Public Health, Embodied History, and Social Justice: Looking Forward | Nancy Krieger

This essay was delivered as a commencement address at the University of California–Berkeley School of Public Health on May 17, 2015. Reflecting on events spanning from 1990 to 1999 to 2015, when I gave my first, second, and third commencement talks at the school, I discuss four notable features of our present era and offer five insights for ensuring that health equity be the guiding star to orient us all. The four notable features are: (1) growing recognition of the planetary emergency of global climate change; (2) almost daily headlines about armed conflicts and atrocities; (3) growing public awareness of and debate about epic levels of income and wealth inequalities; and (4) growing activism about police killings and, more broadly, “Black Lives Matter.” The five insights are: (1) public health is a public good, not a commodity; (2) the “tragedy of the commons” is a canard; the lack of a common good is what ails us; (3) good science is not enough, and bad science is harmful; (4) good evidence—however vital—is not enough to change the world; and (5) history is vital, because we live our history, embodied. Our goal: a just and sustainable world in which we and every being on this planet may truly thrive.
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Human Rights versus Corporate Rights: Life Value, the Civil Commons and Social Justice by JOHN MCMURTRY

ABSTRACT This analysis maps the deepening global crisis and the principles of its resolution by life-value analysis and method. Received theories of economics and justice and modern rights doctrines are shown to have no ground in life value and to be incapable of recognizing universal life goods and the rising threats to them. In response to this system failure at theoretical and operational levels, the unifying nature and measure of life value are defined to provide the long-missing basis for understanding the common interest, human rights and social justice—that is, the universal life necessities of humanity across cultures and the evolving civil commons infrastructures to ensure them. In contrast, the treaty-imposed corporate rights system miscalled “globalization” is structured to predate life means and support systems at all levels with no accountability beyond itself. Only the logic of life value, human rights and life-protective law, it is concluded, can comprehend or govern this inherently life-blind and cumulatively eco-genocidal regime.

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