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writing for godot

It has always been a myth that the 'liberal world order' abides by economic, social and cultural rights principles. (Michael Goodhart)

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Saturday, 13 March 2021 14:41

Food for a non-abiding human rights thought  ‘HR in a liberal world’


Human Rights Reader 568

[TLDR (too long didn’t read): This Reader debunks the myths of liberalism and of centrist politics in their truly addressing human rights. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].


Fukuyama’s credo

-A historic characteristic of the liberal world order is that it abides much more by its association with the right to own property.


1. Property rights and the enforcement of contracts through legal institutions has become the foundation for economic growth in the states of the Global North that are not necessarily democratic, but do protect property rights.* Historically, the class that was most committed to liberalism was the class of property owners and entrepreneurs that Karl Marx would label the bourgeoisie.

*: When it protects the interests of the powerful nations of the Global North, liberalization has become ethically questionable. (Busiso Moyo, Anne-Marie Thow) …and so it is for human rights (HR).


  • Liberalism is connected to democracy, but is not the same thing as it. It is possible to have regimes that are liberal, but not democratic


-Liberalism has also seen the rise of another competitor besides communism: nationalism.


2. Under liberalism, valid insights about the efficiency of markets** has evolved into something of a religion in which state intervention is opposed --not based on empirical observations, but as a matter of principle. Privatization has thus been pushed even in cases of state monopolies. Take free trade: It supposedly leads to higher wealth for all parties concerned, but neglects the fact that this is true only in the aggregate, and that many individuals’ HR are badly hurt by trade liberalization.

**: Individualism is further validated by the promotion of market capitalism: Markets work more efficiently if individuals are not bound by their duty to claim holders.


  • Liberalism deliberately lowers the horizon of politics


3. A liberal state will not tell you how to live your life, or what a good life entails; how you pursue happiness is up to you. This produces a vacuum at the core of liberal societies, one that often gets filled by consumerism or pop culture or other random activities that do not necessarily lead to human flourishing. Indeed, in neoclassical economic theory, social cooperation arises only as a result of rational individuals deciding that it is in their self-interest to work with other individuals (HR evidently not included).


  • Juridical equality before the law in countries with a liberal order does not mean that people will be treated equally in practice


-We know the Machiavellic subtilty that rules over political life. (Antonio Gramsci)


4. Racism, sexism, anti-gay bias and HR violations all persist in liberal societies. The more progress that has been made toward eradicating social injustices, the more intolerable the remaining injustices seem --thus the moral imperative to mobilize claim holders to correct this state of affairs.


  • So, our politics must go beyond liberalism!


5. The evolution of liberalism into neoliberalism after the 1980s greatly reduced the policy space available to leftist or even centrist political leaders and permitted the growth of huge inequalities that have been fueling populisms of and HR violations by both the Right and the Left. Liberalism’s problem is that it works slowly through deliberation and compromise, and never achieves its communal or social justice goals as completely as their advocates would like. The issue here is thus not whether progressive illiberalism exists, but rather how great a long-term danger it represents. (Francis Fukuyama)


Liberally moderate politicians of the center do not criticize reality; they manipulate it to their advantage (Jorge Majfud)


6. Moderate liberalism looks like a ‘socialist way’, but-not-ever-to-lead-to-socialism. It is like the realization of an idea of socialism going under with the idea --values going up in smoke (HR included) as they ultimately defend the interests of the bourgeoisie. This type of liberalism adorns itself with the term socialist, but everybody realizes it is just a fake label. It looks for formulas to explain away the absence of socialism. So, liberalism really continues to uphold an idea it does not really believe in --an identity that is not its own. (Louis Casado) There are signs in this that give the appearance of an ideological stagnation or downturn.


7. Beware: Globally, liberalism, perhaps accepted by the moderate Right, hides the growing influence of the extreme Right that is, more-and-more, taking advantage of this appearance to exploit it to their advantage. The position of those in the catholic church’s hierarchy openly disagreeing with Pope Francis, is an additional worrying sign. (Boaventura de Sousa Santos)


Noteworthy in all the above is the fact that the Center actually has an ideology


8. This fact generates confusion given that those who define themselves as centrists, more often than not, say they reject all ideologies and have replaced them with ‘pragmatism’. This allows them to use the prefix ‘center’ to coin the terms center-right and center-left that they vaguely define as the utopic negation of conflict, reconciliation and political peace. (L. Casado) --Wither HR.


9. Centrism denies an essential question: conflict. How can one take seriously political projects that deny conflict as essential to human beings? Democracy, does not rule out political conflict! Democracy becomes but an illusion when some interpret tranquility as the possibility to forgetting confrontation. Centrism made this non-sense the nucleus of its political credo.


10. If no conflict, consensus, then, is what it is about. But consensus around what? Once again, around the interests of the more powerful… [Do not forget that the reasons given by the more powerful are always the best… (Jean de La Fontaine)]. Under such terms, unanimity brought about by self-appointed experts does in no way mean no conflict. (Henri Laborit, Frederic Lordon)


11. It is for these reasons that the center-right and the center-left have never had a program or a clear roadmap; its strategy is limited to compete in the arena of the established institutionality. Falling back on moderation (of language, of programs and of actions) is simply not enough to disarm the aggressiveness (including towards HR) of the powerful in society. The political program of centrism is precisely that: do nothing that provokes the violence of the dominant powers. Being ‘reasonable’ and ‘moderate’ in asking the surrender of power by those powerful in society negating conflict is purely and simply non-sensical. (H. Laborit, F. Lordon)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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-Some advocates of migrant rights assert a universal human right to migrate, but this is a political non-starter in virtually every contemporary liberal democracy.  (F. Fukuyama)

-A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. (George Bernard Shaw) …And not being facetious, a liberal politician is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. (G. Gordon Liddy) your social media marketing partner
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