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Geo-semiotics of human rights

Colombia Derechos HumanosThe law is not the same for peoples who have never experienced social justice. The objective conditions in any given place determine the degree of awareness and practice of human rights, no matter how many specialized organizations are active there. What does the Charter of Human Rights mean where illiteracy, hunger, unemployment and insalubrity reign? Little or nothing. The defense of the rights conquered by humanity cannot be reduced to demagogic declarations that adorn the reformist verbiage and market philanthropy that abound.

No defense of humanity is worth much if it is only an illusion – without territory, simply “good intentions.” Territories are not only geography, they are history and have “sense,” tastes and smells… generated by the class struggle that inhabits all social relations and all emotional and symbolic planes. Human rights cannot be invoked in isolation from the territory under consideration and the semantic tensions of the “natives.” Where everything is corruption, humiliation and contempt for the peoples, the discourse of human rights is simply parlor talk or bureaucratic deception – despite the historical significance and value of the Charter of Human Rights as a tool to oppose the fascist Nazi project lying in wait at the time of its birth on December 10, 1948.

Wherever the aberrations and deprivations imposed by the national bourgeoisie bear down on native peoples, wherever fierce police, military and ideological harassment of the indigenous and peasant population is used to usurp their land, their identity and dignity… talk of human rights is paradoxically only enemy propaganda and bourgeois ideology. Territory weighs on meaning. Where workers are victims of triple extortion by employers, tax collectors and unions, where salaries weigh down on them like an alienating coffin, in which life goes by and time is consumed, in exchange for paltry wages and obscene inflation, to speak of human rights is simply grotesque, if it does not offer real instruments of concrete transformation, instead of escapist illusions. It is reality that determines awareness of human rights. Semantics in crisis.

Let us not succumb to the idealistic temptations of a Declaration of Human Rights without its “feet on the ground” and the semantics of reality. Because there is no return from ridicule. It is useless to build temples or give sermons, with pretentious fanaticism, about rights that mean nothing or which, in any case, reflect someone else’s thinking and serve as enemy ideology to defeat our hopes, struggles and programs of revolutionary transformation.

And it is essential that the entire Declaration of Human Rights be reviewed from a perspective and scrutiny that challenges the individualistic character of rights, contrasting it with their inescapable social and by definition political character. It is an obligatory debate, a pending historical subject, with decades passing in search of territorial semiotic consonance, that is, geosemiotics, in which the critical power of human rights in territories is made visible and the need for a revolutionary humanist Charter becomes apparent, one capable of revolutionizing humanism. Under these conditions, it is essential that all analyses of the issue include, in detail, the universe of semantic repercussions of any postulate which assumes to serve all human beings, address all their historical problems and the urgent need for transformative praxis.

In this context, geosemiotics means the theoretical-practical effort to characterize the complex, diverse and dynamic network of dialectical meaning, the general laws of its development, in each territory. The complex, and not infrequently interconnected, network of meanings with which the daily class behavior of peoples is organized, its philosophical foundations and its moral and ethical expressions. With the basic assumption that all action is preceded by a series of notions about reality, and what an idea implies for the future, geosemiotics is rooted in the need to also locally characterize the modes of production of meaning and the relations of production of meaning, in the concrete conditions in which they develop. This is not an esoteric effort making semiotics, and its role as an instrument in combatting the ideology of the dominant class, even more incomprehensible. On the contrary, it is a question of enriching the instruments of action, of scientific praxis, to facilitate their impact on the concrete realities of peoples.

All necessary tasks in the daily struggle for the emancipation of meaning have, in the Charter of Human Rights, a challenge of critical urgency that is the responsibility of all who, in a multidisciplinary fashion, presume to contribute to orienting emancipatory struggles in opposition to humanism in dogmatic, mechanistic or schematic forms, struggles directed toward resolving not only the human problems of our time but also the idea of a right separated from the critical principle of social justice.

Thus, initiatives to revolutionize humanism and confront the semantic framework of human rights with a political framework of social justice – yet to be constructed – assume new meaning. It is clear that where all human hardship is exacerbated and locked in dead ends, the very notion of the human, the very idea of justice, lose meaning. In any case, this is the dream of the ideology of the ruling class, to strip us of every notion and every humanist practice that could provide concrete direction, whether in the field of philosophy or at the sites where immediate praxis is most urgently needed. The sense of the meaningless.

To revolutionize the Charter of Human Rights is no longer a utopian idea, at a time when the pandemic has laid bare the bourgeois cruelty that hoards vaccines to the tune of the market and capitalist cruelty. To revolutionize humanism implies producing tools that consistently present the face of our astonished peoples who watch, with despair and rage, the postponement of their right to vaccines; who watch the delay of their right to education, to nutrition, to work, to housing and to emancipated culture. The right to “live by living and not surviving” in the immoral conditions in which one “lives” under capitalism. To revolutionize the humanism of human rights implies fighting philanthropic illusionism with a program of concrete action against class-divided societies where the inhumanity of the dominant mode of production and alienating relations of production reign, with all their meanings. Their ways and means.

(Taken from Granma)

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