To think of achieving the full exercise of human rights within the framework of a capitalist system is a blunder and utter naivety. An error of judgement that is not spontaneous but intentionally induced by those who hold the hegemony of the same system, lacking all ingenuity.

It is undeniable that human rights, as a concept, have an unquestionable moral validity, although their effective realisation is far from the theoretical canon. The gulf between the two is, in addition to the confirmation of pre-existing realities, a semantic ambush and lies, as usual, not in the discourse, but in the different meanings attributed to this fundamental signifier.

The West dominated by the Anglo-Saxon ethic, successor to the former imperial powers, restricts the conception of human rights to the ambit of individual civil rights, the practices of a devalued liberal democracy, and above all, the property right. Whereas the spirit condensed in the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration gives extended recognition to social rights and the need for dignified environments for human existence.

The narrow meaning not only relativises and conditions the universal, unrestricted, equitable application of human rights in their full sense, but does not judge and therefore does not condemn the violence on which the previously existing unjust balance of forces is based, which these rights are called upon to change.

Even so, the mere affirmation of the character of “rights” and the collective acceptance by all nations and peoples of the earth give these postulates the character of an invaluable cultural conquest.

Money versus human rights

The inefficiency of capitalism to ensure a minimum of wellbeing for every human being is clear every day. The system’s weak support is the very distant illusion of the majority to belong to the tiny wealthy and “successful” nucleus, more akin to the possibility of winning the lottery, or the simple resignation of surviving by accepting a predatory, competitive and exclusive model.

Human rights are then confined to the possibilities of achieving slow progressive advances through collective, state and community efforts, against the wishes and forces of multinational corporate business groups and investment banking.

It is an uneven struggle in which capital buys, rents or manipulates the loopholes of citizens’ political will, completely violating the “democracy” that its university-educated figures often claim.

Such is the derangement in the use of the term that those who dare to challenge the imposed modalities are vilified in the diplomatic sphere precisely for the misdeed of “systematically violating human rights”.

As Silo points out in his ninth Letter to My Friends: “Once again the sovereignty and self-determination of peoples is being compromised by manipulating the concepts of peace and international solidarity”.

This is not to say that those peoples who choose to build their lives in a more balanced and egalitarian way do not suffer these violations, as can also be seen on a daily basis. What is being asserted is that today’s predominant capitalism is a source of economic violence, thus in flagrant opposition to the fulfilment of human rights.

The radical contradiction between capitalism and human rights is demonstrated by wars, an anachronism that continues to be instigated and waged to appropriate resources, destroy infrastructures, conquer markets, subdue political opponents or, more simply, to continue filling the coffers of investors in arms companies. Undoubtedly, none of this says anything about the allegedly hackneyed defence of “human rights”, the poisoned rhetoric wielded by the warmongers of the global North.

Capitalism and subjectivity

Far from being restricted to materiality, capitalism cannot subsist without permanently operating on the psychisms, propagating attitudes and behaviours that are absolutely at odds with the realisation of enshrined universal rights.

Vital notions such as possession and appropriation promote dispossession and difference, which feeds societies of appropriators and expropriated, contrary to the collective sharing of the socially generated product. Obtaining goods and pleasures at any cost by degrading the existence of others, even to the limit of their physical elimination, is a source of maximum violence, unimaginable in a real human rights regime.

The logic of competition, profit and accumulation of power, inherent to capitalism, are the exact opposite of collaboration, selfless action and personal and collective self-determination, irreplaceable elements to advance towards societies protected by these rights.

The realisation of human rights in a humanist future

From what has been said so far, it could be inferred – erroneously – that it would be enough to modify the conditions of a socio-economic organisation to automatically arrive at the full realisation of human rights.

This thesis, doctrinally formalised in the industrialist Europe of the 19th century, together with the brutality and denial of the dominant sector in the face of the just demands of those deprived of all rights, encouraged violent popular uprisings in the belief that centralised control of the means of production and social activity would bring about the desired changes.

Using the biconditional propositions of logic, it can be argued that the harmonious distribution of resources is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the implementation of the principles set out in the Universal Declaration. The sufficient condition is the installation of new ethical precepts that cannot be renounced as the axes of social relations, inter-subjective and personal conduct.

Precepts whose establishment, at a great distance from the morality imposed by the design of particular groups that caused unspeakable violence and the enthronement of powers alien to the wellbeing of peoples, cannot be forced vertically.

This new ethic, at a time of globalisation and total interconnection between the different cultures of the Earth, can have no other basis than that which rightly constitutes the soul of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely the recognition of the Human Being as the primary subject of rights, as stated in its second article, “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or another status”.

The strengthening and extension of this humanist revolutionary morality is the task of the people, starting from a daily aspiration and conduct extended to collective political expressions, in which the conviction that there will be no progress for anyone if it is not for everyone should take root.

To illustrate these assessments concretely, it can be made clear that six concepts have been a common position of humanists from different cultures, namely: the positioning of the human being as a central value and concern; the affirmation of the equality of all human beings; the recognition of personal and cultural diversity; the tendency to develop knowledge over and above what is accepted or imposed as absolute truth; the affirmation of freedom of ideas and beliefs; and the repudiation of violence.

This reinforces the need to create humanist mental and social environments for the effective implementation of the Declaration which is now 75 years old. A Declaration to which we could suggest as an epigraph the motto: “Nothing above the Human Being and no human being below another”.