Robert Kurz


Will be somebody who wants to criticize the man's rights? To be against the man's rights would be like if the children were against the chocolates. For that reason, everybody naturally agree about the man's rights: George Bush and Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, Rudolf Scharping [German social democrat leader] and International Amnesty. On behalf of the man's rights, bombs are thrown all over the world and from time to time there is a little bit of torture; on behalf of the man's rights, the victims are assisted and consoled. Both, the spokesmen and the opponents to the capitalist war, in favour of the world order, invoke the man's rights; in the case of the Greens, they give alternate proofs of moral integrity on behalf of the party reason and, because of it, from any moral point of view, they are in both sides.

There is something wrong with the man's rights. To this conclusion, a man called Karl Marx arrived, more than 150 years ago. He demonstrated that which occupies a central place in the Declarations of the Man's Rights: the freedom of the market subjects, the guarantee of the private property, the constabulary security of the transactions. In other words: «Man», in this sense, is only the producer of goods and the money winner; the basic «rights» of his existence, even the «integrity of his life and body», can only be possessed in the way that he has some thing or, at least, has himself to sell (and in the most extreme case, his corporal organs), that is that he has payment capacity. A man is only owner of rights, that is to say, owner of man's rights, if he can work inside the capitalist legality that was declared natural law of the society. The called bourgeois «Illustration» only understood as «human» the existence of the subjects of the abstract «work» developed in the functional spaces of the managerial economy and of the goods trade in the markets (in summary, the sphere of the realization of the appraisement of the capital). It is given for certain that the «Man» already arises of the maternal uterus under this social form, because he can only be conceived, physically and spiritually, under the form of such an «economic» being.

It is not foreseen in the case of the Man as far as Man that he can escape from these conditions presumably «natural». However, it was in fact this situation the one created periodically by the capitalism. In the course of the third industrial revolution, it even became, in an irreversible way, a durable existential state for most global. Only that this state doesn't coincide with the Man's illustrated definition. Those « superfluous » of the capitalism, according to this definition, they are not human beings, but only natural objects, like a cobble, a cockroach or a scarab (the Sade marquis had already reached this conclusion, with sophisticated cynicism, in the XVIII century). From here it is derived that the man's modern rights are not a promise, but a threat: if a person is no longer economically usable and functional, neither he is, in principle, a being of right, and if he is no longer being of right, he is no longer a man. The potential dehumanisation of the «superfluous» is maintained in the bourgeois conception of the Illustration, in the way that the capitalist Man being a thing, under the «unnatural» form of excluded, is even less than a thing. This last consequence is the secret principle of the all political economy and, mainly, of the modern democratic politics. It is the essence of that inebriated «realism» that since long time ago has already corrupted the own political left. All the «Realpolitik» [politics of realism] takes with itself the « Cain’s mark » of this implacable logic.

The civil organizations of the man's rights, like International Amnesty and others, aren’t institutions of «Realpolitik», but on the contrary they often represent a thorn nailed in this politics' type. With their direct defence of the victims of the war and persecution, with their incorruptibility (unlike of the traditional politicians) and their, so many times demonstrated, courage against the dominant powers, constitute an important instance of practical help and, in a not smaller measure, of critic and denunciation. But also in this realm they are limited. They defend the victims exclusively on behalf of the principle that transformed them in victims. For that reason they cannot deepen in the necessary critic of the society; their activity can attack the social causes of the violence and persecution as much as the Red Cross could avoid the First World War. The ideological character of their even bourgeois auto comprehension does extraordinarily ambiguous not only its empiric activity in itself, but also its legitimation. For that reason they take the risk of that in fact their existence and their effects were instrumented for the justification of the global economic terror.

The Man's evident recognition, that is to say of all Men, in their corporal, spiritual and social existence, can only be given beyond the illustrated-capitalist definition of human being. In this way, the critique of the man's rights capable of emancipate is the condition of all criticism in the XXI century, as the criticism of the religion was the condition of all criticism in the XIX century. It is the radical criticism of the capitalism’s «principle of reality» of the capitalism and their economical reduction of the human, and also, starting from there, the radical criticism of all «Realpolitik». Under the conditions of the capitalism’s world crisis, it is, not an idea strange to the world, but, on the contrary, a «contra realism» of the social state of emergency, that the practical experience of the overpowering repression exercised by the ‘autotélico’ [of the end in itself] economic irrational principle of the «valorization of the value» prevents to manifest. Let us keep this in mind: not even the most beautiful fundamental principles of the dominant reality are our principles; we have to be free from this reality, instead of becoming «realists» from the point of view of the man's rights.

German original: «Politische ökonomie der menschenrechte», published in Neue Deutchsland, October, 2002.

Portuguese translation by José Paulo Vaz, 8.11.02, in http://planeta.clix.pt/obeco.

Castilian Translation from Portuguese: Round Desk.

English Translation from Spanish: Comunistes de Catalunya