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writing for godot


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Friday, 29 November 2019 20:34



Human rights: Food for the primordial thought  ‘HR in the era of populocracy’


Human Rights Reader 506


Politics is not the art of the possible, but the result of the correlation of forces (Louis Casado)


1. These days, in so many countries, politics are not based on ideas but on how you can successfully exploit the guts of the people, waving banners against immigrants and splintering countries between “We” who represent the people and “You”, the enemy of the country. Welcome to ‘populocracy’: Is this not a sign that plutocracy is replacing democracy? ‘Populocracy’ is the new wave of the new elite.* It is creating an unprecedented polarization accompanied by an orgy of revolt against science and knowledge --human rights (HR) obviously also falling between the cracks. [But every country has the government it deserves. It is called democracy… Nobody can make a people happy against their will]. (Roberto Savio)

*: The modern conservative movement has tried to restrict majority rule at every turn, because they know a mass democratic movement poses an existential threat to their power. (Miles Culpepper)


2. So, not surprisingly, we end up with reality no longer being a factor in elections. Other factors like feelings have become more important. We all see the loss of the quality in the political debate due to the predominance of the use of gut feelings and fear mongering, instead of political rationality. When emotions, and not ideas, become the basic content of politics --and it is ‘the stomach’ and not the brain that decides-- we enter the kingdom of mythologies and we leave reality out of the picture. (R. Savio)


3. Let’s face it: We still have very strong aggressive governments that are reluctant to expand social protection and that make sure things stay deregulated. This makes us live in societies that are built on exclusion; that are built, in particular, on the exploitation of natural and human resources. Neoliberalism uses the power and forces of the state in order to decrease the power of labor and to deregulate and to protect the profitability of firms. It has become the dominant economic consensus the world over. (Bhaskar Sunkara)

Many people think that truth conveys power (Yuval Noah Harari)

4. Too many people think that our leaders, religions and the extreme ideologies actually misinterpret reality and that they end up losing to rivals that present a clearer vision. They, therefore, believe that sticking to the truth is the best strategy to (eventually) gain/acquire power. Unfortunately, this is only a myth that makes us feel comfortable. The fact is that truth and power have a much more complicated relationship because, in human societies, power can mean two very different things. On the one hand, having power means the capacity to manipulate objective realities; this type of power is more linked to departing from the truth. On the other hand, power also means having the capacity of manipulating human beliefs; with this, many people can be made to cooperate in an effective way making it possible to unite millions of people who then believe totally fictitious stories about God, race or the economy. (By the way,  note that we humans believe in many other much more insensible things…).


5. If political loyalties are measured using our belief in true narratives, anybody can fake a loyalty. Astute leaders often deliberately say insensible things with the intention to identify who is unconditionally with them and can thus be counted-on. Along human history, fictitious stories, over and over, succeeded over the truth. For hundreds of years, academics and historians have known this. This is why they so often have had to choose between serving the truth or serving social harmony. Socrates chose the truth and was made to commit suicide. History’s most powerful institutions,** be they the clergy in different religions or those of the Stalin era, chose unity over truth; this is why they became so powerful! (Y.N. Harari)

**: As Gabriel Garcia Marquez said in an interview: “I am interested in power, because in it can be found all the greatness and misery of human existence. Yes, as Kissinger said, power is an aphrodisiac. But my dictator says that, as regards to power, he never finds out what kind of power he has; he fights for it every day”. And towards the end, my dictator adds: “Damn it: the problem with this country is that nobody’s ever paid attention to me”. …He knows the solitude of power. If individual power does not work, the only thing left is its opposite: counter-power.


Elite politics


6. The formal human governance systems on Earth --that is, governments and intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations-- are controlled by a global elite that is invisible-to, and hence not considered-by, most people including some activists. This, of course, is how the elite wants it and one can still readily find accounts that ask if the elite (by whatever name it is given) actually exists and even ascribe tis invisibility a mystical quality provided the idea is not simply written-off as a ‘conspiracy theory’.


Well, the global elite does exist and its membership can be readily identified (Robert J. Burrowes)


7. As these elites internationalized their reach, a truly global elite, consolidated its control over the world. The global elite defends its power, profits and privilege against any rebellion by the ‘unruly exploited masses’. Human rights are not in its radar.


8. Understanding permanent wars as an economic relief valve for surplus capital is a vital part of comprehending capitalism in the world today. War provides investment opportunities for the Giants and the Transnational Corporate Class elites on top of providing a guaranteed return on capital. War also serves a repressive function of keeping the suffering masses of humanity afraid and compliant.


In plain language then


9. The global elite manages human governance systems for its benefit with no concern for ordinary people’s rights taking away their dignity in the name of their ulterior motives. People and planet are considered unworthy of attention. From the elite perspective, the most important function that international agencies and governments perform is to keep control over certain jurisdictions the elite seeks to control. By having activist lobbying governments or even attempting to change the ruling party in government, the elite’s efforts to control is jeopardized and nothing of consequence to them changes. They have thus moved into positions of significant control over all major political processes, parties and their policies. The elite also allows a ‘genuinely progressive’ candidate to emerge regularly so that activists are again sucked into putting effort into electoral outcomes rather than building movements for broad-based social and HR transformation based on grassroots organizing.


10. A small (but nevertheless significant) proportion of elite wealth is used to create and manage the dominant narrative of their ‘innocence’; they finance the production of such a narrative, generated by elite think tanks, and then distribute it through education systems, the entertainment industry and the corporate media. In short, we are bombarded with elite propaganda, given names such as ‘education’, ‘entertainment’, ‘edutainment’ and ‘news’, that hopelessly distort the popular perception of what is taking place.


11. In essence then, while the description of how the world works as offered above is accurate, it is driven by an insane elite --endlessly and compulsively accumulating profit, power and privilege at the expense of ordinary people and the biosphere-- and by the insanity of those who serve the elite, such as virtually all politicians and business people, bankers and accountants, judges and lawyers,*** academics and corporate media personnel. Activists’ struggles fail, because so many activists do not understand how the world works --including how the elite exercises its power. This means, most importantly, having a clear sense of the ‘big picture’ (including those overarching structures and actors in far-off places that maintain/perpetrate the local manifestations of violence and exploitation). Fundamentally, this requires an astute understanding of the global power structure.

***: “The lawyer does not have to know the law, s/he must know the judge”. We know that, forever, our justice systems have been classist, have discriminated about rich and poor  --not to talk about HR-- and have looked the other way on horrendous crimes in history. It is vox-populi that, historically, criminals of he high bourgoisie (elite) have escaped unscathed from trials thanks to the pressure exerted by money and the power of their families. It would be good to ask ourselves if we really believe in the integrity of all judges. Ask ourselves also why so many citizens do not denounce drug dealers, unscrupulous managers who enter and exit the justice system so rapidly and/or paying only half as much as what their embezzlements and collusions were. Or, if you prefer, ask ourselves why so few politicians are sentenced for fraud, tax evasion and/or violation of electoral laws. Furthermore, can we ignore the work of lobbyists that knock at the doors of courts attempting to swing judges’ decisions? And what is happening with our law schools when, from them, are graduating so many money-making lawyers that serve the unscrupulous that pay them handsomely for their defense by manipulating a traffic of influences to ‘soften’ judges? (Juan Pablo Cárdenas)


12. As the historical record tragically demonstrates, if we do not understand how power works in society, particularly structurally, including in relation to the conflicts we seek to resolve, then we cannot plan and implement a strategy that will work. But it also requires our analysis to include a reasonable understanding of how key issues (such as war, destruction of the climate and of the environment, as well as the exploitation of women, of working people and of indigenous peoples, and not least HR) intersect and reinforce each other. If we do not thoroughly analyze this conflict, it is impossible to identify the appropriate strategic focus for action and to then plan tactics that address the specific situation. This inevitably means that we are essentially guessing what to do, not knowing in advance, as we should, that the action we take will have strategic impact.


13. The point then is this: It is easy to ask someone else to change their behavior. It is more effective to change your own. Inadequate analysis, perhaps because you simply believe, without investigation of what the global elite is telling you via its many channels, such as its captive mainstream processes (including the education systems and the corporate media), may lead you to work on a totally unrealistic frame and timeframe. So, it is imperative that activists use their analyses (based on truthful sources) to make realistic assessments. Deluding ourselves that we are doing a fine job and congratulating each other for minor gains will not avert human extinction. (Why Activists Fail, Mar 26 2019, Robert J. Burrowes)


14. Actions that for ‘the public opinion’**** can be politically and morally blameworthy, are judged by politicians in government depending on the glasses with which they choose to look at them. That is, they are often judged and justified, for instance, based on the ‘national interest’ (which is what…?). What is forgotten is that no power emanating from such politicians can face the major imminent challenges such as safeguarding human life, HR and the planet. This is why we must redouble efforts to strengthen a fiercely independent multilateral system, its institutions, the cooperation and respect for international legality as the only way to guarantee HR for all. (Fernando Ayala)

****: Human groups inclined to single-issue-thinking though --of which there are many-- tend to standardize other people; this goes hand in hand with fundamentalist and intolerant attitudes. As these groups consider themselves owners-of-the-truth, they consider themselves as normal, ‘as people-like-us-ought-to-be’. Those not considered people-like-us, are labeled in many different ways. Labeling is a form of imposing standardization. Labels are tagged on those that have a different culture, race, religion, residence, sexual inclination, age, ideology …and the list is long. People are consequently labeled as deviants, thieves, corrupt, politically dangerous… Labeling is one of the greatest barriers to the dialogue considered essential for HR work. Collective labeling is evil and highly destructive. It can even lead to the not infrequently heard expression “we have to kill them all”. Killing the bearers of this or that label has been the practice of many a military dictatorship. (Julio Monsalvo)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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A couple more of my iron laws

-The road to utopia leads to dissidence and, in some cases, to rebellion.

(Jules Verne)

-Ideological barriers act as a stained glass through which all of us look at one reality drawing different conclusions.

-What you ignore you empower in your strategic enemy.

-In that very ‘unreality’ unscrupulous politicians have created for themselves, they have found comfort and solace. (V.S. Naipaul)  They love lies. They tell them all day: “I am paid to tell them…” (John Updike, The Centaur) your social media marketing partner
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