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Presentation on theme: "TEN YEARS OF ATTACKS ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS - THE ROLE OF LAWYERS WELCOMING REMARKS FROM ELDH Bill Bowring President, European Lawyers for Democracy and."— Presentation transcript:

1 TEN YEARS OF ATTACKS ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS - THE ROLE OF LAWYERS WELCOMING REMARKS FROM ELDH Bill Bowring President, European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) International Secretary, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, England Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London; Barrister at Field Court Chambers, Grays Inn - I represent applicants against Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Russia, Spain Executive Committee and founding member, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales; founder and Chair of European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC); we have several hundred cases against Georgia and Russia – staff lawyers in Chechnya, Moscow and Russian regions

2 The world 10 years ago On 20 July 2001 the Italian police shot dead the student Carlo Giuliani In 2001 capitalism seemed rather secure Even 9/11 gave the pretext for invading Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, and the rapid defeat of the Taliban In Britain, the Labour government elected in 1997 continued Thatchers policies of monetarism and the love-affair with finance capital The banking and property booms in Greece, Ireland, Iceland, and Spain would go on for ever US economic and military hegemony seemed impregnable

3 The context in which attacks on fundamental rights are intensifying 2003 – the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US and Britain. The US could not defeat the Iraqi people 2006 – the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and defeat by Hezbollah 2008 – the collapse of Lehmann brothers and the banking crisis: banks rescued by the state in reckless spending which is now the source of the deficit 2011 - the collapse of the EUs monetarist single currency project This is the context in which fundamental rights are under attack across Europe

4 Why are attacks on fundamental rights intensifying? Dont talk about neo-liberalism, capitalism or even finance capital Todays crisis of capital system is nothing new. This is what it always was: the raging hunger of capital for new opportunities to valorise itself Karl Marx wrote: Hitherto, capital has been regarded from its material side as a simple production process. But, from the side of its formal specificity, this process is a process of self-valorisation. Self- valorisation includes preservation of the prior value, as well as its multiplication. (Grundrisse, Penguin edition, p.310-311) Capital must continually self-valorise, or die

5 Why are attacks on fundamental rights intensifying? This is capital as an abstract form which feeds on people: correctly described as a vampire Capital cannot be hoarded. It cannot be satisfied simply with ever- expanding production of goods, services or intellectual outputs. It must constantly seek out new areas of human life and human existence to colonise, This process cannot stop, on the contrary it must constantly accelerate. Not just privatisation: wholesale commodification of all spheres, especially the provisions of services, education, health-care and all aspects of leisure and cultural activity. Everything must have a monetary price, and be put up for sale. In the last resort the state must use force: the police and the army

6 The real nature of the debt crisis The so-called debt crisis is nothing of the kind. It has nothing to do with the individual wickedness or greed of individual capitalists. In reality, the banking sector produced an absolutely typical bubble phenomenon, in which "bundled financial products" or services were created and sold, even though the only real monetary core was composed of the mortgages paid by very poor people. Their value was completely fictitious. Enormous individual fortunes were made by charging fees and commissions on every transaction. In the UK, the scandal of payments to individual bankers - £ millions. In the end the bubble burst, and instead of letting the market do its job by killing off the financial institutions responsible, states felt themselves obliged to re-finance the institutions. It is not hard to guess why.

7 What is going on? What is at stake in Italy and all other EU states is not reducing a debt, but radically reducing the public sector share of the economy, around 40% in Italy and other EU states. In Britain we are the opposite of Germany: since Thatcher, we have very little industry. A very high proportion of employment is in the public sector. We now have a government which is far more extreme in its policies than anything proposed much less implemented by Thatcher. Higher education and the health service are now being prepared for privatisation. The system of Legal Aid, once the best in the world, is now to be destroyed. It is already very difficult to go on strike in Britain: there are now calls for strikes to be prohibited. The right to protest is under threat – kettling, serious criminal charges for those almost killed by police

8 What is to be done? Serious resistance to this monetarist onslaught can only come from organised labour. Half a million protestors on the streets of London on 26 March were organised by the trade unions. The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers was there with its banner. On the other hand, the feudal monarchy organised one million people mainly from southern England, to applaud the royal wedding, which was a blatantly political event. Socialist and democratic lawyers will be fully engaged defending the right to protest and the right to strike.

9 Haldane Society on the march



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