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writing for godot


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Saturday, 02 December 2017 03:27


-If you do not have the courage of living the way you think, you end up thinking the way you live. (Albino Gomez)

-Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (Martin Luther King)

-We have to act like thinking men; we have to think like men of action. Contemplation is a luxury; action is a necessity. (Henri Bergson; excuse his sexist construct)


1. As I often do in the Readers, let me start with, what I consider, some strategic iron laws:


  • Beware: Beautiful rhetoric can go along with brutal human rights (HR) behavior.
  • All societies ultimately decide themselves what degree of hypocrisy and violations of HR they are willing to accept.*                                              *: Talk about the world’s hypocrisy: Do-gooders want to help those rendered poor ---yes, but provided the state of affairs of the world’s order and the prevailing power relations are not questioned. (A. Gomez)
  • When morality disappears in a nation, the whole social structure crumbles. (Alexis Carrel)
  • Too often, caring about the other, a HR attribute, is superseded by an irrational form of individualism (that so many have managed to rationalize). (Jose Luis Vivero)
  • Frequently, justice, instead of being seen and used as a universal value, is merely seen and used as one perspective among other. (A. Gomez) The same is true for HR!
  • For too many political leaders, the alleged and unsupported proclamation of a ‘right to property’ includes claiming the authority of deciding what HR ought to be. (adapted from A. Gomez)
  • Too many states have the opportunity to foster equality and HR, but neither do they have the will** nor do they make available the means to really do so. (Beatriz Sarlo)

**: Actually, political will is usually understood as a greater resolve on the part of states. But political will is not owned by politicians, who usually act only in response to consistent and compelling pressure from organized and mobilized claim holders from the left and (cronies from) the right. Therefore, it is not a lack of political will, but rather the accumulation-of-a-political-will-by-the-powerful to oppose or stall the implementation of progressive policies that tackle HR abuses. We cannot forget that ‘a political will’ must be pulled from those in power and thus depends on the capacity of local, national, and transnational public interest civil society and social movements to push governments and the international agencies to be consequent with the HR framework.


You cannot insult claim holders more than when you say that theoretical issues and polemics are only for academics (adapted from Rosa Luxemburg)


We strive for a world where we all are socially equal, humanly different and totally free. (Liberty is to mean liberty for those who think differently) (R. Luxemburg)


2. In HR work, we do not look down upon street action; on the contrary, we celebrate it as profoundly formative. Spontaneity of such claim holder actions has much to teach a leadership that has become cozy in their positions. A year of claim-holder-direct-actions teaches them more than 30 years of parliamentary or union struggles that do not give them what learning-by-doing gives them.*** Their political experience widens beyond narrow limits. Direct actions are a vital element --the air without which the HR cause cannot advance-- because these actions strengthen their global strategic vision and reinforce their, till then, only weak demands. (R. Luxemburg) For her, future victory will be born from our defeats in direct action.

***: This is true, provided that these actions revolve not only about denouncing, but also about announcing a new order.


The widespread tendency to understand concerns about the human condition as ‘common-sense-concerns-of-economics’, in fact, amounts to a colonization of our minds (Ryan Higgitt)


The current Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, acknowledges that, for most purposes, the World Bank is “a human rights-free zone, treating human rights ‘more like an infectious disease than universal values and obligations”.


3. The terms economics and development have found themselves being effectively used as homologous. In good part, this explains the fact that the vast majority of the people employed by the World Bank and IMF are economists (Philip Alston). This also explains why questions of development have found themselves, by and large, posed as economic questions.**** One must, therefore ask: Why are economists --researchers of economics, teachers of economics and advisors of economics-- so celebrated as the ultimate authority on development issues? At least part of the answer lies in the way economists present their discipline as science, whereby ‘development’ and ‘onwards evolution’ are treated as synonyms.

****: Economic rationality has come to constitute the intellectual processing of practically all problems and solutions in our world today. Par excellence, the World Bank’s $2-a-day money metric poverty measure is a manifestation of this. Also, the Bank argues that, to achieve its view of humanity, includes using highly systematic and sophisticated processes of quantification (think DALYS…). (R. Higgitt)


4. But it is the use of the human rights framework what makes the enormous difference, argues Alston --which is exactly why the Bank is so resistant to using it. With the authority of its ‘scientists’, the Bank has actually reduced what it means to be human to a veritable mathematical formula --one that insinuates that the more money any given individual has, the more human that individual is. Alston speaks of the World Bank being concerned that any engagement on its part with HR “would bring about a radical paradigm shift with unknown consequences”.


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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0 # Depressionborn 2017-12-05 12:48
Don't know what a better person does to be better, but I believe that belief comes before behavior.

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