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Gods and Beasts

Aristotle says only gods or beasts have no need for politics.

The issue of human rights is not one of universality or local rights. Let us imagine the most abhorrent thing to human sentiments. The killing of Children. It is not right or wrong that allows the activist to inject himself in this debate in a local community. Behind every act of normative claims against another community and even ones own community is an institutional and material disparity in power. The debate at the moment seems to waver between recognizing universal human rights versus allowing local habits. The first has the detriment that it is an imposition of external values on a local community but it sees this local community as human. The second preserves the habits of others but as some distant savages who do not deserve membership and are not equal in their humanity. My sentiment is that this obsession over who is human is simply a problem of language and not of logic. My case rests on the treatment of aliens in sci-fi movies. Aliens are not human, their particular characteristics and cultural particularities are not under the scope of human interference in general (though some shows they are). What is it that allows humans to impose claims of what is normatively better on other humans. It is not reason, it is inequality. Thus the issue is not whether the other is human or not and therefore deserving of some special privileges. What seems to have been taken for granted is that the very possibility of such an intervention in the lives of others is founded on the superior economic and military and ideological capability of one side over the other. This is a pervasive and long-enduring facet that underlies all aid regimes. Ofcourse the weaker party may take on this aid out of necessity and may be swayed by the ideology of the powerful as in previous times powerful religions have spread (christianity) through institutional means.But the key point is that this ideology is not right or wrong it is about who is more powerful. My case is that even beast can be treated as cattle or be treated as gods. It is not an issue of human versus non-human but one of power. Why are some animals treated as gods and revered while others not, the reason is that these animals are powerful and can resist human manipulation. And if humans are also animals, which they are, then the corollary is that the treatment of other humans with respect or with disgust is a result of the ability to impose ones will on others with minimal resistance.

As a result I see all the debates on human rights are pretty much useless. The real origin of the problem is the disparity in power between communities and within communities. But more importantly between them. And without a resolution of this disparity, and despite all talk of the order and stability provided by the unipolar hegemon, only a multipolar system can lead to respect and true understanding between communities.

There is a difference between being seen as a beast or a god.

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