CONSTITUTIONAL STATE WITHOUT HUMAN RIGHTS
AND THE EROSION OF OUR DEMOCRACY
By Franz Hinkelammert
[This article published in May 2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.rosalux.de/cms/index.php?id=6683&type=98.]
The conflict around the erosion of the constitutional state is obvious today. In the US the constitutional state is interpreted so that the existence of concentration camps (as in Guantanamo and other prisoner of war camps in Iraq and Afghanistan) with systematic torture and the disappearance of persons is compatible. This is a massive phenomenon. The government of the US tries to integrate these methods in the constitutional state. A kind of worldwide dictatorship of the national security of the US is to be established that should be integrated in the constitutional state.
This tendency must be understood in the scope of the globalization strategy enforced first after the 1973 military putsch in Chile, then by the Thatcher government in Great Britain and the Reagan administration and formulated at the beginning of the 1980s as the "Washington Consensus."
This streategy is effective globally. While in the name of the global markets, large private bureaucracies of transnational corporations dominate. This strategy totalizes the markets globally on the basis of the new technologies (computers, information and transformation) which at first did not allow this strategy of capital accumulation. This strategy is forced in the name of eliminating so-called market distortions. These are market distortions from the standpoint of these private bureaucracies that produce and distribute products and services on the global plane. "Structural adjustments" are the guidelines for this elimination of market distortions.
These adjustments are largely forced on states and their governments. Public bureaucracies are widely transformed into mere appendages of these gigantic private bureaucracies. Corruption is the lubricant for this process and is increasingly visible. Many politicians are well paid by private bureaucracies for selling off their countries and their honor.
Under this point of view, market distortions are all interventions in the market to assure universal or regional satisfaction of human needs. Market distortions are labor laws, laws for protecting workers (working hours, child labor, protectionof women and mothers and so forth) and every policy assuring universal health- and education systems, access to housing and provision for old age that may not be universal if not secured publically and politically. Market distortions are also full employmenht policy, developmental policy in the sense of integral development and also policies for protecting the environment or autonomous cultures. Every control of capital- and market movements is also a market distortion. On the other hand, the strict and often forceful control of the movements of human persons are not market distortions.
It is easy to see that this policy of the worldwide totalization of markets abolishes a large part of human rights whose acknowledgment was gained by human-oriented popular movements since the 19th century. Calling these human rights social rights is bewildering. Many personal rights can only be enforced socially. This social enforcement implies interventions in the market. These interventions are now excluded or simply annulled in the name of eliminating market distortions. This strategy obviously cannot accomplish everything.. Everything this strategy cannot realize appears as an imperfection of markets under the standpoint of their advocates. People work and dream for their perfection. What faces us is a rationality whose dream produces monsters. Our private bureaucracies dream the dream of the constitutional state without human rights.