In so doing they bore witness to their unanimous desire to share in the doctrinal and pastoral mission of the Church with regard to the Gospel of life. In that same letter, written shortly after the celebration of the centenary of the Encyclical Rerum Novarum, I drew everyone's attention to this striking analogy: "Just as a century ago it was the working classes which were oppressed in their fundamental rights, and the Church very courageously came to their defence by proclaiming the sacrosanct rights of the worker as a person, so now, when another category of persons is being oppressed in the fundamental right to life, the Church feels in duty bound to speak out with the same courage on behalf of those who have no voice.
Hers is always the evangelical cry in defence of the world's poor, those who are threatened and despised and whose human rights are violated". Today there exists a great multitude of weak and defenceless human beings, unborn children in particular, whose fundamental right to life is being trampled upon. If, at the end of the last century, the Church could not be silent about the injustices of those times, still less can she be silent today, when the social injustices of the past, unfortunately not yet overcome, are being compounded in many regions of the world by still more grievous forms of injustice and oppression, even if these are being presented as elements of progress in view of a new world order.
The present Encyclical, the fruit of the cooperation of the Episcopate of every country of the world, is therefore meant to be a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability, and at the same time a pressing appeal addressed to each and every person, in the name of God: respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!
May these words reach all the sons and daughters of the Church!
May they reach all people of good will who are concerned for the good of every man and woman and for the destiny of the whole of society! In profound communion with all my brothers and sisters in the faith, and inspired by genuine friendship towards all, I wish to meditate upon once more and proclaim the Gospel of life, the splendour of truth which enlightens consciences, the clear light which corrects the darkened gaze, and the unfailing source of faithfulness and steadfastness in facing the ever new challenges which we meet along our path.
As I recall the powerful experience of the Year of the Family, as if to complete the Letter which I wrote "to every particular family in every part of the world", 8 I look with renewed confidence to every household and I pray that at every level a general commitment to support the family will reappear and be strengthened, so that today too-even amid so many difficulties and serious threats-the family will always remain, in accordance with God's plan, the "sanctuary of life". To all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life, I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.
For he has created all things that they might exist God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it" Wis ; The Gospel of life, proclaimed in the beginning when man was created in the image of God for a destiny of full and perfect life cf. Gen ; Wis , is contradicted by the painful experience of death which enters the world and casts its shadow of meaninglessness over man's entire existence.
Death came into the world as a result of the devil's envy cf. Gen , and the sin of our first parents cf. Gen , And death entered it in a violent way, through the killing of Abel by his brother Cain: "And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him" Gen This first murder is presented with singular eloquence in a page of the Book of Genesis which has universal significance: it is a page rewritten daily, with inexorable and degrading frequency, in the book of human history.
Let us re-read together this biblical account which, despite its archaic structure and its extreme simplicity, has much to teach us. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had not regard.
So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain,? Why are you angry and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it'. Let us go out to the field'. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain,? Where is Abel your brother? I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?
What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth'.
Cain said to the Lord,? My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me this day away from the ground; and from your face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me'. Then the Lord said to him,? Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold'. And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden" Gen Cain was "very angry" and his countenance "fell" because "the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering" Gen The biblical text does not reveal the reason why God prefers Abel's sacrifice to Cain's.
It clearly shows however that God, although preferring Abel's gift, does not interrupt his dialogue with Cain. He admonishes him, reminding him of his freedom in the face of evil: man is in no way predestined to evil. Certainly, like Adam, he is tempted by the malevolent force of sin which, like a wild beast, lies in wait at the door of his heart, ready to leap on its prey. But Cain remains free in the face of sin. He can and must overcome it: "Its desire is for you, but you must master it" Gen Envy and anger have the upper hand over the Lord's warning, and so Cain attacks his own brother and kills him.
As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "In the account of Abel's murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man".
Brother kills brother. Like the first fratricide, every murder is a violation of the "spiritual" kinship uniting mankind in one great family, 11 in which all share the same fundamental good: equal personal dignity. Not infrequently the kinship "of flesh and blood" is also violated; for example when threats to life arise within the relationship between parents and children, such as happens in abortion or when, in the wider context of family or kinship, euthanasia is encouraged or practised.
At the root of every act of violence against one's neighbour there is a concession to the "thinking" of the evil one, the one who "was a murderer from the beginning" Jn As the Apostle John reminds us: "For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother" 1 Jn Cain's killing of his brother at the very dawn of history is thus a sad witness of how evil spreads with amazing speed: man's revolt against God in the earthly paradise is followed by the deadly combat of man against man.
After the crime, God intervenes to avenge the one killed. Before God, who asks him about the fate of Abel, Cain, instead of showing remorse and apologizing, arrogantly eludes the question: "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper? This was and still is the case, when all kinds of ideologies try to justify and disguise the most atrocious crimes against human beings.
We cannot but think of today's tendency for people to refuse to accept responsibility for their brothers and sisters. Symptoms of this trend include the lack of solidarity towards society's weakest members-such as the elderly, the infirm, immigrants, children- and the indifference frequently found in relations between the world's peoples even when basic values such as survival, freedom and peace are involved. But God cannot leave the crime unpunished: from the ground on which it has been spilt, the blood of the one murdered demands that God should render justice cf.
Gen ; Is ; Ez From this text the Church has taken the name of the "sins which cry to God for justice", and, first among them, she has included wilful murder. Indeed "the blood is the life" Dt , and life, especially human life, belongs only to God: for this reason whoever attacks human life, in some way attacks God himself.
Cain is cursed by God and also by the earth, which will deny him its fruit cf. Gen He is punished: he will live in the wilderness and the desert. Murderous violence profoundly changes man's environment. From being the "garden of Eden" Gen , a place of plenty, of harmonious interpersonal relationships and of friendship with God, the earth becomes "the land of Nod" Gen , a place of scarcity, loneliness and separation from God.
Free Thought Lives
Cain will be "a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth" Gen : uncertainty and restlessness will follow him forever. And yet God, who is always merciful even when he punishes, "put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him" Gen He thus gave him a distinctive sign, not to condemn him to the hatred of others, but to protect and defend him from those wishing to kill him, even out of a desire to avenge Abel's death. Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.
And it is pre- cisely here that the paradoxical mystery of the merciful justice of God is shown forth. As Saint Ambrose writes: "Once the crime is admitted at the very inception of this sinful act of parricide, then the divine law of God's mercy should be immediately extended. If punishment is forthwith inflicted on the accused, then men in the exercise of justice would in no way observe patience and moderation, but would straightaway condemn the defendant to punishment.
God drove Cain out of his presence and sent him into exile far away from his native land, so that he passed from a life of human kindness to one which was more akin to the rude existence of a wild beast. God, who preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a homicide be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide". The Lord said to Cain: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground" Gen The voice of the blood shed by men continues to cry out, from generation to generation, in ever new and different ways.
The Lord's question: "What have you done? Some threats come from nature itself, but they are made worse by the culpable indifference and negligence of those who could in some cases remedy them. Others are the result of situations of violence, hatred and conflicting interests, which lead people to attack others through murder, war, slaughter and genocide.
And how can we fail to consider the violence against life done to millions of human beings, especially children, who are forced into poverty, malnutrition and hunger because of an unjust distribution of resources between peoples and between social classes? And what of the violence inherent not only in wars as such but in the scandalous arms trade, which spawns the many armed conflicts which stain our world with blood?
What of the spreading of death caused by reckless tampering with the world's ecological balance, by the criminal spread of drugs, or by the promotion of certain kinds of sexual activity which, besides being morally unacceptable, also involve grave risks to life? It is impossible to catalogue completely the vast array of threats to human life, so many are the forms, whether explicit or hidden, in which they appear today!
Here though we shall concentrate particular attention on another category of attacks, affecting life in its earliest and in its final stages, attacks which present new characteristics with respect to the past and which raise questions of extraordinary seriousness. It is not only that in generalized opinion these attacks tend no longer to be considered as "crimes"; paradoxically they assume the nature of "rights", to the point that the State is called upon to give them legal recognition and to make them available through the free services of health-care personnel. Such attacks strike human life at the time of its greatest frailty, when it lacks any means of self-defence.
Even more serious is the fact that, most often, those attacks are carried out in the very heart of and with the complicity of the family-the family which by its nature is called to be the "sanctuary of life". How did such a situation come about? Many different factors have to be taken into account. In the background there is the profound crisis of culture, which generates scepticism in relation to the very foundations of knowledge and ethics, and which makes it increasingly difficult to grasp clearly the meaning of what man is, the meaning of his rights and his duties.
Then there are all kinds of existential and interpersonal difficulties, made worse by the complexity of a society in which individuals, couples and families are often left alone with their problems. There are situations of acute poverty, anxiety or frustration in which the struggle to make ends meet, the presence of unbearable pain, or instances of violence, especially against women, make the choice to defend and promote life so demanding as sometimes to reach the point of heroism.
The Betrayal of Asia Bibi - Quillette
All this explains, at least in part, how the value of life can today undergo a kind of "eclipse", even though conscience does not cease to point to it as a sacred and inviolable value, as is evident in the tendency to disguise certain crimes against life in its early or final stages by using innocuous medical terms which distract attention from the fact that what is involved is the right to life of an actual human person.
In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today's social problems, and these can sometimes mitigate the subjective responsibility of individuals, it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable "culture of death".
This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated.
In this way a kind of "conspiracy against life" is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States. In order to facilitate the spread of abortion, enormous sums of money have been invested and continue to be invested in the production of pharmaceutical products which make it possible to kill the fetus in the mother's womb without recourse to medical assistance.
On this point, scientific research itself seems to be almost exclusively preoccupied with developing products which are ever more simple and effective in suppressing life and which at the same time are capable of removing abortion from any kind of control or social responsibility. It is frequently asserted that contraception, if made safe and available to all, is the most effective remedy against abortion.
The Catholic Church is then accused of actually promoting abortion, because she obstinately continues to teach the moral unlawfulness of contraception. When looked at carefully, this objection is clearly unfounded. It may be that many people use contraception with a view to excluding the subsequent temptation of abortion. But the negative values inherent in the "contraceptive mentality"-which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act-are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived.
Indeed, the pro- abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected. Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion arespecifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage, the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment "You shall not kill".
But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree. It is true that in many cases contraception and even abortion are practised under the pressure of real- life difficulties, which nonetheless can never exonerate from striving to observe God's law fully. Still, in very many other instances such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfilment.
The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception. The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being.
The various techniques of artificial reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life. Apart from the fact that they are morally unacceptable, since they separate procreation from the fully human context of the conjugal act, 14 these techniques have a high rate of failure: not just failure in relation to fertilization but with regard to the subsequent development of the embryo, which is exposed to the risk of death, generally within a very short space of time.
Furthermore, the number of embryos produced is often greater than that needed for implantation in the woman's womb, and these so-called "spare embryos" are then destroyed or used for research which, under the pretext of scientific or medical progress, in fact reduces human life to the level of simple "biological material" to be freely disposed of. Prenatal diagnosis, which presents no moral objections if carried out in order to identify the medical treatment which may be needed by the child in the womb, all too often becomes an opportunity for proposing and procuring an abortion.
This is eugenic abortion, justified in public opinion on the basis of a mentality-mistakenly held to be consistent with the demands of "therapeutic interventions"-which accepts life only under certain conditions and rejects it when it is affected by any limitation, handicap or illness. Following this same logic, the point has been reached where the most basic care, even nourishment, is denied to babies born with serious handicaps or illnesses.
The contemporary scene, moreover, is becoming even more alarming by reason of the proposals, advanced here and there, to justify even infanticide, following the same arguments used to justify the right to abortion. In this way, we revert to a state of barbarism which one hoped had been left behind forever. Threats which are no less serious hang over the incurably ill and the dying. In a social and cultural context which makes it more difficult to face and accept suffering, the temptation becomes all the greater to resolve the problem of suffering by eliminating it at the root, by hastening death so that it occurs at the moment considered most suitable.
Various considerations usually contribute to such a decision, all of which converge in the same terrible outcome. In the sick person the sense of anguish, of severe discomfort, and even of desperation brought on by intense and prolonged suffering can be a decisive factor. Such a situation can threaten the already fragile equilibrium of an individual's personal and family life, with the result that, on the one hand, the sick person, despite the help of increasingly effective medical and social assistance, risks feeling overwhelmed by his or her own frailty; and on the other hand, those close to the sick person can be moved by an understandable even if misplaced compassion.
All this is aggravated by a cultural climate which fails to perceive any meaning or value in suffering, but rather considers suffering the epitome of evil, to be eliminated at all costs. This is especially the case in the absence of a religious outlook which could help to provide a positive understanding of the mystery of suffering. On a more general level, there exists in contemporary culture a certain Promethean attitude which leads people to think that they can control life and death by taking the decisions about them into their own hands.
What really happens in this case is that the individual is overcome and crushed by a death deprived of any prospect of meaning or hope. We see a tragic expression of all this in the spread of euthanasia-disguised and surreptitious, or practised openly and even legally. As well as for reasons of a misguided pity at the sight of the patient's suffering, euthanasia is sometimes justified by the utilitarian motive of avoiding costs which bring no return and which weigh heavily on society. Thus it is proposed to eliminate malformed babies, the severely handicapped, the disabled, the elderly, especially when they are not self-sufficient, and the terminally ill.
Nor can we remain silent in the face of other more furtive, but no less serious and real, forms of euthanasia. These could occur for example when, in order to increase the availability of organs for transplants, organs are removed without respecting objective and adequate criteria which verify the death of the donor.
Another present-day phenomenon, frequently used to justify threats and attacks against life, is the demographic question. This question arises in different ways in different parts of the world. In the rich and developed countries there is a disturbing decline or collapse of the birthrate. The poorer countries, on the other hand, generally have a high rate of population growth, difficult to sustain in the context of low economic and social development, and especially where there is extreme underdevelopment. In the face of over- population in the poorer countries, instead of forms of global intervention at the international level-serious family and social policies, programmes of cultural development and of fair production and distribution of resources-anti-birth policies continue to be enacted.
Contraception, sterilization and abortion are certainly part of the reason why in some cases there is a sharp decline in the birthrate. It is not difficult to be tempted to use the same methods and attacks against life also where there is a situation of "demographic explosion". The Pharaoh of old, haunted by the presence and increase of the children of Israel, submitted them to every kind of oppression and ordered that every male child born of the Hebrew women was to be killed cf. Ex Today not a few of the powerful of the earth act in the same way. They too are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries.
Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person's inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive programme of birth control. Even the economic help which they would be ready to give is unjustly made conditional on the acceptance of an anti-birth policy. Humanity today offers us a truly alarming spectacle, if we consider not only how extensively attacks on life are spreading but also their unheard-of numerical proportion, and the fact that they receive widespread and powerful support from a broad consensus on the part of society, from widespread legal approval and the involvement of certain sectors of health-care personnel.
As I emphatically stated at Denver, on the occasion of the Eighth World Youth Day, "with time the threats against life have not grown weaker. They are taking on vast proportions. They are not only threats coming from the outside, from the forces of nature or the? Cains' who kill the? Abels'; no, they are scientifically and systematically programmed threats. The twentieth century will have been an era of massive attacks on life, an endless series of wars and a continual taking of innocent human life.
False prophets and false teachers have had the greatest success". Nor can it be denied that the mass media are often implicated in this conspiracy, by lending credit to that culture which presents recourse to contraception, sterilization, abortion and even euthanasia as a mark of progress and a victory of freedom, while depicting as enemies of freedom and progress those positions which are unreservedly pro-life.
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- Contract of Betrayal.
The panorama described needs to be understood not only in terms of the phenomena of death which characterize it but also in the variety of causes which determine it. Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic pros- pects, depression and anxiety about the future. Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil.
But today the prob- lem goes far beyond the necessary recognition of these personal situations. It is a problem which exists at the cultural, social and political level, where it reveals its more sinister and disturbing aspect in the tendency, ever more widely shared, to interpret the above crimes against life as legitimate expressions of individual freedom, to be acknowledged and protected as actual rights. In this way, and with tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of "human rights"-rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation-is today marked by a surprising contradiction.
Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death. On the one hand, the various declarations of human rights and the many initiatives inspired by these declarations show that at the global level there is a growing moral sensitivity, more alert to acknowledging the value and dignity of every individual as a human being, without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social class.
On the other hand, these noble proclamations are unfortunately contradicted by a tragic repudiation of them in practice. This denial is still more distressing, indeed more scandalous, precisely because it is occurring in a society which makes the affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast. How can these repeated affirmations of principle be reconciled with the continual increase and widespread justification of attacks on human life?
How can we reconcile these declarations with the refusal to accept those who are weak and needy, or elderly, or those who have just been conceived? These attacks go directly against respect for life and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights.
It is a threat capable, in the end, of jeopardizing the very meaning of democratic coexistence: rather than societies of "people living together", our cities risk becoming societies of people who are rejected, marginalized, uprooted and oppressed. If we then look at the wider worldwide perspective, how can we fail to think that the very affirmation of the rights of individuals and peoples made in distinguished international assemblies is a merely futile exercise of rhetoric, if we fail to unmask the selfishness of the rich countries which exclude poorer countries from access to development or make such access dependent on arbitrary prohibitions against procreation, setting up an opposition between development and man himself?
Should we not question the very economic models often adopted by States which, also as a result of international pressures and forms of conditioning, cause and aggravate situations of injustice and violence in which the life of whole peoples is degraded and trampled upon? We can find them in an overall assessment of a cultural and moral nature, beginning with the mentality which carries the concept of subjectivity to an extreme and even distorts it, and recognizes as a subject of rights only the person who enjoys full or at least incipient autonomy and who emerges from a state of total dependence on others.
But how can we reconcile this approach with the exaltation of man as a being who is "not to be used"? The theory of human rights is based precisely on the affirmation that the human person, unlike animals and things, cannot be subjected to domination by others. We must also mention the mentality which tends to equate personal dignity with the capacity for verbal and explicit, or at least perceptible, communication. It is clear that on the basis of these presuppositions there is no place in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure, or for anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them, and can only communicate through the silent language of a profound sharing of affection.
In this case it is force which becomes the criterion for choice and action in interpersonal relations and in social life. But this is the exact opposite of what a State ruled by law, as a community in which the "reasons of force" are replaced by the "force of reason", historically intended to affirm. At another level, the roots of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them.
While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of "the strong" against the weak who have no choice but to submit. It is precisely in this sense that Cain's answer to the Lord's question: "Where is Abel your brother? Yes, every man is his "brother's keeper", because God entrusts us to one another.
And it is also in view of this entrusting that God gives everyone freedom, a freedom which possesses an inherently relational dimension. This is a great gift of the Creator, placed as it is at the service of the person and of his fulfilment through the gift of self and openness to others; but when freedom is made absolute in an individualistic way, it is emptied of its original content, and its very meaning and dignity are contradicted.
There is an even more profound aspect which needs to be emphasized: freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with the truth. When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim.
This view of freedom leads to a serious distortion of life in society. If the promotion of the self is understood in terms of absolute autonomy, people inevitably reach the point of rejecting one another. It was not overly radical policies that weakened the Sandinista revolution. What prevented it from advancing sufficiently with the support of a majority of the population was its failure to put the people at the core of the transition that followed the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. This was not doomed to happen — alternative policies could have been implemented.
The government should have paid more attention to the needs and aspirations of the people, in rural as well as urban areas. The government should have promoted wage increases for workers, both in the private and public sectors. If the Sandinistas had really wanted to break away from the export-oriented extractivist model that depends on competitiveness on the international market, they should have gone against the interests of the capitalists that still dominated the export-oriented extractivist industry.
They should have done more to gradually implement policies in favor of the small and medium-sized producers who supplied the domestic market, such as protectionist measures in order to limit importations. This would have allowed the peasants and small and medium enterprises not to have to make sacrifices for the sake of competitiveness on the international market. Instead of encouraging the masses to follow orders given from the top of the FSLN, self-organization by citizens should have been promoted at all levels, and citizens should have been given control over the public administration as well as over the accounts of private companies.
The political institutions that were installed by the FSLN did not fundamentally differ from the ones of a parliamentary democracy with a strong presidential role, something which would impede the capacity of the masses to constitute a counter-power when the Right would be elected in Concessions were made to local big capital, which was wrongly perceived as being patriotic and an ally of the people: the increases in wages were limited, fiscal incentives in the form of lower taxation were given to the bosses. Any such alliance should have been rejected. At each important stage, criticism from within the FSLN emerged.
Further, the four other members of the national leadership did not form a bloc to oppose the continuation and deepening of the errors that were made. It is very important to point out that proposals for alternative policies were formulated both inside the FSLN and from outside, from political groups who wanted to further the revolutionary process that was underway. Constructive critical voices did not wait for the electoral failure of February to propose new directions, but they received only a limited hearing and remained relatively isolated.
While the loans were officially intended for development, they benefitted the strengthening of an authoritarian regime and the increase in wealth of Somoza and his clique. After the latter left the country with most of their assets, the new Sandinista rulers of Nicaragua were in dire need of funding in order to implement progressive policies and to encourage the industrialization of the country.
The Sandinistas should have conducted an audit of the debt with broad citizen participation. This is a fundamental point. For the Sandinista government, this was also a way of avoiding a confrontation with the World Bank and the IMF, despite the fact that they had financed the dictatorship. This shows that it was useless to make concessions to them. Admittedly, it was not easy for the government of a country like Nicaragua to face its creditors alone, but it could have begun by questioning the legitimacy of the debts claimed by the World Bank, the IMF, and the States and private banks that had financed the dictatorship.
The government could have launched an audit of these debts by calling for citizen participation, and could have gained support for a demand for abolition of those debts by the broad international movement in support of the Nicaraguan people. It can never be repeated often enough that a refusal to stand up to creditors who demand repayment of an illegitimate debt is generally the beginning of the abandonment of the program of change.
If the burden of illegitimate debt is not denounced, the people are condemned to bear that burden. Furthermore, the average per capita income in the developed countries is now 14 times greater than that of the underdeveloped countries. This situation is already unbearable. Who is sovereign? On the basis of what concept can it be said that the people committed themselves to paying and that they signed for the credits and received the credits?
Most of those credits were secured by repressive military dictatorships that did not consult the people. This is the moral and philosophical basis of this idea. The parliaments were not consulted. The principle of sovereignty was violated. What parliament participated in this debt-signing process and knew about it? We stress the issue of illegitimate debt because, should the oppressive regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo be overthrown, it would be essential for a popular government to call repayment of the debt demanded of Nicaragua into question.
Should the Right take leadership of the overthrow of the regime, we can be certain that it will not call the debt repayment demanded of Nicaragua into question. After the defeat in the election of February , Daniel Ortega extended a policy of class collaboration. In the FSLN government reached an agreement with the Contras that put an end to fighting, which was of course a positive development.
It was presented as the victorious outcome of the strategy that had been adopted. Yet it was a Pyrrhic victory. The Sandinista leadership called a general election in February and felt certain it would win. Election results struck the Sandinista leadership with an amazed wave of panic: the Right had won, partly by threatening that fighting would resume if the FSLN won. Many people wanted to avoid further bloodshed and thus reluctantly voted for the Right, hoping for an end to war for good. This illustrates the gap between the majority of the people and a leadership that had become used to giving orders.
After the defeat in the election of February , Daniel Ortega adopted an attitude that swung back and forth between compromise with the government and confrontation. Humberto was still General in Chief of a starkly reduced army. A few months after Violeta Chamorro started her mandate as president, a massive movement spread throughout the country in July , protesting massive layoffs planned in the public services as well as other issues linked with the implementation of a market-oriented economic policy. Managua and other cities were covered with Sandinista barricades and the trade unions launched a general strike.
Chamorro also organized the cleansing of the police force and incorporated former Contras into it. It must be said that after the victory of the Right, a significant part of the estates formerly expropriated from the Somocistas after the victory were appropriated by a few Sandinista leaders, who consequently accessed to the role of capitalists. It cannot be done by states, governments, parties, supposedly infallible leaders or experts of any kind.
Then, the commandant exposed his analysis of the international situation: according to him, the capitalist system had reached maturity and would undergo no further crises, and would lead to socialism without the need for further revolutions.
This was totally absurd, and Ernest Mandel said so very clearly and with emotion. The following day, Daniel Ortega expressed the desire to meet in private with Mandel to present the proposed alternative program he wanted to defend publicly as the FSLN against the rightist government of Violeta Chamorro. After reading it, we realized that the program did not meet the minimum conditions for constituting an alternative.
To put it simply, it was compatible with the reforms undertaken by the rightist government and would not enable the offensive against the Right to be resumed. Mandel said so very clearly to Daniel Ortega, who was not at all pleased. These two discussions show how profoundly certain FSLN leaders had gone astray. The subsequent evolution of Daniel Ortega and those who accompanied him on his path back to power was already clearly perceptible in the early s. A large part of the Sandinista militants from the revolutionary period rejected that orientation in the years that followed.
It took time, and Daniel Ortega took advantage of the slow dawning of awareness of the danger to consolidate his influence within the FSLN and marginalize or exclude those who defended a different orientation. Simultaneously, Daniel Ortega succeeded in maintaining privileged relations with a number of leaders of popular Sandinista organizations who felt that in the absence of anyone else, he was the leader most likely to defend the series of gains made during the s.
That explains in part why, in , the Ortega regime still has the support of part of the population and the popular movement despite its use of extremely brutal methods of repression. Little by little even that assembly stopped meeting. It is one of those books that I kept wanting to use up my free time.
I kept looking for weaknesses in the story or in the world she had created but I was unable to find anythign that would have suspended my disbelief. Tammy Salyer is a master storyteller. I already loaded up book three and am going to dive right in. Stop reading this review and just get the book! May 02, Steph Bennion rated it really liked it Shelves: sci-fi. This is an action-packed blast of a sequel which pretty much carries on in the same vein as the first.
It's a good, solid sci-fi thriller. What I didn't like was that the plot was far too similar to that of the preceding book; also, the ending seemed rushed, with the main driver of the plot view spoiler [ the prisoners seized from colony hide spoiler ] ending up being resolved away from the main narrative.
The Betrayal of Asia Bibi
The love triangle also irritated me, especially as the book's title pretty much gave aw This is an action-packed blast of a sequel which pretty much carries on in the same vein as the first. The love triangle also irritated me, especially as the book's title pretty much gave away how that would end. What I will say is the series as a whole has grabbed my interest and I'm already devouring part three.
This series is worth a read for the military perspective alone. Aug 08, Dylan Hearn rated it really liked it. This book follows on directly from the first of the series, Contract of Defiance. In it we follow Aly and the crew as they look to establish a life on Spectra 6 only to find out that the Admin has other plans. I really enjoyed this sequel, which blends new elements into an already absorbing universe, adding depth to the characters you have grown to love from the first book without losing the fast-paced action and gripping storyline that made it so special. I can't wait to read the third and final This book follows on directly from the first of the series, Contract of Defiance.
I can't wait to read the third and final instalment. Jun 01, Conal rated it really liked it Shelves: read-owned. The followup novel to Contract of Defiance. This story continues with the mostly the same cast of characters we found in the first novel along with a few new ones to spice up the story. Lots of action throughout this one and it was a fun read as well. I was a little disappointed in the main character who was very impulsive in this part and did not seem to show much thought before action. I hope to see her grow more in the last part.
Recommended for fans of this series as w The followup novel to Contract of Defiance. Recommended for fans of this series as well as space opera fans. I read the first one and was impressed by the general feel of the story and felt that we were missing some of the facts. In the second book any doubts about the author and her storytelling were long forgotten This story provided a wild ride filled with betrayal and action from beginning to end. I can't wait for the next part of this story.
Pretty good second book I would recommend this book. Tammy continues to develop the characters and keeps the plot going. Some of them die and some live to fight another day. I am looking forward to the next book. Better than book 1, though Aly is really irritating me. I hope she find her ability to communicate with Karl in book 3! Apr 28, Chris Matteini rated it really liked it. Strong sequel. As with the first book, really good action, characters you can get behind and characters you hate. I just bought the third book, and I'm looking forward to digging in.
Jun 01, Peg rated it really liked it. Excellent writing style and characterisation, however the story line took a while to develop and ended slightly inconclusively. A bit of a space opera. Good technical ideas that weren't developed to the point of being too hard to swallow. Worth reading. Feb 08, Brandon rated it really liked it. Pretty good. I wish the plot could've been advanced without all the romantic angst though. Jan 15, Mark Gardner rated it really liked it Shelves: Unfortunately, the big reveal near the end of the story was quite predictable, but since it had been about six months since I read book one, reading Betrayal was new to me.
I already have Contract of War, and look forward to reading it soon. Familiar Future This novel takes place in a crumbling galactic empire. The plot is pretty good and the character development is quite good. My criticism is that almost everything in the book is very much like today, except for spaceships. They still use guns and bombs for weapons, vehicles don't drive themselves, AI doesn't seem to exist. It seems like a world with FTL spaceships shouldn't be so much like today's world.
Still, it's a good book if you like this kind of science fiction which I do Familiar Future This novel takes place in a crumbling galactic empire. Still, it's a good book if you like this kind of science fiction which I do Dec 03, Dennis rated it really liked it. This book - 2 of 3 - continues the adventures of Aly and is a great read. If you like a space thriller give this series a shot. Good read This book was well written and the characters are well developed.
The book is action filled with some twists and space action too. Definitely worth the time to read. Nice job Tammy. Scathach rated it liked it May 15, Stephanie Embry rated it really liked it Feb 19, Jennsen rated it it was amazing Dec 17, Susan Spann rated it it was amazing Apr 21, Angela Flannery rated it really liked it Feb 10, David rated it really liked it May 09, Science Fiction.
About Tammy Salyer. Tammy Salyer. Her military science fiction novel Contract of Defiance is the first book in the Spectras Arise trilogy and debuted to acclaim in Spring Contract of Betrayal is the second in the trilogy, and the final book, Contract of War , completes it. When not hunched like a Morlock over her writing desk, Tammy runs and bikes silly miles in the playground of Southern California and spends an inappropriate amount of time watching Henry Rollins videos on YouTube.
Feel free to visit her blog and sign up for her newsletter to be the first to know of contests, new releases, and special events you might enjoy, or stop by and say hi on Twitter TammySalyer. Other books in the series. Spectras Arise Trilogy 4 books.
Related Contract of Betrayal: Spectras Arise Trilogy, Book 2
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