Magazine article New Internationalist


Magazine article New Internationalist


Article excerpt

Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.

The New Internationalist welcomes your letters. But please keep them short. They may be edited for purposes of space or clarity. Letters should be sent to or to your local NI office. Please remember to Include a town and country for your address.

Insane enterprises

Thank you for the great series of articles on Fracking (NI 468).

The box on Canada states that Québec has imposed a moratorium on fracking.

A 'moratorium' in name only was promulgated pending legislation regulating the industry and a new policy on water protection. The so- called moratorium permits 'exploration', which as you know is fracking. For the moment there is no new fracking - low gas prices have discouraged new well heads. The industry, with government support, is poised to rebound, however, with a surge of drilling activity for shale oil. There has been unprecedented citizen mobilization and networking, resulting in some 70 municipalities adopting strict water-protection measures. This fight is led in Québec by the Regroupement Interrégional Gas de Shistes de la Vallée du Saint-Laurent.

Citizens have no choice but to react to these insane enterprises and I hope we succeed in stopping them. However, it seems to me that the only way we will be able to manage human affairs intelligently is through institutionalized citizen involvement in policymaking.

Robert Beaulieu Québec, Canada

Moral Europe

Stephen Hopgood's distortion of history (Ts this the end of the road for universal human rights? ' NI 467), specifically his reference to 'Europe's long, slow moral and political decline', cannot go unchallenged. If we think of morality as simply how well we treat others, then Europe has had a long, slow moral and political advance.

Since the Industrial Revolution, Europe has achieved a string of singular moral successes, including the abolishment of slavery, the emancipation of women and the extension of the franchise to all social classes. Despite relapses into barbarism in the early 20th century, progress continued apace. The welfare state was established, perhaps the greatest moral institution in history, an institution in which all care for all. For the first time, every nation in western Europe adopted democracy. The icing on the cake has been 68 years and counting of peace and co- operation between all these quarrelsome nations - and that is a grand moral achievement indeed.

Bill Longstaff Calgary, Canada

Corporate assault

Human rights are certainly under assault by corporate rights. But beyond this, human rights stand for what is required to live as human. From the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights onwards, human rights have stood for freedom from inhuman treatment, life security for all, and choice of how one lives. The underpinning principle of all human rights - in which each is an aspect of an implied moral whole - is to enable human life as human without harmful deprivations and oppressions.

Yet the right wing still denounces human rights as 'dangerous nonsense' or 'communism in disguise'. Many Marxists conceive human rights as a 'merely ideological mask' of capitalist reality. Postmodern diversity regards any universal principle as tyrannical in itself. …

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