Meeting of the XXV Congress of the Socialist International Cartagena, Colombia, 2-3-4 March 2017
ACHIEVING GREATER EQUALITY IN THE NATIONAL AND GLOBAL ECONOMY
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
That sentence, taken from America’s Declaration of Independence in 1776, was followed 13 years later by these words in Article 1 of France’s revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man:
“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.”
In those two sentences–authored on two different continents in two different languages for two different peoples nearly 250 years ago–lie the origins of what we today, on all continents, simply assume are the natural rights we ought to enjoy.
Yet those rights are not rights all of us actually enjoy—even though they are what we at Socialist International, throughout our shared political history, have always fought for—as citizens of our nations and citizens of the world.
In the US and Western Europe, Keynesianism and an activist progressive state came under relentless assault. Where nominally “left” governments survived, they found themselves constrained by the forces of neoliberalism. Working-class unions—long a backbone of progressive politics—began a sharp decline in membership, while corporations and finance gained enormous new influence, prestige, and wealth. Politicians across the spectrum embraced lower taxes, less regulation, more global trade and output, and more authority and influence for business. “Government,” in Reagan’s famous formulation, “isn’t the solution; it’s the problem.” The era of neoliberal globalization was underway.
Here, in Cartagena, Colombia, representing the 153 member parties of Socialist International, we reaffirm our deep and unshakable belief in human equality and its power as the foundation, measure, and goal of all just societies, and in the irreducible right of all men and women equally to enjoy the fruits of their lives, their liberties, and their pursuit of happiness.
In this moment of insurgent right-wing neo-populism, we do not mean to stop with that affirmation. Instead we are gathered here first to challenge those reactionary forces and ideologies that still prevent billions of human beings from living lives of true equality and freedom. We next will articulate strategies and politics that will lead towards a better and more egalitarian future. Finally, we will express our fierce determination to confront those reactionary forces, again and again, until they are defeated, and universal rights are equally assured in every corner of this tiny planet.
We say this knowing that right-wing neo-populists, with alarming frequency, have begun assaulting democracies for their openness and tolerance—in the name of a frightened, inward-looking nationalism that pits us against one another, the rural against the urban, the newly-affluent against the “new poor”, college graduates against the high school leavers, “real” citizens against our new—and dangerously “different”—refugees and fellow citizens. In neo-populist fantasies, a dark, conspiratorial elite, on behalf of a satanic secular globalism, is threatening our traditional values, communities, and ways of life.