Plans – struggling ….

The plan for the weekend is concluding the final touch – the topic a huge one – and the aim to put struggle on the human rights agenda, understanding these rights not as matter of achieving global harmony but als permanent contest about self-determination in a world without borders – obviously an oxymoron.

The subtitle of the present intro, well, actually the title of the book will be

The Right to Stay – the Right to Move

Aren’t we living in a world of abundance?


The present two contributions emerged in rather different contexts than being immediately concerned with what the title suggests: first, the topic employs my thinking for several years – background had been discussions with a former student, Lucey O’Leary, a while back, when I had been teaching in Ireland. She did have a degree in law and discussions emerged from my teaching: social policy, which in my understanding included political economy and also law (social law, philosophy and sociology of law). My background in Political Economy is that of Marx(ism), that of law the learning experience and work at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law/Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich. Over the years, it never worked out to elaborate the reflections which had been nevertheless engaging my mind, guided by the idea of the need of a ‘fourth generation of human rights’.

These considetations moved back towards the top of the agenda while working more recently on economic issues: digitisation and the subsequent hollowing out of social protection systems, but more importantly the far-reaching, though often not sufficiently reflected changes of the mode of production.[1] Leaving the many aspects aside (technology and economics, composition of capital, investment of otherwise overaccumulated capital, shift of and between sectors to name but a few – and considering also that some of the legal issues are very ‘simple’, i.e. issues of blocking social-protection-flight as subspecies of capital flight, applying labour (protection), employment law and (re-)establishing collective bargaining (law) or even more ordinary the criminal offenses of bullying and (sexual) harassment, there are others that require revisiting fudamental issues of law and even further issues around the meaning of justice in a world that is at the very same time shaped by two tensions that are increasingly meaningful and also increasingly interwoven:

  • it is the tension between globalisation, accompanied by standardisation on the one hand and processes of diversification on the other hand.
  • the other trend is about the possibilities of overcoming poverty;[2]but this is just one side of the coin, the other being about an increasing impoverishment, the quasi-destitution of the middle-classes, the shift of impoverishment to the countries that are still the countries of the north and not least the re-establishment of the concurrency of public poverty and private wealth 

Against this background, quesitons of human rights, universality and not least the meaning of socio-economic developments gain new importance, not least demanding overcoming even the standard criteria, or we may also say the standards of criteria. If the present volume had been successful in pursuing this goal is, remains to be decided by the reader.

For me as author remains to thank too many people to list them by their names. There are the many discussants; and there are – two exceptions may be allowed to be personally mentioned: Dorota Borkowska from the Faculty of Economics and Sociology at the University of Łódź, looking after the many students who come every year, diving into what is even today an adventure: studying in a foreign country; and still finding time to support me. The second is Peter Kube, yes, a priest, aus Halle – still, appreciated as discussant and friend to laugh with. Talking with and to him means so much about listening to oneself and I can only hope that it does not mean that he has to go one day a similar way as a person from whom he apparently learned – that person was finally condemned to drinking the hemlock, then price for saying the truth.

Not least, I am grateful for the generous support by The EKSOC Visiting Fellowship Programme at the University of Łódź, Poland (2018/2019) and the preceeding support by the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich, Germany (2017/2018).

[1]     I see thisas core of the entire process while I am admittedly still not entirely sure about the range and wider meaning – the standard answers: (i) nothing really changed, (ii) we witness fundamental changes but they are limited to niches, possibly only temporary outlayers and finally (iii) we are already at the doorsteps of a new mode of production are not really satisfying.

[2]     Evidence may be taken from the success in combatting poverty in China, and also the increasing number of people from the so-called emerging economies joining e.g. the club of the superrich (e.g. Mc Carthy, Niall, 9/2018: Where Super Rich Populations Are Growing Fastest [Infographic])


War – the political intercourse carried on with other means — 9/11/1973

While writing, just before the 9/11 date, I can only assume that there will be another series of memorials … — and the one nearly complete amnesia: September 11, 1973 is the date which marks much more than just another violent rebuke of an alternative to business as usual as capitalist is called — and it is called even more so today, while the hegemony of this kind of business is barely contested in real terms.
What makes the Coup in Chile special?
To begin with, an important point can be taken from a piece by  Ralph Miliband, published in the Jacobin. He makes us aware of the fact that Chile was a showcase. We read
When Salvador Allende was elected to the presidency of Chile in September 1970, the regime that was then inaugurated was said to constitute a test case for the peaceful or parliamentary transition to socialism.
And leaving the different interpretations Miliband utters aide, it is surely true that
class struggle also means, and often means first of all, the struggle waged by the dominant class, and the state acting on its behalf, against the workers and the subordinate classes. By definition, struggle is not a one way process; but it is just as well to emphasize that it is actively waged by the dominant class or classes, and in many ways much more effectively waged by them than the struggle waged by the subordinate classes.
Gabriel García Márquez out this into the wider context in his piece Why Allende had to die?

Chile had long been a favoured area for research by North American social scientists. The age and strength of its popular movement, the tenacity and intelligence of its leaders and the economic and social conditions themselves afforded a glimpse of the country’s destiny. One didn’t require the findings of a Project Camelot to venture the belief that Chile was a prime candidate to be the second socialist republic in Latin America after Cuba. The aim of the United States, therefore, was not simply to prevent the government of Allende from coming to power in order to protect American investments. The larger aim was to repeat the most fruitful operation that imperialism has ever helped bring off in Latin America: Brazil.

And this is the core of such class struggle: undermine systematically any success story that shows that another world is possible. So we read

During the first year, 47 industrial firms were nationalised, along with most of the banking system. Agrarian reform saw the expropriation and incorporation into communal property of six million acres of land formerly held by the large landowners. The inflationary process was slowed, full employment was attained and wages received a cash rise of 30 per cent.
Hegemony, we know too well from Gramsci, is linked to two ways: the direct control, using violence where needed — and this is the force making sure that oppression is maintained if the soft means of hegemonic control fail to fulfill their duty. The geopolitical constellation was clear — The Time Magazine (October 19, 1970) brought it on the point, titling:
Marxist Threat In The Americas – Chile’s Salvador Allende
Indeed, as Márquez points out,
For the Christian Democrats, it was proof that the process of social justice set in motion by the Popular Unity coalition could not be turned back by legal means but they lacked the vision to measure the consequences of the actions they then undertook. For the United States, the election was a much more serious warning and went beyond the simple interests of expropriated firms. It was an inadmissible precedent for peaceful progress and social change for the peoples of the world, particularly those in France and Italy, where present conditions make an attempt at an experiment along the lines of Chile possible. All forces of internal and external reaction came together to form a compact bloc.
At the time, and I remember it well, everything was clear though undocumented – and there was still the attempt of denial – the denial of the obvious fact that this was a geopolitical strategy with many heads behind it. And mentioning those heads, pointing out that it was a coup that had been prepared for some time, had to face too often skeptical answers — but at some stage the truth cannot be denied anymore.
Actually, what is true for the hot war is also true for the cold war. Chile was, at the time of Pinochet, celebrated as blueprint for what is now known as neoliberalism – to on a pedestal by Milton Friedman; and fostered by the IMF. But even in the IMF, some people wake up, seeing in tendency the wrongs for which they stand today:

An assess- ment of these specific policies (rather than the broad neoliberal agenda) reaches three disquieting conclusions:

• The benefits in terms of increased growth seem fairly dif- ficult to establish when looking at a broad group of countries.

• The costs in terms of increased inequality are promi- nent. Such costs epitomize the trade-off between the growth and equity effects of some aspects of the neoliberal agenda.

• Increased inequality in turn hurts the level and sustain- ability of growth. Even if growth is the sole or main purpose of the neoliberal agenda, advocates of that agenda still need to pay attention to the distributional effects.

Back to today’s main stage then where it had been
against Chile as well — for Cuba it had been already the known strategy for a while.
And the new strategy after the democratically elected government was overthrown, was clear. The Pinochet-regime, after first establishing itself by bloody measures, established the new reign – present in an article published in The Guardian:
After Allende’s enemies finally claimed their victory against him on 11 September, Chileans protected themselves as best they could while Pinochet and his cohorts, well favoured now by Washington, turned to making themselves fortunes from the privatisation of public services and, quietly, from the trade in cocaine from Bolivia which the US never seemed to want to criticise or attack.
Indeed, Clausewitz new it and spelled it out:
War is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means.
And it is in this sense that we have to learn about the “invisible financial and economic blockade” Allende spoke of, addressing the UN in December 1972.
— A topic Paul E. Sigmund discussed in Foreign Affairs (Vol. 52, No. 2 (Jan., 1974), pp. 322-340)
And that the war reports today – those on the ‘cold war’ – are not necessarily widely discussed, though fatalities and winners easily can be seen. And we should also not forget that THIS war can be found in many places around the globe – North and South, and often enough not really just as cold war. And Michael Hudson analysed this issue of Finance as Warfare.
Coming back to Ralph Miliband’s article, we read at its beginning:
Of course, the Wise Men of the Left, and others too, have hastened to proclaim that Chile is not France, or Italy, or Britain. This is quite true. No country is like any other: circumstances are always different, not only between one country and another, but between one period and another in the same country. Such wisdom makes it possible and plausible to argue that the experience of a country or period cannot provide conclusive “lessons.”
But still, despite that there are many lessons we can learn from history, also from the history of 9/11 1973 – in particular when we see all these events, now and then, not as individual occurrences but as part of the ongoing history of striving for global hegemony.