(Text presented at the internation conference on the Common Good of Humanity, Rome, 2012

Thinking about the common good of humanity involves a reflection on human relationships, human rights and social justice. I want to argue that social protection is an essential and constitutive element of it. Social protection is at the heart of social justice and can be conceptualized in such a way that its main objective becomes the preservation of social life which is threatened by neoliberal capitalism. This contribution is but a first attempt to re-define social protection as a ‘commons’ and as part of the Common Good of Humanity. I therefore look forward to comments that will make it possible to develop this reasoning further.



Social protection is but one of the many victims of neoliberalism. The ‘European social model’ Western democracies were rightly proud of has been mutilated and is being dismantled. While this model, with its social security and its public services was meant to be implemented progressively all over the world, people in Third World countries have in fact been the first to be faced with the destructive ‘Washington Consensus’.

The UN Declaration of 1969[1] on ‘Development and social progress’ was a direct consequence of the adoption, in 1966, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It clearly set out what was already happening in many newly independent countries of Africa and what had been done in most countries of Latin America: the introduction of social policies based on rights and intended to give universal access to an adequate standard of living.

The 1970s started as the ‘decade of social development’[2] with a new approach of the ILO geared towards basic needs, a World Bank strategy against poverty with social security and a UN attempt to integrate social and economic development in a ‘unified approach’.

We all know what happened. The abandonment by the US of the Bretton Woods agreement, the rise of oil prices and the beginning of the economic crisis in rich countries finally led to the external debt  crisis in Third World countries and the introduction of ‘Washington Consensus’ policies. The social consequences have been well described in UNICEF reports and the first books of Susan George[3]. This sounded the death knell for social policies and public services. The privatization of social insurances and the deregulation of labour markets were a direct cause of a massive impoverishment process and growing inequalities in all countries. Today, thirty years later, the same exercise is being imposed on Western European countries where trade unions still have some power and where there still is a rather strong middle class. So it looks as if the era of the welfare states, which began more than 100 years ago, has ended.

The working class has been strongly affected by globalization and the generalized struggle for competitiveness. Everywhere, wages and labour costs are under pressure, the cheap labour of the emerging countries and especially of China and some other Asian countries directly threaten the protective regulations existing in the traditional industrialized countries. Due to the current crisis and the economic and social changes such as the growing number of elderly people, migration, refugees and asylum seekers, temporary jobs, the productive use of prisoners in China as well as in the US, internships … massive un- and underemployment is slowly but surely changing the proletariat into a ‘precariat’ without any economic security[4]. More than half of the workers today have no kind of any social security at all, while in Subsaharan Africa and South Asia it is fewer than 10 % of workers have. The classic distinction between ‘formal sector’ and ‘informal sector’ becomes irrelevant because of the rapidly growing grey zones between them[5].

International organizations have reacted in two ways.

At the start, the World Bank and the UN have proposed poverty reduction policies, the first in the form of PRSPs’ (Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers), the second in the form of MDGs (Millennium Development Goals). Both strategies are failing[6]. One of the main reasons is the fact that these policies are perfectly compatible with neoliberalism and thus produce more poverty than they can ever solve. Another is  because it is impossible to fight poverty exclusively at the level of poor people and without tackling inequality; and a third reason is because there never has been a real political willingness to tackle the poverty problem. Today, in a world with almost one billion and a half of extremely poor people, more than three billion poor people, almost one billion people suffering from hunger and malnourishment, the financial wealth of 11 million people reached 42.7 trillion dollars, while the richest 10 per cent of them amassed around 15 trillion dollars[7]. Inequality is rising everywhere.

Finally, let us not forget that poverty is not only a painful reality for billions of people, but it is also an ideology. Throughout history, poverty discourses have been used by the elites in order to legitimize their power and in order to impose policies with the label of ‘poverty reduction’ which in fact means something quite different. This was clearly the case with the poverty reduction initiatives of the World Bank in the 1990s.[8]

Now that the end date of 2015 for the achievement of the MDGs is getting closer, and knowing that MDGs have been widely promoted all over the rich world in order to keep the myth of development cooperation alive, international organizations are preparing a new agenda: a social protection floor and ‘sustainable development goals’.

In this article, it is not possible to analyze these proposals[9]. Suffice it to say, on the positive side, that these policies are based on rights and finally recognize the income dimension of poverty. On the negative side it is clear these policies do not go beyond poverty reduction, they are not universal, and some of them are very much influenced by neoliberal thinking, talking about social investments, disincentives, productivity, growth, affordability, etc. Even if the ILO posits this initiative in a two-dimensional strategy of a ‘floor’ to be immediately implemented, on the one hand, and a long-term social insurance strategy on the other, there is a risk that we will be stuck with this basic social protection – in fact social assistance - which will be compatible with neoliberalism, carrying yet again another label without any transformative potential. As for the ‘sustainability’ of the development goals, this is clearly linked to a ‘green economy’ which also remains within the framework of neoliberalism and aims at re-invigorating capitalism.

Universal social protection

Noting the failure of the poverty reduction strategies, several UN reports are now pleading for a ‘universal social protection’[10]. However, these proposals are always made at the end of an analysis of the economic and social situation and of the failure of the economic dominant model with poverty reduction policies. They are not fully developed but point to the fact that economic security for all is needed, with unconditional transfers, linked to a nationally owned development process. But only UNRISD gives an idea of what ‘transformative universal social policies’ could mean. It focuses on the importance of a rights-based approach and of income transfers, as well as on the importance of solidarity and universal social services, on the protection of people against markets and on the importance of arresting to focus on poverty. Transformative social policies contribute to the transformation of societies and of economies in an equitable way forward.

ECLAC (UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) published a report on ‘inclusive social protection’, de-linked from economic thinking but fully aimed at re-affirming citizenship and universalism. One of the most important ideas in this report is the combination of ‘targeting’ and ‘universalism’, the former being a short-term tool in order to reach the latter. Their proposal is linked to the decent work agenda of the ILO and stresses the need to go beyond poverty reduction. It also emphasizes the prime responsibility of the State for achieving this programme.

New ideas on universalism have given rise to civil society initiatives such as the Global Social Justice network, linking the social protection agenda with the global taxation agenda[11], the Brazilian Social Forum on Health and Social Security, the network for Transformative Social Protection and others.

There are many reasons why a serious reflection on social protection is urgent:

1) Neoliberal globalization and especially Washington Consensus policies have made people extremely vulnerable. Inequalities are growing and have become unsustainable. The shift from social security to poverty reduction has facilitated an impoverishment process that has to be stopped urgently if we are serious about ‘fighting poverty’.

2) This cannot mean a return to the past. As has been said, only a minority of workers is now covered by social security and a huge new class of ‘precariat’ is in the making. Furthermore, economic and social changes such as the massive arrival of women on the labour market, migration and ageing make it necessary to re-think our welfare states. Globalization also has to imply a globalization of solidarity, and whereas social protection will have to be funded nationally, international solidarity can help to make it happen. However, sustainable social protection will always have to be based on the real needs of people and thus on their active participation. It will have to be fully integrated into a national development programme and be in conformity with national priorities. It implies that people reclaim the state.

3) The climate agenda with demands for climate justice extends the redistributive dimension of social policies.  Not only do we have to recognize that the gross majority of the poor are the main victims of climate change, we also have to reflect on how our social policies will have to adapt to this new reality in order to protect them.

4) Finally, there is an urgent need for workable alternatives in order to stop the dominance of neoliberal thinking. If conceptualized in such a way that it answers the needs and demands of people, as well as fosters their dignity, social protection can be a truly transformative project for states, economies and societies.

Thus we have to reflect on how to re-think social policies and make them play the role their which is to protect people, in whatever situation they live. I want to argue that social protection should also contribute to protect and preserve social life and society.

The Common Good of Humanity

In his document[12], Houtart makes a distinction between ‘public’ or ‘common goods’, the ‘common good’ and ‘the common good of Humanity’.

‘Common goods’ are the ones known from economic theory and currently mostly promoted as ‘global public goods’[13]. They are linked to market failure since private markets will not provide enough of them because of uncertain profitability. Public goods are goods that cannot easily be confined to a single ‘buyer’, though once they are provided many can enjoy them for free. Think of traffic lights. Without a mechanism for collective action, these goods can be underprovided. Public goods are said to be ‘non-excludable’ – no one can be barred from consuming the good – and ‘non rival’ – if it can be consumed without becoming depleted, think of clean air. If they are provided on a collective basis, it is because they are indispensable elements for life. There are not so many pure public goods however, most exist as a combination of limited non-rivalry and limited non-excludability. But all our public services, from water to power, from public transport to postal services can be considered as ‘common’ or ‘public goods’.

The ‘common good’ is a more philosophical concept introduced by Aristotle and further developed by Thomas Aquinas. It is that which makes society, linked to the law of nature and previously thought as being the result of a social contract, of individuals – created by God, or existing by nature – deciding to live together and regulate their collective life[14].

The ‘Common Good of Humanity’ is the concept that, according to Houtart, can introduce a new paradigm for our collective life on earth. It should overcome all the problems caused by Modernity and capitalism and to re-engage the relationship with nature. It is about living harmoniously with nature in a just society with an infinity of cultural expressions. It is about the foundation of collective life, the production and reproduction of life.

Houtart sees four dimensions which will have to be translated into practical terms in order to become reality and help us to overcome the crisis and live a better life - ‘the good life’ (‘el buen vivir’):

- Re-defining the relation with nature: from exploitation to respect for it as a source of life

- Re-directing the production of life’s necessities – prioritizing use value over exchange value

- Re-organizing collective life through the generalization of democracy in social relations and institutions

- Instituting interculturality while building the Universal Common Good

This new paradigm questions some ‘truths’ which were introduced by Western modernity and which are today rightly resisted by people all over the world, such as the separation of humanity from nature. It also looks for a synthesis between ‘traditional’ knowledge and ‘scientific’ knowledge and it fully accepts the multiple cultural expressions which give divergent practical applications of universally accepted values. It rightly stresses the need to re-organize our economic life and to re-think democracy in order to extend it to all dimensions of our collective life.

This questioning of modernity – while rejecting post-modernity – is very important as there is a tendency in many non-western societies resisting to globalization and neo-liberalism to reject anything coming from ‘the West’. While this can be very understandable, it is nevertheless risky, as it remains to be seen whether all people really accept to reject human rights and their ensuing welfare states, secular states, scientific knowledge, universal values, etc., to name but a few of the emancipatory elements of Modernity.

There is however one element that is not directly touched upon in Houtart’s paper and which is nevertheless a major point of discussion, especially in Latin America. I am thinking of individualism, a ‘value’ which on the one hand, freed people from binding and constraining community life, but on the other hand, ignored the importance of social life and the bonds of human relationships. People who are conscious of the dangers of an exaggerated individualism often blame social protection for having destroyed community relationships and solidarity. They plead for fewer goods and more bonds (‘des liens et non des biens’). This criticism has to be taken seriously, though again, it should not lead to forgetting about rights and their emancipatory potential.

Houtart rightly presents his ‘Common Good of Humanity’ as ‘the foundation of collective life’, but surely this collective life needs some explanation. Where does it come from and what is its role? How can it be sustained? This is where social protection does indeed come in.

Social protection and the Common Good

The tension between individualism and collective life is not a new one and it is today at the centre of many of the debates about modernity, ‘buen vivir’ and the so-called civilizational crisis. It is an issue that has to be tackled if we want to arrive at some kind of synthesis. With modernity came individual human rights, and it was said that individuals pursue their ‘interests’, while non Western people rightly stress the importance of collective rights and take into account a fuller range of human sentiments.

Whoever wants to legitimize his/her decisions or policies to-day has to refer in one way or another to justice. But what is justice? One can argue that all theories of social justice have failed because justice and injustice are not theoretico-political predicates but subjective motivations. Justice is clouded in uncertainly, while injustice is clearly felt[15].

Often human rights are considered to be the best and universal reference to all those claiming justice. But can human rights be sufficient to cover the whole area of desirable justice? Human rights are mainly individual rights which ignore human relationships and social life. Surely, economic, social and cultural rights can be seen as collective rights. As has been explained by Castel[16], social security was able to organize collective funds with the contributions of workers. These collective funds were a solidarity mechanism for all those who needed it. It was the worker’s version of ‘ownership’ which at the time, end of the 19th century, was necessary in order to be recognized as a citizen. Since workers were not owners, they were not citizens. Only by creating their collective insurance funds were they able to build their assets, to construct their rights and become fully-fledged citizens. Furthermore, there is a ‘third generation’ of rights – the right to development and to a healthy environment … - which is also called ‘solidarity rights’ because they take into account the behaviour and inter-relationships of individuals. However, their recognition as ‘human rights’ is still very controversial. Even the second generation is contested by liberals who claim they inevitably destroy the ‘real’ – negative – rights of freedom. Hayek spoke of the ‘mirage’ of social justice and the ‘road to serfdom’[17]. In this conception of human rights, freedom prevails and the common good is totally ignored.

Flahaut [18], philosopher and anthropologist,  describes how individual human rights came about and how the foundation of the Universal Declaration of 1948 is in fact seriously flawed. On the one hand, human rights are founded in morality, which can be explained by the Second World War and its atrocities. These moral principles which involve extending feelings of belonging - of an ‘us’ - to others, beyond one’s own group, can be said to be universal. They are present in most cultures and religions. On the other hand, they are founded on legal principles, and these are indeed Western. The natural law they refer to is based on the belief that humans exist by nature, for and by themselves – formerly they were said to be created by God – and that they have created society. They decided to make a ‘social contract’ in order to satisfy their material needs. In this vision, individuals precede society and in modernity, individuals can even live without society (i.e. Robinson Crusoe).

In this perspective, even human rights are prior to the entry of human beings into society, which means they are conceived of as being exterior to society. They do however justify the political power – the State - which is meant to guarantee the rights born with nature once the social contract is made.

Modernity also cleared the way for liberal economics. According to this discourse, individuals do not participate in the construction of the common good but are said to pursue their own interests. These interests are supposed to coexist harmoniously with the interests of others, the ‘private vices and public virtues’ of Mandeville. The pursuit of individual interests will automatically lead to a common good. In fact, the common good becomes the free market.

These are untenable myths, says Flahaut. First of all, because society precedes the individual and secondly, because our social life is so much more than a practical arrangement for satisfying material needs. It is an end in itself. He supports his thinking with the results of research in primatology, paleo-anthropology and the psychology of development.  This enables him to turn the reasoning around and to state that the individual cannot exist without society. The individual emerges from society, which means it emerges from the bonds which link people to each other and which link each of us to the whole of society. Social relationships are not purely contractual but are constitutive of each one’s individuality.

Flahaut takes this reasoning a step further than Marx, then, who never accepted the idea that individuals could exist apart from social arrangements. Sociologically speaking, the individual does not exist. For Marx, the essence of the person is also social, it is the product of social and institutional arrangements. Marx objected to the attempt to divorce the individual from the productive relations which determine one’s social nature[19]. Consequently, he rejected individual human rights and saw the social contract as being fundamentally needed for satisfying material needs.

The question of who came first – the individual or social life – may seem irrelevant – and certainly cannot be analyzed here – as long as we accept that the individual and society are in fact inseparable, and for the sake of argument in this contribution, that society satisfies material and immaterial needs and also that it is an end in itself. Each individuality refers to the culture in which it emerged and social arrangements cannot exist without the individuals that make them work. The social contract cannot be exterior to what constitutes the individual. But the argument of the pre-existence of social life and the multiple purposes it serves, adds a very strong argument that should be kept in mind.

By only seeing individuals, material needs and interests, needs take the place of desire and of other human sentiments, of the libido dominandi, of ‘amour propre’[20]. Interests were also conceived of as being ‘natural’, as coming from individuals ‘as they are’. They were supposed to kill destructive ‘passions’. But interests lead to power and power leads to abuse of power. Individual rights and free markets do not spontaneously produce the common good, on the contrary, they lead to conflicts and abuse of power. Interests have become so overwhelming that we forget about other human feelings[21].

Social relationships are constitutive of the individual and this implies that rights and duties are inseparable, rights are not prior to duties.  Solidarity is so much more than practical and useful. It becomes justified by the fact that existence can only be the result of our relationships to others. Originally, human rights only conceived of individuals, not of human relations and in that sense they even endanger politics by putting individuals and morality above politics. They do not define social relationships and inter-subjectivity. They make it impossible to think of how each being is questioned in relation to something in social life.

So that which we have in common, that which is a common good and that which is what makes us individuals and social beings and society, is precisely social life. Even if individuals can become responsible subjects, they only exist as members of society which is an end in itself.

Neoliberalism threatens this ‘society’ – Thatcher: ‘there is no such thing as society’ – which is indeed killing people because atomized individuals cannot survive. The problem with capitalism is its anthropology. The individual is not self-sufficient and contrary to what Hayek said, the common good is a concrete objective value. The threats against society caused by destroying relationships, communities and bonds, by promoting competitiveness, flexibility and the struggle for life are extremely dangerous. This is precisely what is happening today to the ‘precariat’ which could indeed become a dangerous class of ‘denizens’, non-citizens ‘freed’ from all commitments and all bonds[22]. The welfare of the collectivity does not coincide with the welfare of individuals, and neoliberalism finally kills both.

This is why not only individuals, but also society has to be protected, materially and immaterially, in the first place by recognizing the primordial role of social life as a condition for the emergence and the survival of individuals. It is not nature which can protect us. We need a collective will to protect us against the dominance of individual interests[23].

That is why we need a new and broad concept of social protection, which will encompass these material and immaterial needs. It will have to encompass but also go beyond individual rights, it will have to stress the collective rights, stress the things which we share, stress our interdependence and stress the links with nature of which we are part.  It should imply the third generation of human  - solidarity - rights.

Transformative Universal social   protection

The social-cosmic order of so-called traditional societies is not the result of human willpower. It can be seen as either the historical construction of a specific cosmovision, or as a resistance strategy against capitalism and failed development. But it is always a total world order intended to create and preserve harmony. However, harmony is never a given, either harmony with nature, or harmony with others. Social protection can be another form of creating and preserving harmony, of resolving unavoidable conflicts; it goes beyond the rituals and the symbolic actions of traditional societies but is based on the same premises. It produces and re-produces social life.

Social protection then, will have three major objectives:

- To preserve society and social relationships

- To avoid conflicts and make relationships among people and with nature as harmonious as possible

- To give people economic and social security and an adequate standard of living.

As was said earlier, our existing social protection will have to be restructured in order to better protect people and social life and in order to take into account the changing world and the needs of a new world order, in line with Houtart’s ‘Common Good of Humanity’.

Social protection will have to be ‘transformative’ since it is absolutely necessary to change our economic organization, our economic thinking, and our social organization. Social protection is an essential element of ‘buen vivir’, it will have to take care of the production and re-production of life, abandoning its links with growth and productivism and combining material and immaterial needs.

Social protection will secure an adequate standard of living, as is required in the current International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural rights. It will insure people against accidents, illnesses and loss of income. It will take care of children, the elderly and people with disabilities and it will organize and regulate labour relations.

Social protection will also consist of common goods, these goods which we all need and share and which are an essential component of our social life. It makes a huge difference whether you get your water, your power, your post from a private company where you are just a client, or from a public company where you have rights as a citizen, as co-owner of the company.

It will take care of material and of immaterial needs. It will be based on rights and duties, it will take care of the redistribution of incomes and of resources, it will involve community organization of certain indispensable tasks, making people active and empowered members of their communities and societies.

It will have to be universal, which means it will have to organize direct and indirect solidarity, community solidarity with those we know and with whom we share our daily life, but also with those we do not know but with whom we share a world in which to live, an environment to care for, a sense of belonging to each other and to this planet. The anonymous – organic (Durkheim) – solidarity of the current welfare states is one of the major achievements of modern times that should not be lost.

Social protection will also be universal in another way. It cannot be meant solely for the poor, those who have lost their autonomy, but should also reach out to the wealthy who will have to contribute through taxes and social contributions and who will also benefit from the same advantages and protections. In this way inequality can also be tackled.

In such an environment it is clear that poverty will have to be banned, it will have to be declared illegal. Poverty is not an ‘act of God’, the poor are not born poor in order to die poor. Poverty is a social relationship which cannot exist without its opposite, wealth. It is this relationship which has to totally disappear from this planet, as all people are part of one humanity, living interdependently  and having to share all available resources. The comparison made by Riccardo Petrella and also referred to by Flahaut, with the struggle for the abolition of slavery, is totally relevant. It is not only on economic grounds, but also on moral grounds and on the basis of our common humanity that such a fight can be organized.

Social and economic rights, it has to be repeated, are not purely individual rights. Today, we have to create a mechanism similar to the collective ownership of workers, to all other people, non-workers, or the ‘precariat’, those who have no means to directly contribute to a collective fund. It means that social protection should be based on contributive and non-contributive monetary means, as well as on non-monetary community solidarity mechanisms.

This does not preclude a total restructuring of the so-called ‘labour-market’. If there is a shift to a new economic paradigm, work will have to be organized in a different way, giving more autonomy to workers, re-organizing time and – hopefully – abandoning the separation of productive and reproductive work, work and leisure.

In short, social protection will have at any rate to be structurally reformed. It will consist of different elements, which will have to be democratically decided on by societies, while at the same time involving a global redistribution of incomes and resources, global taxes and depending on the organization of economic and social life. But in order to preserve social life and social relationships, the following elements ²can play a crucial role, nationally and globally:

- A contributive social insurance covering workers and concerning labour accidents, pensions,  health care, income loss… guaranteeing the involvement of social partners;

- A tax-based non-contributive mechanism for people in the precariat or not participating in paid work, with more or less the same elements;

- A series of public services, paid out of progressive tax systems, such as health care, education, public transport, water, power, housing, etc.;

- Regulation of paid and non-paid work in terms of working hours, remuneration, protection of health and safety, the right to unionize and to collective negotiations;

- Rules and solidarity mechanisms to take into account the climate change problems which cannot be avoided: sharing and redistributing of resources like water, land, forests, fisheries…;

- Rules for community solidarity in order to avoid exclusion and/or abuse.

In this way, social protection can be at the heart of what Michael Hardt calls ‘communism’: the ‘sharing’ (‘le partage’) of what we have – or should have - in common[24]. This necessarily is one tool of a transformative agenda, changing individual and collective lives as well as economies. Social protection organizes solidarity. It is a common good and part of the Common Good of Humanity.

Bread and roses

As will be clear by now, human rights certainly do not have to be abandoned. But they should clearly be embedded in a more comprehensive approach, combining individual and collective rights, first, second and third generations of rights. Economic and social rights have often been considered as being ‘collective’, which was one of the reasons why they were put in a separate international covenant. But this also led to their continuous postponement. Third generation rights stress the interdependence and  solidarity and should be further developed.

If we accept that social life conditions the survival of individual life, that it is society which allows the individual to emerge, we have to preserve social life in order to produce individuals, and we have to protect individuals from being totally constrained by communities. Individual and collective rights go hand in hand.

As was said before, the tension between the individual and the collective is not new, it has always existed as was described by the anthropologist Bonnemaison with his example of the tree and the pirogue: the tension between the collective belonging and the individual freedom. It exists in all societies. Though Bonnemaison reminds us that the pirogue is made out of the tree[25].

Both the collective social entity and the individual have emancipatory potential, and this is what has to be protected and promoted by social protection. As Houtart also makes clear, there is no reason to reject modernity, but there are good reasons to reject some of its perverse elements, such as the belief in the autonomous individual with rights without duties.

Social protection can then contribute to the construction of the Common Good of Humanity, to a new way of life, a ‘buen vivir’ which combines the best of traditional and modern systems, which transforms our current way of social and economic thinking, which looks at life from another perspective and which can indeed be a new paradigm.

It does not only mean we go beyond individual rights to embed them in collective rights, it also means we go beyond material needs to embed them in the immaterial social needs. It is about the production and re-production of social life. It is about bread, but also about roses. We should remember, one century after the famous women’s strike in Massachusetts, the poem of Oppenheim in which was said : “hearts starve as well as bodies”.


[1] United Nations, Declaration on Social Progress and Development, Resolution G.A. 2542 (XXIV), 11 December 1969.

[2] Arndt, H.W., Economic Development. The History of an Idea, The University of Chicago Press, 1987.

[3] Cornia, G.A. et al., Adjustment with a Human Face. Protecting the Vulnerable and Promoting Growth. A study by Unicef, New York, Oxford University Press, 1987; George, S., A fate worse than debt, Penguin UK, 1988.

[4] Standing, G., The Precariat. The new dangerous class, New York, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.

[5] ILO, Social Security Report 2010/2011, Geneva, ILO, 2011.

[6] United Nations, MDG Report 2010, New York, United Nations, 2010; World Bank, MDG Monitoring Report. MDGs after the Crisis, Washington, The World Bank, 2010.

[7] CapGemini, World Wealth Report 2011

[8] For a full analysis of these policies, see Mestrum, F., Mondialisation et Pauvreté, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2002.

[10] United Nations, Re-thinking Poverty, Report on the World Social Situation 2010, New York, United Nations, 2010; United Nations, World Economic and Social Survey 2010, New York, United Nations, 2010, UNRISD, Combating Poverty and Inequality. Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics, Geneva, UNRISD, 2010.

[12] Houtart, F., From ‘Common Goods’ to the Common Good of Humanity, Berlin, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2011,

[13] See Kaul, I., et al., Global Public Goods, New York, UNDP, 1999.

[14] Flahaut, F., Où est passé le bien commun ?, Paris, Mille et une nuits, 2011.

[15] Douzinas, C., ‘Adikia: On Communism and Rights’, in Douzinas, C. and Zizek, S., The Idea of Communism, London, Verso, 2010.

[16] Castel, R., Les metamorphoses de la question sociale, Paris, Fayard, 1995.

[17] Hayek, F. von, The Road to Serfdom, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976, [1944].

[18] Flahaut, F., op. cit..

[19]Marx, K., ‘Introduction générale à la critique de l’économie politique’, in Œuvres, Economie I, p. 231, Paris, Gallimard, 1963, [1857].

[20] Flahaut, F., op. cit.

[21] Hirschmann, O.A., Les passions et les intérêts, Justifications politiques du capitalisme avant son apogée, Paris, PUF, 1980.

[22] Standing, G., op. cit.

[23] Todorov, T., Les ennemis intimes de la démocratie, Paris, Laffont, 2011.

[24] Hardt, M., ‘The Common in Communism’ in Douzinas, C. and Zizek, S., op. cit.

[25] Quoted in Guillebaud, La Trahison des Lumières, Paris, Seuil, 1995.