I have been saying for a while now that capitalism is in breach of human rights, according to the articles of the international declaration ( or charter ) of human rights ( link ).
For those of you unfamiliar with the document, I have made a summary of its points ( following ), but you can also read the full version online via the link above. Anyone else is free to skip past all that to here.
I have also made a comparative document, not of human rights, but of principles of living … and this article is primarily about how the Open Empire Foundation vision would deliver these equivalences ( to the articles of that charter ).
The other thing I have done in this article, is to demonstrate how the welfare system – as even just a backup for people in need – completely fails to deliver the rights as laid out in that document, how the “poverty line” is completely fraudulently calculated in order to hide the world’s poverty, and also to show you just how easily all of this could be fixed ( even within the present system ).
So we will begin with a summary of the existing charter, discussing its redundancies, plus related flaws and issues along the way, then show what it would cost to deliver these articles as minimum social security within the context of the Australian economy ( which you can then adapt to your own economy, and I’ll give you some tips on doing that ) … and then finally we will look at the alternative via the Open Empire Foundation vision, which makes most of these problems redundant.
charter of human rights
I will lay out as follows a summary of the preamble and articles, with commentary along the way, plus closing commentary to put it in context of the purpose of this article.
The preamble of the document essentially lays out their rationale for the articles that follow, and in a nutshell states that:
- in recognition of inherent human dignity, we attain freedom, justice, and peace
- in contempt and disregard, we enable barbarous acts of war and exploitation
- in valuing freedom of speech, belief, and freedom from the fear of want
- in protection by rule of law
- in prevention of the necessity of rebellion against tyranny
- in development of friendly international relations
- in respect of dignity and equality between the sexes
- in promotion of social progress, freedom, and better standards of life
- in commitment to the above goals and principles
- in promotion of the common understanding of these rights
- we dedicate ourselves to a common standard for all people on Earth
In other words: they’re basically laying the groundwork and rationale for what is to follow, making a case to justify the value and validity of the document.
I’m not making commentary about anything of it just yet, simply summarising that part of it for you, so we can put the rest in context … and given the entrenchment of capitalism, and of the domination of powerful nation states and ruling families who own pretty much everything and everyone, I guess we can say that it’s a good start, without actually going into dismantling all that stuff and the conflict and problems associated with such a vision.
article 1 – born free and equal
This is not actually a right per se – more of a statement, affirming that all people are born free and equal.
article 2 – rights and freedoms are universal
Again more of a statement, this time affirming the sanctity of the previous statement, by declaring no right to deny such freedom and equality.
article 3 – life liberty and security
This is our first real example of any declaration of rights, though it is quite vaguely worded, stating simply that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security … so if we have a look at the meaning of liberty, we get the following:
- autonomy and independence
- freedom from captivity, coercion, or control
- freedom from despotism, interference, or manipulation
- freedom from obligation or restriction
So let’s just stop here for a second and acknowledge the degree to which most countries, and the capitalist economic paradigm fails to deliver on these.
From an economic perspective, if these are supposed to be your rights, and no one is supposed to be allowed to deny these rights to you … then nor indeed should anyone be allowed to argue that any system denying you these rights, may not be challenged, ignored, or replaced … as it is just as invalid to deny them directly as by proxy.
Since we cannot predict when we might be subjected to such captivity, coercion, control, despotism, interference, manipulation etc., then in order to fulfil our right to avoid and escape such circumstances, it is incumbent on society to work towards an economic empowerment of all individuals, such that we have the capacity to avoid, and where we have ( for whatever reason ) failed to avoid, there should be mechanisms and resources in place and ready to help us escape.
However capitalism IS INHERENTLY a form of coercion for everyone who is poor or close to it, because capitalism controls 100% of the land, most of the food grown, and most of everything else you need access to for survival ( unless you’re actually willing and able to safely go feral and live on the land – assuming there’s any such land available for free anyway ).
There are many other articles of the charter which clearly define that forcing this to be the only other option than servitude under capitalism, is clearly a breach of those articles too, unless the person in question actually feels good about going feral as a way of life and survival.
The only other option being that you give anyone who cannot afford to purchase it, a bunch of free land – either suitable for survival and fulfilment of self, or with adequate additional resources to make it so – to do with as they will.
So right here at the start, we’ve made a couple of declarations, then a statement of some rights, and immediately failed to provide a world in which it is even possible, while living in denial about the contradictions and incongruence between our economic paradigm and these rights we are attesting to be universal and unassailable.
article 4 – no slavery or servitude
The slave trade is prohibited in all its forms ( another failure here for capitalism – as virtual wage slavery is nonetheless slavery ).
If we imagine a world where slavery is allowed, there are two types of slave-masters, one who “cares” for his slaves, and the other who just uses them up until they die or he has them killed.
In both cases, the thing that makes it slavery is the fact you don’t have a choice, and you cannot escape … which is in no way significantly different from wage slavery.
If the kinder of the two slave-masters gives you the money that it would otherwise cost him to keep you alive and working, but it is not enough to free yourself, and you’re forced to spend it on basic survival … then you are still a slave, and that is pretty much the case for just about every single worker on the planet … it’s just that some slaves are better off than others.
article 5 – no torture, cruelty, or degrading treatment
I would argue that having to do a boring, soul killing, and unfulfilling job IS a form of torture ( psychological ), maybe not for all, but certainly for some … and to have to work underneath and subservient to idiots, doing pointless things that do not in the least way interest you, satisfy you, or fulfil you, is the very definition of degrading – especially where you are also told how to dress, behave, speak, and so on … it is degrading to be a wage slave.
It is even more torturous, cruel, and degrading to be unemployed and living below the poverty line … which doesn’t excuse capitalism of the crime against humanity in terms of wage slavery, it simply means that it is committing two crimes, and one is worse than the other.
So we are five articles down, and not doing very well so far.
article 6 – right to legal recognition
If you are not equal before the law, then you are not rightly and equally recognised before the law, and therefore any system of law where money speaks louder by buying more lawyers etc., is clearly a breach of this human right for anyone facing an economically powerful adversary in court.
article 7 – legal equality and protection
As discussed, if you’re not recognised equally, then you’re also not adequately protected. SO yet another fail.
article 8 – right to effective remedy
If you are not effectively recognised, represented, or protected by law, because money talks, then it’s likely extremely difficult for you to get an effective remedy ( if you get a remedy at all ).
A legal case can be stalled in the courts for a very long time, and the meaning of “effective” could be time dependent.
article 9 – no arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile
There’s no way to guarantee this in any state so easily corrupted by money and the power that comes with it, and so arguably the authority and power to arrest, detain, and exile, should really not be held by anyone. Which is not to say they might not be necessary in some extreme cases, but that the “authority” to do so, is power waiting to be corrupted.
So to fulfil this set of human rights, we should arguably have an anarchically based society, without a power entrenching property based economic system ( like capitalism ).
article 10 – right to impartial tribunal
If you cannot access a tribunal at all, let alone an impartial one, then you cannot achieve this human right. Arguably most people are stuck for the costs of accessing legal representation, and getting the time away from work to go to court, is also very difficult ( not to mention the stress and risk of failure along with it ).
If the legal system isn’t free, and isn’t impervious to financial bias, it is unlikely you will ever see an impartial tribunal … and then you’ve got the difficulty of the authority of the judges, where they may take unilateral action, but conceal the bias of their decisions ( assuming they’re not also corrupt ).
article 11 – innocent until proven guilty
This is fundamental to the principles of law even outside the charter of human rights, and yet it is being eroded and ignored in many countries. Take for example the Centrelink debt scandal, where Australian social security recipients are being fraudulently accused of both exaggerated and non-existent debts, and in complete disregard to the fact that the precedence of law, says the prior crime against them ( by holding them hostage in artificially manufactured poverty ) absolves them of anything they must do in response for survival.
Furthermore, it is not a valid thing to claim authority to place someone at risk, nor to coerce or manipulate them into placing themselves at risk … and since being anywhere near the poverty line ( especially below it ) is already “at risk”, they arguably have no right whatsoever to expect payment on a debt even if it exists … and where payment of such debt would be further contravention of this very charter that Australia signed.
article 12 – freedom from interference and attacks
When the G8 Summit came to Melbourne many years ago, a guy I met received brain damage as a result of being charged by police on horseback, while he was peacefully protesting.
He did receive a payout for his injuries, but that hardly excuses the fact that big money entered the town and paid the police to commit a human rights violation, for the simple reason they have no respect for anyone but themselves, and they do not like to be questioned because they’re rich.
So now we’re 12 articles in, and capitalism is just utterly failing at every step, as is the notion of authoritarian hierarchical socio-economic and political power structures. We’ve argued a case for human rights inside of systems neither capable of nor interested in delivering them.
article 13 – freedom of residence and travel
How can I have freedom of residence or travel, if I can barely afford to stay where I am, let along pack up, leave, and set up a new home? Capitalism is the absolute denial of this right for the vast majority of people.
article 14 – right to seek asylum
Taken in the context of previously stated rights, I also have the right to freedom from others trying to interfere with, control, restrict, or deny such a right … and yet that’s exactly what they’re doing across many countries.
article 15 – right to nationality
I am assuming this should include ( though it doesn’t so state ) the right to freedom from nationality as well. For it would seem to me that if we only have freedom to but not from Nationality, then we do not really have any freedom at all, as the nation states are simply different cartels of power ( and there’s not even many differences left after all the years of globalisation efforts ).
I should have the right to be free of any nationality, and yet still to travel between and across states at will. I should have the right to self sovereignty.
article 16 – right to marriage and family
I am not sure why people want these ones … in the words of Marcus Brigstocke:
” … if you want to wear a ring that tells everyone you’re not having sex, you can get married like the rest of us … “
I haven’t actually been married, but I also haven’t seen any examples of it that really make me want to be married either … which is not to say they’re not possible, but outside of fiction, I haven’t seen them.
With respect to children, the easiest thing you can do is breed … but it’s more important to ask yourself whether or not you should, and if so with whom, and under what circumstances … so I think it’s less important to talk about our right to breed, and more important to talk about our responsibilities having already bred. There’s too many idiots in the world, and we don’t need more.
article 17 – property rights
This is both a failure of capitalism and the charter itself.
Under capitalism poverty and inequality are rampant. Capitalism bombs other countries, and then gives chicken feed in aid to the survivors of the populations they displaced. It is indeed quite sickening.
However the charter itself fails to recognise the fundamental flaw and hypocrisy of the charter, as within the property paradigm, is the capacity to have power over another … not just power over other humans, but power over other sentient species – and if we expect inalienable human rights, then such rights should also be afforded to every other sentient creature.
article 18 – freedom of mind
I’m not exactly sure how someone would otherwise deny to or take this from you, except of course via brainwashing – and by which standard, surely brainwashing and indoctrination in the forms of advertising, army indoctrination, religious brainwashing, and other such things, are all forms of theft of the freedom of your mind.
How can your mind be free, if it is limited to thought within a gamut given to you by programming, and by denial of anything outside that programming?
article 19 – freedom of expression
Similar to the above, though in this case the expression is external rather than internalised ( like thought ), so it is possible you could be threatened to cease your expression, where you couldn’t be threatened to cease your thinking ( as they’ve got no way of knowing if you stopped as commanded ).
Another issue at stake here though, with connection to capitalism, is that your freedom of expression may require resources ( including time ), all of which capitalism is robbing you of, such that you’re being denied that freedom.
article 20 – peaceful assembly and association
Here’s where things get interesting, because you wouldn’t need a right to peaceful assembly and association, which is largely referring to unions ( and further discussed in article 23 ), if it were not for the power entrenched as a result of capitalism.
You would have no bad employers to protest, if you owned your own productive output. So the need for this right is directly the cause of capitalism, and rather than claiming such a right, it makes a lot more sense to get rid of the need for it … but you cannot get rid of the need for it, unless you’re willing to accept what the cause of the problem is, and to do something about it.
article 21 – public service access and participation
The purpose of government – if it weren’t an exercise in disingenuousness – is supposed to be ( under capitalism ) the provision of social services and the development and maintenance of communal infrastructure, via collection and application of communal resources, in pursuit of the common good.
However of course, once you get a bunch of these commons resources, the profit motive tells some dickhead “hey wouldn’t it be great if that was all yours, and everyone had to pay you to use it?!” ( because they’re fucking sociopathic arseholes ) … and in the same way, they also think to themselves “hey we could make a lot of money by controlling all levels of government”.
So again, capitalism goes out of its way to motivate people to completely trash all these human rights.
article 22 – social security
I think we all know the story here:
- Social security is undermined
- Budgets are slashed
- More people are forced into further poverty and homelessness
- Then the finger is pointed at the poor, as they’re persecuted and demonised
There’s not much on offer in the way of social security … and if it isn’t fulfilling all articles of this charter, then it’s arguably inadequate.
article 23 – right to work
Again we see a little of the presumption of capitalism embedded in the charter – ALTHOUGH – the nice thing here is that it actually states you have “the right to free choice of employment”.
Now, if a choice is truly free, then I should be able to choose to not work for anyone but myself, and do what it is that I actually love to do … and I should not be subjected to an economic system which denies me such opportunity, by artificially manufacturing barriers to that self employment … and yet, what does capitalism do? ( exactly that of course )
The rights stated in this article go on to say that you have the right to favourable conditions, protection against unemployment, equal pay for equal work, favourable remuneration as required for dignity and well-being of self and family, the right to supplementation if necessary, and the right to form or join a union.
All of these rights are arguably constructed with capitalism in mind.
We shouldn’t need unions because we shouldn’t need to fight for what is fair and just … but the very fact this charter is tacitly admitting that you need to be able to engage in such fights, is an admission that it is being hypocritical by not also stating “you have a right to work in a communist workplace, where you own the means of production, and own the productive output of your own labour” … because without such a right, and in the circumstances where one requires a union just to get a fraction of that, it is arguable that pretty much every other economically based or dependent article of this charter, is being breached by the fact you have to work for some arsehole who dictates what you will be paid, whether you will be employed, and gives him or herself the vast majority of the rewards, with the rest going to other such moochers at the top.
article 24 – rest, leisure, and holidays
Most people only get the rest, they don’t get much time for leisure ( being too tired after work – assuming they’re lucky enough to have a job ), and for those who do, only a fraction of those get any regular decent holidays.
Note: according to the charter, you have a right to holidays WITH PAY.
This article includes mention of reasonable limitations on work hours … but of course we all know companies like Apple and many others, are quite happy to hire virtual slaves in other countries, where the abuse of workers’ rights are hidden from the compliant mainstream media, and the goggle-eyed consumer public, whom are so politically apathetic and bigoted, they don’t care anyway.
article 25 – standard of living
This right includes adequate health and healthcare, well-being, food, clothing, housing, social services, social security, and support in circumstances of vulnerability or otherwise beyond your control.
Which basically means poverty shouldn’t exist.
article 26 – educational access and opportunity
A certain amount of primary and secondary education should be free, and tertiary access and opportunities affordable, if not free or at least subsidized.
Not actually a very impressive standard they’re setting … I don’t exactly see the benefit in not specifically stating that all education should be free, particularly given the fact that you’ll have a hard time fulfilling all the other articles of this charter, if people cannot always get access to high quality free education.
It seems in fact bizarre that the charter makes such a big deal at the start about equal access, recognition, representation, and protection at law … but when it comes to education, it seems a lot less concerned about equality.
article 27 – cultural contribution, participation, and protection
The protection element of this refers to intellectual property that is of an artistic, creative, inventive, scientific, or technical nature … and perhaps that’s why they grouped it with culture … but it seems more apt to me to group it with the previous article on property rights in general.
However, the gist of this article is mainly about the right to participate in culture. I’m not sure why they thought to mention this, but perhaps it was in response to ideas such as apartheid and segregation.
However once again, without the entrenchment of authoritarian power in the first place, there’s no need to ask for such a protection, because no one but an arsehole would infringe on it in the first place … and the only way arseholes gain power is because of capitalism and religious ( or similar ) brainwashing – both of which are effectively ignored for their crimes, and/or protected by this charter … which is really starting to make me doubt the intentions of the people who wrote it.
article 28 – social order
This right is referring to the right to the social order required such that attainment of your rights is possible … which means you’ve a right not to live in warfare – a right constantly trashed by the profit motive behind the military industrial complex.
article 29 – duty of care to others
You basically have a duty ( not a right ) to respect the rights of others as per this charter.
article 30 – sanctity of declaration
Lastly, another statement not a right … that the articles of this charter may not be interpreted in such a manner as to attempt to circumvent them.
summary of the charter
So what have we learned?
The charter sounds good on the surface, and I am all for the idea that – within the confines of capitalism – these are generally good principles to hold to … however there are flaws, omissions, contradictions, redundancy, and hypocrisy amongst them … the implied intention, will not be achieved under capitalism or authoritarian government and power structures of any kind.
poverty and the cost of living
OK … so now what I want to do, is to look at how we can use the articles of the charter, in a discussion of poverty, and in the calculation of a minimum wage to cover the true cost of living.
the poverty line
If we are going to claim that the articles within the document constitute the bare minimum acceptable level of life experience, before someone is having their human rights met … then we must acknowledge that any standard of living below this, is the true definition of poverty.
From Wikipedia we get the following opening statement on the definition of poverty:
The poverty threshold / limit / line is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a particular country.
Now for this definition not to be interpreted hypocritically or in contravention of the articles of the charter above, then arguably the definition of “adequate” must be the fulfilment of every single article of the charter … because otherwise your human rights are being infringed on, and there’s no way in hell anyone can rationally argue that such a case is “adequate”.
It is also therefore clearly the case that the minimum wage AND the social safety net of welfare payments MUST BOTH provide this minimum in order to avoid being in contravention of the articles of the charter.
With such a scenario in place, where the minimum wage AND “the dole” are equivalent figures, an interesting set of consequences is put into effect:
- People no longer hate their jobs, because they’re free to leave at any time, without suffering poverty, and which is in itself a fulfilment of a few of the articles of the charter we just went through
- Therefore the quality of goods and services rises, because you don’t have people doing jobs they hate, which translates to reductions in quality
- Employers are forced to adequately compensate people for work done, and to provide great workplaces, condition, and work-life balance, otherwise they won’t get staff
- THUS: arseholes are put out of business, because they’re too fucking stubborn to learn, and they treat everyone like shit
- THUS: we get less arseholes empowered than we are getting now
SO really … where exactly is the downside?
You say inflation? No big deal, that’s just temporary as the economy adjusts.
You say I’m wrong about the adjustment? Ok, then abandon all the economic principles you’ve been using to justify your own bullshit the last several decades, as it’s based on the exact same economic logic.
example: cost of living in australia
I will write up a separate article at another time which goes into detail about where I got all these numbers from … the brief version of the story, is that I have gained raw data from the ABS ( Australian Bureau of Statistic ), DHS ( Department of Human Services ), Wikipedia, homelessnessaustralia.org.au – and a few other news and information websites which provide freely available – and PDF downloadable – data and statistics ( summarized or calculated from original sources like the ABS, REIA ( Real Estate Industry Association ) etc. ).
What appears below in the table is a summary of basic living expenses for a person living somewhere on the east coast of Australia ( just approximated averages from real data, and for a person of my height and size – being a 6’4″ Wookie-Hobbit hybrid ).
please note: this isn’t even a complete fulfilment of a person’s human rights for the circumstances I mapped out.
Notice this person still has precisely no budget for clothing, travel, vehicle maintenance ( assuming they have one ), health, health insurance, or home / property insurance. Maybe they could trim around the edges a little here and there, but there isn’t really much to work with for a start, and certainly not enough to cover what they still need.
This is not a lavish lifestyle, this is just getting by and not going insane in the process … it’s not as impoverished as others, but that’s just because their human rights are being thoroughly trashed and disregarded, which is no justification for reducing what this person needs. Nor do either of them need to be suffering at all.
Arguably, if you’re on any form of welfare payment, you are automatically more than 50% under the poverty line, and a great many wage earners with regular full time employment, are also under the poverty line.
the story so far
So what we have shown here is that most people – including a great many working people – are living below and far below the poverty line, even in a country as wealthy as Australia.
While some are worse off than others, with for example in excess of 250,000 Australians experiencing homelessness to some degree each year, and more than 3 million Australians experiencing some form of homelessness at some stage in their lifetime ( more than 10% of the population ).
What this shows is the utter failure of capitalism to deliver the extremely low standards required by fulfilment of the charter, even when it has well more than enough capacity to do so.
Once again I am not going to go into the details of the Open Empire Foundation vision, nor the mechanisms by which it operates, as they are the subject of other pages and articles … but the purpose of this article is to explain some of the principles, and the charter of human rights was chosen as a means to demonstrate those principles by way of analogy to the status quo.
Where the charter of human rights contains a preamble and 30 articles, the principles of living document I have drafted so far, has encapsulated all of this ( and more ), also arguably far better, in a preamble plus 6 articles, and I have written a 7th article to just summarise how the previous 6 have achieved that encapsulation versus the charter of human rights.
The basis of my document is also not one of Law, but is one of logically and scientifically quantifiable and verifiable principles applicable to action and consequence.
As this document is not based on laws, nor indeed based on the hierarchical authority of nation states, it is also therefore not subject to the entrenched corruption, momentum, and vested interests of business and politics.
I will not be publishing that full document here as yet, partly just because it is still only a first draft, but also because my intention to publish such documents will be via different systems ( incorporating a modified blockchain architecture ), to make them available as open source distributed documents.
brief version as follows:
- Preamble: layman’s definitions of justice and sustainability within the context of the OEF vision, noting the essential element of avoiding hypocrisy in dealing with the source of potentially deleterious impositions of an ecological or social nature, and which might constitute an act of injustice or unsustainability.
- anarchy as the only true incorruptible source of freedom and justice
- imposition as the saboteur of freedom, justice, and sustainability
- sustainability as the determining foundation of justice
- justice as the balancing equation of all impositions
- responsibility for consequences replaces authoritarian rule
- motivation based on merit for access to scarce resources
Now that is very brief I know … I’ve effectively summarised a 4 page document into just under a dozen lines, but the gist of it is there, and I will be discussing this in greater detail in another article.
In simple terms, what you’re looking at is a mechanism to achieve way more than laid out in the 30 articles of the charter of human rights, by defining the principles by which even as yet unthought of things will be automatically taken care of … which is a far more effective measure than attempting to accurately list items, and then try to get people to stick to their agreements.
The Open Empire Foundation vision is to implement an integrated set of strategies, structures, and systems, combined into a project collaboration, development, and resource allocation framework – all of which is based on the quantification of consequences pertaining to ecological and social justice and sustainability ( by way of the principles of ecological systems modelling and thermodynamics ) – such as to achieve ( transition to ) a society of non-species-biased, non-property/trade/currency-based, and non-hierarchical ( aka anarchic ) justice economics and politics.
So the 6 principles of this article could be thought of as the basis for algorithms which will run all these anarchic systems, providing motivation to modify human behaviour ( towards each other, other species, and our environment ) but without requiring authoritarian rule, law, courts, nor enforcement … and thus being impervious to corruption.