by Kevin Smith
New Year’s resolutions offer us the chance to give up various things. When it comes to human rights, we should hang on to what we’re doing well.
It’s a new year, and with the flipping of the calendar page comes the usual push to change, to reform, to be better. I will drink less. I will eat less. I will exercise more. The resolution revolution is upon us.
Needless to say, pondering my could-be-healthier lifestyle got me thinking about human rights. Yes, you’re right – it’s a tenuous link, but hear me out.
Ultimately, governments who care about human rights and try to meet their obligations under human rights law face similar challenges to individuals trying to stay in shape. It’s a constant battle: there is no one-session solution, whether in Parliament or in the gym. Doing the right thing can be painful. Regulating one’s own behaviour requires not only will-power, but long-term thinking. Not doing the right thing might be more convenient in the moment, but ultimately, could lead to shame and embarrassment.
By Sam Tomlin
So much has been made of Labour’s apparent inability to speak to ‘ordinary people’ in the past weeks and months that it is barely worth repeating.
It has also become clear, however, that the UKIP surge, is built on more than social issues such as immigration (although it is not exactly the strategy to deal with this by parodying this fear as Emily Thornberry found last week). Owen Jones’ insightful article the other day showed how economic grievances are just as prevalent among UKIP voters as immigration as the chart beneath illustrates.Labour’s inability to tap into these feelings is certainly worrying and is almost certainly a hang-over from the Blair years in more ways than one. The metropolitan liberalism of the party elite is a factor in its apparent disconnection from the working class, but so is its fear of upsetting big business. Read More
By Sophie Caldecott
There’s something rotten at the heart of the fashion industry. We all know it, but we don’t know what to do about it. The Rana Plaza factory collapse of April 2013 in Bangladesh, which killed 1,133 men, women, and children dead, and over 2500 injured, was just one amongst many headlines in recent years that has forced us all to face the fact that pretty much every high street purchase we make has a questionable moral impact.
But how are we, as shoppers who care, supposed to know which brands are good and which are bad, if even the most well-meaning companies in the market do not know themselves? It’s not realistic to expect everyone to buy absolutely everything locally from craftspeople we can physically meet; and anyway, we don’t want to take industry away from markets abroad. Ideally we would be preserving craftsmanship and the economy on both a local and a global scale.
by Daragh Gleeson
Following the revelations surrounding Tuam, the Irish Government announced that there would be a comprehensive Inquiry into Irish Mother and Children Homes. Like with the investigations into child sexual abuse, and the Magdalene Laundries, there were initial hopes that justice would be done for victims. But, as with previous investigations, it seems the Government is preparing to compound the suffering of victims with an inappropriate response.
This Article considers the concerns over the recent Government Report on what should be covered by the Mother and Baby Home Inquiry. It also considers some of the misreporting which occurred in the backlash over the initial Tuam journalistic inaccuracies.
Finally, it deals with the curious assertions which have emerged in recent times by Conservative Catholics, claiming that they are a type of oppressed minority in Irish Society, and that there is an anti-Catholic prejudice in Ireland. Such allegations are unfounded, and undermine our ability to deal with wrongdoing where the Church is involved. On the contrary, Irish Society has a problem with unquestioning reliance on our traditions, and much of our traditional concepts and practices stem from Conservative Catholic Doctrine. The conditions surrounding the Mother and Baby Homes were created because of our overreliance on the prevailing conception of the “traditional family”. This same unquestioning reliance can be seen in current laws in force which are immoral but remain unchanged because of our Society’s unwillingness to question our traditions, or to deviate from Conservative Catholic Doctrine.
By Antoine Cerisier & Marc Morgan
The 2014 London Conference on Rethinking Economics
In the last weekend of June, we attended the Rethinking Economics Conference organised at UCL by the grassroots student association of the same name. Rethinking Economics is a global network of students that, together with other student associations from around the world, crafted the open letter that formed the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics in May 2014. The London conference brought together frustrated academics and students from numerous countries to debate the sorry state of the economics academic discipline. Adair Turner and Ha-Joon Chang made keynote addresses on either end of two days that sought on the one hand to rethink standard concepts and research methodologies, while on the other to introduce marginalised perspectives by largely heterodox-leaning economists. Curriculum reform, admitting pluralism, was the overarching objective of the conference, which clearly sought to displace neoclassical economics from the royal box of economic investigation.
“I’m so discouraged when the papers say the future is hell…”
“But no! They just play on people’s fear because they know that it sells!”
“Well… I’m so discouraged when the government looks after itself…”
“But no! Their duplicity’s not forever a given!”
It’s just so easy to get discouraged by the world that we live in
So many breaches of trust result in feelings of pessimism
That’s why it’s crucial that we recognise civility and decency
In families, communities of people living peacefully
In history, we only ever learn about the minority at war
While harmony among nonviolent majorities is always ignored
And yet, for every act of cruelty that leads to a death
A million peaceful interactions go unnoticed, and yes
That’s why we should be positive!
Because belligerence just isn’t representative
We tolerate it now, but soon we’ll find a balance to suit us
It’s the aggressors, not the utopians, who are the most deluded
We’re on the verge of huge change in every part of our perspectives
In the past, we’ve not been sure enough to make our challenge effective
Now, for every policy taking us in the wrong direction
A thousand members of civil society have used reflective methods
To determine collectively how best to achieve ethical objectives
To work out the most direct ways to lessen the use of weapons
And improve social outcomes on virtually all metrics
Society is hectic
Time flies by, so unrelenting
Progress is not a given
Our generation has to work to make it
But when that opportunity comes
I’m encouraged that we’ll take it
By Marc Morgan
Students of the economic science from now 30 countries are leading a much-awaited intellectual rebellion against the current teaching establishment. ‘The International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics’, of which I myself am a participant, has gained much international press coverage, and the support of notable academic economists, including Robert Skidelsky, Ha-Joon Chang, Thomas Piketty, James Galbraith and Steve Keen, among others. This grassroots student movement has a simple objective: to broaden the economics curriculum in terms of the theories and methodologies that are taught, so that students receive a ‘pluralist’ education in the discipline.
This hardly seems to be a matter of contention for an outside observer. It is self-evident that proper mastery of a subject should involve acquaintance with the multiple theories that have defined its existence. This should be especially the case for subjects with no linear progression in the explanation and thus prediction of its objects’ behavior (i.e. those subjects within the social sciences – economics, sociology, psychology, politics). In the sphere of the social sciences, there is no ‘creative destruction’ in the theoretical process, as there is in the natural sciences, where new theories build on from old theories, eventually replacing the old theories. This means that there should not be only one way to learn economics. Relying on just one theoretical lens from which to look at the world severely limits what can be observed, explained and hence anticipated. This is emphatically conveyed in the overwhelming majority of economists, trained exclusively in the neo-classical school of economic thought, who failed to foresee the latest financial crisis.