[pp.int.general] "Manifesto" alternative summary - for the record

Reinier Bakels r.bakels at planet.nl
Mon Feb 2 22:20:16 CET 2009

For the record: this is a summary of what I presented yesterday in Helsinki.

My perception is that the "Manifesto" basically was supposed to fulfill two purposes: 1) a common statement of principles endorsed by the entire PP movement worldwide 2) promotional material to attract voters. In my perception, it is beter to divorce the two purposes, if only because the actual topics vary by country, and promotional texts should address actual, topical, local problems.

Apparantly not everyone agrees on the need for a common "statement of principles", and personally I am not sure either whether it is really needed. But if and when it is needed, I suggested the following text (one A4 sheet): http://home.kpn.nl/bakel362/PPI%20Principles.pdf

To conclude this summary, I'd like to emphasise the things that are not, and should not be considered PP core issues, in my humble opinion:
* Human rights, from a legal perspective: politics should does not need law as a basis, but voters who are convinced about a cause. Of course, PP will foster (some) human rights, but not from the legal perspective that they are human rights. An important practical reason to refrain from the human rights argument is that they are susceptible to multiple interpretations, including interpretations completely contrary to PP principles ("intellectual property deserves protection"). Rather than debating which interpretation is right and which one is wrong, imho it is more helpful to address the core of the issues directly.
* Democracy: In my perception, the Swedish PPs - which is the model for reference - tries to use the *present* system as much as possible for its purposes, such as (in short) improving copyright and privacy law. Constitutional reform is a separate, very complicated topic. And I would not like to see PPs embrace the perceptions of far-right populist parties who tend to argue that *all* present politicians (except themselves!) are dishonest corrupt lazy people who do nothing for the country.
* Freedom of speech: of course I am strongly opposed against Internet censorship. But - at least in The Netherlands - the "freedom of speech" theme has been hijacked by (far) right politicians (and media) who argue that this right implies a right to offend. The freedom of speech is pretty strong under the case law of the European Court for Human Rights. But imho one should not forget that while criminal prosecution should be an extreme exception, some statements still are socially inappropriate. The legal norm is (always) wider than the social norm. But let me be explicit: in NL there is a debate whether a politician is allowed to defamate muslims. Some argue that (as Rousseau said) in all cases the freedom must be defended to allow opponents to say anything, even opinions you absolutely abhor. In my perception there is a limit however when a specific (and significant) part of the population is systematically depicted as belonging to a dangerous/inferior culture and religion. Wich is not allowed under Dutch criminal provisions developed in the 1930s when the jews were seen as "rats" (etc.). Now muslims suffer the same fate. This is not just a matter of offending people, but eventually a matter of destabilising society. It happened in the 1930s, and it may happen again: a persistent campaign may eventually convince many people that jews/muslims/xxx are strange, dangerous, second class people. Perhaps the results of such a polarisation have already materialised, leading to terrorism threat. Sorry for the lengthy explanation, but I feel that this topic deserves due attention.

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