CRM -- What is our purpose?

  • CRM -- What is our purpose?

    Dear Carlana and everyone here at CRM,

    What I thought was interesting with this group was not to have a general discussion of Human Rights, but to discuss the particular history and current development of the Civil Rights movement and the music, which has been such an important part of the movement in terms of giving it a cultural identity. The civil-rights music has united and ignited politics, mainly in the U.S, but also around the globe.

    I believe there is a difference between Civil Rights and Human Rights - please correct me if I'm wrong. As I understand the concept we now associate with American "civil rights", it originated in the Black liberation movement as a tool for collective empowerment, predicated upon identifying Blacks as a group with shared cultural and political experience of subordination. This concept of social and political change has then been adopted by the women's movement and other groups. Civil rights are group-oriented legal tools aimed to empower individuals, rather than the state, on the basis of them being subordinated as a group, for instance, as native Americans, Blacks, women, sexual minorities, etc. Hence, much of the political actions in the movement happened in the form of “civil litigation” where existing laws (in some cases, human rights as interpreted under orthodox doctrines) where challenged and changed through legal interpretation in courts. Of course, legislative change also took place, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act that was passed in Congress. Affirmative action policies (Grutter v. Bollinger), formal racial desegregation in Schools (Brown v. Board of Education), civil laws against sexual harassment at work (Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson) and later, including showing pornography at work (Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards Inc.), are some of the accomplishment connected with the civil rights movement's litigation in the U.S.

    The heritage and legacy of human rights, in contrast, begins already in the liberal thought of the enlightenment (or even earlier, in religious thought). Some human rights are close to the civil rights group-oriented perspective, such as the right of national self-determination, the right to be free from all forms of discrimination based on gender, on race, and the conventions on economic, social, and cultural rights etc. Those later developments in international law shares a similar movement-based history as the civil rights in the U.S. International activism, political movements all around the world have, in various forums, been pushing and fighting (sometimes at very high stakes) to get states to ratify newer international and regional conventions and be held accountable for delivering these rights to their people. It is an ongoing struggle, very far from over.

    But from a critical perspective, many other rights that are often spoken of in terms of being the "first generation of rights," such as freedom of expression, the right to life, privacy, property, religious freedoms etc., were substantially formed through a struggle between different fractions of powerful men in European countries that were beginning to democratize in the 18th Century, or even earlier. As in the case of the U.S. constitutional history, these men were (simply put) all afraid that some of the other fractions of men would seize state power and oppress them, e.g., on the basis of religion, political ideology, or other grounds. This could lead to that they were arbitrarily confiscated of their property (which had often illegitimately been earned through extracting the surplus of women’s or slaves' unpaid labor!), be censored in their political protests, or simply been killed off by the other fraction in power of state machinery. This is what inspired liberal philosopher John Locke’s idea that the state must protect the “right to life, liberty and property” or if not, rebellion would be legitimate. It is important to remember that although these rights have proven useful to guard against many egregious state-acts, or acts by individuals against other individuals, they did not prove sufficient for African-Americans, nor women or the other enumerated groups.

    In this light, one may be careful in distinguishing between the legacy of civil rights as opposed to human rights, and to see their commonalities as well as different trajectories.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Edited by DetroitSoulJazz on 30 May 2011, 08:05
    • Carlana said...
    • User
    • 1 Apr 2009, 12:50
    Great! Then your idea with the group is the same as my expectations of what it would be about, when I joined. And good that you cleared out the distinction between human/civil rights.Been thinking about bringing that up. I should have been more consistent in my latest shout (I'm in the middle of work when I'm writing:) )and use 'civil/human rights' every time any of it was mentioned, because in this case I mean both of it, I think.
    Re the issues brought up so far, it's of course not a 'problem' if it's not exactly within the idea of the group, but well, it COULD be that some people (not me though;) )hesitates to make contributions about CIVIL/HUMAN rights versus MUSIC and everything around that, if it continues (and for example discussions about civil/human rights in general, its instruments and so on, gets even more 'expertise' orientated).

    Have a nice 1st of April full of jokes!

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