Nelson Mandela on Globalisation

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In the light of the secret negotiations which are taking place to create a TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and the TransAtlantic Free Trade Agreement (US-EU FTA, TAFTA), it is salutary to read Nelson Mandela’s assessment of globalisation, both as it has developed, and as it should have been created.  His speech printed below was made on receiving the Freedom Award From the National Civil Rights Museum in November 2000

Speech on receiving the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum, November 2000

http://db.nelsonmandela.org/speeches/pub_view.asp?pg=item&ItemID=NMS919&txtstr=22%20November


To stand here tonight as the recipient of the Freedom Award presented by the National Civil Rights Museum humbles and inspires us.What is regarded as having been achieved by me in the struggle for freedom and human rights is in fact the result of the collective efforts of hundreds and thousands of colleagues and comrades in the leadership of organisations I have worked in and with.It is, even more importantly, the result of the sacrifices, resolve and courage of millions and millions of so-called ordinary men, women and youth most of whom shall never even achieve a mention in the annals of history. One cannot but be humble for being singled out to be honoured for such a collective achievement.For a South African to be honoured here tonight in this place and by this body inspires as it reminds us again of the indivisibility of human freedom. Where the freedom and rights of people in one part of the world are violated we are all demeaned and diminished as human beings. Our freedom cannot be complete while others in the world are not free. Your award inspires us to continue the struggle for freedom and human rights. It reminds that the long walk to freedom is not yet over.Those of us who lived through most of the twentieth century can tell what high hopes for universal freedom were entertained in that century. The world fought two great wars that promised to end all wars and to end tyranny. The process of decolonisation, ending European dominance over the entire planet, got underway. World bodies were established to ensure a free and equitable world.The progress humankind achieved in the field of science and technology outstripped the accumulative achievements of all preceding generations. We were able to utilise the resources of nature and to produce far in excess of what was required to feed, clothe, shelter and care for the entire population of the world.

Yet we closed that century and entered the new millennium with the largest part of the human population still far from enjoying those fruits of freedom of which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights speaks. Tyranny, oppression and abuse of human rights still rule in too many parts of the world for us to relent in the struggle for freedom.

Even in parts of the world where political freedom has been attained or where it has applied for long, the material fruits of a decent living have not always or universally accompanied that freedom.

The single most demeaning feature of our modern world is the persistence of massive poverty. The majority of the world’s population languishes in conditions of abject poverty and deprivation. This is in spite of the fact that we have the capacity to take care of all the world’s people. This is in spite of the opulence and privilege in which large sectors of the world live.

The divide between the rich and the poor, those who have plenty and those who suffer penury, is even widening in our contemporary world. And nothing threatens our collective freedom more than the persistence of this divide. None of us can sleep comfortably while our brother or sister goes hungry, cold, unsheltered, ignorant and ill.

We often talk about the globalisation of our world, referring to our world as a global village. Too often those descriptions refer solely to the free movement of goods and capital across the traditional barriers of national boundaries. Not often enough do we emphasise the globalisation of responsibility. In this world where modern information and communications technology has put all of us in easy reach of one another, we do again share the responsibility for being the proverbial keeper of our brother or sister.

Where globalisation means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom. Globalisation opens up the marvellous opportunities for human beings across the globe to share with one another, and to share with greater equity in the advances of science, technology and industries. To allow it to have the opposite effect is to threaten freedom in the longer term.

The right of a person to vote freely in democratic elections, to express him or herself without hindrance, to gather and associate as one wishes, to move freely in one’s land – these are precious freedoms that lift the human spirit and give expression to our God-given rights.

We must, however, at the same time as we cherish them remain constantly aware that those freedoms get devalued if they are for too long devoid of that dignity that comes with a decent quality of living.

That is the challenge to the freedom fighters of the twenty first century – the alleviation and eradication of poverty. Abject poverty is demeaning, is an assault on the dignity of those that suffer it. In the end it demeans us all. It makes the freedom of all of us less meaningful.

I thank you for this great honour. I wish you well in your work. May this century indeed be the one in which we achieve universal freedom and the universal enjoyment of those rights our glorious charters speak of.

I thank you.

Hat-tip Prue Plumridge and Occupy London for an inspiring reminder of the politics of Nelson Mandela 1918-2013.

Why should we be very concerned about the current US/EU Free Trade Agreement?

Why I’m Lighting a Candle to the Many

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Tonight I will light a candle to the many

Contribution from Suzanne Kelsey

Hat tip
Prue Plumridge

I appreciate there will always be huge differences of opinion regarding politics and there will be many thousands of people who have attended Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and I am not affected by this. (although I do take offence at the obscene amount of money it is costing during a time of severe austerity) Also many thousands will have watched it at home caught up in the pomp, circumstance and emotion of the occasion, that is obviously their right just as it is my right not to watch it. I cannot be a hypocrite unlike some of her own party who actually stabbed her in the back, which resulted in a very undignified exit from no.10 in 1990.

Therefore I do hope in the same way people will not take offence if I in my own way reminisce on why I do not think Margaret Thatcher left this country in a better state and show my respect to all those who suffered and continue to do so due to the extreme ideologies surrounding Thatcherism. Her death sad as it is for her family, friends and admirers for me has been a salient reminder of how it all started to go wrong and brought to my attention the major difference between compassionate politics and conviction politics.

Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan have long been my heroes; they did so much for the working class people of this country that was in desperate straits after two world wars and the great class divide.

Atlee , or Thatcher n

Attlee introduced the welfare state and the NHS, got rid of the horrendous workhouse ethos and made life bearable for countless millions, not just the privileged few, giving them the right to a decent life, equality, freedom from fear and last but not least aspirations. Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and spearheaded the establishment of the NHS, the most equitable universal health care system in the world. I was one of those able to benefit from this major change in society, I left home and took up further study and subsequently had a decent, fulfilling profession, unlike my parents who in their working class family could not even afford to attend the grammar school they should have gone to after passing their 11 plus, both leaving school at a very young age.

Attlee+and+Bevan

I am therefore lighting a candle for Atlee and Bevan and all they stood for and which tragically are ultimately being destroyed by Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.

  • A candle in honour of Nelson Mandela who did so much for apartheid and whom Mrs. Thatcher called a ‘grubby terrorist.’
  • A candle for the thousands of innocent people murdered by Pinochet and whom Margaret Thatcher called a champion of freedom, who was later charged with genocide.
  • A candle for the thousands of families and communities who suffered and are still suffering due to the destruction of our 150 coal mines, resulting in the importing of very expensive coal from abroad. We had the safest and most organised mining industry in the world; miners had fought long and hard to get this through their unions. I am sure we can all remember the many stories of colliery disasters in the past. However it was still a challenging and gruelling job and like many I felt so desperately angered about what happened to these hardworking miners.
  • A candle for the many unemployed as manufacturing industries were also closed during Margaret Thatcher’s time resulting in 3.6 million plus citizens ending up on the scrap heap, suffering depression and deprivation with crime and poverty doubling.
  • A candle for the 96 Hillsborough victims whose deaths were not fully investigated during her time.
  • A candle for all of those hardworking people who lost money when banks collapsed and all those suffering now due to the current austerity measures because of bank failures. Financial deregulation that Margaret Thatcher introduced, has turned city institutions into avaricious money pits with their strangle-hold on the lives of ordinary people.
  • A candle to the dead and dying public services and the privatisation for profit that Margaret Thatcher introduced and not forgetting the ensuing corporate greed culture that now exists. These services should be there to benefit the citizens of this country who pay inordinate amounts of varying taxes for such services and should not be allowed to line the pockets of the greedy. Overseas companies are now running many of our services inefficiently and for maximum profit and in which many members of parliament have vested interests.
  • A candle for the thousands who ‘inconveniently’ died after they were found fit to work by Atos, another private overseas company demonising the very sick, some of them my heart buddies. (See Calum’s list if you do not believe me)
  • A candle to the present day draconian measures been undertaken by ‘Thatcherism’ that sees many working families struggling and relying on benefits due to the appalling lack of a living wage, rip off utility prices and astronomical rents. Margaret Thatcher opposed even a minimum wage.
  • A candle to the many homeless and those facing that imminent possibility, due to the bedroom tax as there is a drastic shortage of housing. Margaret Thatcher gerrymandered local authorities by forcing through council house sales which may have been good for the council tenant that could afford them but she prevented councils from spending the money they got from selling the houses to build new ones, in fact spending on social housing dropped by 67%…

These are just a few of the policies that I cannot ever condone, there are many more.

Ultimately there is no doubt in my mind that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and I like many activists and campaigners are merely striving to make the world a better, safer and fairer place for the many not the few, with their great sense of entitlement. This is what we have fought for for so long and we cannot allow it to be stolen away, we must protect our rights and particularly those who are particularly vulnerable and fall on hard times through no fault of their own, it could happen to any one of us…No, do not celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death but consolidate and reflecting on where we are heading and remember the famous words of Bevan:

‘‘No longer will wealth be an advantage nor poverty a disadvantage.”

Glenda Jackson: She Spoke for Me!!

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Margaret Thatcher, “A woman, not on my terms”

Many MPs stayed away, as  an understandable boycott on a point of principle.

Ed Miliband had a difficult speech, he had to be respectful yet critical. Perhaps it was disappointing, yet inevitable. He said,

In mining areas, like the one I represent, communities felt angry and abandoned. Gay and lesbian people felt stigmatised by measures like section 28, which today’s Conservative party has rightly repudiated. And it was no accident that when he became leader of the Conservative party, the right honourable member for Chingford wrote a pamphlet, called There is Such a Thing as Society. And on the world stage, as this prime minister rightly said in 2006, when he was leader of the opposition, she made the wrong judgment about Nelson Mandela and about sanctions in South Africa. Mr Speaker, debates about her and what she represented will continue for many years to come.

But Glenda Jackson stole the show. She spoke for me.

 She talked of schools without resources, peeling paint and the  homeless.
Just as I remember it Glenda. What a wonderful speech! “Aspirational society – they aspired for Things. They knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. We see the re-emergence of society today. Let’s not go back there. To see the extraordinary human damage and waste.”