Hugh McDermott for Prospect

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Pages tagged "Social Justice"


The Precariat – The new dangerous class

by Guy Standing

For the first time in history, the mainstream left has no progressive agenda. It has forgotten a basic principle. Every progressive political movement has been built on the anger, needs and aspirations of the emerging major class. Today that class is the precariat.

So far, the precariat in Europe has been mostly engaged in EuroMayDay parades and loosely organised protests. But this is changing rapidly, as events in Spain and Greece are showing, following on the precariat-led uprisings in the middle-east. Remember that welfare states were built only when the working class mobilised through collective action to demand the relevant policies and institutions. The precariat is busy defining its demands.

The precariat has emerged from the liberalisation that underpinned globalisation. Politicians should beware. It is a new dangerous class, not yet what Karl Marx would have described as a class-for-itself, but a class-in-the-making, internally divided into angry and bitter factions.

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The Arab Spring, One Year On

by Christine Lagarde

Rejecting the Past, Defining the Future

Let me start with the context. As we all know, almost one year ago, everything changed for the people of the Middle East. The region embarked upon a historic transformation. But at the time, few realized where this journey would lead. When Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire last year, who could have predicted that his tragic death would herald a whole new Middle East?

Who would have foreseen that this act of desperation against a violation of human dignity would ignite a flame that would eventually illuminate the entire region, toppling governments and leading to mass awakening of social consciousness?

This much is clear: The Arab Spring embodies the hopes, the dreams and aspirations of a people yearning for a better way of life. Yearning for greater freedom, for greater dignity, and for a more widespread and fairer distribution of economic opportunities and resources. Basic human yearnings.

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Decent Work 2.0

by Frank Hoffer

Last month, Juan Somavia, the long serving Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) announced his departure in 2012.

As head of the ILO, he introduced the Decent Work Agenda in 1999 to re-focus the ILO and make it relevant for the 21st century. Twelve years later, the concept of ‘Decent Work’ is firmly established in the global debate and as an objective of national policy. It appears in many documents of the multilateral system, the G20 and national policy fora. It generates millions of Google hits. It is the subject of much academic research and debate. It is enshrined in several ILO Conventions and Declarations, and the international trade union movement introduced the annual Decent Work Day to campaign for workers’ rights. ‘Decent Work’ is so ubiquitous in ILO documents that some cynics say: “Decent Work is the answer, whatever the question!”

Will Decent Work survive the departure of the Director-General who coined the term and so successfully marketed it? Should it survive? The answer to the former question is one of the unknowns of “Realpolitik”. The answer to the latter depends on the assessment of what Decent Work means and how it should evolve.

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Do New Democracies Support Democracy?: The Multilateral Dimension

by Ted Piccone 

The world’s six most influential rising democracies—Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey—are at various stages of democratic consolidation. Freedom House ranks them all as Free in terms of political rights and civil liberties except for Turkey (which is at the top of the Partly Free category), and all six have enjoyed remarkable economic growth and improved standards of living in recent years. Yet when it comes to supporting democracy and human rights outside their borders, they have differed quite a bit from one another, with behavior ranging from sympathetic support to borderline hostility.

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Europe's democracy shock

by Olaf Cramme 

The outcry over EU legitimacy only diverts attention away from the real challenges to democracy and sovereignty in our capitalist system. We deserve a better debate.

The seismic social and economic aftershocks of the global financial crisis have raised a new awareness among citizens: democracy is in a pretty bad shape and national sovereignty is under siege. It is not so much the widely-reported violent demonstrations in Greece which embody this growing unease, but rather hardening cynicism and wide scale disenchantment with politics in the liberal West. We are in a situation where representational power looks worryingly distorted, the most basic demands and concerns of citizens are often ignored and the emotional gap between the elite and the population at large seems to be growing. At the same time, questions of belonging, identity and nationalism have re-emerged on the agenda – and with it a new surge in populist rhetoric.

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We May Be Witnessing the First Large Global Conflict Where People Are Aligned by Consciousness and Not Nation State or Religion

By Naomi Wolf
They're fighting a "corporatocracy" that has bought governments, created armed enforcers, engaged in systemic economic fraud, and plundered treasuries and ecosystems.
America's politicians, it seems, have had their fill of democracy. Across the country, police, acting under orders from local officials, are breaking up protest encampments set up by supporters of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement - sometimes with shocking and utterly gratuitous violence.

In the worst incident so far, hundreds of police, dressed in riot gear, surrounded Occupy Oakland's encampment and fired rubber bullets (which can be fatal), flash grenades and tear-gas canisters - with some officers taking aim directly at demonstrators. The Occupy Oakland Twitter feed read like a report from Cairo's Tahrir Square: "they are surrounding us"; "hundreds and hundreds of police"; "there are armoured vehicles and Hummers". There were 170 arrests.

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The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America

by Robert Reich

A fundamental war has been waged in this nation since its founding, between progressive forces pushing us forward and regressive forces pulling us backward. 

We are going to battle once again.

Progressives believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance. Progressives assume we’re all in it together: We all benefit from public investments in schools and health care and infrastructure. And we all do better with strong safety nets, reasonable constraints on Wall Street and big business, and a truly progressive tax system. Progressives worry when the rich and privileged become powerful enough to undermine democracy.

Regressives take the opposite positions.

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The Price of 9/11

By Joseph Stiglitz

The September 11, 2001, terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to Al Qaeda – as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive – orders of magnitude beyond the $60 billion claimed at the beginning – as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.

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The UK Riots - an Australian's view

by John August

During my recent trip to Scotland, I absorbed the saturation coverage of the English riots. Comedians were saying, "Look, now Scotland is the safest place in the UK". The Scottish first minister emphasised they were English, not Scottish riots. While OK for comedians, some felt it wrong for the first minister to say this. Perhaps he should have been showing more solidarity and sympathy for his southern neighbours. Still, the Scottish tourism brand was being tarnished through confusion with things outside its boundaries. Take your pick.

Being so close and an Australian, it gave me a different viewpoint. There was a lot of hand-wringing and comment that seemed to miss just what was important, or what was really behind the hand-wringing. It was tragic. But there's still a lot we can learn, and a lot we can misunderstand.

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The debasement of public debate

by Dr Ken Macnab

John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty (1859) that it was 'imperative that human beings should be free to form opinions, and to express their opinions without reserve'. Moreover, they should be free to act upon these opinions, subject only to the limitation that they do no harm to others. Implicit in Mill's emphasis on freedom of opinion was the necessity for civil public debate in pursuit of the truth, a calm and systematic contest which acted as a check on power and authority.

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