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writing for godot

The myths about what the promised free-markets-universal-civiliztion will bring are a human rights boondoggle. (Nicoletta Dentico)

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Saturday, 01 May 2021 17:28

Human rights: Food for a privatized thought  ‘HR in the marketplace’


Human Rights Reader 575

[TLDR (too long didn’t read): This Reader is about the empty promises of neoliberal ideology and how it captures democracy with the dire implications this has for human rights. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].


-For more than three decades, or at least since the end of the Cold War, the grand infatuation has been obsessively seeded that the world was being knit together peaceably in a global journey to the promised land of civilization and of human rights, led by the free market and by privatization. It is around such a journey that guidelines were drawn for the conduct of capitalism, of financialization, for the use of technology and ultimately for the reigns of a directed democracy.


1. The truth though is that the denial of human rights (HR) we see is actually enshrined in the very structures of a global capitalism that promotes a simplistic political narrative and makes no room for justified dissenting alternative reasoning. Has the COVID virus not been a great teacher of the need for sustainable development and about our collective priorities and values, HR included?* The virus has no doubt been a brutal pedagogue --it has made a mockery of the neoliberal model, and not only for health. As Pope Francis said, the global dynamics that has made COVID-19 so disruptive has deep roots in the political and social order defined by global marketization, in the fact that concepts like ‘democracy, unity, freedom, HR, justice and dignity’ have been bent and shaped to serve as tools for domination, as meaningless tags that can be used to justify any action’. (N. Dentico)

*: Viruses and bacteria mutate: you throw them out the door, they come back-in through the window. What they do is to succeed by changing their strategy. Capitalism does the same. The capitalists exploit their workers becoming very rich in total amorality --not because they are evil, but because if they do not do so, they disappear. Surviving thus means dominating all around you and forcing competitors into servitude; this leaves but one alternative: submit or rebel. (Louis Casado)


2. Let us get a closer look on privatization and financialization:

  • What is ultimately wrong with privatization is that it commodifies particular goods and services, thereby corrupting their meaning and nature, as well as their respective purposes. This embodiment of the objectionable neoliberal rationality makes the provision of certain public goods impossible given that private actors are motivated by profit-making considerations and are unaccountable in the sense of lacking transparency and being politically unresponsive to claim holders and the wider consumer community. (Chiara Cordelli) The passion for property has been and still is the ‘in thing’ today. (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray --already a century+ ago)
  • About the Financial System, let us just state a fact: It was established in such a way that Finance is the only sector of human activity that has no regulatory body. Today, it has been clearly separated from the general economy when, paradoxically, its original function was to be at its service. No political institution is able to control its global structure. (Roberto Savio)


The greatest success of neoliberal ideology may have been to make the state become a caricature of neoliberal thought (Boston Review)


3. We have to acknowledge that during neoliberalism and in recent decades, the law has changed in anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic ways. Law has turned away from concerns of economic power, structural inequality, HR and systemic problems of racial subordination --so much so that this has come to seem increasingly natural. A legal regime intended to balance power and promote democracy has given way to one that ignores the huge difference in power between corporations and individual workers. Law ignores this discrepancy and thus deepens it. Irrational and opportunistic political and economic decisions are constantly subjected to technocratic and ‘juristocratic’ oversight. This has helped create a world of low-wage and insecure jobs that endangers workers’ health and safety. And, furthermore, trade regimes give capital priority causing market logic to rule-over more and more public needs. All the while, the marketplace has increasingly become a locus of concentrated power --laws unequivocally condoning this. (Boston Review)


[Yes, generalizations are risky and there will always be omissions. Even then, some generalization is necessary given the urgency of giving some sense to what, for now, does not seem to make any sense at all. (Boaventura de Sousa Santos)].


‘Much-less-state and much-more-market’, or the processes that demolish/massacre democracy (Riccardo Petrella)


4. The above is what the promotion of the so called ‘Third Way’ in-the-name-of-‘beyond-state-and-market’ is all about. The Third Way has been the Trojan Horse by which the political class gets elected to promote and defend their brand of universal rights and social justice for the most marginalized social groups. But this brand literally submits life on Earth to the economic predatory imperatives of a devastating globalization of nature and of society.


5. We have thus seen the replacement of the rule of law and of the social and democratic government by a system called ‘global economic governance’ based on competition/exclusion, trade agreements with in-transparent negotiations --all urgently calling on claim holders to confront duty bearers. Why? Because this governance is based on the commodification of all essential and irreplaceable goods for life; on the marginalization of human and social rights; and on the privatization of political power --as demonstrated by the imperial power of the world’s major private economic groups such as the GAFAM group (Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon-Microsoft) and the Big Food/Big Pharma group.


6. The dominance of the so-called ‘reasons of science and technology’ favor a mystifying and utilitarian use of technoscience now playing a major role in the Third Way brand.** We are witnessing the capitulation of national governments to a transfer of the power of ownership and of the use and control (and therefore of regulation) of life on Earth to the producers of new technology-intensive systems and services; this clearly extends these producers’ hegemony on a global scale.

**: I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will then have a generation of idiots. (Albert Einstein) […and for Marx, history is actually the history of technological innovations].


7. Patents are the highest expression of this, together with the primacy of the right of private interests to rule the world.*** Everything is decided by ‘technical’ committees (most often mixed public-private) dominated by representatives of TNCs and the of world of finance. In this context, scientists act as servants and governments as supporting notaries, adopting actions by government decree thus reducing the role of parliamentary institutions to little or nothing. Neither the citizens nor the majority of members of parliament have fought to defend-to-the-end the sacrosanct right of the people to information and to democracy.

***: The nation is the most precious possession of oligarchies. Their allegiance to nation is stronger than that in any other domain including family, religion, ethnicity. When they refer to the national interest what they are actually referring to is their power-yielding class interests. (Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein) [We know those oligarchies and we know them well. We know they have no scruples when it comes to defend their interests. (Grafitti in Chile)].


8. Based on what principle of legitimacy do governments continue to claim that they cannot give relevant information to citizens?


-The right to relevant information is just as fundamental as the right to clean water and air!


9. The rulers go by the thought that most human beings are ignorant and must remain so. In the past they went essentially by the will of God; so, then, today: they go by the reasons of their rulers?

Farewell to the sovereignty of the people? No!

-The mockery of people’s sovereignty could not be more discouraging.

10. As said, the dominant social groups in the most powerful countries claim that their decisions are dictated by scientific and technical tenets. It is science, they say, and with-it technology, that dictates political choices. They claim that the sovereignty of the people belongs to the people, but that it is expressed through its scientists and technologists (in practice through their financiers…). Ensuring the proper functioning and sustainability of the current flawed system is very much based on patents regulated by WTO treaties. The power of science is not used openly, transparently and is not shared; it is increasingly centralized and exclusive --and is enslaved by technocrats


11. The time has come not for a transition (ecological, energy, digital and other) according to the rules of the existing system, but for the liberation of humanity from the ‘lords of life’ and their new forms of colonization of the world that are at the root of the current mega upheavals and crises. (all the above from R. Petrella)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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-Frederick Taylor, 1856-1915, inventor of the rational organization of work --Taylorism-- used to put up a sign in the work places where thousands of workers worked that said: “Check your brain out” (leave your brain out of the workplace). To think, you have those in management up there”.

-I found this metaphor revealing: Globalization naively expects ‘more birds to fly-into, rather than out-of an open birdcage’. your social media marketing partner
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