Tag: Human Rights

Guantanamo is still there … and the number of Guantanomos is multiplying.

When it comes to dis­reg­arding human rights and in­ter­na­tional legal ob­lig­a­tions, Guantanamo is easily matched by the 400 mi­grant de­ten­tion centres across Europe.One of the reasons why President Obama’s mandate has fallen many miles short of expectations is his clear lack of will — let’s dispense with euphemisms — to deliver his promise to close…

Socialism and rights: A reply to David Renton’s ‘Do socialists still have an alternative concept of rights?’

Each generation of “human rights” has its origins in revolutionary struggle, and that is why they remain, unlike black-letter law, so powerful and so scandalous.David Renton’s thoughtful and trenchant article in SL64 [Ed: republished 18 Nov 2013 on CLT] has done us all a great service, opening up questions of crucial importance to the Haldane Society. That…

Do socialists still have an alternative concept of rights?

Socialists should demand what is absolutely incompatible with the conditions of capital and the State: the right not to be exploited.An obvious starting point is Karl Marx’s position on human rights. We can begin with his response in 1844 to Bruno Bauer’s pamphlet The Jewish Question, in which Bauer opposed Jewish demands for political liberation…

Transphobia

A recent publication by Greek magazine LiFO clearly shows that on our backs and around gender, strategic games of liberties are to be played.  “I have a hard time making my mind take place…” begins the poem Body & Isn’t by Bruce Covey. Indeed, it is hard for the mind to take place when it…

Decolonizing the Teaching of Human Rights?

Mestizaje - Guayasamin

According to the new Bolivian constitution, education is “one of the most important functions and primary financial responsibilities of the State”; it is “unitary, public, universal, democratic, participatory, communitarian, decolonizing and of quality” (art. 78, I); and, throughout the entire educational system, it is “intra-cultural, inter-cultural and multi-lingual” (art. 78, II), where its “inter-cultural character…

Seven Counter-theses on Human Rights

A response to Costas Douzinas’ Seven Theses on Human Rights In his 2007 book Human Rights and Empire: The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism, Costas Douzinas asks “Are human rights a defensive barrier against domination and oppression or the ideological gloss of an emerging empire?” (p.viii) In posts on this blog Douzinas has reprised many of the…

Prisoners’ Hunger Strike in California

Daletha Hayden hasn’t hugged her son in four years. Since 2009, the only face-to-face contact they’ve had has been through thick glass. Even phone calls are not allowed in Tehachapi State Prison’s isolation unit. Despite the separation, she said she has seen the effect solitary confinement has had on him. “He has these bouts of…

Seven Theses on Human Rights: (7) Cosmopolitanism, Equality & Resistance

Thesis 7: For a cosmopolitanism to come (or the idea of communism). Against imperial arrogance and cosmopolitan naivety, we must insist that global neoliberal capitalism and human-rights-for-export are part of the same project. The two must be uncoupled; human rights can contribute little to the struggle against capitalist exploitation and political domination. Their promotion by…

Seven Theses on Human Rights: (6) Desire

Thesis 6: In advanced capitalist societies, human rights become strategies for the publicization and legalization of (insatiable) individual desire. Liberal theories from Immanuel Kant to John Rawls present the self as a solitary and rational entity endowed with natural characteristics and rights and in full control of himself. Rights to life, liberty, and property are…

Seven Theses on Human Rights: (5) Depoliticization

Thesis 5: In advanced capitalist societies, human rights depoliticize politics. Rights form the terrain on which people are distributed into rulers, ruled, and excluded. Power’s mode of operation is revealed, if we observe which people are given or deprived of which rights at which particular place or point in time. In this sense, human rights…

Seven Theses on Human Rights: (4) Universalism & Communitarianism are Interdependent

Guernica Sun

Thesis 4: Universalism and communitarianism rather than being opponents are two types of humanism dependent on each other. They are confronted by the ontology of singular equality. The debate about the meaning of humanity as the ground normative source is conducted between universalists and communitarians. The universalist claims that cultural values and moral norms should…

Seven Theses on Human Rights: (1) The Idea of Humanity

Thesis 1: The idea of ‘humanity’ has no fixed meaning and cannot act as the source of moral or legal rules. Historically, the idea has been used to classify people into the fully human, the lesser human, and the inhuman. If ‘humanity’ is the normative source of moral and legal rules, do we know what…

On Human Rights: Two Simple Remarks

Today, political correctness demands that we say in French droits humains [human rights] when we used to say droits de l’homme [rights of man]. This demand, which also occurs in other areas, is made because the French homme, like man in English, does not distinguish between the human race and the male gender. German is better equipped, differentiating between Mensch and Mann. Latin distinguishes between vir and homo, Greek between anèr and anthropos, etc. We could discuss the reasons for this. However, it is also important to note the introduction of another ambiguity. The adjective ‘human’ in French has a value that corresponds to the usual meaning we now give to the term ‘humanist’ and, more generally, to the moral qualities of ‘care’ (a word which has recently been imported unchanged from English into French), ‘compassion’ or ‘charity’.

Happiness and Human Rights in Shangri-La

In the early 1990s, Indra was forced to flee her home country of Bhutan after her father had been imprisoned and tortured. “In prison they hung my father upside down and beat him. Then they hung him over chili smoke,” she explained. “After that they ordered him to leave the country with all his family.…

The Bias of Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch’s se­lective and biased ap­plic­a­tion of the human rights norms en­shrined in the UN Declaration not only un­der­mines its cred­ib­ility, it also pro­motes injustice. Over the past thirty years, Human Rights Watch has become one of the most recognized non-governmental organizations in the world due to its global promotion of human rights. But…

Human Rights or a Bill of Rights?

The only pro­gress­ive legal step is to intro­duce social and eco­nomic rights into UK law The debate over the future of the Human Rights Act (‘HRA’) has been somewhat surreal. The Labour position is schizophrenic. Labour introduced the Act but was justifiably accused of violating most of its principles in its obsession with security. But…

Blustering over the European Convention on Human Rights

On why we should oppose those who wish to take the UK out of this bourgeois system.One would think that it’s the Battle of Britain all over again. On 21 November 2012 the Daily Mail carried the headline “Defiant Chris Grayling says Britain can ignore Strasbourg fines if we ban prisoners from having the vote”.…