At issue across the world today is the question of basic human rights. The most endangered right is the right to freedom of speech, but freedom of opinion/religious belief, the right to a fair trial, and rights of habeas Corpus have also been shot full of holes.
The world's political will to uphold human rights has been severely compromised by a number of factors.
First and foremost has been the change that has taken place in the West since the start of the 1970s drive to globalise.
Globalisation has primarily spawned massive international corporations that are not answerable to anyone. The bottom line is profit. And how one gets it, simply doesn't matter. MNCs are designed to ensure their own survival and growth, while sharing a pittance of their ill gotten gains with their shareholders to keep them happy.
Secondly, the swing to right wing politics has had a disastrous effect. Bush Jr. in the U.S.A. led the way followed very closely by Blair and Great Britain. The world's most prosperous nations, those whose corporations are reaping immense benefits from their MNC fostering and spawning neocononialism, have lost sight entirely of human rights. The open support to tyranny, backed by massive monetary support to any type of cooperating petty dictatorships has ensured hat human rights have no importance at all.
The idea of development is much touted as being the one and only route to economic prosperity for the 'developing' nation. In this model the involvement of MNCs is a basic requirement. The MNC brings in the technology, the knowhow, the foreign markets, and the working business models, that are together the key ingredients of success. The MNC is also well capitalised and can afford to wait until all the pieces fall into place to generate its profits. In the process, jobs are created, infrastructure is developed and a nation's economy is supposed to 'develop'. But that's all a pie in the sky theory. It sounds plausible. It sounds good and so we choose to believe that this is what development means, that this is the win-win formula that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are all trying to promote - this holistic and positive model that will bring prosperity to poor 'underdeveloped' nations.
What really happens is that the absolute minimum of infrastructure is put in place to allow the MNC to remove the resources, finished/semi-finished goods that it has come there for. Technology will not be transferred. A few jobs, as few as possible, will be created. the jobs will be mostly menial and manual in nature with a lean and mean administration to extract the most for the least.
The government will be corrupted as environmental and developmental norms are given the go bye. The population will suffer as their natural resources are sucked out. There will be little to even trickle down as the majority of the earning is realised in international markets and the MNC pockets the huge profits. Local market systems that have functioned and self regulated for centuries will be shut down or subverted overnight. And when there are complaints, as there must be,
HUMAN RIGHTS WILL BE THE FIRST TO GO.
Aside: I often wonder if places like Zimbabwe are not encouraged and paid to go down the tubes to frighten the unwary. "This is exactly what will happen to you too if you don't do exactly as the WB-IMF consultants advise you."
I was struck by the incisive and pointed analysis in a not o recent Slavoj Žižek commentary Does "we were all living in a state of emergency because of the worldwide struggle between freedom and Communism, the full implementation of the Constitution was forever postponed and a permanent state of emergency obtained. This state of emergency was suspended every four years for one day only, election day, to legitimise the rule" somehow sound familiar?
in The LRB of May 23, 2002.
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