Ending The Fossil Fuel Era Is The Only Way To Halt Global Warming And Stop Environmental Injustice

CJ Polychroniou

The decarbonization ideals underlying the Green New Deal provide the only realistic way to halt global warming and build a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future.

Environmental justice is a crucial component of the broader struggle for a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future. So is the end of the fossil fuel era; in fact, decarbonization and environmental justice go hand in hand.

The environmental justice movement traces its origins to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. As such, it is deeply rooted in black history.

The Memphis Sanitation Strike in 1968, which drew Martin Luther King Jr., is regarded as the first nationally mobilized protest against environmental injustice.

In 1982, African Americans organized a mass protest against a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) landfill in Warren County, North Carolina, an event that served as the catalyst for the birth of a political movement dedicated to fighting environmental injustice and environment racism.

Of course, other communities of color had also mobilized against potential environmental threats, even before Warren County. In the 1960s, Cesar Chavez led a fight to organize migrant farmworkers. He founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 with the aim of overthrowing a farm labor system in the US that treated farm workers as slaves.  Chavez had also recognized early on the dangers of exposing farm workers to pesticides in the fields, and in the early 1970s campaigned successfully to have DDT banned on account of its adverse environmental effects.

There can be no denying that minority and low-income communities have historically borne a disproportionate burden of environmental risks. Poor and racial-ethnic minority populations are far more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air. Robert Bullard’s studies showed that hazardous waste, garbage dumps and polluting industries almost always end up in poor and predominantly black communities rather than white, affluent suburbs.

Indeed, a 2017 report from the NAACP, the Clean Air Task Force, and the National Medical Association affirmed that African Americans are 75 percent more likely than other Americans to live near industrial plants that pollute water and air and erode the quality of life. In turn, a 2018 study by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists found that African Americans faced a 54 percent higher health burden compared to the general population. Non-white communities had a 28 percent higher health burden and those in poverty had a 35 percent higher burden.

Environmental racism is undoubtedly very real, and the federal government has known about it for many decades. Yet, “there is no federal law governing environmental injustice,” although environmental justice was institutionalized as a priority of the federal government in 1994 with the signing of Executive Order 12898 by Bill Clinton.  Whatever progress has been made in the fight against environmental injustice and environmental racism has been due to community organizing and activism.

One of the earliest organizations dedicated to fighting environmental injustice is Communities for a Better Environment. It was founded in 1978 with a mission to empower people in California’s poor communities and communities of color to take action in order “to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments.”

A decade later, the fight against environmental injustice and environmental racism picked up considerable steam with the formation of multiple of organizations in the US. Included in this group are WE ACT for Environmental Justice (1988), the Center for Race, Poverty & the Environment (1989), the Indigenous Environmental Network (1990), the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (1990), the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (1992), and the National Black Environmental Justice Network (1999). Earth Rights International, the first organization founded on the belief that US corporations could be held accountable for environmental crimes and human rights abuses committed abroad, came into being in 1995 and has evolved into a global movement dedicated to the fight for climate justice.

More grassroots environmental justice organizations surfaced in the years ahead not only because of increasing public awareness of climate change but also because environmental injustice remained widespread in the US. There are currently more than 140 major cases monitored by Environmental Justice Atlas.  And virtually all of them are in communities where economically disadvantaged and racial-ethnic minority populations reside.

Over the years, Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” has come to be seen as one of the most blatant examples of “environmental racism.”  “Cancer Alley” is an 85-mile long stretch of the Mississippi river overrun with petrochemical facilities. It is one of the most polluted places in the US, and the cancer risk for the predominantly African American residents in the communities closest to the plants is 50 times the national average.

Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” is also a blatant example of government failure.  But this shouldn’t come as a surprise given the political influence of the oil, gas, and chemical industries. Moreover, ProPublica’s investigation of cancer-causing pollution from industrial facilities also exposed flaws in the pollution prevention and enforcement policies of EPA.

On the positive side, environmental organizations have scored some impressive victories over the years, especially lately. Biden cancelled the Keystone X Pipeline after a 10-year campaign against it by organizations such as the Sierra Club.  The PennEast Pipeline was also cancelled, and California has taken action to phase out fracking by 2024.
However, many activists stress the point that environmental justice cannot be disassociated from racial justice.  This is an issue that has caused long-standing friction between traditional environmental groups and environmental justice organizations.  Nonetheless, the evolution of the environmental justice movement has led to growing collaborations and networks and continuous advancement of the environmental justice agenda. In talking to various environmental activists, a consensus seems to be emerging on the need to strengthen efforts to limit global warming.
This is absolutely essential for combatting effectively environmental injustice and environmental racism. Decarbonization is the key to tackling global warming and environmental injustice. Fossil fuels lie at the heart of the climate crisis facing the world at large and of the health and environmental injustices facing poor and minority communities.
Fossil fuels are responsible for the climate crisis, generate air and water pollution, cause millions of deaths each year, carry a price tag for the world economy which runs into hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and perpetuate environmental injustice and environmental racism.

In this context, true leadership in the fight against global warming and environmental injustice necessitates being involved in the fight to end global fossil fuel use. The decarbonization ideals underlying the Green New Deal provide the only realistic way to halt global warming and build a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future.

Source: https://www.commondreams.org/

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely

C.J. Polychroniou is a political economist/political scientist who has taught and worked in numerous universities and research centers in Europe and the United States. His latest books are The PrecipiceNeoliberalism, the Pandemic and the Urgent Need for Social Change (A collection of interviews with Noam Chomsky; Haymarket Books, 2021), and Economics and the LeftInterviews with Progressive Economists (Verso, 2021).

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Renske Visser – En zijn ogen kan ik lezen. Veertien negentiende-eeuwse brieven uit Parijs, Den Haag en Domburg 1891-1894

Hôtel du Louvre – Parijs

Donderdag, 17 ix 1891

Lieve tante Martha,

Omdat u mij vroeg u in kennis te stellen van onze wederwaardigheden in Parijs, schrijf ik u deze brief. Thomas is na onze aankomst in het hotel gaan rusten. Ik kan de rust niet vinden, het lukt me zelfs niet een boek ter hand te nemen. Daarom heb ik besloten u te schrijven.

U weet hoe zeer ik aarzelde om samen met Thomas deze treinreis te maken. Omdat hij op zijn standpunt bleef staan, heb ik mijn twijfel laten varen. Na vandaag nemen mijn zorgen om zijn gezondheid toe. Toch wil ik met hem blijven hopen dat het een goed besluit is geweest van de geneesheer van het Johannes de Deo om voor Thomas een afspraak te maken met die Franse neuroanatoom. Thomas vestigt al zijn hoop op professor Charcot. Morgen bezoeken we het Hôpital de la Salpêtrière. Ik hoop dat deze voor hem zo afmattende reis niet vergeefs is geweest.

Toen de trein hedenmiddag het Gare du Nord binnenreed, zag ik hoe moeizaam Thomas zich oprichtte na de langdurige zit. Zijn ledematen waren zo verstijfd dat het leek of hij het dubbele aantal jaren van zijn leeftijd telde. Zijn stem klonk dof van vermoeidheid toen hij een kruier wenkte. Ondanks de wandelstok die hij onlangs op het Noordeinde gekocht heeft, liep hij alsof hij te veel alcohol had genuttigd.

Het was een voorrecht dat het rijtuig van het Hôtel du Louvre voor het station op ons wachtte. Echter, bij het instappen deed er zich een incident voor waardoor ik hevig ontsteld raakte. De koetsier vroeg mij of hij mijn vader kon assisteren. Om te voorkomen dat Thomas dit hoorde, siste ik de man toe: ’Mon mari!’ Vanzelfsprekend verontschuldigde hij zich, maar het leed was reeds geschied. Of Thomas het verstaan heeft? Hij was zwijgzaam gedurende de rit. Al duurde het geruime tijd voor ik kalmeerde, ik hield mijn mond om hem niet nodeloos te kwetsen. Op de hotelkamer ging hij zonder zich uit te kleden op bed liggen, terstond viel hij in een diepe slaap. Nadat ik hem toegedekt had, heb ik zo geruisloos mogelijk de koffers uitgepakt.

Nu zit ik bij het venster met uitzicht op de Rue Saint-Honoré en de Comédie Française. Als ik naar rechts kijk, zie ik de Place Royal waar het een komen en gaan is van mensen tussen het Palais en het Louvre. Deze avond zullen we ons tussen hen voegen als we naar de Opéra gaan. De Opéra zal voor mij de beste afleiding zijn om de zorgen om Thomas te vergeten. Ik hoop maar dat hij niet te laat wakker wordt.

Lieve tante, het hotel en onze ruime hoekkamer op de eerste etage zijn werkelijk magnifiek. Voor Thomas is het ideaal dat er een lift aanwezig is. Ik dank u en oom George dat u ons dit hotel heeft aanbevolen. Ik kan hier beslist een paar maanden verblijven. Als Thomas in het hospitaal verpleegd wordt, hoop ik Parijs te bezoeken. Het is alweer zo lang geleden dat wij hier geweest zijn. Het is werkelijk fameus dat het Louvre op kuierafstand ligt. Weet u dat de Jardin du Luxembourg opengesteld is voor publiek? Ik verheug me erop daarheen te gaan. Terwijl ik dit neerschrijf, voel ik me beschaamd dat ik me zo uitdruk, maar zegt oom George niet altijd dat wij het aangename met het nuttige moeten verenigen?

Thomas zal aanstonds wakker worden. Daarom groet ik u. Adieu, lieve tante, ik hoop dat het u en oom George zeer goed mag blijven gaan, evenals onze geliefde dochter Isabelle. Kust u ons kleine meisje van ons?

Uw liefhebbende nicht,

Renske Visser – En zijn ogen kan ik lezen. Veertien negentiende-eeuwse brieven uit Parijs, Den Haag en Domburg 1891-1894
Rozenberg Publishers, Amsterdam, 2021. ISBN 978 90 361 0658 0 – 92 pagina’s – Euro 12,50
Omslag & DTP: BuroBouws, Amsterdam
Verschijnt 20 december 2021

Stichting HouseMartin
Dankzij donaties van fondsen en particulieren opent Stichting HouseMartin in het voorjaar van 2022 aan de Hooftskade in Den Haag de deuren van RespijtHuis HouseMartin waar daklozen kunnen herstellen van een griep, revalideren na een operatie of waar zij in een enkel geval de laatste levensdagen kunnen doorbrengen.
Door het kopen van En zijn ogen kan ik lezen draagt u bij aan de voortgang van RespijtHuis HouseMartin, een kleinschalig logeerhuis dat met inzet van vrijwilligers uit verschillende culturen een warm nest wil bieden aan de meest kwetsbaren in onze samenleving die geen plek hebben om het hoofd neer te leggen bij ziekte.

Website: https://respijthuishousemartin.com

Jean-Martin Charcot

Jean-Martin Charcot (Parijs, 29 november 1825 – Morvan, 16 augustus 1893) was een Franse arts die wordt beschouwd als een van de grondleggers van de neurologie.

Na aan de Sorbonne gepromoveerd te zijn met als specialisme gewrichtsreuma, ging hij werken als ziekenhuisarts. Na enige jaren keerde hij terug naar Parijs, waar hij werd benoemd tot hoogleraar in de pathologische anatomie. Hij verrichtte zeer veel onderzoek naar anatomie en de pathologie van het zenuwstelsel en ontdekte de ziekte amyotrofe laterale sclerose (ALS). Ook toonde hij aan dat multiple sclerose en de ziekte van Parkinson twee verschillende ziekten waren. De ziekte van Charcot-Marie-Tooth, een perifere zenuwziekte is naar hem genoemd samen met Pierre Marie (1853-1940) en Howard H. Tooth (1856-1926). In 1882 werd speciaal voor Charcot de eerste leerstoel voor ziekten aan het zenuwstelsel ingesteld aan het Hôpital de la Salpêtrière (Parijs).

Als dank en erkenning voor zijn werk werd hij in 1883 benoemd tot lid van de Académie de médecine en de Académie des sciences.

In de latere jaren van zijn carrière deed hij ook onderzoek naar de verschijnselen van hysterie, waarvoor hij onder andere hypnose gebruikte. Ook na zijn overlijden was Charcot van invloed op de psychiatrie en psychoanalyse. Veel van Charcots kennis werd namelijk overgenomen door zijn leerling/student Sigmund Freud. Ook Alfred Binet en Georges Gilles de la Tourette studeerden onder Charcot.

Bron: nl.wikipedia.org

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Polycracy As An A-System Of Rule? Displacements And Replacements Of The Political In An Unbounded Dictatorship


The concept of polycracy is beset by a number of paradoxes: it designates a form of political rule in the absence of such rule. In such circumstances, a
multiplicity of social formations, economic and financial agencies and operational functions install themselves anomically at local level and extend independently of and beyond policy and legislation. In doing so, they split and supplant frameworks of the state and of political and societal institutions. This article sets out to trace the lineages of the concept of polycracy and its instantiations in a system of rule that involves a process of political de-structuring. More specifically, the question explored here is what takes place in the destroyed political space and what takes its place in the unbounded state of the Nazi dictatorship.

Keywords: polycracy; National Socialist totalitarianism; Nazi regime; party–state relationship; occupying regime; Weimar Republic; quantitatively total state

Even with historical hindsight, the phenomenon termed “totalitarianism” presents a number of conundrums. To start off with, it resists definition. To describe it as a “system of rule” risks contradiction (see Kershaw 1999, 222), because “a-systematicity” is its most pertinent characteristic. As a particular type of modern dictatorship, it has invited comparisons, yet such comparisons remain limited and general (considering e.g. the limited comparability of the National Socialist regime in Germany and the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union—see Kershaw 1999). The process of political disintegration described by it is bound to leave the concept under-theorised (see Kershaw 1991, 98) and possibly even to impress itself on the theorist as incomprehensible (see Arendt [1951] 1994, viii), both conceptually and politically. In this article, we propose to put one of the elements specifying “totalitarianism” to the test: Can “polycracy” provide a specifying criterion for the definition of “totalitarianism”? If so, how would it have to be conceptualised in order to be able to account for the simultaneous diffraction and concentration of structures and agencies that reconfigure governance for conditions of geopolitical expansion, invasion, annexation and occupation; total mobilisation for war; and population relocations, forced labour and genocide?

The term “polycracy”, as Walther Hofer points out, is of recent coinage. It designates social and political processes unlike those described by any of the classical theories of political organisation (Hofer 1986, 249; see also Arendt [1951] 1994, 461; also Schmitt 2000, 66) or system or type of rule.

Writing in the aftermath of war and genocide in the late 1940s, Hannah Arendt ventures this description: “We always suspected, but we now know that the [National Socialist] regime was never ‘monolithic’ but ‘consciously constructed around overlapping, duplicating, and parallel functions’ …” (Arendt [1951] 1994, xxxii–xxxiii; also 404 fn. 8).

What she pinpoints here had, in fact, been articulated by Carl Schmitt even before the Second World War in his prescient analyses of the Nazi dictatorship (1933) and by Ernst Fraenkel and Franz Neumann during the course of the War and in its immediate aftermath. The multi-levelled dynamic functioning of the Nazi regime became the subject of further investigation in the 1960s and 70s, first by Klaus Hildebrand, Karl Bracher and Peter Hüttenberger and later by Ian Kershaw. Even as they differed in the details of their analysis, all of these historians and political theorists either explicitly or implicitly returned to Johannes Popitz’s concept of “polycracy”, coined in the late 1920s to take account of the decline of the German state during the late Weimar period.

“Polycracy”—A conceptual–political history
Popitz held on to a substantive universal idea of the state against its devolution and dissolution into concrete orders and functions. In his positions in the Finance Ministry in the latter half of the 1920s, he was intent on clearing up Weimar’s “administrative confusions” (see Kennedy 2004, 147; also Schmitt 2000, 62 fn. 4) and on restoring the authority of a centralised state.

Carl Schmitt’s conversations with Johannes Popitz (the friendship with whom Schmitt only reluctantly admitted to) trace the decline of the state in the Weimar Republic with its proliferation of special interests, political parties and particularist movements. Popitz views this process as the replacement of “the state as the source of order and the locus of authoritative decisions … by the notion of ‘free competition’ and ‘the self-organisation of society’” (see Kennedy 2004, 33). This defines Popitz’s notion of polycracy. “Pressures from within the private sector and the party politics of the Reichstag had created,” he argued in 1927, “a ‘polycratic’ system that displaced parliamentary democratic will formation” (Kennedy 2004, 147). What these “diverse forms of economic organisations and public/private partnerships” had in common was the “fact that they retained a degree of independence from the state” while assuming responsibility for “important public functions” (Kennedy 2004, 142 fn. 3). Read more

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Surinaamse slavenregisters online toegankelijk

Wie op zoek is naar meer informatie over zijn Surinaamse voorouders, lessen over slavernij voorbereidt, of onderzoek doet naar het Surinaamse slavernijverleden, kan voortaan een belangrijke online bron raadplegen. Met de gedigitaliseerde en ontsloten slavenregisters is het mogelijk mensen die in slavernij leefden over een periode van bijna 35 jaar te volgen.

De database wordt op 26 juni 2018 feestelijk gelanceerd door Noraly Beyer, ambassadeur van het project  ‘Maak de Surinaamse slavenregisters openbaar’. Iedereen die in Suriname in slavernij leefde werd in het register opgenomen. De slavenregisters zijn uniek: nergens anders in de wereld is zulke gedetailleerde informatie over een complete bevolking van mensen in slavernij bewaard gebleven.

De database is als index gepubliceerd op de collectiewebsite van het Nationaal Archief.

Surinaamse slavenregisters
In de Surinaamse slavenregisters staan naar schatting tachtigduizend mensen geregistreerd die tussen 1830 en de afschaffing van de slavernij in 1863, in Suriname in slavernij leefden. Slaveneigenaren moesten de mensen die in hun bezit waren laten registreren, met vermelding van naam, geboortedatum en de naam van de moeder en informatie over geboorte, overlijden, vrijlating, verkoop en andere informatie die belangrijk was voor de status en waarde van mensen in slavernij. De registers behoren tot de collectie van het Nationaal Archief Suriname maar waren zeer beperkt toegankelijk voor het publiek, omdat ze niet gedigitaliseerd waren en een namenindex ontbrak.

Ga naar: https://www.nationaalarchief.nl/surinaamse-slavenregisters

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Violence And Identity ~ The “Self” And The “Other”: An Exploration Of Ethnic Relations And Conflict In China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

On the night of 5 July 2009, Urumchi, the provincial capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), witnessed the worst outbreak of ethnic rioting in the history of the People’s Republic of China (Wong, 2009). According to official figures, 197 people were killed and over 2,000 injured (Xinhua, 2009a). The majority of those who died were of Han ethnicity. The Han make up over 92 per cent of the Chinese population but are in a minority in Xinjiang. Their attackers were mostly of Uyghur ethnicity, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group which is in the majority in Xinjiang. The 2009 riot was not an isolated event, but the worst in a series of sporadic outbreaks of violence in recent years. These outbreaks of violence have brought renewed focus, both within China and internationally, on the issue of ethnic relations in Xinjiang and on the Chinese government’s minority policy and have had a significant impact on the construction and maintenance of the social boundaries that exist between both groups.

Xinjiang, which translates as “New Dominion” or “New Frontier” in English, is a vast resource-rich province twice the size of Western Europe. At just under 1.7 million square km, it makes up one sixth of the People’s Republic of China and borders Russia, Kazakhstan, MongoIia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. It is of enormous strategic and economic importance but remains, as it always has been, a potential tinderbox, as its peoples, old and new, struggle to find their place in an ever-shifting landscape. The central government is determined to secure control of this key region in the face of continuing resentment from its indigenous peoples (Bovingdon, 2010).

According to the 2010 Census (Xinjiang Statistical Year Book 2009) Uyghurs make up 45.21 per cent of the population of Xinjiang, numbering 8,345,622 people. The Han make up 40.58 per cent with 7,489,919 people. Next come the Kazakhs, who number just over 1 million, followed by: Mongol; Dongxiang; Tajik; Xibe; Manchu; Tuja; Uzbek; Russian; Miao; Tibetan; Zhuang; Daur; Tatar; and Salar. The 2000 census also shows that during the 1990s, Xinjiang’s Han population grew by 31.6 per cent, mostly due to inward migration. This is twice the rate of the indigenous ethnic groups (up 15.9 per cent), who supposedly benefit from more relaxed family planning policies compared to the rest of China. This influx has considerably heightened the competition between the Han and local ethnic groups for land and water resources in rural areas, and for jobs in urban areas. While the most recent census was carried out in 2010, the full figures on Xinjiang’s ethnic makeup had still not been released at the time of writing. The figures that have been released show the figure for the Han was hovering around the 40 per cent mark, while the Uyghur figure has fallen significantly to 42 per cent (Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook 2011).

Ethnic identity (minzu – 民族 ) in China, and in Xinjiang particularly, is both clearly defined by the state and controversial. In Xinjiang, China’s most ethnically diverse region and also its most restive, ethnicity has a particular resonance. This chapter conceptuaIizes ethnicity in Xinjiang both in terms of a classical Weberian definition of”ethnic groups” as “human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonisation or both” (Weber, 1968, p. 389) and the official Communist Party interpretation of ethnicity based on Stalin’s definition of historically formed stable communities of language, territory, economic life, and psychological formation, manifested through a common culture (Stalin, 1953). It understands ethnic identity as something that is self-conscious and that this self-consciousness often has its source in the labels used by others. As Stephen Cornell and Douglas Hartman (2007) argue, the identity that others assign to us can be a powerful force in shaping our own self-concepts. Essential to this exploration of Han and Uyghur identity will be the assumption that an ethnic group cannot truly exist in isolation, it has meaning only in a context that involves others.

Based on a large number of interviews carried out in Urumchi from 2009 to 2012, this chapter is divided into two parts: part one will give a detailed account of the riots based on eye witness accounts together with contemporaneous news reports; part two seeks to examine how the violence of 2009 has affected how the Han and Uyghur see the themselves and each other and the role of social boundaries and relational comparisons in the creation and maintenance of group identities.
My research takes as a basic theoretical assumption Fredrik Barth’s (1969) conceptualization of ethnicity, which emphasizes that it is the ethnic boundary that defines a group. Barth maintained that ethnic identities do not derive from intrinsic features but emerge from, and are reasserted in, encounters, transactions, and oppositions between groups. An ethnic group can only be defined and structured from within, and only these “objective” differences considered significant by the actors themselves are taken into account. He asserts that categorical ethnic distinctions do not depend on an absence of mobility, contact, and information but do entail social processes of exclusion and inclusion. It is not so much who we are, rather, who we are not. Barth also argues that identity must be selected by groups themselves, a process he calls “self-ascription” (Barth, 1969, p.4).

Part One
Urumchi aflame: the causes and consequences of the 5 July riot

In the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the authorities expressed concern over Uyghur separatist groups potentially plotting to disrupt the games. At the beginning of 2008, it claimed to have broken up a number of plots and to have found equipment used in the making of explosives as well as four kilograms of yell ow sulphur and 100 kilograms of nine other types of chemicals, along with computer equipment and disks containing “holy war” materials. Police claimed the suspects were planning to attack the Olympics as weIl as other government targets in Beijing and Shanghai (Hastings, 2011). In March, the authorities announced they had thwarted an attempt by Xinjiang “terrorists” to hijack a Beijing-bound passenger airplane and crash it. However, despite its heightened security operation in Xinjiang, two violent incidents in Xinjiang did overshadow the opening of the Olympics.
On 4 August, just days before the games were due to open, two men armed with knives and explosives ambushed military police who we re exercising outside their station in Kashgar. State media reported that the attackers had killed 16 officers and wounded 16 others. Days later on 9 August, 12 explosive devices were detonated in attacks on at least four local government buildings, a supermarket, and hotels in the city of Kucha, killing a security guard and at least 10 of the suspected attackers (Jacobs, 2008; Yardley, 2008). Read more

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Multatuli online

Lithografie naar portret van Multatuli door César Mitkiewicz

Multatuli – pseudoniem van Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887) – wordt beschouwd als de belangrijkste schrijver uit het Nederlands taalgebied. Zijn invloed op de Nederlandse literatuur, de koloniale politiek, het feminisme en de arbeidersbeweging is baanbrekend geweest. Het Multatuli Genootschap/Stichting Multatuli Huis wil de belangstelling voor deze schrijver en denker levend houden door op multatuli.online zijn volledige werk en correspondentie en alle documenten (zoals teksten, afbeeldingen, archivalia) die op hem betrekking hebben digitaal en in samenhang te publiceren. De website is bestemd voor belangstellenden en onderzoekers maar ook voor wie hier kennismaakt met Multatuli.

De realisering van dit project zal stapsgewijs plaatsvinden. Op dit moment zijn alle zelfstandige publicaties van Multatuli aanwezig, alle bewaard gebleven correspondentie (ca. 5000 brieven), een biografie (door Dik van der Meulen) en het complete voor deze website gedigitaliseerde Multatuli Archief (eigendom van het Multatuli Genootschap en bewaard door Allard Pierson, De Collecties van de Universiteit van Amsterdam).

Daarnaast bevat de website een Multatuli Encyclopedie, een Multatuli Atlas, een Multatuli Lexicon en toegang tot een ruime hoeveelheid secundaire literatuur. Waar mogelijk wordt gewezen naar eerder gedigitaliseerde werken en documentatie, zoals te vinden bij de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (de Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren en Delpher) en het Huygens Instituut.

Het colofon vermeldt alle personen en instellingen die tot nu toe een bijdrage hebben geleverd. Om een zo compleet mogelijk beeld van Multatuli’s werk en levensloop tot stand te brengen kunnen we de hulp van kenners en geïnteresseerden gebruiken. Wie over documenten – brieven, beeldmateriaal of secundaire literatuur – beschikt die hier niet mogen ontbreken of wie anderszins een bijdrage wil leveren aan multatuli.online (financieel of in natura), wordt van harte uitgenodigd om zich te melden bij de redactie van de website. Ook onjuistheden of suggesties voor verbetering kunnen aan de redactie worden doorgegeven.

Deze website is een initiatief van het Multatuli Genootschap en de Stichting Multatuli Huis. Door (fiscaal vriendelijk) donateur te worden ondersteunt u het werk van het genootschap en de stichting en verzekert u de instandhouding van deze website.

Bovenaan iedere pagina van deze website worden delen van de Multatuli Collectie getoond – brieven, documenten, manuscripten, foto’s, afbeeldingen en meer – om een indruk te geven van de rijkdom en de verscheidenheid van die collectie.

Bezoek de site: https://multatuli.online/home

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Religiously Based Political Parties In Democracies. The Case Of The Netherlands

Foto: tweedekamer.nl

Since the Netherlands became a full-fledged democracy in 1848 political parties of diverse ideological backgrounds competed for the vote of the electorate, be they Christian parties, liberal parties, socialist parties, and more recently populist parties. Religions claim that their values are God given and therefore immutable. In a democracy with several ideological streams seeking representation in Parliament, it is in most cases difficult if not impossible for one party to obtain more than 50% of the votes, and that poses a challenge to those religious parties that claim to base themselves on ‘universal’ God given values[i]. They have either the choice to stay in an oppositional role in Parliament and continue giving voice to their opinions. The other option is that they seek alliances with parties to which they resemble in order to form a government. But that last strategy implies that they must be prepared to reach compromises with other parties, thus possibly renouncing in cases the ‘eternal’ values the parties claim to represent. The preparedness to compromise goes by the way as well for secular parties that claim ‘universal truths’, but the difference between religious parties and secular parties is of course that religious parties claim that their values are of a higher nature, i.e. coming from God.

This article treats how the mechanisms of compromise work in the Dutch political system, focusing in particular on religious, in the Dutch case, mostly Christian political parties that enter coalition governments with other -often- secular parties. The article first presents a description of the Dutch political system and its Constitution, and the coming to being of the Dutch Nation State. Then it goes into the subject of how governments are formed in the Kingdom. Following, the article treats the specific case of how the 2017 Dutch coalition government was formed and how it treated the highly sensitive issue of euthanasia law in its coalition agreement, where an orthodox Christian party and a secular party had to come to terms on this issue. I use this case as to show how a religious party can function in a democracy with, in the Dutch case, mostly non-religious parties.

1 The Dutch Political System and Constitution
The Netherlands form since 1848 a constitutional Monarchy in which the King functions as a symbol of the unity of the people of the Netherlands but he does not hold any political power. The government, consisting of the Prime Minister and the Ministers, exercise power and are held responsible for their acts in Parliament. The Dutch Parliament consists of two Chambers. The Second Chamber is elected directly by the people and consists of 150 seats. The electoral system is of a representative nature, implying that the total number of valid votes in elections is divided by 150. The Netherlands does not have constituencies like the United Kingdom and France have. The First Chamber consists of 75 seats and is elected indirectly by the representatives of the 12 provinces the country counts. The country has a tradition that in elections no party ever obtained an absolute majority in Parliament and therefore coalition governments always ruled the country[ii].

The first article of the Dutch Constitution reads as follows[iii]:
‘All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted’.

This first article stipulates that all persons that live in the Netherlands are to be treated equally in equal circumstances. The fact that one is a man or a woman, that a person has Dutch roots or German, Chinese or any other root, that a person has conservative political opinions or progressive opinions, that a person is heterosexual, homosexual or transgender and that a person is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or an atheist, does not make a difference in their treatment.

Article 6 of the Constitution concerns the freedom of religion or belief and it is formulated as follows, in two parts[iv]:

– Everyone shall have the right to profess freely his religion or belief, either individually or in community with others, without prejudice to his responsibility under the law.
– Rules concerning the exercise of this right other than in buildings and enclosed places may be laid down by Act of Parliament for the protection of health, in the interest of traffic and to combat or prevent disorders.

Interesting in article 6 is that it mentions not only the right to profess freely one’s religion, but also one’s conviction (my italics). Conviction explicitly refers to non-religious beliefs, not necessarily religious ones. So, people with religious and non-religious, or secular, convictions have the right to profess these in Dutch society.

The present Constitution of the Netherlands is based on its first draft that dates to 1848.

2 The genesis of the Dutch nation state
In 1789 the French revolution took place. The world would soon learn to know the new French regime based as it was on the principles of the Enlightenment. The French revolution would be the cradle of modern democracy and France would soon spread the revolution over Europe. French revolutionary troops occupied the Netherlands in 1795 causing the ruling prince Willem V to flee to Germany[v]. In the Netherlands there were at that time already citizens, referred to as ‘patriots’, who supported the principles of the Enlightenment, opposing the prince and the nobles that wanted to stick to the old rule. The Netherlands knew until 1795 a decentralized government in which the several provinces enjoyed great autonomy. With the French and patriots taking over, the country formed a National Assembly that set itself in making a Constitution based on the principles of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. This was though no so simple. The Netherlands was until 1795 basically a country where the Protestant church was dominant and where the two other religious denominations, i.e. the Catholics and the Jews, were second rang citizens that never got positions in the local and provincial boards. The 80-year war against Spain (from 1568-1648) led to throwing of the yoke of the Spanish (and Catholic) occupier and although the Dutch Republic was at that time a relatively tolerant power in Europe when it comes to religious freedom, the Protestant church was dominant, and all other religions were subordinate to it. And now the new State had to develop a constitution that would guarantee liberty and equality to all citizens, including the Catholics and the Jews. It took a long time before the debates in the National Assembly led to a Constitution and laws that foresaw in the principle of equality for all but in the end, it managed to do so[vi][vii].

The French occupation ended in 1813. The French troops left the country to assist Emperor Napoleon in the last battles he fought and which he ultimately lost. The country looked back at 18 years of French presence. From 1806-1810 Napoleon had changed the country into a Kingdom with his own brother Louis Napoleon on the throne. Louis Napoleon was not a bad king. He tried to develop the country as much as possible in the spirit of the French revolutionary principles. When the French left, the country had a constitution that foresaw in the equality of all its citizens. The paradox of the period after the French left is that the Dutch nation state remained built on the principles of Enlightenment. There were voices in society that called for a retour to the situation before 1795 but the enlightenment ideology was stronger than the conservative forces. The Netherlands kept a constitution based on the enlightenment. The son of the late prince Willem V came back to the country to become the future King Willem I, and he as well submitted to the new order. The country wet itself in developing as a modern nation state, centrally governed, investing a lot in infrastructure and education.

In 1848 a reform of the constitution took place making the country more democratic than before. One of the major changes was that the King lost the political power he still had. A government that was democratically elected without any interference of a hereditary sovereign should rule the country. The King protested but accepted his limited role as head of state only.  The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity had in the end led to a society, which not only legally foresaw in equal chances for all, but also in reality[viii].

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The Current Hardships Facing Palestinian Refugees

The United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)—known as the main international relief and human development organization for Palestinian refugees—defined Palestinian refugees as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” However, most notably, Palestinians displaced because of the 1967 war, and subsequent hostilities, are not referred to or registered as refugees by the Agency, but they are eligible to receive services by UNRWA. Despite this fact, within segments of the international community, Palestinians who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1967 war, and subsequent hostilities, are also regarded as refugees.

In the five areas where UNRWA is in operation, namely, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the hardships faced by the Palestinian refugees has worsened in recent history.

Most recently, with respect to the coronavirus pandemic, the Palestinian refugee population is increasingly in a vulnerable position with little-to-no access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Within the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank, COVID-19 cases are surging with more than 2,236 fatalities and 16,000 active cases in these areas (including East Jerusalem). Meanwhile, Israel has been internationally lauded for carrying out the world’s speediest vaccination drive, with over 90 percent of Israelis above the age of 50 having been fully vaccinated as of February 2021. However, Israel has denied Palestinians living within the occupied territories significant access to the vaccines as Israel argues that the Oslo Accords places responsibility on the Palestinian Authority regarding issues of public health. But even under the Oslo Accords, Israel does have a commitment to help Palestinians living in the occupied territories fight the pandemic. Article 17, stipulation 6 of the Accord states: “Israel and the Palestinian side shall exchange information regarding epidemics and contagious diseases, shall cooperate in combating them and shall develop methods for exchange of medical files and documents.”

Moreover, given that Israel is the occupying power—under international law, namely, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Israel has a responsibility to ensure the welfare of the population which it is occupying—namely, the Palestinian people in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The West Bank remains occupied by Israel which “controls entrance and egress, much of the infrastructure, the roads, the currency…in short, all the means of Palestinian independence”—as pointed out by Mitchell Plitnick, the former US director of the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem. In the case of Gaza, Israel since 2007 has imposed a land, air, and sea blockade of Gaza. Most notably, the effects of Israel’s blockade, coupled with Israel’s routine bombing of Gaza, has crumbled its infrastructure, led to massive poverty, food insecurity, and resulted in less than 4% of the water in that territory, consisting of nearly 2 million people, being fit for human consumption. Israel thus, in addition to the West Bank, also continues to occupy the Palestinians living within the Gaza Strip, and therefore, Israel as their occupier has a responsibility to vaccinate Gazans. In February 2021, Palestinian officials condemned Israel for blocking the entry of 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses into Gaza to assist its health workers. Despite evidence to the contrary, even if Israeli claims with respect to the Oslo Accords is valid, this is irrelevant, as stated by scholar Yara M.Asi, “the [Geneva] convention specifies that no agreement between the parties supersedes its protections while occupation continues. This would include the Oslo Accords, signed in 1995 as an interim agreement.” Furthermore, Israel, instead of firs seeking to vaccinate Palestinians in the occupied territories, pledged to provide its spare vaccines to foreign allies such as Honduras and the Czech Republic.

In areas outside of the occupied territories, such as Lebanon which is home to an estimated 207,000 Palestinian refugees, according to UN figures, it has been reported that “Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are three times more likely to die with COVID-19 than the population as a whole.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), responsible for providing healthcare and education to millions of Palestinians living both inside and outside the occupied territories, was “recognized as a major contributor to the containment of the COVID-19 virus”—having quickly adapted its provision of services in compliance with the World Health Organization recommendations. UNRWA implemented remote education curriculum practices, adopted door-to-door delivery of food and medicines, as well as innovative health and psychosocial support hotlines which have been regarded as a significant lifeline to the refugee population during the pandemic. Moreover, UNRWA is also responsible for waste disposal and sanitation services to Palestinian refugee camps across the Middle East — “this includes disinfectant treatments to roads and installations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
However, due to the United States’ complete termination of funding to UNRWA under President Trump in 2018, the operations of the Agency were almost brought to a complete halt.
When the pandemic broke out, UNRWA was operating on a shoestring budget with Elizabeth Campbell, UNRWA’s director in Washington, stating in May 2020 that due to America’s termination of funding, “We are basically operating on a month-to-month basis. Right now, we have funding to pay our 30,000 health care workers until the end of this month.”

Even once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, it does not appear that there will be any end in sight to the suffering faced by Palestinian refugees. The hardships faced by Palestinian refugees will continue until the central issues of contention are fully addressed within a final settlement to the conflict. The central issues of contention as it pertains to Palestinian refugees is, firstly, the right of return, secondly, the right of Palestinians for compensation from Israel due to the destruction of Palestinians’ homes, and their livelihoods as a result of the 1948 war, the 1967 war, as well as further hostilities, and the third issue of contention is the assimilation and resettlement of refugees in different countries. Most significantly on the first two points, there is serious doubt as to whether right of return and compensation (both issues which are notably embodied within United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194) is politically feasible and there is doubt as to whether there are legitimate frameworks within international law that firmly allows stateless Palestinians to successfully advocate for the right of return and compensation.

The Taba Summit is widely regarded as perhaps the closest instance that a final settlement to end the longstanding conflict was almost reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians. At the time of the Taba Summit, the Israelis expressed an understanding on the issue of compensation, with Israel advocating that an international commission be created to gather, verify, and pay individual compensation claims. However, at that time, you had a government in Israel that, at least, gave the public impression that it was willing to negotiate on key issues required to reach a permanent settlement to the conflict. Presently, however, the center-left parties in Israel, such as the Labour Party, are a shell of its former self and a significant segment of the population in Israel strongly supports Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right Likud Party, which has been expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, further jeopardizing any viable solution to the conflict. There is also disunity among the Palestinians with friction between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. Lastly, unless the United States is willing to apply meaningful pressure on Israel to seriously negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians, an end to the protracted refugee crisis will not be possible.

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Max Brod On Franz Kafka (English Subtitles)

This is an interview with Max Brod, Kafka’s longtime friend and literary executor.

After Kafka’s death, Brod refused to comply with Kafka’s instructions to burn most of his work, instead seeing many of Kafka’s texts to first publication.

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