Elaborating a Declaration on Combating Anti-otherness
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 23 Jul 2018
Including Anti-Science, Anti-Spiritual, Anti-Women, Anti-Gay, Anti-Socialism, Anti-Animal, and Anti-Negativity
The following Declaration is inspired by the remarkable London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism (2009) approved at the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). That initiative has been successfully followed by the articulation of a clarification of the nature of antisemitism by the European Commission (Combating Antisemitism, 6 July 2018) explicitly noting the legally non-binding working definition of antisemitism adopted unanimously by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (May 2016). The clarification takes the form of a Resolution on Combating Antisemitism, as adopted by the European Parliament (1 June 2017).
The question is currently the focus of considerable controversy regarding antisemitism within the UK Labour Party, as variously noted (Labour MPs back antisemitism measures rejected by Corbyn, The Guardian, 10 May 2018; Labour MP labels Corbyn an ‘antisemite’ over party’s refusal to drop code, The Guardian, 17 July 2018; Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Semitism problem, The Economist, 31 March 2018).
The approach taken in the following proposal is to explore anti-semitism as a particularly obvious instance of other tragic forms of discriminatory dynamics within society. This follows from an earlier consideration of the need to enlarge the perspective, rather than focus narrowly on specific instances to the convenient exclusion of others — whether more sensitive or less sensitive (Guidelines for Critical Dialogue between Worldviews: as exemplified by the need for non-antisemitic dialogue with Israelis? 2006). That notably included discussion of isomorphs of the Israeli case: challenging parallels and distinctions — specifically with regard to: religions, academic disciplines, political ideology, nationalism and ethnic culture, aesthetics, physically characterized social groups, social status and behavioural skills, and lifestyle preferences.
The method adopted here is to use the Declaration on Combating Antisemitism as a template within which “anti-semitism” and its variants are then replaced by “anti-otherness”, with minimal adjustment to the original text of 30 articles in order to achieve generality, as with the reference to the World Conference against Racism (Durban, 2001) in Article 6.
Many forms of discrimination have been anticipated in 30 articles of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The form of the declaration focusing on anti-semitism offers the opportunity to sharpen the focus on forms of discrimination anticipated, or neglected, therein. In a previous exercise — to sharpen that focus — the articles of that human rights declaration were used as a form of template to generate 3 additional sets of 30 rights (Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization: an experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1971). In addition to the original set, focused on the individual, the three additional sets framed the following sets of rights:
- collective: represents organizational and collective rights and the rights of groups;
- discipline: represents the rights of disciplines and other modes of thought and activity;
- role: represents personal rights, namely the rights a person permit their own roles and all their own modes of thought and activity.
Also of relevance to the argument here, further use of the template method was made to provide a generic frame for the strategic issues implied by rights and their infringement (Towards a Generic Global Issue Statement: evoking an instructive pattern of unquestionable responses, 2009). The text used for that template was the controversial statement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran on the occasion of the UN Durban Review Conference on Racism and Racial Discrimination in 2009, as presented separately (Towards a Generic Global Issue Statement: Template, 2009).
Readily to be described as a Holocaust instigated by humanity against nature, the newly reported massive extinction of species — termed the Holocene extinction (or the Anthropocene extinction) — now makes it appropriate to explore more systematically a set of rights of animals using a similar methodology. Such articulations have been variously proposed in the past (Universal Declaration of Animal Rights, 1978; Universal Charter of the Rights of Other Species, 2000; Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, 2005; Declaration of Animal Rights, 2011).
With respect to the Holocene extinction of species, the new report notes:
When public mention is made of the extinction crisis, it usually focuses on a few animal species (hundreds out of millions) known to have gone extinct, and projecting many more extinctions in the future. But a glance at our maps presents a much more realistic picture: they suggest that as much as 50% of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone, as are billions of populations. Furthermore, our analysis is conservative, given the increasing trajectories of the drivers of extinction and their synergistic effects. (Gerardo Ceballos, et al, Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 25 July 2017)
A commentary on that report notes:
Nearly half of the 177 mammal species surveyed lost more than 80% of their distribution between 1900 and 2015. The scientists conclude: The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe... 50% of individual animals have been lost since 1970 (Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn, The Guardian, 10 July 2017)
Given the extensive media interest and speculation regarding the possible arrival of extraterrestrials, a strong case can be made for anticipating the forms of discrimination that they may evoke or impose — as variously explored in fiction and otherwise (Robert A. Freitas Jr., The Legal Rights of Extraterrestrials, Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact 97, 1977, April, pp. 54-67; Writing Guidelines for Future Occupation of Earth by Extraterrestrials, 2010). The issue has been highlighted in the controversies evoked by the science fiction movie Avatar (2009). Of some relevance, it might be provocatively asked whether many on Earth have now been effectively framed as “extras” in a terrestrial tragedy — readily the subject of collateral damage?
Potentially less hypothetical are the issues of discrimination — already debated — which may be evoked by humanoid robots now anticipated to be a major feature of society in the decades to come (Robot rights violate human rights, experts warn EU, Euronews, 13 April 2018; The Rights of Robots: technology, culture and law in the 21st Century, Metafuture; Europe warned granting robots legal status would breach human rights, The Telegraph, 13 April 2018). With the increasing focus on superior forms of artificial intelligence, of some relevance it might also be provocatively asked whether it is average human intelligence which is in process of being demeaned as “artificial”?
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