“Workers’ rights are humyn rights”: Discussion

In Harvard Yard right now there is a poster saying “Workers’ rights are humyn rights.” It may be a response to a post of ours that is the most popular right now or the UN discussion of wimmin’s rights.

What the poster raises at this time is that possibly the road that humyn rights activists go is obliterating nation, class and gender questions by calling them all “humyn rights.” Indeed, a selection of posters at Harvard these past few years could easily give one the impression as “humyn rights” often seems to fill the space where international politics should be. There seems to be little other way to interest Amerikkkans in international issues in their own right.

MIM holds that the humyn rights movement exists as a continuation of the religious missionary movement of the colonial era. After gender and class are gone, what is left is one more slogan to make: “National rights are human rights.” By this approach the neo-conservatives, Trotskyists and other simpletons argue that they have the right to go around the governments of existing nations and intervene within those nations for “human rights.” The poster “boy” case for this is the genocide in Rwanda, where many feel that intervention had to come from outside; although, the divisions in Rwanda originated with interventions from outside.

In the end, “human rights” attempts a supra-class politics, and MIM objects. There are faults on both sides of the class divide–on the side of the exploiters and on the side of the exploited. However, for a president Bill Clinton who put sanctions on Iraq and killed 500,000 children according to his own Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, for such a persyn to come forward and say Rwanda needed his intervention–it’s clear that simplistic thinking will not do. One must choose sides, choose a path. No path will be perfect and only those who live in mental fantasy worlds have no blame on their side. Where intra-exploited fighting happens the blame goes at least somewhat on our side.

The supra-class position of humyn rights energizes the petty-bourgeoisie attempting to have questions both ways. The humyn rights movement ends up being used to oppress the Third World, as the for-profit media selling to mostly white people uses it as an excuse to drum in negative images of Third World peoples via constant criticism from well-fed exploiters.

The slogan “workers’ rights are human rights” has its strong points, as does the slogan “women’s rights are human rights.” The history of how constitutions have been written since the French Revolution is a focus of the identity politics movement. How much better some old Western bourgeois documents would have been if they did not refer to “man” or white men exclusively and instead used the word “people” or “humyn.” In other words, apply existing rights for white men to everybody. Certainly this is an idea we can support, even as we seek to go beyond the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the UN Charter.

Another example of the strong points of merging things into one “human rights” approach was at Harvard recently where there was a case of racial smearing of an employee. It’s easy to see how his case belongs to “human rights” and not just “worker rights.”

On the other hand, the left-wing of parasitism refers to the employee involved as a “worker,” while we see this persyn as a member of the “petty-bourgeoisie.” So concretely from the beginning, even though we might agree with the demand to stop discrimination in the workplace, we do not evaluate the persyn concerned as a “worker.” False use of the “worker” terminology leaves the humyn rights movement at Harvard out of international context. The union struggles at Harvard then become opposed to the interests of 90% of the world’s people.

In fact, most of the union struggles at Harvard, Yale etc.; although they be for manual workers or clerical workers, are still petty-bourgeois struggles, not worker struggles. Without this understanding we also do not understand the question of international exploitation and why Amerikan politics is reactionary as it is.



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