Über mich

Dienstag, 17. September 2019

The fragility of human rights and of climate justice

(Translation of "Die Fragilität von Menschenrechten und Klimagerechtigkeit" first appeared on  Journal21 am 15.9.2019, updated 27.4.2020)

I share the longing of all who are committed to human rights and to climate justice together with Greenpeace, Fastenopfer, Bread for All, Climate Strikers and the Swiss Green Party, which has inscribed climate justice on its flag before last autumns election. 

By demanding human rights and climate justice you confirm to yourself and others that you are a good person - perhaps sometimes this might be the only reason for this demands and this is acceptable. But if these demands were an unrealistic pious wish, could it be possible that you are deceiving yourself? And if you put them before the electorate could you then perhaps be cheating on voters? (But then false promises have always been the core business of politicians).

Of course, human rights are anyway demanded from various sides: Politicians traveling to China, who want to assure their clientele how everything is so human at home (This is not talked about on trips to the USA).
Major powers like to talk about democracy and human rights in order to justify resource wars and attempts at regime-overthrow which regularly leave the attacked countries ruined. It is doubtful for example that the violent elimination of Gadaffi in Libya has had any positive effect.
Last but not least, human rights for the Left and Greens serve as a justification for asylum and climate justice, even if the sneakers they wear were produced under inhumane conditions (I also wear sneakers).
It would undoubtedly be wonderful if human rights were attached to every human being, in a way nose and ears are attached to them. But they are not. Human rights are a construct of modern times and enlightenment, and their first proclamation in the 1776 American Declaration of Independence begins:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."

The phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." clearly shows that this is an opinion or a belief, rather than an objectively verifiable fact, such as the fact that the human being has nose and ears. A more modern formulation was adopted by the United Nations in 1948. In 1966, the so-called civil pact on civil and political rights was added, as well as the social pact on economic and sociocultural rights. All together form the international charter of human rights.
These ideas did not become widely accepted until the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in Europe and North America, where the affluence created by colonial exploitation, use of fossil fuels, and industrialization became so great that it became more convenient for the ruling elite to grant modest prosperity and the appearance of rights to the lower classes in order to avoid tiresome conflicts.
Outside Europe and North America, on the other hand, there is usually no affluence, but scarcity; and then almost inevitably power is seized by a clique, which looks to its own interests, often takes on the role of the former colonial powers, and suppresses the rest of the population. Therefore, for more than 80 per cent of the world's population, human rights are just a wishful dream or a lie. Even in the US they are only partially respected (Guantanamo, killings by drones without trial, discrimination against the black population by the police and judicial system). The Muslim countries have their own version, which gives priority to the Sharia law.
In tyrannies the suppression mechanisms are always the same: the inner circle of power bases itself on profiteers and together they  control state power, e.g. police and army, which are also awarded privileges. Democracy, opposition and independent judiciaries are undermined, and thinking people are silenced. The necessary brutality and terror is often performed by a specialised repressive apparatus (Gestapo, KGB, SAVAK). Even science is not secure if it gets in the way of the power monopoly: the Pope against Galileo, Hitler against Einstein, Stalin with Lysenko against genetics.
This suppression takes place behind a user interface, which may look different in each case, but cannot hide the fact that the underlying mechanism is always the same. The costume may be religious (Iran, Saudi Arabia, pseudo-religious Marxism), or nationalist-military (China, Egypt), or both (Russia). The detailed description and classification of these facades does not seem very relevant, since they are only rationalizations and confabulations.
In case of shortage even progressive states are threatened by relapses into the rule of cliques, such as was the case in Germany during the economic crisis after the crash of 1929. Also Trump’s United States shows telling initial symptoms: impoverishment of the middle class, distortion of democracy by gerrymandering and obstruction of suffrage, closeness to generals, pressurizing or gagging of secret services, the judiciary and climate sciences, flirtations with a temporally unlimited time in office, so that even Republicans recently expressed concern about a totalitarian development. The facade in the USA is nationalist-religious as in Russia, which probably explains the mutual sympathies.
In the context of the climate catastrophe, many goodwillers talk about human rights and climate justice. But with further warming, drought, scarcity and famine will spread throughout the world. Johan Rockström, Director at the Potsdam Climate Research Institute, says that with four degrees of global warming, earth may not be able to feed eight billion people, maybe not even half of that.
The inevitable consequence will be distribution battles and massacres even in so-called developed countries. That’s us. 
Then only the law of the jungle remains, and if nothing is left, also the emperor has lost his rights. A survivor of the Warsaw ghetto told me that, of course, one kills fellow inmates for the last piece of bread. At the same time, the climate catastrophe will also slowly burn plant and animal life, so claiming higher rights for the human race will become illusory anyway. 
Whoever seriously thinks that the 1.5 degree goal, human rights and climate justice are more than wishful thinking is deceiving himself and perhaps others. Above all, he proves that he has not understood anything of the seriousness of our predicament.

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar posten

Kommentare und Korrekturen sind willkommen und werden nach Prüfung freigeschaltet.