The past six decades has seen internationalization of the problems of Human Rights and democracy. Prior to the exposition of these interlocking ideas, the problem of governance and individual rights were previously thought of as issues for states to attend to within their own boundaries. The corpus of Human Rights has expanded exponentially is cemented by regional and international systems of justice and treaties that have enveloped these states cultural and legal authorities. These overarching buttressing ideological rods are considered by many as an axiomatic systems that should not be challenged. It is a known fact that any open challenge against the idea of Human Rights and democracy may land individuals and states into the iron cage of social isolation. Conversely, the past three decades has also seen a spread of Neoliberal democracy and an extreme backlash from racial Islamic fringe groups such as Isis and other Islamic Jihadists determined to disrupt this fast march into history. Some have accused these Fundamentalist Islamists of trying to take us back into the dark ages. At the core of these debates belies a tricky cultural tension. The situation therefore begs the following question: are human Rights and their democratic adjunct rooted in universal values? When imposed alongside the stubborn norms of cultural relativist societies, can Human Rights and democracy gain global acceptance? Are these universal values something real or a tool of conquest created by the West to maintain a cultural hegemony over the rest of us?
The market place of political, cultural and legal ideas is a complex and dangerous destination, especially when seeking solutions for state governance and lasting peace. The coexistence or strategic twinning of ideas are an even a more volatile undertaking. Take for instance the opposition of a cosy relationship with religion and the State, similarly, Sharia laws and Islamic State’s dilemmas and the failure of capitalist and Socialist ideas of bringing peace and prosperity for humans. Already, the idea of the twining of democracy and human rights begin to ring all sorts of doubtful alarm bells whenever it enters our consciousness. The idea of democracy and Human Rights to most casual observers appears reasonable on the surface as it has an emotional appeal to our sense of equality and human fairness. However, this casual valuation blinds us from interrogating its suspect origin, intentionality and efficiency.
Democracy was first introduced as a system of political reform in 507 B.C. by Cleisthenes, the leader of Athens. He referred to the system as demokratia, which denoted rule by the people. The world’s first charter of Human Rights occurred in 539 B.C. when the armies of Cyrus the Great, an Iranian and the first king of ancient Persia, conquered the city of Babylon. But it was his next actions that marked a major advance for the people that he captured; he freed the slaves, declared that all people had the right to choose their own religion, and established racial equality. In Western discourse the corpus of Human Rights is falsely attributed to the 18th Century rights of man associated with the French Revolution and the American Constitution. Likewise it origins are also mistakenly attributed to the Anglo/American and the post holocaust settlement in 1945. The Author of Conservativism Edmund Burke, in a rebuttal, criticised Human Rights claim to universality as too vague and abstract and as a result his feelings were that it was unachievable. Along similar lines, Marxist critiques argue that this abstract rights based system supports the structures of Capitalist systems. While Ignatieff argues for a minimalist approach to Human Rights and democracy.
In this section of this dialectic I advance the claim that, based on their origin, both democracy and Human Rights can be utilised as tools of conquest aimed at maintaining a hegemonic system of mind and resource control by the Anglo American alliance. Continental, Marxist and post-colonial scholars oppose the validity of the claim of the universality of Human Rights on the basis of its purely symbolic efficiency, its tacit support of the structures of Capitalism and its use by the Anglo American white liberalist male as a tool of conquest and a way of using law and culture to maintain hegemony over the global south. On the surface, the twining of democracy and Human Rights seem like a good idea of mediating nation states with closed systems of dictatorial oppression and large scale human state oppression. In cultural relative terms such vulnerable citizens often see liberators as opportunists, conquerors and colonisers. The corpus of democracy and Human rights have often been exploited by western hegemonic power to grab resources or further their security interest. Interestingly, there are no good examples to show that Human Rights have been secured by this means.
The 2002 war in Iraq led by George Bush and Tony Blair resulting in over a million deaths, undermining trust and confidence in western democratic institutions and placed future rescue missions under the pretext of Human Rights as an unsafe option .Every shred of evidence points to the fact that it created Isis as the horrific bane of our generation. Both political leaders ignored the two level game theory strategy; they failed to consult with their respective domestic constituents preferring to bypass the UN with one of the most costly and infamous lies in history.
In this post-truth democratic society, Kingstonmouth’s interpretation is that Human Rights and democracy are no longer a purveyor of freedom for the masses to participate within. Instead, we interpret it as a logocentric and language exercise that is deployed locally and internationally as a means of gaining power and preserving political self-interest. Nonetheless, we take the Rawlsian position that in a number of cases both Human Rights and Democracy has been a competent symbolic gesture. The available evidence suggests that there are positive results from both ideologies with examples such as Universal adult suffrage and the feminist liberation movement. This is why Slavoj Zizek argues against the universality of Human Rights yet he maintains that it should be kept because of its useful unintended consequences. We are also in favour of David Millers minimalist position that rights should be contained to an achievable minimum, this being a basic decent standard of justice and democracy for everyone.
To summarise, Kingston-Mouth argue that the concept of twinning democracy with Human Rights lacks credibilty and that its claim of universality is suspect. Available evidence suggests that small gains are only as a result of its administrative and symbolic efficiency. Contemporary social theorists are in favour of a minimalist approach to Human Rights and a more credible application of democracy that emphasises a move away from conquest narratives.
The painful thing about contemporary democracy is that it offers every winning Political Leader the opportunity to do something stupid in government: two examples being the cruel Dictator Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and the prime buffoon of the USA, Donald Trump. Likewise, Human Rights are currently being administrated in an unfair global capitalist market where lambs are slaughtered and the mighty lion roams freely.
This article was written by Donovan Reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing editor of Kingstonmouth.com. Donovan Reynolds is an Independent blogger and Human Right’s Activist of Jamaican descent and a legal Academic who has an interest in Human Rights, Culture and International Development issues. Readers of this article are welcome to provide feedback at the space provided at the end of this article ar at firstname.lastname@example.org useful commentary made on our Facebook and Kingsonmouth@twitter pages.