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writing for godot

Until lions have their own historians, hunting stories will continue to glorify hunters. (African proverb)

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Saturday, 24 July 2021 15:22

Human rights: Food for the thought of lions  ‘HR lost in history’


Human Rights Reader 587


[TLDR (too long didn’t read): This Reader is about how conventional history has created a picture that leaves out ‘the other half’ of history; this, with dire implications for human rights. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text].


-For people fighting our damn wars there are no winners or losers; just survivors. But be it as it may, glory has always gone to the victors; political history shows us that. (David Baldacci, The Whole Truth)

-Does war serve as an entertainment function for the powerful to which they invite the powerless misers to be on the front line? (Henri Jeanson) "Guns don't kill people, people kill people…"

-Wars are fought and won so that more wars have to be fought, because peace efforts are always fouled in civilian conferences. (James Clavell, Tai-Pan)


A history of dead myths?


-To believe in an ‘official’ history means trusting the word of criminals. (Simone Weil)

-Conventional history takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. History should have been tallied up differently. (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)


1. Our school history lessons only exposed us to what happened fifty, a hundred or more years ago. The best history books, I think, are autobiographies since many conventional historians chronicle(d) as per the wishes of the powers of the day thus being incapable of shaking off their ideological biases.* (Juan Pablo Cardenas)

*: ‘The West’ wrote its own history, overestimating its role considerably. Viewing the past from the perspective of the present has created a lot of unjustified myths and presents it as if the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were really fundamental breakthroughs that gave the West an undeniable advantage and superiority. Could this be a far distance from the truth? We must move away from such easy black-and-white thinking. (Jack Goody) Noteworthy here is the fact that the role of corporate-endowed-foundations has also been successful in rewriting history in order to give presentations that are in line with their ideology and mission (think English and Dutch East India Companies, Rockefeller, Bill and Melinda Gates foundations… ). [You want another example?: Recycle. Fly less. Eat less meat. These are some of the ways that we've been told can slow climate change. But the inordinate emphasis on individual behavior is the result of a marketing campaign that has succeeded in placing the responsibility for fixing climate change squarely on the shoulders of individuals/consumers. (Michael Mann)].



All big events of human history can also be seen in their contradictions (Esteban Valenti)


2. The barbaric aspects of human history have been grounded in intolerance --a fertile soil for classism, racism, fundamentalism and for the rise of totalitarian regimes.** But they are also the base of cries of anger towards those that feed nonsense recounts into conventional history. The vortex of deaths in history was too often encouraged by ultra-conservatism, fascism and communism and was tolerated, even supported, by the three big monotheisms (Christianity, Judaism and Islam). Those who thought that the dark times of the past had been overcome and that history would eventually bring us objective knowledge, today must accept that they suffered from excessive optimism. (Victor Toledo)

**: Over-and-over such intolerance starved those rendered poor into submission or killed them by pain. As I look back upon man moving through history, I am haunted by a feeling of loss. So much has been surrendered and to such a little purpose. There have been monstrous forms of torture and of denial whose ultimate origin was fear. (Oscar Wilde, op cit) “You do not see the river of tears that have been shed in history, because history still does not have in it a tear shed by you”. (Antonio Porchia)


3. Ponder: Armies never explicitly forbid acts of violence against the masses of peasants and blue-collar workers.*** In the same way, international institutions never forbid wars, taking into account that they simply imposed the laws that glorify the domination of the strongest without trying to understand the social mechanisms at play and their ultimate consequences --including those on human rights (HR). (Frederic Lordon)

***: “If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them would remain in the army”. (Frederick the Great)


4. Take for example:


  • The peoples of Europe oppressed and fought bloody wars to consolidate their power and then they erected statues for their heroes and elevated the cult of their dead into a national religion. (If, for example, you ask Italian children who they would like to be like, most of them will undoubtedly choose to be a blond hero). Wars have always been fought for the sake of commerce, not of civilization. (Men are only painted with civilization but, if they scratch their wolf’s skin, it immediately becomes apparent that the right of the mightiest is the only one they recognize). Humanity needs a cleansing of its blood to erase many of the injustices they have inflicted. But so many of our leaders do not really repent for having left the masses in a state of ignorance. (Antonio Gramsci)
  • The commitment of European colonial capitalists to maintain their dominance resulted in a veritable bloodbath in which literally millions died and whole nations and cultures were destroyed. But what is incredible about this orgy of death and destruction imposed on so many over the decades and centuries, is that simultaneous to committing genocides and enslaving and perfecting new and more effective weapons of mass destruction, the Western world claimed to be the championing HR(!), and they largely got away with it. Key among these tactics was the categorization of human beings into those with rights and those without --this having invariably always been a racialized distinction. (Ajamu Baraka)
  • Moreover, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (a source for historians?) that, every year since 1976, has issued HR reports on every nation on the globe --with the exception of the United States itself (causing other nations to retort: “We have no Guantanamo”). These reports, and the closely related reports on civil and political rights of organizations (like the millionaire-funded Human Rights Watch that operates a revolving door with Washington) are designed to provide Washington and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with justifications for: (1) military buildups and threats of war; (2) the carrying out of actual wars and military interventions; (3) economic sanctions and blockades (a form of modern siege warfare designed to starve out populations); (4) political interference in the elections of other countries; and (5) the launching of ‘color revolutions’ --all means that are directed primarily at non-subservient nations officially targeted as human rights violators by Washington. (Monthly Review editorial)


Bottom line: There is no paint that can cover injustice (graffiti in Santiago, Chile)


-Yes, the need is for a more comparative history, a kind of histoire raisonnee taking a more holistic view.

-If you do not know the true history, then you do not know anything; you are a leaf that does not know it is part of a tree. (Michael Crichton)


5. It would seem that many conventional historians never passed the theory of history 101 course. It is therefore that they miss assimilating the truth behind concrete historically neglected facts; they do not take-in the fact that the historical truth is not subjective.**** It would seem they disregard the fact that the only criterion of this truth is what happens in all social groups. As a result, starting from what is a historical lie, they have created an understanding that is contrary to the true roots of history. (Cesar Cerda)

****: Despite its pretended objectivity, history is a literary genre (sometimes well crafted), but with all this implies for its distorting or bending reality. (Albino Gomez)


6. Urgent: The new generations must be clearly exposed to the reality that conventional history ignores certain subjects of history --and that affects their understanding of the world. (Gianni Tognoni)


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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-Journalists can barely be the accepted source of information for conventional historians; but they occasionally have been/are.

-In his Nobel Prize speech, Albert Camus said that the writer plays a role that does not absolve him from difficult obligations. Therefore, he would not, on this day, put his skills at the service of historians, but at the service of those who suffer the ravages of history. He saw his obligation to be to resist oppression.

-As Tolstoy pointed out, Napoleon succeeded in invading Russia, because he had a powerful army. But is this all? ‘Achievements’ like this are never solitary so that the suffering and HR violations got lost in translation…. your social media marketing partner
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