The second point is that human rights struggles have tended to focus on political and civil rights.
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So the language of the left and of social justice tends not to be the language of human rights, it tends to be the language of class and collectivity. Very often that is linked to statism because people who struggle for social justice see the state as providing welfare. These people generally approach the state, whereas human rights activists tend to see the state as being oppressive..
So there is usually quite a contradiction between those who struggle for social justice and those who struggle for human rights, and certainly during the Cold War period that was rather institutionalized. People in Eastern Europe, and in places like China and the Soviet Union, would say that they have social and economic rights, while in the West there were civil and political rights.
Using the language of human rights in relation to social justice is a huge step forward, because it means that you no longer think in statist terms.
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You talk in terms of individual rights, replacing the collective approach that is often rather repressive. In addition, a lot of human rights activities do not do enough on social justice and likewise people who campaign for social justice do not do enough on political and civil rights. When economic and social rights are fought for, as they have been in countries like Britain, France or in Western Europe, then it becomes very difficult to overturn or change them.
Civil society was the word that East European and Brazilian activists used, and it became a respectable term. So if you said I am a peace activist you were nowhere, but if you said I am a member of civil society you suddenly became an important person. And so I thought civil society was a really good platform, but in reality it has become increasingly associated with international NGOs, and in that sense a term which the Global North has dominated.
Yet, I was particularly struck that, when there were all the demonstrations in the Middle East and elsewhere in , nobody used the term civil society.
Global civil society : an answer to war / Mary Kaldor | National Library of Australia
I like to use it partly because of its association with my work, but also because it has a long conceptual history which we can engage with. For all those reasons, I think it is a useful term. But on the other hand, if one wants to reach a broader set of people — we certainly try to do that within the Global Civil Society programme — and if one thinks about something like the World Social Forum, then it becomes very much South-led.
The World Social Forum, or transnational peasant movements, or the Zapatistas are really interesting. But would they have called themselves global civil society? This has a double side to it. On the one hand, because civil society is a term that everybody accepts, it gives you an opportunity to talk. For example, does the IMF talk to civil society?
I am civil society. On the other hand, and that of course is the contradiction that Gramsci pointed out, civil society is an expression of power relations. Most organizations — unlike representative governments — are not subject to periodic elections. Should organizations create channels of dialogue with society to discuss their priorities and strategies?
When I was on the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, which is a British government foundation for supporting democracy, I kept suggesting that we should hold meetings with the people who are affected, to discuss how we should spend the money. I think the more you can do both through establishing these kinds of mechanisms and through the media and publicity, the better. And I think there is a huge crisis of political representation at the moment.
I think it has to do with several things, one of them concerns the technology of elections. While all the focus of accountability is on the actual moment when you cast your vote in a ballot, in elections nowadays there is such a technology of focus groups, of going for the middle floating vote.
Yet, I still think there is certainly a huge crisis of representation at the moment. But, in general, I would say people tend to trust NGOs more than they trust the governments. How do you see their contribution to the protests worldwide? Chapter 5: Globalization, the State and War. Chapter 6: September The Return of the 'Outside'?. Lyssna fritt i 30 dagar!
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Laddas ned direkt. The terms a globala and a civil societya have both become part of the contemporary political lexicon. In this important new book, Mary Kaldor argues that this is no coincidence and that the reinvention of civil society has to be understood in the context of globalization. The concept of civil society is no longer confined to the borders of the territorial state.
Whether one considers dissidents in repressive regimes, landless labourers in Central America, campaigners against land mines or global debt, or even religious fundamentalists, it is now possible for them to link up with other like--minded groups in different parts of the world and to address demands not just to national governments but to global institutions as well.
This has opened up new opportunities for human emancipation, and, in particular, for going beyond war as a way of managing global affairs. But it also entails new risks and insecurities.