Austerity

Austerity policies (for some more general considerations on austerity see here)  in Belgium are not new – and a 2013 study by Oxfam about

THE TRUE COST OF AUSTERITY AND INEQUALITY

may provide a glimpse at the problem. And it clearly shows the tensions that are not least caused by the European Union policies. So, it is no wonder that we find no measures against countries as Hungary where we find an ongoing battle about the attempts of the Orban-Government to criminalise homelessness and the homeless – relative success stories, informing us that the

Hungary Supreme Court Allows Homeless Back on Streets

are surely overshadowed by the fact that the same policy is now pursued by different means, as according to the same source now

The bill allows district local councils to rule certain areas as prohibited for the homeless. [1]

Of course, it still is a success, not least as we have to recognise in this context that

Civil Rights Groups Rally against Ban of Homeless from Public Areas

But, coming back to Belgium, there is more to it:

In short we may speak of a “convergence” of policies in Europe against homelessness as policies against the homeless.

Noteworthy is that austerity policies in Belgium are increasingly virulent.

In consequence not least of this Belgio-European political course we find that the scale of poverty increased tremendously recently, doubling in just four years.

But that is not all – these dramatic cuts in personal lives are going hand in hand with the redefinition of public spaces and the responsibility of private.

If EUrope really wants to claim its roots in ancient traditions (which is surely dangerous in some respect, e.g. if we think about the abduction of Europe by Zeus)[2]/[3] there would be good reason to revisit for instance Cicero’s work stating in paragraph 22 of the first book of De Officciis

Sed quoniam, ut praeclare scriptum est a Platone, non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici, atque, ut placet Stoicis, quae in terris gignantur, ad usum hominum omnia creari, homines autem hominum causa esse generatos, ut ipsi inter se aliis alii prodesse possent, in hoc naturam debemus ducem sequi, communes utilitates in medium adferre, mutatione officiorum, dando accipiendo, tum artibus, tum opera, tum facultatibus devincire hominum inter homines societatem.

Steven Hill argues that

Europe … was founded on a feudal and Catholic value system which believed that the exercise of privilege by the wealthy came with wider social obligations beyond mere charity. Typical of this view, St. Augustine in the 5th century AD declared, “He who uses his wealth badly possesses it wrongfully.”

But even in Northern American law we find, according to Gregory S. Alexander the notion

that American property law, both on the private and public sides, includes a social-obligation norm, but that this norm has never been explicitly recognized as such nor systemically developed

Sure, engaging in this debate would open a wide field – Aquinas, for instance can be interpreted in both ways, as supporter of equality and inequality alike, as advocate of accumulation and modesty. And there would also be the need to discuss the “translation” of ancient traditions (not only of Christianity but also of Islam and all the others) into “modernity”.

In any case, the reality is rather simple: the public, the common, the general interest had been redefined by these European institutions – and they are further redefined – giving the power away to private bodies that are now building their fortresses within the fortress.

Looking at this fortress then, here the recent excessively violent form, it remains to be discussed if it is in line with Article 1 – Protection of property of the Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [4]

Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

Sure, looking at the formulation of this passage from the protocol shows the entire dilemma: lawful is what is said by the law and the law says what the lawmakers say.

There can only be one conclusion then: we need a law made by the people and not for the people …. – and of course, for this we need the public spaces.

Otherwise, there are too many ways of people being killed – and some are slower than this, but not less brute.

 

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[1] Hmmmm …: I opened the Wall Street Journal website for several times now and there is always the same ad coming up: “Discover your Perfect Home”

[2] see Maria Mies: Europe in the Global Economy or the Need to De-Colonize Europe; in: Peter Herrmann (Ed.): Challenges for a Global Welfare System: Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; 1999: 153-171; here: 160 f.

[3]            see in this context also the reflections SURELY PROVOCATIVE – THE STAGING OF ‘RUSALKA’ and EUROPE ANCIENT AND PRESENT

[4] as amended by Protocol No. 11 (Paris, 20.III.1952 – according to the provisions of Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155), as of its entry into force, on 1 November 1998)

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Comments
One Response to “Austerity”
  1. williamthompsonucc ha detto:

    for Belgium – general strik in December:

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