Download Human Rights and Asian Values: Contesting National by Ole Bruun, Michael Jacobsen PDF

By Ole Bruun, Michael Jacobsen

The Asian problem to the universality of human rights has sparked off excessive debate. This quantity takes a transparent stand for common rights, either theoretically and empirically, by way of analysing social and political methods in a few East and Southeast Asian international locations. at the nationwide arenas, Asian values are associated with the fight among authoritarian and democratic forces, which either are likely to exhibit stereotyped photos of the 'west', yet with reversed meanings.

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Extra info for Human Rights and Asian Values: Contesting National Identities and Cultural Representations in Asia (Democracy in Asia)

Example text

Human rights progress with regard to Tibet requires change among Chinese in their understanding of the inherent worth of Tibetan peoples with their great Buddhist heritage. Human rights progress is a painful topic, one to which no nation comes in pure innocence. Yet the Chinese government is moving from making tigers extinct to saving the tigers. All cultures over time can recognize the injustice of earlier notions of social justice. To those in the indigenous peoples’ movement, however, it is obvious that, as Europe plundered the raw material wealth of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, so China is doing the same in Buddhist Tibet and in Muslim Xinjiang.

That inhuman system, just as slavery, can—all over the planet earth—for centuries seem the moral basis of a good society. Whether it is slavery or patriarchy, defenders of the inhuman system will insist that aliens who are outside of the culture cannot comprehend or appreciate the ethical worth of the cultural practice in question. The critique may be delivered with heartfelt sincerity. The practice in question may be highly valued. Inhumanity, legitimated as cultural good, is not easy to deal with in a human rights perspective.

That is, in the Greek-Christian cultural world, people learn that they have souls. This morally informed self feels like one’s true essence. That soul is to be morally restrained and ethically informed. That religiously informed notion of the individual is, however, usually misunderstood outside of ‘the West’ where individualism sounds like pure egoism, absolute materialism and hedonistic selfishness, rather than a moral essence. ‘The West’ is not sufficiently aware of its cultural presuppositions to explain itself clearly.

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