how past events and absent figures shape contemporary demands for global justice
I am going to answer this question by concentrating on slavery and the mother’s movement for the missing in Argentina to make most of my points will show that Slavery being in the past and the mother’s movement being in the present have many common features for justice
The idea of restitution and reparations is not new. Recently however there has been added urgency. With the rise of democracies, the fall of communism, global communication and globalization, there has been a rise of global justice movements all over the world. So what were local issues affecting certain parts of the world can become global issues. The slave trade and the mother’s movement of Argentina being two of them
The slave trade is estimated for the transportation of 12-15 million salve, with around 2 million dead inntransit.1800 parts of Africa, Europe and the Americas linked to the slave trade .No event in global history has left a mark on global history than slavery. Records of slavery form slave owners and business transactions and personal accounts of past slaves like Olaudah Equinos are being used to make demands for restitutions and reparation of past wrongs of slavery. So past history is being used to right a wrong done to people who are no longer alive
In order to prove a wrong there must be a perpetrator who has done a wrong and there must be a victim, so that the victim i.e. claimant can make a demand upon the perpetrator. With slavery the victim and perpetrator are both dead. So the best than can be achieved is recognition of wrong, an apology as the former labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has made, and restitution such as Remembrance Day or a museum. The UN recognize slavery as a crime against humanity and UNESCO recognize the impact of slavery on modern day societies
Global reparations movements in Brazil and Africa with the Abuja declaration 1995 , have not been happy with this situation, they are making demands for slavery and colonization by showing that the past still affects the present i.e. that man African states are neo-colonial states where past colonial p[policies still affect them i.e. uneven trade realations.Intellectuals like Ali Marui make this point, that the slave trade has created a global black Diaspora which would not have been possible without colonialism and slavery associated with it, and the poverty and racism which still persists in large numbers in these societies
The Abuja declarations main claims are that enslavement, colonization, looting, theft of resources and later transition to neo-colonial states has damaged the economies of African, that small changes in the past can lead to large consequences i.e. the inability of African states to recover from the loss incurred. What if speculations had not Africa not been colonised i.e. counter factual arguments used to justify reparations. The work of Walter Rodney How Europe Under developed Africa (1974), whose thesis is that slavery retarded African development. The work of people Ronald wright, a brief history of civilization (2000), show that economic and social progress is not linear.
There is no evidence to suggest had not slavery not impacted on African societies they would progressed, many parts of Africa not colonized have been shown not to have progressed to western levels
The problem with the Abuja declaration and Walter rodenys work is that they both see slavery as black and white issue and that history develops along a linear path. Slavery existed among whites as indentured labourers in the empire; her Islamic world practiced it for 1000 years, among black communities, in the past what is now Nigeria a queen in that region sold 250,000 of her people into slavery. In fact after slavery had been ended, she continued to send more slaves. She was requested by the government of the day no to send any more .So there was fair amount of collusion by Arabs and blacks in the slave trade, without which slavery would not have been as successfull.Also the conditions of many ordinary people in the countries of empire e.g. the UK work and living conditions were not much better than the black slaves.Manchesters science and industry museum has the machinery and documentary evidence to show how one group exploited the other. Liverpool and Bristol two port cities that benefitted form slavery have old buildings a reminder of their slave past. We seem to neglect that during the age of slavery many people campaigned against William Wilberforce being one prominent individual. Majority of whites did not participate directly in the slave trade
One strategy of the slavery global justice movement for reparations has-been to claim a special shared collective identity of slavery, history and injustice, the unequal relationship between blacks and whites, of racism. These anti-western sentiments ignore the role of blacks and Arabs in the slave trade. This is the contention of the works of David Hurwitz who argues against reparations for slavery. Unlike the Nazi regime where one individual can be blamed, there is no single individual in slavery plus values,norms,politics and society were far more different than today.
Slavery was the norm in many societies in the past, is it right to impose moral values on past societies which they did not hold. The global silvery justice movements seem to think so. Many pay homage to the slave ship London which sank in which many slaves died.Resurecting the lost voices and the ghosts of the past to make them relevant today, may make us reflect on past history, does not mean we right a wrong done in the pastas some global justice movements suggest, with demands for money, land, and apologies for past wrongs
Many African countries and blacks in general are happy for global justice movements to blame others for their present situation. This conveniently avoids talking responsibility for one self, avoids the responsibility of African leaders and the elites of these countries for any moral obligations to help the poor. The blame someone else syndrome (bse) has been used by all societies at some time or other, global justice movements are no different in this respect
The Argentine mothers for the missing movement for the missing children and relatives has been going since 1977.there are two groups, one group which wants to know what has happened to the missing and the other group to keep alive the memories of the missiing.During the military dictatorship10,000-30,000 went missing.
The main tactic of the movement is to demonstrate outside the Madre de plaza in silence with pictures of the missing. The role of the pictures is to show that these missing people continue to affect the lives of those living in the present, the connection between a mother and her child, the photographs often elicit strong emotions from spectators, even they are dead, they are a reminder of the lost hopes and potential of these individuals to become descent productive members of society. The photographs have become a substitute for the real people. As the women line outside government house confronting the soldiers, reminding them the role of the armed forces inn tier disappearance
The pictures remind the authorise that the issue of the missing is unresolved and must be dealt with despite the age of the mothers movement, even when they have gone global justice movements which have now taken inters test in this matter will continue to keep the memories alive of the missing. So if the authorities believe that if they ignore the issue long enough most of the protestors will be dead on the issue forgotton.With globalization and mass communication, global justice movements operate in borderless world.
The demands of the mothers are (1) to bring the perpetrators to justice if still alive (2) fate of the missing to be known and social justice to be realised by the authorities to the wrong done. It is very difficult for the present democratic governments to try the perpetrators or bring justice, as part of the argentine becoming democratic the military have been given virtual immunity from such prosecutions. Few prosecutions have need brought and they have been pardoned. The pictures due to global justice movements are now on the internet, they have become a permanent reminder of past injustices and wrongs, so the problem for any future argentine governments is not likely to go way until, full disclosure and justice had been deliver.
The rise of global justice movements like amnesty international and human rights watch are not limited n=by geography or politics, their aim is to high light and catalogue gross human rights abuse anywhere in the world past or present.
The internalization of the argentine mother’s movement means the victims will not be forgotton.Maybe like in South Africa there may in the future emerge a truth and reconciliation commission which will foreclosure for all they terrible incident in the history of Argentina
If look at the argentine mothers and the slavery movements, both seek to bring back to life the dead and give them meaning and relevance today. Both try to show how past events affect the present. The reparations slavery movement want money, land, justice and apologies. The argentine mothers want apologies and justice. Both seek to make present authorities responsible for the wrongs of past authorities.
The reparations movement unable to target particular individuals has tried to use the strategy of collective guilt of colonialism and collective suffering of blacks to show that they continue suffer of past wrongs.in the Good Society past wriongs must be reocgnized,and some sort of compensation perhaps towards remembrence of the victims to be recognized in some formal annual event, a Museum or some other formal recognition
Reparations are still going to be the core of any future conflict,this issue is not going to go away, ex-colonial powers will be made to pay one way or another.As ex-colonial states develop and become more powerful their demands for reparations will grow.In future disputes they will use colonial history against their past colonial masters.I am of the opinion the West is now in long term decline(the reasons for this i will discuss in later articles).Within a100 years the West will be no longer a dominant force in world affairs.It is in my opinion that West needs to quietly adjust to its coming reduced status.Remember most of the world is black,brown or yellow.If we believe in democracy their will be convergence as countries develop and reach an equilibrium with each other.Already countries at the International like Brazil,Russia.India and China are asserting themselves.
My suggestion is for our Concept of the Good Society ex-Colonial and Imperial powers to put 1% of gdp in to a reparations development fund for infrastructure for the next 200 years or until there is gdp parity to avoid retribution in the future.Equality and prosperity will make the world a safer place
Kind Regards Tiger Moto