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#Neveragain is not an empty hash tag

March 17, 2018

There was a time when "never again" was the kind of trite ending kids put in their term papers on the 'Holocaust' (Shoah). Sometimes it was hard to tell whether their meaning was there should not be any genocides again or more specifically a genocide of Jews again. If the latter, it would (of course) be the same unprincipled nationalism (Nazism) that caused the disaster ( Shoah) to be termed a burned sacrifice (Holocaust) in the name of Zionism. But if the former it would express the more principled view that genocide of any kind is a morally repugnant crime inconsistent with both the facts of human genetic equivalence and the most basic moral theory (the golden rule) of any human society.

And yet to express such a conviction would be at best ignorant. Because the number of genocidal acts in the world has scarcely abated.Today the United Nations is again failing to prevent, a so-called 'ethnic cleansing' (the Rohinga of Burma) just as it failed to protect Bosnian Muslims, and Tutsi in Rawanda during the 1990s.

Sadly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1958 has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance. In recent times this despicable state of affairs has become increasingly exploited by the cynical such that today we have the ridiculous situation where Saudi Arabia chairs the UN Human Rights Council. This nation which features a complete absence of the rule of law, use of both torture and execution against citizens calling for democratic reform; and the least freedoms for women is arguably only equaled by North Korea as  the most oppressive regime on Earth. And yet, while North Korea is a pariah state, Saudi Arabia is able, through it's incredible wealth able to buy seats at respectable tables all around the world.

So much so that, despite being the wellspring of the worst anti-western Jihaddism throughout the Middle East, the corrupting power of its money has bought the silence and connivance even of its enemies. In both Israel and the United States its influence poisons the roots of free thought and the principled dialogue working like HIV to destroy the immunity of these nations against corruption from other sources.

The United States, once the bastion of democracy, is now classed as a flawed democracy behind South Korea by the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index. It's own political corruption is no better illustrated than by the political power of the arms industry through agencies like the National Rifle Association which - despite the well researched preference of by far the majority of Americans - continues to oppose any restrictions on the sale of military style weapons to the public. To the rest of the world it is inconceivable that any society would prioritize private access to war weapons over the safety of children, and yet even the most basic measures to prevent the sales of weapons of mass murder to potential mass murderers are routinely shut down in Washington DC.

But Neveragain is not a movement against shootings in schools, or against the use of data to facilitate the kind of segregations which have in the past preceded the oppression and indeed genocide of minorities. Neveragain is the assertion that democracy and Universal Human rights must take precedence over that foundation of the United Nations - the nation state.

Neveragain is the assertion that the power of the state to oppress can never be considered right and, more importantly, the failure of the nation state to protect individuals in their pursuit of basic human rights is also not acceptable.

Not surprisingly this movement has enemies. It is an anathema to those opposed to democracy, whether they are wealthy property owners; corrupt rulers or combinations of the two. So it is that we now see a broad coalition of corrupt so-called "strong men" from Vladimir Putin, to Crown Prince Salman, to Tayyip Erdogan to Rodrigo Duterte, Benjamin Netanyahu, Xi Jianyang and (limited only by the powerful institutions that surround him) Donald Trump.

All of them coming to power in the guise of seeking to root out corruption have instead merely strived to monopolise it. United in the view that rulers should have unlimited power beyond the rule of law these rulers now seek to overturn two centuries of progress towards human rights and democracy and return humanity to the age of Kings.

This is the true enemy of Neveragain. There can be no hope of human rights in a world where crime and corruption has become the monopoly of the head of state. This path only leads to a dismal world of personality cults, prisons, torture, and rule by decree. In short life in places like Syria or North Korea.

Worse as technology increases human capability the threat of this anti-humanitarian cartel only rises. The power of the nation state combined with intrusive surveillance, psychological warfare, medical and genetic technology opens the doors to nightmares that make 1984 seem positively naive by comparison.

As technology increasingly extends the lifespans of especially the rich and privileged, the potential for a world ruled by immortal Kings and oppressors only increases.  The gaze of Neveragain must be lifted from day-to-day and localised issues to the very real threat of those who would return us to an era of god-kings.

Moreover such ambitions are not just nurtured by corrupt men of politics. There are those in the world of business and technology whose narcissism will serve to enable the politically corrupt. These technological enablers may not have the power to  become god kings on this planet but some, I suspect, have some vague fantasies about becoming god-kings beyond the confines of earthly restrictions - namely in new colonies in space.

Ultimately Neveragain is simply an assertion of the importance of humility in an age of vanity. It is the assertion that the vain do not have the right, nor should they have the ability, to gun down large numbers of their fellow citizens. It is the assertion that minorities, no matter where they are from, cannot be segregated and mistreated for political gain. It is the assertion that human rights come not from the barrel of a gun but from the acceptance of the simple principal of equivalence captured by the golden rule: that nobody should treat others as they would not want to be treated themselves. It is the assertion that the object of political power and the institutions that surround is not the monopolisation of corruption but the antithesis of that.

In an age of narcissism and vanity Neveragain as a political idea is, like the related idea of MeToo (for it is no coincidence that corrupt men mistreat women) must win if the world is not to return to the crushing failure of periods like the Ottoman Caliphate, the Ming dynasty or the Inquisition. Those corrupt individuals who pose as the enemies of corruption but merely centralise it must be overwhelmed by the actions of the millions of people (individually weak but collectively unstoppable) to expose, hinder and betray them. Only by the abrasive effect of these billions of tiny microaggressions against the usurpers of human rights can they be worn down and erased.

A little courage, in small actions of unexpected kindness, often and repeated, by a populace who no matter what it is told, believes in the universality and humility of the golden rule is what Neveragain means and must be built on. By this, and this only can the ideal of humanity progress.

 

 

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