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writing for godot

In human rights, the issue of power is, for sure, the most important issue. What social class exerts that power? That is the bottom line question. (Lenin)

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Saturday, 27 March 2021 20:00

Human rights: Food for a cautionary thought  ‘HR in times of political polarization’


Human Rights Reader 570




-Apres moi le deluge! is the famous Louis XV quote every capitalist and every capitalist nation seems to be following. Hence the capitalist class is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer --unless under compulsion from society. (Marx, Das Kapital)


[TLDR (too long didn’t read): This Reader is about how the ruling class and its politicians capture the state and why it is high time claim holders unite and challenge powerful elites and embark in human rights-based political transition strategies. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].


What we see is a ruling class whose losses are socialized to the ruled through actions of the government they control (Yanis Varoufakis)


1. The above being the case, the tragedy is that supporters of the Right are OK with this --and ‘the Left’ has had no determination to challenge the powerful that are responsible for the pain, anger and humiliation of the lower class and those being marginalized with their human rights (HR) being trampled. Those rendered rich will never truly change conditions for those rendered poor. Any redistribution of wealth and power that threatens the stock market soaring asset prices is simply not in the radar ‘the Right’. …and the Left…?


2. Capture of the state by rich elites and the commensurate declines in the bargaining power of working people have always increased inequality.* Real wage rises lag behind productivity growth as executive remuneration sky-lprovisioning, e.g., healthcare. (Jomo Sundaram and Anis Chaudhury)

*: The State is thus nothing but a correlation of forces. The State represents a bunch of (not-most-of-the-time) consensually arrived-at (but not regulated) relationships often held by people of flesh and bones in different parties. This thus entails hard bargaining with very powerful elites. In general terms, the State is the stage of the disputes of society: This is what we call the State. (Alvaro Garcia Linera)


[A sorry situation is that the world feels much safer when the powerful actually use their power and much less safe when they do not. For the powerful, the greater good really comes from an us-versus-them analysis. So, the strong always survive and the weak always die; it has come to be the natural order. (David Baldacci, The Whole Truth) …wither HR.  Ah yes, about the truth: Funny how everyone is always asking for it but when they get it they do not believe it, because it is not the truth they want to hear… (Helena Cassadine)].


The fact that political parties exist is in no way a reason to keep them (Simone Weil)


3. The sad reality is that we are far from having a political class in command able to face global issues. The French Revolution was not started by a political party, but by an impoverished Third State, or those rendered poor, who revolted against the nobility and the clergy. That is a lesson that the richest 1% would do well not to forget when unmovedly watching nationalism and xenophobia on their way up. (Roberto Savio)


4. It is precisely because each party has a different idea of what the public good is that they are so often far from reality and from facts on the ground. In all truth, they are more interested in power than in the public good. This is also why parties so often use lies when they try to convince us that democracy is about resigning our rights and leaving them in their hands (i.e., mostly an upper-class clique). People are thus left with little chances to act directly in the in the defense of their HR. (S. Weil)


5. Traditional politics is, without even acknowledging it, an important part of the disdain for the truth. From the moment the socialist alternative disappeared from the political stage, politics lost credibility as an exercise in fighting for real convictions. As liberal values are being discredited and eroded, true democratic ideologies** have been accused of being obsolete; they are considered historical trash that has to be thrown out. The ensuing exclusion of alternative values allows looking down on the truth. Values such as the priority of the family, of a racial hierarchy, of an ethno-religious nationalism… have been made center stage instead. Clearly, this is the breeding ground for political polarization. Currently, the polarization primarily reinforces the views of the Right and that of the extreme Right. (Boaventura Sousa Santos)

**: American ideology --yes, there is an American ideology-- is suffering from a profound loss of credibility and, not only among non-Americans, but among Americans themselves. The American Dream has long lost its sheen, except deceivingly perhaps to immigrants; the American Dream is now mentioned only in cynical terms. [And as for American Exceptionalism, the idea that America is God’s own country, this has also had long lost credibility; it is simply one more myth]. (Walden Bello)


Even if there are big differences within ultra-right movements around the world, they all have common characteristics


-Polarization no longer is between the Left and the Right. The old traditional Right is convinced it controls the extreme Right, but what we see is just the opposite. (B. Sousa Santos)


6. We are talking about characteristics of the extreme-right with its extreme nationalism based on the idea of their racial/ethnic superiority and an authoritarian and anti-democratic attitude that goes far beyond what we call populism. This, because even if it has some of populism’s characteristics (in Spanish ‘caudillismo’) it also has other dimensions that are much closer to fascism than to populism. Among these dimensions, is the one of being a movement with a culture of violence that considers itself the victim of upcoming political forces that question their control and vision of the world; they catalogue these forces as socialist and communist and purport they are imposing on the state a totalitarian system devoid of liberties that overrides their culture and interests. The primitivism, the reactionary vision and often the profound Christian religiosity (with the vocation of a crusade) of the extreme-right movements clearly go way beyond the characteristic of populism. As a matter of fact, many of their leaders do not hide their fascist and pro-Nazi sympathies including the use of Nazi symbols. (Vicente Navarro)


[I will owe you a statement about the extreme-left movements’ relation to political revolutions. For now, let me just say that revolutions distinguish themselves from revolts in that the latter profoundly alter the established order bringing about substantive reforms. Revolutions substantially change the structures on which society is based completely transforming/replacing them. (Roberto Albarracin)].


Politicians speak softly and carry a big stick (Theodore Roosevelt)


7. Politicians are said to deal with the quarrels and power struggles in their condominium state. They have pitifully insufficient time to afford a vision of the future on a grand scale, because they must deal, above all, with the present. Those who deal a lot with the future are the great planetary merchants, primarily TNCs --and importantly do so in Davos and in other para-secret meetings. These days, Davos acolytes perilously rely on algorithms, on self-learning artificial intelligence, on robotization… and call the new gamble they are embarking-on ‘The Great Reset’ in a crusade to improve capitalism. (Glauco Benigni)


Only the powerful know all; as gods always do…


8. So, why waste time discovering the truth when you can so easily create it? Real truth is too unpredictable; created truth is controllable. So, why try to hide the needle in the haystack when you can just make lots of needles? In their statements, so many politicians do not employ conscience; they do not worry about the (HR) consequences of the latter. Often, utmost in their mind is what the payoff is of making one more needle. They collect secrets, craft half-lies and anonymously release those items when it best serves them and their patrons. The vast majority of the world accepts on faith that everything being released by politicians is true. Most people are perfectly fine with being sheep their whole lives. As said, politicians often get used to make up the truth and then burry the real thing under so much garbage that people grow weary of trying to dig through it and, instead, just accept what is offered. Humans are just programmed to go that way. Verify facts? In this day and age? Who cares about verifying anything? It is all about speed. Who gets there first defines the truth. When people want to believe something badly enough, facts and logic never proved to be difficult obstacles. (D. Baldacci)


9. To close, I cannot resist but to add a few more of my iron laws that fit here --only that this time it is quoting others.

  • Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. (Pericles, 430 B.C.)
  • We hang the petti thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. (Aesop)
  • The unspoken truth of any nation always is that a minority makes the majority work-for and feed them while still governing as a minority. (Voltaire)
  • War is an extension of politics. (V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River)
  • Being astute can hide truths, but truth likes to go naked. (Tomás Fuller) Truth never damages a just and fair cause. (Gandhi)
  • A constitution: what is it not, but the cattle lot that antecedes the slaughter house?  (Louis Casado)
  • · I hate indifferent people. “In my opinion, living means taking sides” wrote Gramsci. Neutrality is impossible or rather abominable. (Pascual Serrano)
  • What many a country needs is more unemployed politicians. (Edward Langley)
  • Power without a nation’s confidence is worth nothing. (Empress Catherine the Great, 1729-1796)


Bottom line

10. The neoliberal order is the second wave of the 1980-2020 capitalist globalization. Its power is coming to an end and we need to figure out what we want to come next. The era of the privatization of social policies (importantly health) that has brought about hefty profits also seems to be having difficulties in perpetuating itself. So, if we cannot change the current deplorable state of affairs from one day to the next, it is high time claim holders unite and embark in designing and carrying out HR-based social, economic, cultural and political transition strategies. (B. Sousa Santos)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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