Summary: Just like the software in our phones, our traditional human rights must constantly be updated to keep pace with modern times.
Original author and publication date: Ewan McGaughey, November 20, 2019
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Interesting idea: Human rights should also include the rights of the future.
From the article:
hat should human rights become in the 21st century? The Labour Party has proposed giving every household universal, free broadband and a charter of digital rights, funded by taxing big tech platforms. The Conservative Party derides this as a ‘crazed communist scheme’, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 says ‘Everyone has the right… to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.’
In a very real sense, Labour’s proposal for universal broadband is creating a 21st century human right, just like proposals for ‘universal basic services’. The rights of the future are technological – to access all services we need to play a full part in society. They are environmental – to live on a living planet. And they are co-operative – to democratise the economy, just like we democratised politics.
20th century rights
Rights are often won at times of mass crisis. In 1944, the US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated a ‘Second Bill of Rights’ for fair wages, fair competition, housing, health, social security, and education. He said that, even if the war was won, if those rights were lost, ‘we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.’ In 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt led the drafting of the Universal Declaration, placing those social rights next to political rights of liberty, expression, a fair trial, or property – this was ‘the international Magna Carta of all’. The framers could not see into the future, but knew that technology had to benefit everyone if society were to remain free. With the experience of electrifying rural areas, and distributing the polio vaccine, they knew the law must stop corporations cornering property and raising prices to ensure things like electricity and health were not ‘a privilege of the wealthy few… but a right to be assured to all’.
After WW2, Britain legislated to guarantee social rights, although all have been under attack. Free health is guaranteed through the National Health Service. Free education was guaranteed, until the Dearing Report of 1997 advocated university fees. Social security gives us a minimal state pension, unemployment insurance, and disability benefits, but government’s commitment to full employment was lost in 1979. As the right to freedom of association was attacked, labour’s share of income declined, inequality soared, and wealth concentrated into fewer hands.
This has given us an increasingly psychotic politics – those of Johnson, Trump, Putin, the AfD, Le Pen or Lega Nord – those who cannot win, except by lying and stealing. The power base of all is oligarchical finance and fossil fuels, and they have attempted to weaponise social media to entrench their position. This is why to protect the human rights of the 20th century, the human rights of the 21st century must start at the source of social problems.
The 21st century rights…