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writing for godot

In a society governed by 'free' markets and by 'free' elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy. (Matt Taibbi)

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Sunday, 27 December 2020 17:27

Human rights: Food for a thought that must be lived  ‘HR and democracy’


Human Rights Reader 559


[TLDR (too long didn’t read): This Reader is about the flaws of electoral democracy and the challenge this poses to claim holders and true democrats when keeping the struggle for human rights at the forefront. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].


-In a country, we can either have democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few; but we cannot have both. (Justice Louis D. Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice)

-Can you agree? Greed is more addictive than tobacco or alcohol addiction.


Democracy must be lived, not delegated


-To make democracy live means imposing the needed social freedoms and emancipations. (Salvador Allende)


1.“A democratic and inclusive society is based on a social contract between a responsive and accountable state and responsible and active citizens, in which the interests of the poorest and most marginalized are taken into account”.* (UNDP 2013, Reflections on Social Accountability)

*: In practice, democracy, freedom, equality and justice are supposed to mean: -access to employment, -to enjoyment, -to food and fun, -to shelter and sanity, -to health care, -to leisure time, -to literacy, -to land, -to child care, -to respect of human rights (HR) and of personal dignity. (Cornel West) How very far we are from this…


2. The bottom line problem is that, as long as they are disorganized, people are overlooked and neglected everywhere by modern, so called democracies. This, because, under neoliberalism**, democracies are held captive not just by money, but by the ideas that money buys. (William Greider) …But HR are supposed to be beyond money metrics…!

**: We need clarity: What neoliberalism is about (and hence also the World Bank’s proposals are) is the erosion of true democracy; it is about working top-down and doing so within the framework of a system that defines its own immutable rules; it is not about claim holders shaping their own world. (Francine Mestrum)


What is so sacrosanct about electoral democracy with all its budding corruption, abuse, oppression and repression?


-Truly democratic elections are as rare as unicorns.


3. If it is to-be-or-not-to-be through elections, how can democracies more systematically deliver ‘for’ those rendered poor if not having them as protagonists? That is the question! It ultimately boils down to formal-representative-democracy*** vs consensus-based-direct-democracy. (Occupy Wallstreet Movement)

***: What good is it to vote in an election that has no chance of changing anything? Just to entertain the simple-minded, seduced citizens? Democracy, as a concept voided of its demos (the people) significance, just serves the interests of big capital and authoritarian regimes. (Louis Casado)


4. Low intensity and well domesticated formal representative democracies do not question the reigning social and economic model --and they only carefully guarantee (just) some HR, as long as the latter do not radically negate the model and do not incite revolting against the system. (Boaventura de Sousa Santos)


5. In essence, in any so-called democracy, most citizens live under the spell of a mirage of participation in the democratic process --provided they even choose to join-in…

The true specter that is haunting our democracies is not the extreme Right, but the lack of a shared clarity and our hesitation about what to proactively do about it (Daniel Innerarity)


-It is time to link the crisis of democracy (yes, there is one!) to the flood of denial and conspiracy theories.


6. This deplorable situation calls for the question: Is tolerance what we need when facing those that defend intolerant ideologies? The democratic attitude we need to apply starts with getting to know our strategic enemies intimately, making them openly argue their case so we can identify their weaknesses allowing us to engage in a dialogue that tries to win some of them over. Simply excluding their proponents from a democratic discussion will prevent us from knowing them better and where they are coming from. (I have never been convinced though that, in a debate, the force of the best argument wins…). We have a thousand proofs that ‘democratic conversations’ reveal the asymmetric advantages of the haves. True. But let us not forget that democratic tolerance implies listening to things we profoundly dislike and even morally hate. (D. Innerarity)

A challenge here for claim holders and true democrats


7. The digital revolution and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing not only the economy, but also societies --and democracy. Not all political systems deal with these conteporary challenges equally well.


8. Half a century ago, futures researcher Alvin Toeffler wrote in his book ‘Future Shock’ that a time would come when technological progress would be so rapid that even elites**** would no longer be able to comprehend and explain it. Who could deny that we have long since arrived at this point? This phenomenon applies equally to democratic and non-democratic societies --and the disruptions are equally noticeable in both. What does this change mean for governance and for HR, in both democratic or non-democratic societies? Does this shift promote one form of rule or another? Do democracies have the potential to adapt in this phase of epochal change? How will this affect HR?

****: Is elites the plural of privilege…? (Bill McKibben)


9. How people-becoming-active-claim-holders participate in direct democracy and how they are to be represented is today key; what is possible today is different from what was possible in the past! (Alexander Görlach). [This Reader has never been shy in pointing out how people can and must become active claimants of their rights].


10. All the world’s true democrats --particularly those that have their hearts doubly to the left-- will only find a viable future if they bridge the difference between strategy and tactics and articulate a political agenda of the Left that, at the same time, fosters movements and eventually a militant party. This, because in isolation, neither will survive the degradation of democracy being fostered by the forces of the Right. If parties of the Left do not go this route, long term, they will be dead as a political force (it will be common citizens who will teach Left politicians a lesson or two). (B. de Sousa Santos)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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-The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among those rendered poor that the US has a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich that those living in poverty can get true democracy. (Edward Dowling) your social media marketing partner
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