Mbeki and human rights

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at SPAMstudent.canterbury.ac.nz
Fri Dec 17 20:31:22 MST 1999

Patrick thinks that the left should support imperilaist regimes trying
ex-Third World dictators because
>we don't have the power to do so here.

The weakness of the left is a very bad reason for arguing that the
imperilaists should do the job the left can't.  Indeed, the weakness of the
left is a reflection, in many ways, of the tendency of the left to always
be looking for someone else to do whatever job needed to be done.

>And that doesn't mean, Phil or Russell, progressive support for
>existing global courts and "justice" mechanisms, which, after all,
>were proven to be absolutely hollow in cases ranging from
>Nicaragua to Serbia.

Of course it means precisely this.  You are supporting imperialist courts
having the power to make rulings on Pinochet.  Our job is to expose and
undermine bourgeois courts, not try to make them more even-handed, powerful
and legitimate.

>In addition, we also lack the practical power to, for example,
>have the Third World debt cancelled (which is something that even
>the ANC government has actively advocated). So the demand goes
>out to imperialist states and their Washington financial agencies
>from the progressive debt-repudiation movements in the South:
>cancel the debt.

It could be argued that you are comparing two very different things.  There
is actually a substantial difference between demanding cancellation of the
Third World debt - an anti-imperialist demand, at least potentially, and
directed *against* imperialist institutions - and demanding increased power
*for* imperialist institutions, such as courts in Britain.

I see the demand for the cancellation of the Third World debt as similar to
workers demanding wage rises - it ain't gonna change the world or even make
life all that much better than it is, but these are demands by the
exploited and oppressed *against* the power of capital and they open up the
way for some improvements in life conditions and for further struggle.

Suporting imperialist institutions is a different kettle of fish
altogether.  it increases their power and prerogatives and puts the
exploited and oppressed in a *more subordinate* and *powerless* position in
relation to these institutions.

The strengthening of these institutions will, also, sooner or later,
rebound on the rest of us.

Philip Ferguson

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