Capitalism replaces human rights with inhuman rights


LISBON (Avante) -- Proclaiming that "all men are born free and equal" and that government of the people arises from the citizens themselves, rather than from any "divine right," the French Revolution began a new era in human history.

However, for the liberal revolutions of the 19th century, social rights were not counted among the rights of man or of citizenship. Only with the great social revolutions of the 20th century such as the Soviet Revolution and post-World War II revolutionary processes, were social rights transformed into political reality.

However, once big capital regained its domination over the former USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe it decided that it was time to roll back history.

Portuguese Prime Minister Sócrates' recent "Pact for Economic Stability and Growth," and other economic recovery plans all across the capitalist world are now being floated on this dark sea of reaction.

These economic recovery plans turn the idea of human rights inside-out, replacing human rights with inhuman rights.

High-placed EU officials in Brussels, singing in chorus with capital-dominated governments, proclaim the "right" to throw millions of people out of work. Radio and TV commentators demand cuts in job-related benefits and state social services, presenting as "inevitable" the transfer of social rights to private capital, "just like any other item of merchandise."

Singing in tune, they all look for new and more "modern" ways to ratchet up the intensity and quantity of work, and to freeze or cut salaries, retirement and benefits. The "right" to free circulation of capital gives the green light to gigantic, planetary-scale speculation that plunges entire countries into crisis and despair. Any country's economy can be brought to its knees overnight by factors beyond national control, violating the people's right to manage their own resources as they see fit.

A transfer of the political power to manage society into the hands of those who hold economic power is now being openly proposed as an "alternative" to democracy. This is the "hard line" that is being ever more insistently advocated in order to achieve "economic recovery."

When inhuman rights try to turn back history, it is time to sound a loud alarm. Time does not run backward. We must act to safeguard that heritage of generations that we call "human rights."

Photo: Avante

Aurelio Santos writes for Avante, the newspaper of the Portuguese Communist Party. Translation by Owen Williamson.


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  • What the article is talking about is that, given the failure of capitalist models of cross-border economic integration, such as the EU one, two things can happen: Either the ruling class will try to IMPOSE solutions through lower wages, cuts in government benefits etc. or the working class will FIGHT BACK and impose its own solution involving, among other things, making the rich bear the burden for the problems they have created. Santos clearly feels that there is a danger that if the fightback is not strong enough, the ruling class will be capable of imposing anti-democratic right wing controls, as existed in his native Portugal until the early 1970s, Greece after the 1968 military coup, etc. Sounds to me he knows what he's talking about.
    The UE model was supposed to integrate rich countries like Germany, France and the UK with relatively poor countries like Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain via a system of economic aid from the richer countries to the poorer ones, to make sure that integration did not simply swamp the latter. This aid was supposed to eventally produce equalization among the countries, so that they would eventually all be at the same level of wealth and economic development. The left, including the communist parties in the area, opposed this from the beginning as a scam. Now they are proven right.
    We see the same thing in our own hemisphere. NAFTA was supposed to integrate the wealthy economies of the United States and Canada with the much poorer one of Mexico; CAFTA-DR and other deals had a similar rationale. They never worked to the benefit of poor people (workers and small farmers) in the poorer countries or the richer. But there is now a multinational effort in the poorer countries, most specifically the ALBA group, to break away from this vertical relationship and create new horizontal mechanisms of trade and aid among the poorer countries. My guess is that the poorer countries of Europe are going to have to get together and find a solution to the current problem facing most of them. This won't happen without pressure from the left, because I doubt that either the PASOK government in Greece or the Socrates government in Portugal have the nerve to break with the existing system. To clarify this situation is what I understand to be comrade Santos' purpose in writing the article.

    Posted by , 05/16/2010 3:52pm (6 years ago)

  • It's a tough situation... with so much protectionism, yes, attempts to make things fair become misconstrued.

    So-called attempts to make the US safer prompt fearful governors to try to institutionalize racism, like it's happening in Arizona.

    It's also true though, the current economic crisis is a concrete example of how misguided attempts at profit-making can spin the planet into complete instability and despair.

    We just have to keep instilling sanity in and with everyone we come in touch with.

    Posted by Calo, 04/27/2010 3:49am (6 years ago)

  • I agree.
    But how do we solve this problem?
    Here in the US, the moment you demand
    fair treatment for all you're denounced
    as a leftist or a "liberal". I don't think
    one has to be a leftist to expect that the
    government should serve all of the people
    and not just the rich.
    It seems that the rich have already seized
    power by buying off the government officials
    and they're not going to relinquish it without
    a violent fight.

    Posted by TC, 04/25/2010 9:17am (6 years ago)

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