, closed by the Turkish government in the 1970s, “remains a festering sore in relations not only between Turkey and its Rum minority, but between Turkey and the European Union and the United States”, writes Drysdale:

Turkey’s ethnic Greek population, known as the Rum, has plummeted from 1.8 million in 1912 to roughly 2,500 today. Greeks have lived here since founding the colony of Byzantium in the 7th century BC. Now, according to a 2009 report for the European Commission on Human Rights, “urgent action is needed if [the Rum community] is to survive”.

Halki Seminary, at the centre of political wrangling for four decades, symbolises that struggle for survival. It was founded in 1844 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Eastern Orthodox Church and its alumni include some of the world’s leading churchmen. However, in 1971 the secular Turkish government shut the seminary down. Priests of the patriarchate, who by law must be Turkish citizens, now have nowhere to train. Without priests, the survival of the Orthodox Church here is threatened.

 

Laurie Penny on internet porn

In May, Mark Bridger was convicted of murdering five-year-old April Jones. The press, keen to impose an overarching narrative on his senseless crime, chose to blame internet pornography. “It’s the latest development in a handy alliance between social conservatives, anti-porn feminists and those who seek to restrict access to technology for more sinister reasons.”

We’ve been here before. While the internet is the current culprit, the arguments against explicit material are exactly the same as they were in the feminist porn wars of the 1980s. “But to say that dirty pictures are the problem in themselves, rather than a structure of violent misogyny and sexual control, is to confuse the medium with the message.”

I do not want to live in a world where the government and a select few conservative feminists get to decide what we may and may not masturbate to, and use the bodies of murdered women and children as emotional pawns in that debate.

 

Simon Kuper: The statistical revolution is coming to football

Almost exactly a decade ago, the American writer Michael Lewis published a book called Moneyball. It told the story of Billy Beane, the general manager of an unfashionable baseball team, the Oakland As, who was using new statistics to evaluate players and strategies. From this unpromising material, Lewis crafted a bestseller. Ken Mehlman, the Republican campaign manager in the US presidential election of 2004, instructed his staff to read it because he realised that it wasn’t just a sports book. Now, according to a new book – The Numbers Game, by a former semi-professional football player-turned-Cornell professor and a former baseball pitcher-turned-behavioural economist: “The datafication of life has started to infiltrate football.”

The process has already begun in the UK:

The most powerful figure in English football remains the manager and the statistical revolution has progressed fastest at clubs where the manager believes in data. Probably the leaders in this field in England today are Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger (an economics graduate and gifted mathematician), West Ham’s Sam Allardyce (not a gifted mathematician) and Manchester United’s incoming manager, David Moyes.

In March, I visited Moyes’s then club, Everton, and one of his data analysts told me, “In terms of managers, he is probably as into it [data] as any.” Moyes would often march into the analysts’ offices firing out questions: how efficient were Everton’s next opponents at scoring from crosses? What types of passes did their midfielders make? In which areas of the field did Tottenham’s superstar Gareth Bale usually receive the ball?

For managers such as Moyes, data isn’t everything. It is one tool among many. It gives you an edge and, since you could employ perhaps 30 statisticians for the £1.5m that the average player in the Premier League earns, it’s an edge you can afford. Still, as Anderson and Sally caution: “The data cannot do the manager’s job.” Interpreting data is an art more than a science.

 

Hywel Davies: Unravelling the mystery of Benjamin Britten’s death

The leading British consultant cardiologist Hywel Davies unravels the mystery of Benjamin Britten’s death. Paul Kildea’s recent biography, Benjamin Britten: a Life in the 20th Century, claims that Britten died from the long-term effects of syphilis.

At the time of publication there were, writes Davies, “very public denials of this, some of them by people who could not possibly know one way or the other”. Davies was a friend and colleague of the surgeon, Donald Ross, who operated on Britten’s heart in 1973. He has also examined medical records recently placed in the Britten-Pears library, and reveals that “during an ordinary conversation in his house in the late 1980s, Ross chose to tell me that Britten’s heart was syphilitic . . . I took him at his word, knowing that his opinion was that of a seasoned professional at the peak of his power in his field of expertise.”

In conclusion, Davies argues that “syphilis was and still is a major diagnostic possibility” and that Kildea is largely correct in his claim. “I have taken a position in this matter largely because I find that the strongest evidence we have is that of the surgeons and I do not believe their conclusions should be cast aside lightly.”

PLUS

 

Mary Robinson urges empathy with the victims of climate change

The Politics Column: Cameron has already picked his message for the next election – and cleaning up politics isn’t it, says Rafael Behr

Will Self: I refuse to join the absurd cult of Clare Balding

Kirsty Gunn: In praise of James Salter

Sherard Cowper-Coles: Our Afghan adventure was reckless folly

 

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MP Michelle Thomson's full speech on rape at 14: "I am a survivor"

The MP was attacked as a teenager. 

On Thursday, the independent MP for Edinburgh West Michelle Thomson used a debate marking the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to describe her own experience of rape. Thomson, 51, said she wanted to break the taboo among her generation about speaking about the subject.

MPs listening were visibly moved by the speech, and afterwards Thomson tweeted she was "overwhelmed" by the response. 

Here is her speech in full:

I am going to relay an event that happened to me many years ago. I want to give a very personal perspective to help people, both in this place and outside, understand one element of sexual violence against women.

When I was 14, I was raped. As is common, it was by somebody who was known to me. He had offered to walk me home from a youth event. In those days, everybody walked everywhere - it was quite common. It was early evening. It was not dark. I was wearing— I am imagining and guessing—jeans and a sweatshirt. I knew my way around where I lived - I was very comfortable - and we went a slightly differently way, but I did not think anything of it. He told me that he wanted to show me something in a wooded area. At that point, I must admit that I was alarmed. I did have a warning bell, but I overrode that warning bell because I knew him and, therefore, there was a level of trust in place. To be honest, looking back at that point, I do not think I knew what rape was. It was not something that was talked about. My mother never talked to me about it, and I did not hear other girls or women talking about it.

It was mercifully quick and I remember first of all feeling surprise, then fear, then horror as I realised that I quite simply could not escape, because obviously he was stronger than me. There was no sense, even initially, of any sexual desire from him, which, looking back again, I suppose I find odd. My senses were absolutely numbed, and thinking about it now, 37 years later, I cannot remember hearing anything when I replay it in my mind. As a former professional musician who is very auditory, I find that quite telling. I now understand that your subconscious brain—not your conscious brain—decides on your behalf how you should respond: whether you take flight, whether you fight or whether you freeze. And I froze, I must be honest.

Afterwards I walked home alone. I was crying, I was cold and I was shivering. I now realise, of course, that that was the shock response. I did not tell my mother. I did not tell my father. I did not tell my friends. And I did not tell the police. I bottled it all up inside me. I hoped briefly—and appallingly—that I might be pregnant so that that would force a situation to help me control it. Of course, without support, the capacity and resources that I had within me to process it were very limited.

I was very ashamed. I was ashamed that I had “allowed this to happen to me”. I had a whole range of internal conversations: “I should have known. Why did I go that way? Why did I walk home with him? Why didn’t I understand the danger? I deserved it because I was too this, too that.” I felt that I was spoiled and impure, and I really felt revulsion towards myself.

Of course, I detached from the child that I had been up until then. Although in reality, at the age of 14, that was probably the start of my sexual awakening, at that time, remembering back, sex was “something that men did to women”, and perhaps this incident reinforced that early belief.​
I briefly sought favour elsewhere and I now understand that even a brief period of hypersexuality is about trying to make sense of an incident and reframing the most intimate of acts. My oldest friends, with whom I am still friends, must have sensed a change in me, but because I never told them they did not know of the cause. I allowed myself to drift away from them for quite a few years. Indeed, I found myself taking time off school and staying at home on my own, listening to music and reading and so on.

I did have a boyfriend in the later years of school and he was very supportive when I told him about it, but I could not make sense of my response - and it is my response that gives weight to the event. I carried that guilt, anger, fear, sadness and bitterness for years.

When I got married 12 years later, I felt that I had a duty tell my husband. I wanted him to understand why there was this swaddled kernel of extreme emotion at the very heart of me, which I knew he could sense. But for many years I simply could not say the words without crying—I could not say the words. It was only in my mid-40s that I took some steps to go and get help.

It had a huge effect on me and it fundamentally - and fatally - undermined my self-esteem, my confidence and my sense of self-worth. Despite this, I am blessed in my life: I have been happily married for 25 years. But if this was the effect of one small, albeit significant, event in my life stage, how must it be for those women who are carrying it on a day-by-day basis?

I thought carefully about whether I should speak about this today, and it was people’s intake of breath and the comment, “What? You’re going to talk about this?”, that motivated me to do it, because there is still a taboo about sharing this kind of information. Certainly for people of my generation, it is truly shocking to talk in public about this sort of thing.

As has been said, rape does not just affect the woman; it affects the family as well. Before my mother died early of cancer, I really wanted to tell her, but I could not bring myself to do it. I have a daughter and if something happened to her and she could not share it with me, I would be appalled. It was possibly cowardly, but it was an act of love that meant that I protected my mother.

As an adult, of course I now know that rape is not about sex at all - it is all about power and control, and it is a crime of violence. I still pick up on when the myths of rape are perpetuated form a male perspective: “Surely you could have fought him off. Did you scream loudly enough?” And the suggestion by some men that a woman is giving subtle hints or is making it up is outrageous. Those assumptions put the woman at the heart of cause, when she should be at the heart of effect. A rape happens when a man makes a decision to hurt someone he feels he can control. Rapes happen because of the rapist, not because of the victim.

We women in our society have to stand up for each other. We have to be courageous. We have to call things out and say where things are wrong. We have to support and nurture our sisters as we do with our sons. Like many women of my age, I have on occasion encountered other aggressive actions towards me, both in business and in politics. But one thing that I realise now is that I am not scared and he was. I am not scared. I am not a victim. I am a survivor.

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.