Tolerance and Non-Violence in a World That Needs to Be Transformed

Published on Global, by François Houtart, December 2, 2009.

… A second paradigm concerns the production of goods and services, giving use value priority over exchange value, which fundamentally transforms the definition of the economy.   In such a case surplus value would no longer be appropriated by a minority holding decision-making power, but rather an activity that produces the basis of the physical, cultural and spiritual life of all human beings on earth.

The third paradigm concerns the organization of social and political life through a generalization of democracy in all human relationships – not only political, but also economic, social, cultural, religious and, especially, those between men and women.   What is at stake is the return of the citizen as both an individual and collective actor, which involves, among other things, a redefinition of the State and of international organizations. 

Finally, it is necessary to understand reality and build it on ethical grounds – the faculty peculiar to human beings – in other words, culture. which is necessarily multicultural.   No longer is human development to be identical with westernization.    Each cultural tradition, all knowledge, each philosophy and all religions have their contribution to make to the whole, both for its construction and disseminating it in all languages.

Is this utopia?   Yes, but it is a utopia necessary for the survival of humanity and of the planet, not of the illusionary kind but rather of what does not exist today, but could be achieved tomorrow.   And this utopia is already at work in thousands of initiatives:  multiple resistance against the practices of death, actions to protect the earth, the organization of a social economy and the re-establishment of public services, forms of participatory democracy and the development of new concepts and visions of the world that are not reduced to elementaries.    All that already contributes to a redefinition of the common good of humanity.   The great challenge is to give a theoretical and practical coherence to it all, which also requires a profound cultural transformation.

So, therefore, why not propose a Universal Declaration of the Common Good of Humanity, based on the above four paradigms, which would complete the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?   Utopia, perhaps?   True, human rights took 200 years to become universal and they are maybe too incomplete, too western and used politically by certain powers to consolidate their hegemony in the world.  But that charter has the merit of existing and it has saved the life and liberty of many people in the world.

Could it not be a valuable task for Unesco to promote the emergence of a new Universal Declaration?   It is also the task of culture and education to transform the paradigms of human development.   Such an initiative would help to fix a star in the skies that would guide the struggles for justice and the long journey of humankind, while providing hope for the future. (full text).


The Financial Crisis in Perspective, by Prof. François Houtart, September 30, 2009;

Questioning the New Imperial World Order, a page full with articles and videos on BRussell’s

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