When will we end genocide of 18 million global poor a year?

Whether we consider ourselves liberals of all kinds, modern conservatives, christian or social democrats, in short if lives and liberties of all humans/individuals are key to us, then we cannot remain indifferent to what Thomas Pogge criticizes in his text.

He raises there an accusation against rich countries, their governments, corporations and citizens. According to him, they systematically cause death of circa 18 million people in poor developing countries a year. He presents arguments and proposals for solutions how it would be possible to avoid it if rich countries agreed to make, in his words, realistic systemic changes, and why it would be, in the long term perspective, even for them better.

He considers the contemporary global order, in perspective of violating rights of the global poor, as morally wrong, and he doesn’t hesitate to use analogy with the behavior of fascists, Chinese communists etc. This seems to be exaggerated at the first sight, but if we accept his argumentation, then he is perhaps right.

Mostly in the sense, where he says it is true that although the crimes of colonialism or China’s great leap caused tens of millions victims, but they were single issues which ended, while the 18 million of dead people a year due to systemic poverty are the constant affair, and it is moreover realistically solvable, but there only is not enough will to do it. The aim of this paper* is not to verify if his numbers and the assumptions arising from them are factually correct, therefore I will presume they are.

If everything what Pogge says is truth, then also his argumentation on why rich countries should agree with the systemic changes, is logical. According to him, it pays off to them if the systemic poverty would be removed once for all, because the never-ending overcoming of a few individuals to voluntarily help, is not only exhausting, but also injustice and demotivational. That’s all because we know that if we had given just a little bit more, we would have helped much more people, but on the contrary, we can see that someone else had given nothing.

It is interesting from my view to think about if the societies in rich countries would agree with such institutional reforms. Now, we perhaps presuppose they wouldn’t, that they are too selfish, that they don’t intend to limit themselves. But I personally don’t think so. The author’s argumentation is very good, and if politicians in rich countries would be able to explain that, it could also have been taken as kind of a debt payment for how bad the previous generations used to behave to developing countries in the era of colonialism. Also, it would be an opportunity how to solve these problems in the long-term, so I believe they could agree with it more easily.

And it could also happen due to the reasons of a better solution for the causes of mass migration. If we removed the systemic causes of poverty, and therefore even the motivation of escaping from poor countries, then it wouldn’t be necessary to risk through mass immigration both, the loss of our own cultures, and the growth of extremist movements related to this.

Generally, it is interesting to look at the individual reforms which Pogge proposes. I am afraid that in the cases of ensuring poor countries a share from a value of raw mineral extracted from the seabed or payment for externalities, it would be problematic to manage the most efficient utilization of the resources redistributed this way. Nevertheless, it maybe isn’t impossible.

However, I was a little bit shocked with a proposal of a global minimum wage. It is truth that with argumentation against the race to the bottom, it doesn’t seem to be such a nonsense, but I am still skeptical about the institution of minimum wage at all.

Otherwise, even for the general global free trade, I consider as very necessary a regulation of working hours and workers’ conditions, because it is one of the little things where it might still be justifiable that rich countries protect their markets with high tariffs.

Generally, the issue of the tariffs is very interesting today, even in the context of American Presidential election. We can see, despite long-term belief of the Right, at least since the 80s, that what the freest trade is necessary, has the primaries been won by a candidate who proposes very protective measures. On the contrary, the Left has a big dilemma if they should protect through these measures the relatively poor in their own countries, or to protect the real poor in the developing ones.

Mostly, I consider the removing of tariffs as the least realistic measure at all. So after the proposal that it would not be necessary to pay a rent for using an intellectual property, which I am afraid would be complicated not only politically, but also practically. Generally, I consider it as a problem how to reach these global measures without increasing the democratic deficit even more, or on the contrary risking destroying the freedom in rich countries with its (global) removing.

*Note: This paper was written as a reflection on Pogge’s arguments for a course Concepts in Modern Political Philosophy at the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University. Pogge’s text is called -“Recognized and Violated by International Law: The Human Rights of the Global Poor.”

You can read my text in Czech here.

UK, please remain and help us reform EU

The problem is that UK can survive without us, but the EU could collapse without you. As it is a good manner in your lands, we should not threaten you, as some people do, but rather politely ask you to remain. Here is why.

Our Union became too centralized and too bureaucratic. We also have a big problem with our external security. We also pay huge amounts of money to irresponsible countries, while we are not sure if we try to satisfy their lazy people, their corrupt elites and oligarchs, or the bankers, investors and speculators in rich countries.

During the WWII, UK remained the last one who could safe free and democratic Europe. I do not want to be pathetic but your referendum reminds me this situation a little bit. If Britain left the EU, I do not see many positive scenarios then.

Only the rise of power of the bigger states over the smaller ones, only the rise of Kremlin propaganda and of Putin’s influence in Europe, and only the rise of extremist parties caused by a feeling of a huge democratic deficit regarding our common policy decisions.

What we need, is to change how the European Union works, so that it better serves the interests of all of us. We have to insist on the real subsidiarity and demand a restoration of sovereignty of our member states in absolutely every issue, where there is not completely necessary to have a centralized solution.

I believe that the United Kingdom would still be a free and prosperous country even as a non-member of the EU. But this kind of a decision would influence not only you. What I am asking you for, as a citizen of a relatively small central European and post-communist country, is you to remain. I join the public figures our country in that appeal to you.

Our land would not have it so much easy, unlike any others, if you left, and we would also have lost a very valuable ally in reforming our common European Union. Please remain; Europe will be much better with your EU-membership.

You can also read this article in Czech here.

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Austria 2016: I would vote for Karl Habsburg-Lothringen

The people of Austria have to send a signal do Wien, Berlin and Brussels. Therefore I could not vote for Van der Bellen. However, I could also not directly vote for FPÖ. How to solve it?

In the Czech Republic, we now have a very problematic president too. We also do the stupid thing that we elect him directly. And it all brings us to the question why we are even republics. As a political liberal I believe in a constitutional and parliamentary regime. But seriously, wouldn’t it be better for our countries to have a king (or a queen) instead of presidents?

We don’t have to be one federation as the Austrian Empire (or the Austria-Hungary) once could be after the WWI. But we could be a personal union. We could be free and sovereign countries with the same head of our states.

As well as Elizabeth II is the queen of New Zealand, so the Karl Habsburg-Lothringen could be the king of the Czech lands. And also the king of Austria and maybe even Slovenia or other countries of the former Austrian Empire that would like to be constitutional and parliamentary monarchies instead of republics.

Hofer or Van der Bellen?

I am really unhappy that Austrians have to choose between these two choices now. Their elites have failed and it seems that the problem with mass immigration escalated. Their elites probably forgot to ask the people if they agree with such an amount of immigration and they forgot to think about if it is even realistic to deal with it.

Of course, we are Europeans, we want to be humanists, and we inherited a lot of guilt from our ancestors, so we feel a duty to help the less advantaged in this world. But we also inherited a civilization which must not be destroyed. Not only by intolerant cultures within it, but also by the logical radical reaction from our home inhabitants.

If the elites, and mostly the centre-right, would not let the things go so further, the Austrians would not have to choose between someone who probably doesn’t understand the problem, and someone who is from a party which is very problematic.

When it comes to me, if I could vote in this election, I would make my own ballot with a name of the King on it, and I would hope that Hofer will not be so bad, and that the elites in Wien, Berlin and Brussels will understand that something has to change before there will be created a space for much more radical parties than FPÖ is.

You can read this article in Czech here.

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Eurovision 2016: Ukraine won and it’s alright it’s political

The demand to have apolitical songs is nonsense. Even peace or freedom is political value. As well as transgender emancipation or international justice is. Where else was the problem this year?

I am always watching Eurovision since 2007 when my country first participated. I like this show because it’s a great opportunity when all Europeans can have a feeling of being an European. And we can see that this contest is political in its substance. The aim of it is a unity and peace of all European nations. Isn’t it political?

However, this year was special. The favorite didn’t win. The best song didn’t win. It was the emotionally strong story of the song that won. Before the Finals I didn’t intend to think that Ukraine could win but something happened in one moment during Jamala’s singing.

When she screamed in the time from 2:25 it was like hearing all of the 230 000 of Crimean Tatars who were forcibly deported by Stalin or the circa 100 000 of those of them who died because of it. In that moment I was sure that I will vote for Ukraine. And it was political. Not in the conspiracy way of the Russian propaganda. It was my free authentic and conscious choice. Something what I hope even Russian people will some day know.

Anyway, the Putin’s propaganda went crazy after the results. Russia won the heart of the European people. Ukraine could win only because of the votes of the special jury, as it is always done. People began to argue that Russia won but it’s corrupt because it’s political and Ukraine won only because the political goal was to support Ukraine against Russia. No evidence of that but a good conspiracy. However, I suppose that we all have a lot of these pseudo-news websites in our countries full of the Kremlin propaganda and we know they are good at it.

Maybe they are too good. Jamala said that she thanks to Europe. But I am skeptical about Europeans in this. The popular vote was won by Russia. And why? Their song really wasn’t the best, maybe the special effects. Are we Europeans really so superficial that we prefer this over the strong story of historical and international in/justice?

And most of the people, who began to argue that the Ukraine’s victory wasn’t fair because it was political and so on, weren’t the paid staff of the Russian propaganda. Mostly, they were only the naive Europeans. No offence, but we could call them useful idiots. And it is very problematic how so many Europeans aren’t immune to Putin’s propaganda. The Dutch people showed it to us a few weeks ago in their referendum.

However, back to the Eurovision. I don’t understand why the organizers chose this way of the results announcement. It was really stupid. Now it seems we have three winners. Of the jury – Australia. Of the people – Russia. And the real winner – Ukraine. And it’s weird.

I am not against announcing the results both from the jury and from the people. But it should have been done in another way. I would prefer if the correspondents from each country in the live entry said first the points from the jury and add the points from the popular vote. We would get all three information from every country and we would know the only one winner in the end as it always used to be.

Another problem is that this year Australia could win. It is European contest and it might be logical that there are countries such as Israel, Russia, Turkey or Georgia, but it makes no sense to have there Australia. But maybe our need to have it there shows that there might be a need for a global song contest.

Last thing I would like to mention is that we should realize how we decide who will receive our votes. Some people say that neighboring countries always support each others. If we look at the winners it doesn’t seem to be truth. Sometimes even the best special effects or the best music doesn’t win. What wins, in my opinion, is the message. And it is often very political and it is perfectly fine.

You can also read this article in Czech here.

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How I studied in Mar(x)burg

The motto: “Who is not left-wing in youth, has no heart,” is meant literally at my host faculty in Marburg, Germany. Primarily it’s funny because we, the young people from Central and Eastern Europe, often see it a little bit differently.

In the era when the Czech Social Democrats were led by Jiří Paroubek (around 2005-2010), it wasn’t cool to call yourself left-wing among young people at all. Although it was pretty superficial, but almost every young person was against this kind of left-wing populism and we also saw the threat that our free land could once again be ruled by Communists.

Many of us are also from families that have a direct personal experience that the regime under the leadership of the Communist party oppressed them, made it impossible for them to live freely, to develop their talents and so on. It is natural for us to be anti-communist, and we tend to consider this ideology as equally bad or maybe even worse than Nazism or fascism.

But in West Germany they do not have this kind of experience. For young people there, the role of the authoritarian and reactionary evil is played by conservative, christian-democratic or right-wing liberal ideologies and parties. For them these are associated with the evil Western and global capitalism, imperialism, (neo)colonialism and so on. Professionally, it is then called for example neoliberalism. And the worse are only nationalists or Nazis.

The funny point is that Marxism or neo-Marxism are regarded as an intellectual paradigm there. If a person is centre-right, so he or she feels like inappropriately as well as the radical left-wing students must feel like at our universities in Czech lands.

Generally, one has a feeling that even Bernie Sanders in such an environment would be condemned as a radical right-winger, and it is unlikely to meet there someone who would have another favorite in contemporary America.

However, it seems that the situation that Czech (but also probably other Central and Eastern European) departments of Political Science/Philoshophy or social science faculties are very often right-wing/centre-right, is quite rare in the global context.

I hope it will not be a problem to publish here some photos. The mixture of radically left-wing anarchism, Marxism and neo-Marxism, in which one doesn’t know if it is still a revolt of youth, or already a uniform setting of everyone who do not want to be labeled a neo-Nazi, is in the context of the historical experience of my country very interesting. And there are a lot of more of these signs and stickers on the faculty and around the city.

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The inscription on the left of the entrance to Philosophical Faculty: Capitalism kills!

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Folk creativity at the entrance to the Building C

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Expropriate banks and corporations!

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Varoufakis, the new European hero/celebrity

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There were more inscriptions like this: Refugees Welcome!

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Some kind of a “solution” to the European immigration crisis

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And some kind of euroscepticism – “The EU kills refugees”

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Whether it’s unclear who reigns here

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… and the World will be perfect

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Does BFE mean this?

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The enemy is clear: Nazis, capitalism, armed forces

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Capital isn’t cool

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NPD isn’t cool too

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The fight against the Nazis is cool

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Radical feminism is also cool: Live and read radically!

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Did House of Cards give us Trump?

Not only Trump, and not only House of Cards. The dirty of politics, the corruption through campaign financing, the injustice inequalities.

It all made us realize that something is wrong with American democracy, society and political process. And the ruthless personality of Frank Underwood made us prepared that even the most known clown in the World and the rudest candidate could become the President.

We all got use to that politics must be a massacre. I said that not only House of Cards. Another one I mean is Game of Thrones. And I mentioned not only Trump. It could gave us also Sanders or ISIS.

There is not such a direct link as with The Donald, but if there exists some kind of a holistic spritual collective spirit, and all our minds our somehow connected, then what if – meanwhile we are watching, they are doing?

 

Part 9: Will we work in the future?

This is a big question. It is clear that now we still have to work because we do not have such developed machines which would be able to do everything for us. It is also true that most of us can change their jobs and that people who really want to do their dream job which they consider as their purpose probably mostly can. And it is also true that we can do some systematic improvements to make the lives of average workers or entrepreneurs better.

However, I would like to believe that one day all people will be able to live their real free lives as Lukas from the third story could. That we will be very developed society where most individuals will want to live like real aristocracy and they will want to devote their time to some voluntary work which would still be improving the lives of all people. And that they will still have a lot of free time to do what they really want to. I suppose that also our relationships and our laws would be better if people have more time for them and for politics.

So let’s create the robots which will be able to do the necessary and unpopular work for us. Let’s educate all people in the way of better humanity and let’s develop the necessary habits to be able to live truly free lives. Let’s teach our machines how to work, how to do business, how to invest money. Let’s become a society of rich capitalists who will be able to live their dream lives not from the real added values and from surplus created by other people, but from them, created by machines and robots. And keep in mind that if we want it, we cannot give them human rights.

This essay was originally written with a title “The ideology in sci-fi genre and the future of work, freedom and inequality” and it was done for a course lead by Aleš Debeljak at the University of Ljubljana during my Erasmus exchange programme. I give thanks to him for the possibility to creatively write what I wanted and also to my high school English teacher Lucie Adamusová for her useful grammar tips.

Part 1: Intro

Part 9: Will we work in the future? 

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What does it mean to be really rich?

It brings us to this important question. Someone answers that having a lot of money. Someone else would say to be happy with what you have no matter how much it is. I don’t believe it. I think that being really rich means that you can spend your time in the way you really love, on a place which you really choose, and only with those kinds of people you really like, and still be able to feed yourself and to have your needs sufficiently fulfilled at the same time. Not doing a job which you hate just to have more money for some free time to enjoy. Not doing a job which you love but making a huge compromise with your desired lifestyle. Of course, the second would still be better but we have to find better ways.

I really find it problematic that many people today do not do what they love, they have to spend a lot of hours in their jobs, sometimes even overtime, sometimes they have to take their work home, or have to have more jobs, or cannot have enough time for lunch, or cannot choose the place of their work and so on. They also do not have enough sleep, are much stressed, use synthetic stimulation to be awake and focused, and that all just to be able to feed themselves and their families. I doubt it that they could feel as really free people.

However, they are still much freer than in other political or economic systems. They do not have to be members of the “right” party to keep their jobs or to stay alive. They do not have to do the jobs which government forces them to do. It is only nature, their willpower and their habits which decide. Almost everyone was born with some potential, with some abilities and in our societies we also have an opportunity to develop our skills or knowledge through mostly free education and if not, then on the internet.

Liberal capitalism is individualistic in the way that it can make us free from the government or from other individuals and it can let us live our free lives with the money which we are able to get from our work, our enterprise, our investments or from any other form, and to choose to fulfill the variety of our needs. On the other hand, liberal capitalism is still very collectivistic because it forces us to cooperate and compete with other people, to use our skills, knowledge, time, work and effort to do the activities which fulfill the needs of our whole society.

Part 1: Intro
Part 8: What does it mean to be really rich?

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But, aren’t we only lazy and weak individuals with bad habits?

It would be great to live our dream lives. However it must bring us to a question if we are not only too lazy. It is possible that people who really want to live their ideal life or to do their dream job really can do so already in our time. There are examples of many people who didn’t give up and they instead worked hard to achieve what they wanted. But most people just give in and make up with the false external circumstances and do not live their real life.

Nevertheless, it is still not so easy. Even if I worked hard, surpassed myself, built useful companies so that I could live my life independently on money or time, I would still be unhappy because most people could not do this. The technologies would still not be so developed so that everyone could be financially independent of their work and their time. And of course we would still have a lot to do to improve the lives of those people who still must do the work which they would not do if they were rich, and which I believe one day robots will do.

Part 1: Intro
Part 7: But, aren’t we only lazy and weak individuals with bad habits?

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The beginning of the 21st century and the freedom of enterprise

We are back with Lukas from our century. He decided that he does not want to live either as his version from the first, either from the second story. Otherwise, he realized that the only option how he could live as his version from the third story is that he would stand on his own feet and little by little he would build it through overcoming and through creating a real added value.

Of course, his motivation is also his personal interest and profit. But we would be far from the truth if we thought that this was his only motivation. He could do business in something that would not bring a real added value, which would be only parasitizing on the stupidity of other people through sophisticated commercials. But, he really wants to help the World. He wants it to be much more like the World from the third story. It was not easy. In all stories Lukas was born into a family which was in his country relatively poor. Nevertheless, his family had some values and ambition to bring up good people from their children and also to give them the opportunity to be able to fulfill their dreams.

In the past Lukas changed high school so that he could devote himself to much more general education and to decide what to do with his life later. From similar reason he started studying the field of his heart instead of going to study something that would bring him good and stable wage. During his studies he was just hanging around, he lead consumerist lifestyle, and he had no day order or clear way in his life. But the necessity to begin doing something for his living was approaching fast.

It was not from one day to another but step by step he became successful in building the habits which made a better person from him. He realized that no one will save him and also the technological progress which would allow the post-work society will probably not happen before the end of his studies. And if he wanted to be independent and one day spend his days with only those activities which fulfill him, he must start a business.

And so he arranged meetings with successful entrepreneurs who were his role models, he learnt from them and even during his studies at university he studied everything important for his success in business. He had to overcome himself very often but in several months he began to feed himself and to employ some people.

All about the age of 28 he can almost live similar life as the one in the third story. He gets up early in the morning and before he launches his computer he does some exercise. He has his girlfriend who is also trying to start some interesting projects. He likes to write and after breakfast he starts his work in his company. First at home, then he moves into his office. He works until late afternoon because he starts also another business so that he could sell one of his companies and have the opportunity to buy his own dream house without a mortgage, and also have more time for writing or for continuing his post gradual studies at university. His evenings he usually spends with his girlfriend or friends or he attends some interesting event or discussion. He is now very close to his desired lifestyle.

Part 1: Intro
Part 6: The beginning of the 21st century and the freedom of enterprise

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