Sunday, June 21, 2009

Full employment

Following on from my last post, about Anatoly Movchan's account of the struggle over competing views of human rights, after WWII, up to the 1970s, another disputed right was the right to work.

In practice, it's hard to distinguish a right to work from a duty to work, and Movchan was more candid about this, the consequence of a state policy of full employment, than anyone I have ever read:

When reports from socialist countries were considered, some Western experts and members of the Human Rights Committee tried, both privately and officially, to argue that dealing with the problem of human parasites who sponge on other people is a phenomenon characteristic only of socialism, and that authorities who seek to prevent it are guilty of violating the relevant Covenant provision prohibiting forced labour.

UPDATE: I should perhaps have added that Movchan had the measure of these Western experts:
in accordance with Art. 8 of the Covenant, "any work or service which forms part of normal civil obligations" is not included in the term "forced or compulsory labour."
There we have the splendour of international jurisprudence, encapsulated in one short phrase. If it is a "normal civil obligation" for you to be sent to a labour camp, then it is not in conflict with the United Nations Covenant that prohibits coercion to forced labour.

Note also, that the advocate of full employment's only concern is whether forced labour is prohibited by the Covenant. He has no doubt it is appropriate for "human parasites".

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